On the Importance of Finding Housemates You Get Along With

Apologies in advance as this post is going to sound like a bit of a rant. You have been warned!

I have recently discovered how important it is to find housemates I get along with. Some people can be completely lovely but when you live with them they have a way of winding you up, so much so that you can’t stand living with them anymore and avoid them in your daily interactions. Surely it can’t be that bad you ask? It’s true, perhaps I am being petty – I’ll let you make up your mind, but I have to say I’ve lived in house shares for years and while I have had disagreements I’ve never felt so completely at odds with any housemates as I do currently.

So I currently live in a house share with a girl (who I will call M) and a couple (who I will call L and G). Again, they are all lovely and I get along with them on a personal level perfectly well. I have no issues with M, she is always tidy and considerate, and we tend to miss each other most of the time anyway due to her work hours – we’re like ships passing in the night. L and G on the other hand…

I’ve raised some objections, don’t get me wrong, I’m not the type of person to be passive aggressive or anything like that, but when there are constant daily little annoyances it builds up. I don’t want to be that guy who is always nagging and patronizing them – they’ll only end up hating me for it so most things I just keep to myself, waiting until they move out. So here is a list of things that have riled me up:

  • Eating my food. I first noticed my veggie sausages had disappeared from the freezer when I came to cook with them – it messed up my meal plan for that week. I sent a message to L asking if he and G had eaten them by mistake, and he flat out denied that they had anything to do with it. I’m fairly sure M wouldn’t have eaten them though. L did generously offer some of his veggie sausages but I declined. This isn’t an isolated incident. I’ve noticed my milk being opened and the contents disappearing, I’ve noticed my herbs and spices reducing very quickly and I’ve noticed my garlic (I have one of those ‘easy garlic’ jars) is now almost empty when I’ve hardly used any of it.
  • Cutlery and utensils from the kitchen going missing. When I bought the house I bought a set of cutlery and utensils so I know there should be 8 knives, 8 forks, 8 tablespoons and so on. When there were only 3 forks left (and had been for a couple of weeks) I eventually asked L and this was our exchange:

Me: Hey I noticed there are some forks missing, do you know where they might be?

L: There are plenty of forks.

Me: There’s only 3. There should be 8.

L: Oh I don’t know then.

Me: It’s just M has her own cutlery so I don’t think it would be her. You or G haven’t taken them to work and forgotten to return them?

L: I don’t think so.

Me: Huh, strange.

The next day L sent me a message saying he’d discovered some at work (L and G work together), and would bring them back. The thing is not all of them have been returned and some different looking spoons, knives etc have turned up so I can only assume the nice ones I bought have gone into circulation at L and G’s workplace.

