by Jinryu

(aka flatmates)

It’s been a long time since I moved out from my parents place, and since then, I’ve moved a fair amount of times. I’ve also had a fair number of room mates, until I came to live only with [CM].

Because our apartment has an extra room, we’re often host to friends and family passing through Sydney– people stay the night, or a few weeks. We don’t usually charge, unless its for an extended period of time.

Money is one thing– being a good roommate is another though. I don’t want to be negative, but if you’ve ever lived with others, you’ll know that domestic dynamics are really important. If you can’t finish work and come home to a relaxing space, life just sucks that much more.

To put a positive spin on this, lets frame what would otherwise be a hatefest into… advice. Advice for people who are living with others as a guest, or on a longer term basis as a roommate. A lot of this has is equally applicable if you are going to live on your own.

Or at the very least, advice on how not to cross my pet peeves. These are a collection of general guidelines or “rules” that I’ve talked to roomies about over the years.

In the kitchen

Do your dishes.

If there is a dishwasher, stack your dirty dishes in them properly. Properly doesn’t mean just putting things in there– it means putting things in there in a way that conserves space so that you can fit in more things, and so that things get cleaned. I kid you not– I’ve had a roommate who thought that you could put an tupperware oriented container-upwards (after the machine ran, there was a tupperware full of dishwater). They just threw it in there, as if it would all sort itself out.

After the dishwasher is done, put those dishes back in their proper place.

If there is no dishwasher, your dishes should not be in the sink for more than  a day at most– it’s hard for others to cook if they keep having to work around your crap.

Treat kitchen equipment properly.

  1. Knives should never be just thrown dirty in the sink– they lose their edge, and are dangerous. If you have any respect for a knife, clean it after use and store it right away.
  2. Never stack things on top of non-stick pans. It scratches them, and then they’re not so non-stick anymore. Even if it’s expensive stainless steel, don’t scratch it.

Take out the trash.

Everyone should do this simply whenever they can. I have had roomies who simply assumed that because others did it, they wouldn’t have to. That’s bullshit– nobody likes taking out the trash. Everyone should do it.

Don’t stack things on top of pots and pans.

They get scratched when you do. And you know those non-stick coatings? The pan becomes a hella lot less nonstick when you scratch that coating off.

Similarly, when cooking, don’t use metal utensils.

Don’t sharpen my knives without asking.

I know you’re trying to help, but just because there is a steel in the knife block doesn’t mean you know how to use it.


In the bathroom

Change the toilet paper rolls

Don’t just use all of it and leave the empty cylinder. Throw that cylinder out. And if it’s not quite finished? Find a new roll and leave it somewhere nearby.

Shared stuff

Communicate with your roomies about the costs and value of the shared stuff. That means that if someone brings a TV to the communal, maybe someone else should pay for the chairs. To have all the furnishings be used by everyone but owned  (and more importantly, paid) by an individual is just not fair.

Conserve water

You really don’t need two half-hour showers per day. Actually, in the majority of cases, dermatologists say that you can get perfectly clean taking a 5 minute shower, and you don’t even have to do it every day (although if you’re a sporty person, you probably should). Using about 2 hours of hot water per day is just ridiculous.

Conserve electricity

You probably don’t need the air conditioning on full blast while you’re sleeping at night. You probably don’t need it running while there’s nobody home. And you probably don’t need to leave all the lights on while you’re in a single room by yourself.

Don’t clog the internets

I’ve lived with people who were downloading torrents non-stop, and that meant that nobody else could even watch a youtube video without it stuttering. Not only is eating up the monthly bandwith cap a shit thing to do, it’s annoying when others are simply trying to use the internet for simple thing. Throttle your usage, and figure out when’s a good time when nobody will mind the congestion.

About sleeping

Learn to walk lightly on your feet to not wake people up.

Don’t slam doors.

Don’t kick the fridge shut.

Don’t bang plates or make a racket with dishes.

If there’s a risk that others are sleeping, maybe that’s not the best time to watch television really loudly or to invite people over.

Maybe you should be considerate and not skype at 1 or 2 in the morning.

Maybe you should stop showing up at home drunk.


About chores

Clean the place. Sweep and vacuum, especially if you’ve dropped something.

Don’t leave your stuff in communal areas.

If you use tissue papers, throw them in the goddamn trash.

If you drink things, put the cups in the dishwasher. Empty cans, bottles and drink packs? What do you think?

Don’t piss anyone off.

I’m not saying you tiptoe around all the time and censor everything you say– but if you are a guest, I’m trying to make you as comfortable as possible. Saying or doing things to make people uncomfortable? That’s not your place.

Similarly, don’t complain about my cats. They’re a part of my family, and they have way more tenure than you do here.


If you’re not sure what the house rules are, err on the side of discretion and ask first.