9 Tips to Being a Better Co-Living Neighbour (with a bonus tip at the end!)

Co-living has a multitude of positives but there is always that shade of uncertainty when wondering about the people you will end up sharing a space with. But if you're the problem... then here's what you need to do to be a better co-living neighbour!

We don’t always get to choose who we live with. Some make too much noise, some don’t talk at all. Some always leave the toilet seat up, while others never do the dishes. Some are messy eaters and some drink milk straight out of the carton (please don’t).

There’s no avoiding it, really. Especially when you’ve opted to bunk in with a number of others. Co-living has a multitude of positives but there is always that shade of uncertainty when wondering about the people you will end up sharing a space with.

If you’ve ever had the displeasure of experiencing a bad neighbour, you know that you should never let the good ones go. However, if you are that carton-drinking-menace then here’s some co-living etiquette you need to understand.

1. Communicate

The cornerstone of every healthy relationship is proper and frequent communication. This is pretty basic but people tend to neglect the importance of connecting by talking things out. Communication helps you better understand your neighbour thus forming a stronger relationship in hopes of being a good housemate.

An easy start would be to always take the first step and make an effort to discover their interests when introducing yourself. By establishing a two-way channel of communication, you will be able to build trust and learn more about your new neighbour.

You’ll never know, a warm “Tell me about yourself!” could lead to a great friendship.

2. Cleanliness

Although hygiene standards differ between individuals, basic cleanliness is an easy ‘must-have’. No one likes a messy and dirty housemate that doesn’t clean up. Be conscious of your cleanliness. 

Talk to your co-living neighbour and find out irks them the most about a dirty house. Are they asking for a bit too much? Or is this something you can work with? Try to find some middle ground. 

Basic things like washing your used dishes or sweeping up bread crumbs left on the floor are a given. You can be comfortable in your own mess – in your own house but realise that this shared piece of real estate doesn’t just belong to you. 

Your mess will inturn become something others have to deal with. That’s just not cool.

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3. Be Respectful

An important aspect of shared living is having mutual respect for one another and also having respect for the shared space. Treat your fellow co-living mates as equals. They might come from different backgrounds and cultures.

Your views might not always be the same. However, that does not mean you should treat them any different than you would like others to treat you. Always remember that whatever communal item or space you use has to be properly maintained; others use it too.

If you show a little respect to those around you, they will, in turn, start showing you the respect you deserve.

4. Bringing other people into the house

Even though co-living is all about mingling and making new friends, brining unknown or new people into the house without giving your housemates a heads up, can be somewhat insensitive.

If you are living in an all-female co-living property, you might want to give your neighbours a call before inviting a male friend for drinks.

It’s also nice to let them know if you are having a party or a couple of friends over. Your neighbours might already trust you but having someone new in their personal space might not be appreciated by all. 

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5. Be Social

Being social is the best way to establish communication and build a great relationship with your co-living neighbours. You can throw a party for each of your co-living neighbours.

Show them you’re making an effort to find out more about them. Be a friend and allow relationships to grow. I know, not everyone is that kind of outgoing individual but stepping out and socializing with your fellow housemates will make the co-living experience more fruitful.

It’s all about putting yourself out there and exploring the minds of other interesting individuals. So don’t be bummer and get involved!

6. Unconscious habits

This next one requires a bit of self-awareness. We all have that one habit which annoys someone else to the brink of insanity. I might be something as little as never closing the fridge door properly or always sneezing like an air horn. 

These beautiful nuances make us who we are but they can also chase your housemate out the door! Here’s some advice, next time you feel that aura of disdain when you’re chewing with your mouth open; take a hint.

Small changes such as this can turn into a big positive when forging a relationship between you and your co-living neighbour.

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7. Try to do something nice

The first few key moments of interaction between two strangers can sometimes yield great reward in a long-lasting relationship. Doing a solid or going out of your way to help your co-living mates is a great way to build trust and get them to like you.

The best part about making someone happy is making you feel happy. “Doing good deeds bring happiness, Doing evil deeds brings suffering.”

It really doesn’t take a lot to do something nice. A morning cup of coffee, doing the dishes or saving that last cookie; these are simple actions that could make someone’s day. 

Putting the effort in doing something good for your neighbour will show how generous and nice you are with others. Who knows, one day you might even be greeted with a nice cup of joe.

8. Be aware of crossing lines

In shared spaces in the living sector like co-living and cohousing, lines between private and communal areas can often be blurred. Spending a lot of time with others in your shared home can leave you yearning for your own personal space; that often becomes your room.

It is important that all co-living individuals realise the importance of this personal space and that it is fully respected. No matter how close you and your new neighbours are, do not enter their rooms or private quarters without their supervision.

Human beings tend to latch on to such things and personal boundaries can get territorial. So even if it’s just to borrow someone’s laptop charger, always ask beforehand. It’s best if you try to do it when they are present in the room.

9. Handle problems maturely

It’s common to have disputes while residing in co-living spaces. The important thing is how well you handle these problems. If you find anything that you are not okay with, raise the problem with your co-living neighbours, but do so in a mature way. 

Many times, people lose their self-control and get involved in heated arguments with their neighbours. Swallow that ego and take a step back. Cool-heads solve disputes, hotheads only escalate the issue. 

Remember, you’ve got to see this person every day. Don’t ruin your experience over trivial matters.

Here’s a bonus tip about pets

It’s common to have disputes while residing in co-living spaces. The important thing is how well you handle these problems. If you find anything that you are not okay with, raise the problem with your co-living neighbours, but do so in a mature way. 

Many times, people lose their self-control and get involved in heated arguments with their neighbours. Swallow that ego and take a step back. Cool-heads solve disputes, hotheads only escalate the issue. 

Remember, you’ve got to see this person every day. Don’t ruin your experience over trivial matters.

Final Thoughts

Living in shared accommodation can be exciting. You get to meet new people, experience new things and make friends along the way. To ensure a great stay for you and those around you, it requires a little self-awareness.

Everybody wants to live comfortably and in a shared space, comfort comes hand in hand with happiness. So, follow the tips, tricks and etiquettes in this ultimate guide and you’ll be sure to live happily in the comforts of co-living.

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