  • Similarly the scissors have disappeared from the kitchen. I asked L about these and he said he was using them to cut the parsley plant in his room. I left it at that, I didn’t think I needed to actually explicitly ask him to return them to the kitchen, it was sort of implied in my asking where they were. Of course, weeks later and they’re still in his room. It’s not like they’re for everyone to share or anything.
  • We have a guest room that I set up with a double bed, with duvet, bed sheets and everything. A few weeks after I set it up L asks if he can use the guest room for a friend staying over, and I say yes of course, as long as you wash the bed sheets after so it’s ready for the next guest. That was my only condition. That was weeks and weeks ago, and, you guessed it, he hasn’t done what I asked him to do. The only thing I asked him to do.
  • They’re really f**king noisy, all the time. This I should take some blame for – I didn’t realise before they moved in that the hard wood floors would provide absolutely no sound insulation. It basically means I get woken up in the morning by their footsteps moving around – G actually has quiet footsteps but L seems to crash around the room – you wouldn’t believe how loud it is. In addition they play their TV really loud and the bass reverberates through the floorboards. I have asked them to turn it down and they have turned it down a couple of times but most of the time it’s still just as loud as normal. As soon as they move out I’m putting a carpet and padding on the floor so that the next person who moves in doesn’t bother me so much, in the meantime I’m wearing ear plugs when I try to sleep and putting up with the rest unfortunately.
  • They don’t pay their rent on time. For the first couple of months I had to remind them each time. It took 3 weeks to pay in the second month. It’s not hard, set up a standing order and forget about it, then none of us has to have that awkward conversation. They have gotten better but it’s never on the first day of the month (like it’s supposed to be). I shouldn’t have to ask for such things.
  • They don’t seem to understand how recycling works. G is from Texas so I sort of understand – she said when she moved in that she’d never had to recycle before so it was all new to her. For L, who is from Birmingham, there is no such excuse. Often I’ll be about to throw something in the rubbish bin and I’ll notice there is a can in there, or some cardboard. I always fish them out and put them into the recycling basket which is right next to the bin. I can’t emphasize this enough, it’s actually more effort to put things in the bin than it is to put them in the recycling basket. On the other hand I constantly see things in the recycling basket that obviously can’t be recycled – plastic bags, foil wrappers, etc. It’s like there are no thought processes going on. And then when it comes to take the basket down the garden and put the recycling in the recycling boxes they always put them in the wrong boxes – mixing glass with plastic, tins with cardboard, so I have to sort it all out before putting them out each week. And what’s even more annoying is when they have a cardboard box, say they’ve bought some shoes, and they just leave the cardboard box by the recycling without breaking it down – I mean what do they think is going to happen, that little elves will come along and do it for them?
  • Washing up. Okay this is always going to be a stickler and everyone has their own tolerances. But seriously? Most of the things they wash they don’t actually properly clean – L does actually need to wear glasses but hardly ever wears them (L has one of those ‘man buns’, and I saw some treatment for hair loss in the recycling recently – you can make your conclusions). Also we have a system where you put your washing-up in the draining rack and let it dry itself – this system only works if you empty the draining rack (ie put things away) before putting your new washing-up on there. I constantly come in and have to play a game of Jenga with the washing-up because it’s piled up precariously high. And finally they’re stacking is so haphazard – I always thought it was straightforward – you put the cutlery in the little cutlery holders, you put the plates and bowls in the rack, you put glasses face down in the main section, and then everything else fits around that. L and G seem to just throw everything in the draining rack in any order, with bowls upright so that water collects in the bottom (it’s called a draining rack because the water is supposed to drain away, not coalesce in the bowl, surely?), cutlery in the rack, glasses on their sides and so on.
  • Further I’m always tidying or cleaning up after them. The number of times I’ve cleaned the sink, or wiped the surfaces, or the kitchen table because they’ve left some spillage, or they’ve left some vegetables in the sink, and so on and so on. M, the other housemate is great, she helps out with household cleaning and is always considerate, but L and G don’t seem to care. I’m not their parents, I shouldn’t have to explain how these things work to them.
