A lot of people hate the idea of having flatmates. Or they’ve had bad flatmate experiences in the past. I’ve had about 20 flatmates if my lifetime. This following post shares my ways of making it great. You should want flatmates. They keep your cost of living much lower than without them.
Decide Who Pays What
This is so important and should be decided before moving in together. Decide who pays what. Does each person pay the same amount? If someone doesn’t watch TV, should they have to pay for the TV service? Does the person with the garage bay pay more? Does the bedroom size affect what a person pays?
Once decided, how long is the term good for? When can adjustments be made?
Decide What Payment Methods Are Acceptable
It’s unfortunate you can’t pay rent with a credit card. At least not in most instances. I love racking up points.
So instead of a credit card, determine what other payment method works. PayPal is very easy. There are many other less known ways of sending money for free or at a very low cost. Look around. Make it easy for everyone involved. I personally love making automatic payments. I think that’s easier for everyone.
Decide When Things Will Be Paid
At what time must the money be in? Make sure everyone knows the difference between when the bills are due and when the money is to be gathered. This confuses a lot of people. It’s a good idea to collect money a week or so before each bill is due. But again, if you make this automatic, there are no worries.
To keep costs down, consider insourcing many things. Assign a rotating lists of jobs to do. There are many jobs you can assign:
- Taking care of the garden
- Cleaning the common spaces
- Cleaning the bathrooms
- Washing dishes
- Even washing laundry
Assigning these tasks will also make people feel more responsible for the space. They will probably take care of it better as well. But if people are immature, this can turn into a nightmare. If Julie is mad at Beth and Beth has dish duty that week, Julie may use far too many dishes. If this behavior goes on, it’s best not to live together though.
You can hire all the cleaning done. That can work. And it certainly simplifies things for everyone. If everyone is in agreement, you can go that route.
Decide Parking Arrangements
Parking is often fought over. Who gets the garage stall? Who gets the spot closest to the front door? Discover a routine that’s fair for everyone. Make sure everyone knows where guests should park as well.
Decide Common Space Rules
Can there be music? Can guests occupy the space often? Who’s TV will you use? Is there a time when it should be quiet? Getting these things decided early will save you from future problems.
Talk About How Utilities Will Be Used
Utilities are complicated. What I’ve found to work best is for everyone just to agree to have it rolled into the rent. Everyone pays a fixed amount each month. Some people go crazy if lights aren’t turned off. Although if someone has an electric car, this could royally cause some problems.
Get Everything in Writing
Make sure to create a contract. If there’s no contract, no one is truly liable for anything. Verbal agreements are good in theory but getting it in writing is best. It’ll also make everyone see the arrangement as being more meaningful.
How will everyone communicate? After all, if you have flatmates, that means you’re probably a busy student or young professional. Sometimes you go days without seeing each other. Decide via what method you all will communicate.
You could create a private Facebook group. Or you could just make sure everything is done via email. Whatever the method, stay congruent. And it’s best to keep everything digital. This way, there’s proof of what was said. I also read somewhere that when a person puts words into digital form, they are their most honest – because they know the info. can be saved and used later. Plus, digital is just plain easier and faster.
Think About All the Money You Save
Flatmates can be fun. They can make a house feel like a home. So for those reasons, I like them well enough. Going further, flatmates can help you save tons and tons of money. Virtually every monthly cost you have has potential to be halved or lessened even further. It’s quite remarkable really. I can’t imagine living alone. It would be so expensive. I’d rather live with cool people in a cool house in a cool neighborhood.
What can you take away from this post? How can you make your flatmate situation livable. It’s definitely worth spending some time to consider. Take a day if you have to and figure things out. It’ll pay for itself in the money you save. Good luck!
Will Lipovsky is a personal finance freelance writer and internet marketer. His most embarrassing moment has been saying to a Microsoft executive, “I’ll just Google it.” You can get in touch with Will at FirstQuarterFinance.com.