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A Housemate’s Code: The Unspoken Rules of Shared Living in Australia

Moving into a share house in Australia after living with your family may come as a bit of a surprise! Sharing space with new faces, paying your own bills and navigating relationships are all part of the international student experience.

It’s amazing to have your very own space, and you’ll gain independence and confidence from taking this step into adulthood. But before you start playing your favourite songs at full volume and leaving your belongings everywhere, there are a few things you might need to know about living peacefully with housemates.

Here are the unspoken rules of shared living in Australia.

Privacy and respect

You may love living with your housemates and enjoy spending time with them as friends, but make sure you’re allowing each other time and space to yourselves.

Before you enter your housemate’s bedroom, always remember to knock. And if they’re not around, hold off on going in without their permission. It’s a simple way to respect their privacy, which is essential for building healthy relationships and an enjoyable living environment.

Keeping common areas clean

Each member of the household is responsible for ensuring common areas are kept clean. This could mean vacuuming, mopping, washing dishes, or general tidying up. 

Often, this is an unspoken rule, but we recommend that you speak with your housemates early and openly about expectations around cleaning and chores. This will help to make sure you are all participating and the common areas are kept clean and tidy.

Managing noise

Houses can be noisy – especially if they’re full of people! Parties, laughter, music and TV can make a house a home, and it’s so nice to have housemates you get along with as friends. As fun as it is to play some tunes and get carried away in conversation, it’s important to know when to tone it down and turn down the noise. 

Weeknight evenings are often reserved for quiet study and getting to bed early, so try to keep any noise to a minimum at these times. Be conscious and respectful of your roommates – put some headphones on if you really can’t resist listening to your playlist long into the night!

Sharing food and items: Dos and don’ts

Always ask first if you’re wondering whether or not you can eat your housemates’ food. They don’t want to open the fridge to find out all their cheese is gone! The same thing applies when borrowing clothes or other personal items – just ask.

However, if you’ve chipped in to buy some food together, it’s fair game. We recommend you chip in an equal amount every month to buy household items like toilet paper, cooking utensils and soap. This way, you know you’re all paying the same and can stock up when you need to. You can use the app Splitwise to track and split spending on communal household items.

Guests: Balancing hospitality and housemate comfort

If you’re having guests around for dinner or a movie night, it’s a good idea to let your housemates know in advance – just a quick heads up in the group chat can save any tension from arising.

If you’ve organised a party, make sure all of your housemates are okay with hosting a gathering. Set rules around which rooms are off-limits, and understand that not everyone is a night owl – moving on to a second location can allow you to party well into the night while your housemates snooze peacefully.

Utility bills: The fair share

Your household will need to pay bills for things like power, water and internet on top of rent, and it’s generally an expectation that all bills will be split equally, in order to ensure everyone is contributing to the household. 

Where bills are shared, it’s important to be conscious of how much you are using – taking super long showers and keeping the air conditioner on all night will result in much higher bills!

If someone is living in a significantly larger room, or has an ensuite or walk-in wardrobe, it’s often fair that they will pay slightly more rent to compensate.

Dealing with conflicts

While you may get along well with your housemates, it’s still likely that you’ll disagree every now and then! Open communication is key to making sure everyone is on the same page from the start.

Be prepared to compromise on some things – it’s not all about you anymore! When you’re living with others, you need to respect their space too. 

So there you have it! Following these guidelines as you make the transition to shared living can help to make sure you’re comfortable and happy in your new space.