  • They’ve taken over the kitchen. I had everything set up nicely and they started moving things around (plates to different cupboards for example), buying lots of new glasses, taking over every spare space for all their cooking equipment (which they don’t seem to use), filling up every shelf of the fridge and freezer, and so on.
  • I left some lasagne on the side the other day – it was piping hot so I put the plastic cover over it at an angle, to cover the food but let the hot air escape. No sooner had I left the kitchen, G comes in and puts the plastic cover on the lasagne, sealing it up. Naturally the plastic melted, ruining the cover and some of my food. I cursed loudly when I came back in and she apologised to which I mumbled some sort of ‘okay don’t worry’ type response. But I’m still annoyed about it.
  • The hot water ran out the other day (we have one of those hot water tanks), and L messaged me asking me to fix it. I told him to press the ‘+1 hour’ button on the little panel below the boiler. Instead he went to the hot water tank and turned the temperature dial up to full. I’m not sure how he got that from my instructions. When I got home I pointed out the boiler panel to which his response was ‘Oh I didn’t realise that’s what you meant.’ Of course he didn’t change the temperature dial back to what it was, so when I go to take a shower the next day the water is ridiculously hot and I have to abandon my shower for that day. He’s very absent-minded – more on this below.
  • They talked about going vegetarian when they first moved in, lasted about a week and then went back to their old habits. I’ve been vegetarian for about 9 years so when they said they were going vegetarian and started talking about all these animal rights issues I was quite impressed. Clearly it was just a phase for them though, a passing interest.
  • G has quite a high-pitched loud voice that can be heard throughout the house.
  • Their TV watching habits annoy me. This is a minor annoyance but when combined with the extra loud TV (above) it sends me up the wall. Recently I watched the latest Game of Thrones series, like everyone else, week by week. L on the other hand insists on waiting until all the episodes are out and then binge watching them all in one evening, he says he doesn’t like having to wait for each episode to come out. I can’t be the only one that thinks that is quite sad. It’s become a major annual event, GoT, where everyone watches it, and then we all discuss what’s happened, what we think is going to happen, what we think about certain character’s decisions and so on. When L is there that whole conversation has to stop. And surely, if you watch it all in one sitting you’re going to miss important details, you’re not going to take in all the great acting, plot nuances and so on. It just seems a really impoverished way of approaching TV viewing. They did the same for the Handmaid’s Tale as well – I sat through 10 hours of moody music and anguished screams reverberating down through my ceiling while they watched it all.
  • They are both psychology academics but I’m pretty sure another psychologist would enjoy analysing them. G follows everything L does – she doesn’t complain, he is quite intense and she is besotted with him so I think he gets his way most of the time. She follows him around everywhere and he tells her what to do – she is finishing up a PhD and he makes sure she stays in her room and works hard on it. It’s not my place to say anything but I find the whole dynamic a bit unnerving. It’s not like he’s physically abusing her or anything – he’s far too morally opinionated to do something like that – but there is a level of abuse that is psychological rather than physical and I wonder how close to the line they are. G told me the other day she had been going out with another guy for 9 years, they were engaged and the wedding was all planned before they cancelled it at the last minute. She’s only 28 so I can only assume she started seeing L straight away after this whole thing – I’ll let you make your own conclusions about that. I don’t know, again, not my place to speculate.
  • L is one of those loud pissers. I’m sorry to lower the tone but I can hear him pissing. He pisses straight into the water in the toilet – most of us either sit down or we aim slightly to the side of the water so that it’s not so loud. Not L, his lack of consideration and self awareness extends to his pissing habits.
  • G started to complain about M to me the other day. That’s right, G started bitching about M. I realise this whole blog post is one long bitch, but at least it’s to anonymous people on the internet – I’m not trying to drive a wedge between other people in the same house. G said something along the lines of: ‘M is always so quiet, and she always takes that shelf in the fridge and keeps to herself. And she has her own cutlery and bowls, its weird.’ I immediately defended M of course.
  • Finally they’re always in a rush it seems. This ties in with the lack of cleaning, but in some ways it’s like they’re not really present, they’re so busy that they’re not really self aware, and because they’re a couple they are always talking and I think perhaps they just don’t notice things around them. They make decisions together without consulting their other housemates (ie me and M), and I guess because they back each other up and justify each other’s actions they feel like what they’re doing is fine.

