Best way to handle living with four other people?

This fall, whilst going to grad school, I will most likely be living with four other people in a house we’re renting (we’re deciding tonight after the two people who haven’t seen it finally see it.) I assume we’ll rent it, because as long as the landlord fixes what she said she was going to fix (new carpet and dishwasher, a coat of paint here and there) it will be a fantastic place. Five bedrooms, a living room and a den, a large kitchen, a sun room (I barely know what that is,) a nice large yard, small deck, what used to be a second kitchen that we’lll turn into a bar area, and an unfinshed room in the bottom level (of a split level place that was once two apartments) that can be used like a small basement. Cement floor, W/D hookups, workbench, etc…

Of course, the problem is…five bedrooms. Which means five people (well, in our case it does, because we’re all too poor to afford anything less. And it’s only $2000 a month, and within walking distance to the school three of us are attending and the hospital two of them work at. That’s crazy cheap for this area.) I’m concerned about the logistics of that many people, two of whom don’t really know the other three (it’s myself and two of my friends, and two girls who go to nursing school and work with my mother (that’s how I found out they needed a place too.))

I lived in a fraternity in college, so while I am familiar with some of the handling of many people in a small area, it’s still quite different. For one, that was over twenty people in three houses, with a large budget and communal everything, for the most part. If it got too loud or annoying in one place, it was easy to go over to one of the designated study rooms in another house and voila, peace and quiet. Also, things like food, electricity, heat and water were easy to take care off. Pool all the money and divide equally to the areas that needed it (well, ok, our treasurers would say it was more tricky than that, but still, no issues of X not paying for food because he only ate some of his dinner, etc…)

So I’m looking for suggestions as to what other people have done in the past that worked out, and what didn’t. Taking food as the prime example, what is the best situation? Everyone pitch in equally and share everything? Everyone for him/herself 100%? A combination of the two? What about cleaning. Any tips to get lazy asses (which I know one of my friends is) to do their share and pitch in when the bathroom is coated in an inch of mold?

Thanks in advace.

What ever you do, don’t wash your anal beads in the dishwasher.

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My roommates and I all buy and have separate places for storing our food, so no “you ate my ice cream!” problems occur. This works best for us, since communal meals would be problematic as one girl is Muslim and can’t eat normal meat and other various dietary restrictions. We split our apartment into 3 rooms (kitchen, living room and bathroom) and alternate who is responsible for which room each week. We actually wrote out a list of what is required for each room (ie, empty the dish drainer, Windex slider door, etc) so there is no confusin or “I didn’t know i had to do that”.

I works well for us. YMM (and likely will) V

State in detail and in writing who is paying what. Have a set date when the rent money has to be together (by the 1st or the 5th or whatever). And the utilities (three days after the bill comes in). Make one person responsible for paying the bills (maybe for a $100 reduction in monthly expenses).

Establish hours for loud noises, say 9 to 9. Nothing before 9 a.m. or after 9 p.m.

In my opinion, the most important thing is that you talk about issues before they become problems.

If possible, discuss the matter before you move in together, if not soon after talk about issues.

Caller ID was mostly helpful with one set of roommates that didn’t know each other–we could tell by the name on the caller ID whether the call was for us or not.

Do you want to cook for each other, or fend for yourselves?

How possessive are you about the foods which you buy?

Are you likely to leave stuff in the fridge till it molds?

Are overnight guests allowed? Large dogs?

How often should the bathrooms be cleaned?

How long after eating(cooking) can dishes be left without washing them?

After what time should people be quiet?

Before what time should people be quiet?
None of these questions have right or wrong answers, but answers which conflict
are likely to cause headaches, so try to get something of a consensus. I have no suggestions for how to fix lazy asses.

I know it’ll be expensive, but I suggest everyone getting one of those little mini fridges. They’re like eighty bucks at Wal-Mart. That way you guys could go “communal” shopping, for the basic foodstuffs for the kitchen, and store all of your “personal” stuff in your room.

At my house, we have me and my boyfriend renting one room, my sister and her boyfriend renting another, my parents sleeping in their bedroom, and my cousin and his girlfriend in the living room (they got kicked out of the place they live in so they clean for rent). It doesn’t leave a lot of privacy. My sister and I each forked over the 80 bucks for our “personal” food stash fridge, and it’s worked wonders. My parents have ultimate claim on anything in the big fridge…assuming we don’t get to it first.


Best way to handle living with four other people?

Four bullets. Don’t miss. It will be far less ugly that way (despite the brain matter, blood and rotting corpses hanging around).

Yeah, I was thinking this is a good way to go as well (though not neccesarily with the mini fridges, though some of the others might have one, I don’t and can’t afford it right now.) I figure things everyone will use (flour, sugar, spices, cledaning supplies, milk, etc…) we can just split the bill on, and everything else we can do personal food, or if two people want to buy and share for themelsves only, or whatever. We have tons of cabinet space, too, so it will be easy to say “that’s X’s cabinet.”

