Beginnings of a homesharing experience are important. They hold the potential to form a solid foundation for a great relationship. It’s important to treat your new housemate relationship with tenderness and care, while also setting the tone for the future you’d like to create. In other words, start off on the right foot in order to lay the tracks for a successful and sustainable living situation!
Once your housemate has had a few days to settle in, invite them to join you in building shared guidelines for how you’d each like to live together. Home is an important place, where we must feel safe and free to be ourselves. Boundaries and guidelines can help foster a sense of safety for both parties, but only when they are created together.
Here's a checklist for designing your Home Sweet Shared Home™. We encourage you to go through it with your housemate, and feel free to change it to make it your own.
Tips for Communicating Openly
The more you and your new housemate communicate up front, the easier it will be to navigate disagreements when they arise (and they naturally will). While none of us is perfect, the good news is that humans are wired to find compassion for one another. If handled well, disagreements, hurt feelings and mistakes can create a deeper level of understanding between housemates. Potentially hard moments can turn into opportunities to bond and become closer.
Here are some simple guidelines for maintaining open communication with your housemate.
- Agree to prioritize communicating openly
- Be kind
- Be curious about each other’s needs
- Share leadership and responsibilities
- Normalize disagreement
Sample Questions for Your Homesharing Agreement
Part of communicating openly with your housemate is coming up with a shared understanding of how you want your home to function. Cover the bases early on so you both feel good about the shared space you're creating. Documenting your shared answers to the questions below can help you and your housemate prevent and address disagreements—and help you get the most out of your homesharing relationship.
- Space: What is space is shared? What is private?
- Communication: What is each housemate's communication preference? (Text, email, handwritten notes, phone calls, a knock on the door?)
- Interaction: How much interaction do you want on a daily basis? Are there times when you are more available for chatting than others? Are there times when you’d like to share space, but in silence? Come up with a plan for talking about these details ahead of time.
- Privacy: How will you communicate your needs regarding privacy? For example, "If my door is closed please know that I’d like to be left alone," or, "If I send you a text it means I’m not in the mood for face-to-face contact but have something important to communicate." Or, the simple, “I just need some quiet time.”
- Cleaning: What level of tidiness and cleanliness in shared spaces is best for you and your housemate? Who is responsible for cleaning what? Will you rotate chores, hire a professional cleaner once a month, or each commit to keeping certain rooms clean?
- Kitchen etiquette: Do you want to share meals or food? If so, how will you negotiate groceries, cooking and cleaning up after a shared meal?(Note: If you're the one sharing your home, make sure to clear out some cabinet, shelf and fridge space for your new housemate. Be clear about which kitchen items you’re open to sharing, and which ones you’re not.
- Guests: Is it okay to invite people over? How will you communicate about guests? Is it important to ask before one of you returns home with a friend?
- Socializing: Do we want to build a community together? Do we plan to host dinner parties? Do we want to spend time together outside the home?
- Security: What’s important for each of us to feel safe in the home? Who else has a key the house? Do we lock the door every time we go in and out? What if the other person is home?
- Sleep: What are your sleep habits? On a typical day, what time to do you go to bed? What time do you get up? When are your household quiet hours?
Rent: When is rent due? What forms of payment are acceptable? How should it be delivered? Having this conversation up front makes it less uncomfortable to address again later. (Note: Silvernest membership includes automatic direct deposit of rent, so you can eliminate these conversations altogether.)
Finally, agree to have regular check-ins about how the arrangement is going and if your shared agreements need any adjusting or negotiation. Making feedback a household norm will help keep balance. Feedback helps us learn, grow, get to know one another better, and become more comfortable in our shared home. Building in an expectation for open communication will benefit your homesharing relationship more than any other tactic.
Have homesharing agreement tips to add? Let us know in the comments!