Okay, I think that’s everything. Rant over. Sorry again, I had to get all that off  my chest.

You might think we’ve been living together a long time, actually it’s only been 3 months and there are still another 3 months to go before they move out.

Before L and G moved in I remember chatting with L about his university work and his hours and he said some weeks it’s fairly light, say 20 to 30 hours, and some weeks it’s fairly intense, like 70 hours plus. I didn’t think anything of it at the time, but it did seem like he was boasting a bit. I’ve seen it in some work cultures (especially in the US), people work long weeks like this and it becomes a sort of ‘badge of honour’, like, hey look at me and how hard I work.

Personally I think this attitude is quite sad, and actually if you aren’t able to do your work in the time you’re being paid for then that’s your fault – you should manage your time better or if there’s too much you should push back and refuse to do it. No one should work for free unless it’s for charity or something. If you get fired for that attitude then that’s what lawyers are there for.

Anyway, I need to caveat all this and say that actually, L and G are both lovely people, and maybe a better housemate than me would try a bit harder to make things work than I have. I do wonder what all the above says about me as well… maybe I’m just getting old and need my own place or something. As it is, they’re moving out in December so I’m not too concerned. They did say they’d like to move back in 3 months after that but I think I’m going to make up some excuse why it won’t be possible (a friend wants the room or something). No hard feelings, sometimes it just doesn’t work out and they’ll find somewhere else.

So there you go, a little snapshot into my mind! I can’t believe I just wrote 3000 words about this! Has anyone else had a similar experience, or want to get a rant off their chest like me?

As always thanks for reading,

Wephway

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3 thoughts on “On the Importance of Finding Housemates You Get Along With

  1. Haha, have to say I really enjoyed reading this one.

    Some of what you’ve written is most definitely a bit picky but there are some really big clangers in there and once someone starts p!ssing you off then the little things become annoying and unforgivable as well don’t they?

    And besides I am exactly the same as you by the sounds of it, so I’m laughing along with you not at you!

    We shared a house years ago now and I could have written exactly the same post about a few of my housemates back then (if I had a blog to do it on!). But instead we just used to bitch and laugh about it with the other housemates who were actually more on our wavelength (i.e. considerate to others and not complete slobs/piss takers).

    The loud pisser one really got me… that is EXACTLY like this guy we used to live with. He was soooo socially unaware of how annoying he was it is untrue, or at least that is what I think.

    The worse, almost unthinkable situation is that he was totally aware and really just didn’t give a sh!t about anyone else. Gah!

    I just think there are people who are just generally “bad at life” and are best kept at arms length as casual friends and acquaintances, as no amount of subtle hints, polite requests, moaning or even outright arguments is going to change them now they’ve already hit adulthood and are set in their ways… Looks like these two are firmly in that camp!

    Glad writing about it made you feel all the better though.

    Quick question, do you own the house and they are your tenants I presume? If so great idea, I wish I’d done that when I was younger!

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  2. Thanks, you know the more I think about it the more I think maybe I’ve gone a bit OTT with this post! But it was cathartic to write, it helped clear my mind, and actually I’ll probably be nicer to my housemates now I’ve written it. Most of the little things on their own wouldn’t bother me, it’s just taken together they do. At one point recently I started to think maybe I was a guinea pig in one of their psychology experiments – ‘Hey, let’s see how long it takes someone to lose their temper after a sequence of minor annoyances…’

    I feel a bit bad as well that I’ve sort of character assassinated my housemates, they do have many good qualities as well. But like you say I probably will keep them at arms length after they move out in December.

    Yes that’s correct I bought the house earlier this year – it’s a mid-terrace 3 storey townhouse. There are two spare rooms on the top floor that I let out which basically covers my mortgage. Means I can save more each month, but obviously there are downsides as well (as this post illustrates!). And you probably wouldn’t want to do it with a little kid. Having said that one of my workmates is a lodger in a family house and she says they’ve just had a baby. It sounds like it’s a bit of an odd dynamic though – I get the impression she has become part of the family!

    Thing is you can get up to £7500 rent from a lodger before having to declare it for tax purposes, so it can be quite a good side income, but obviously finding the right lodger is pretty important.

    I own another house as well which I did the same thing for before I eventually moved out (ie I had lodgers). It’s sort of an evolving strategy. Eventually I will have to find my own place that I don’t share – it seems the older I get the more anally retentive I become!

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  3. It’s definitely a good strategy to do this while you are young, and in your twenties.

    The thing is you have to save up enough for a deposit and unfortunately getting on the housing ladder in your twenties is pretty damn hard nowadays darn sarf!

    I don’t think I had *much* of an excuse having started work in 2003, although everything did still seem very expensive back then compared to what I was earning (and, you know… holidays and stuff). I saved up enough for a deposit by around 2007/8 but went travelling instead which in retrospect you could argue was a bit lucky as I’d have bought at the top market. Although if I’d been getting my mortgage paid for me by lodgers anyway then it would have not been all that much bother!

    Don’t fret on the post being too over the top, like you say it was more of an outlet, and quite a good way of ultimately keeping the peace between you all!

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