Establish a time for a weekly meeting, or at the very least a monthly one. This is best done at mealtime. It’s the time to air grievances, solve little problems before they turn into big ones, and collect all monies.

  1. Multiple phone lines. If not, then a phone message pad from an office supply store.

  2. The most responsible person pays the bills and collects from the others. Sometimes it sucks being the most responsible person, but it keeps the lights on and keeps you on good terms with the landlord.

  3. Find things to do so you spend a lot of spare time away from home.

  4. Lock on the bedroom door.

  5. Pick the room most insulated from common areas.

  6. Establish standards of cleanliness early with rotating cleaning duties.

  7. Don’t room with flaky assholes

When you pay your share of a bill, make sure you’re able to prove it later (use a check, or get a receipt).

If everyone has a specific cleaning duty, it will be obvious if your lazy friend doesn’t chip in. See if you can get one of those automatic shower cleaners. The tub won’t build up much gunk too quickly if you have one. Make a list of the things that you need for the house (dishes, vacuum, common area television etc., and decide who will bring them, or whether you will purchase them together. If you do make large purchases as a group, who gets to take them when you leave? Does the person who gets the item have to reimburse the others, and if so, how much? What if happens to the stuff if one person moves out early (I lived with a group of people in college, and when one left early, he sent campus police to the apartment to pick up the shower curtain that we’d all gone in on :dubious: ).

Does anyone smoke anything? Is it okay to do it inside? What about parties? Can you wear shoes in the house?

It’s probably tough, but the best rule is no sleepovers. Let someone stay overnight once or twice, and you could end up with a fifth roommate.

If this does happen, you have to reassess the money paying rules immediately.

I don’t have any advice but I have a question on behalf of the OP.

We’ve had some threads here about roomate rights, roommate space, roommates leaving, and leases. What can bouv do beforehand to make sure no one gets screwed?

I can think of some situations we’ve had here:

  1. Roomates paying based on size of bedroom, then changing rooms
  2. Roommates moving out before lease is up and no one wants another roomate/no one wants to pay extra (because she was YOUR friend!)
  3. Who is on the lease and what is legally expected of them?
  4. Roommates busting up stuff in the house then taking off (who’s responsible for damage?)
  5. Roommates not wanting to pay for common areas because they’re never around
  6. Anal beads in dishwasher
  7. Roommate’s SO “moving in” but not paying any extra rent

That sort of stuff.

My latest roomates are a 40 ish woman and her daughter - and her daughter’s boyfriend. The kids are great. The mom is a bit on the flaky side - and owns five rabbits, four birds and a large lizard.

The bunnies get fresh fruit and veggies every day. She eats tomato soup. Every day. The bunnies get fresh bedding everyday. I now have to check the washer/dryer for bunny droppings before I use them. My electric bill has gone from 30 bucks a month to 75. My problem? she’s the landlord’s NIECE.

I gotta disagree with this one. If you are the most responsible person, you absolutely do not want to have to handle all the bills. It means that you’ll have to be the one hassling the deadbeats (if any) for money, and it means that you’ll be stuck with the phone bill after someone runs up $500 in 900-number calls and ditches town. You should split the bills up between people, and each person will be responsible for paying the bills that are in their name.

I think that hardcore written in stone rules about how many nights a guest is allowed to stay over before being charged rent are definitely in order. It can be any number you can all agree on, but it has to be firm.

I like the minifridge idea, too.

And, this isn’t really related to roommate duties, but I’ve been burned by it in the past: Take a video camera and do a complete walkthrough of the house, inside and out, focusing on anything that might be an issue your security deposit will get nailed with when you move out. Write out a list of what you see, and send a registered copy to the landlord.

(bolding mine)

You must have a clear rule on illegal substances. One roomate can get everyone evicted if the landlord finds out.

It can also get the house seized if the DEA determines the landlord was paying the house bills with drug money.

Tell people to do their toking, snorting & shooting somewhere else.

We estimated all our bills beforehand (eventually we had to tweak the figures a few times), added a chunk extra just in case, and opened a joint bank account (this can be done in England.) Then every month we all deposited that sum into the bank, from which gas, electricity, rent, everything communal except the phone was taken. The phone’s standing charge was taken from the kitty, and we kept a book with outgoing calls logged. We were all fairly honest though there was the occasional fight. These days of cell phones and lots of land lines I think private phones would be the way to go.

We always overestimated our kitty contributions so that every Christmas we checked the account, and split the surplus back among us. That was a very nice little bonus, just at an expensive time.

Oh, I forgot to say/ask…

What is this with Americans writing checks for bills - don’t you have direct debits? In England (and now here in Japan) all our regular bills are taken automatically from our bank accounts, so there’s never any worry about late payment or forgetting.