Flatmate survival guide: Don’t be that flatmate

If you see yourself as one of these types of flatmates, it’s probably a good time for a bit of reinvention…

Dirty dishes, washing left in the machine to go mouldy and coffee mugs attracting ants are not the most salacious sins on the planet. But, when you’re living in a flat and you do these things day in, day out, don’t expect your flatmates to do you any favours. With house prices making home ownership challenging, you might find yourself flatting a little bit longer than you originally planned while you save for a deposit. Or, you might even get in some flatmates to help you pay off the mortgage for your first home.

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If things go the right way, you can make lifelong friends out of flatting, or even start a budding romance. To increase your chances of a positive flatting experience, just don’t be that flatmate.

That flatmate type one: the slob


You can find the slob flatmate casually going about his/her day, leaving empty toilet rolls unchanged and leftover slop on the stovetop. And don’t even get started on trying the friendly nudge for them to follow the cleaning roster – it will probably fall on deaf ears. The key piece of advice here to avoid assuming the slob position in the flat is to remember to be respectful of people’s space. Flatting might be a matter of necessity rather than pleasure for you, but that doesn’t make it any less important to help make it a comfortable place for all housemates to live in. Keep your dishes clean, washing out of the machine when it’s done and do a little dance with the mop and the vacuum now and again. If How To Dad can teach his baby to clean, you can surely do it, too.


That flatmate type two: the destroyer

Be respectful of your flatmates possessions

You know that vase your new flatty got from her Aunty as a special gift for her milestone birthday. Remember how five beers later it suddenly looked increasingly like a rugby ball to pass to your mates around the kitchen? Smash. Yes, you officially became that flatmate type two: the destroyer. A flat can sometimes look like a garage sale of mismatched items threw up all over your house, and now you’re sitting on it/eating off it/watching it. When it comes down to it, it really doesn’t matter whether you think your flatmate’s vase should have been left back in the 80s, or whatever parallel universe it appeared to be cool. To the person you’re living with it is special and, most importantly, it’s theirs.

That flatmate type three: the slack bill payer

Always prioritise paying the bills in the flat

When you think of how you enjoy spending your money, we can hazard a guess paying bills is probably somewhere on the list near paying for a root canal and a parking fine. But guess what? Your flatmates aren’t jumping for joy over paying rent, either. So, however you need to remember to pay the rent and bills – automatic payments are ideal for this – do it for the sake of living harmoniously in your flat. Oh, and as delicious and appealing as the glass of pinot gris seems at your local watering hole, listen to the angel on your shoulder until you’re all caught up on bills. If managing expenses is a bit of a struggle, spending some time on a budget will help you get back on the financial fitness bandwagon. Likewise, if you’re struggling with credit card debt, don’t leave it to accumulate more interest. You’ll thank yourself later for making a plan to tackle it now.

That flatmate type four: the food stealer/freeloader

Stealing food from your flatmates is a big no no

Ah yes, you had every intention of heading to the supermarket, right after the fifth episode of How I Met Your Mother; you really need to find out who ends up with Robyn…Then your stomach has other ideas, you swear it is grumbling so loud even the neighbours can hear it. Next thing you know, you are having some sort of out-of-body experience, watching yourself from above as you eat your flatmate(s) food. Zero congratulations are in order here; you just became that flatmate type four: the freeloader. To be clear, every flat will have different arrangements when it comes to food shopping. Some like to do it together, where all food is fair game. But unless this has been strictly stipulated, what’s theirs is theirs and what’s yours is yours in the food department. Planning ahead can help you avoid the temptation to become a food stealer – and it’s good for the budget, too.

That flatmate type five: the weekday party animal

Being a noisy flatmate can be very disruptive

How great is The Weeknd’s latest album?! You should probably take a survey of your suburb this week, because we can guarantee they have an opinion after your obnoxious mid-week music session. When you’re looking for a flat, it’s a good idea to find out where the other flatmates stand in terms of parties/having people over. But to avoid becoming that flatmate type five: the weekday party animal, make sure you’re respectful of your flatmates’ work schedules and commitments. Fair enough that you want to be able to kick back in your home – just don’t do that at the expense of your housemates.

Regardless of why you’re flatting – whether it’s to save for your own home, or to help pay off the mortgage, the old adage, “treat people how you wish to be treated” will come in handy. So get off the couch and do those dishes, you’ve got time before How I Met Your Mother comes back on.

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