How to Negotiate Household Chores With Your Roommates

Roomie Guides Nov 13, 2020

The secret to a clean apartment and domestic bliss lies in negotiating well with your roomies.

Living with roommates

Living in a new apartment with strangers can be tricky, especially when most of us are working from home. From navigating chores to personal space, coliving with roommates can require delicate handling, but it can also be an incredibly rewarding experience. Just like any kind of interpersonal relations, compromise and patience are required to make it work. Don't let trivial issues like chores sour your relationships with your roommates!

Here are Hmlet, we offer weekly housekeeping as a service for our living spaces. However, even if you're living in a Hmlet or otherwise, daily upkeep of the home is still a shared responsibility. At Hmlet, rest assured you can leave the heavy duty stuff to us; but it's the simple, oft-overlooked things — like pushing in your chairs, clearing up after yourself, or returning books and pillows to their original spots that can make a living experience harmonious and pleasant for everyone.

Here are some tips for preventing confrontation over logistics like living arrangements and chores.

When the going gets tough, communicate (Hmlet One Shenton, Singapore)

Lay down some ground rules ... and stick to them

First and foremost, agree on some guidelines. After exchanging introductions, you and your roommates will need to discuss arrangements and be on the same page on everyday activities and chores: cleaning, noise level, air conditioning, fridge and pantry space, and more. The earlier you can agree on as many things as possible, the sooner you and your roomies can get along swimmingly. It’s important to establish boundaries early on so that you don’t overstep them down the line.

Discuss chores

Chores can be a hassle to deal with, and it’s not a particularly fun topic to talk about with your new roommates. But it’s necessary to set some ground rules on splitting up household duties before settling into your apartment in order to avoid conflict down the line.
Gather your roommates to decide what chores need to be handled, how you will split the cost of cleaning supplies, and the roster for things to get done around your apartment. Start by drawing up a list of chores: sweeping/vacuuming the floor, cleaning the kitchen, taking out the trash, washing the windows, washing the dishes, cleaning the washroom. No chore is too small to list!

Common areas, a shared responsibility (Hmlet St Peters, Sydney)

Divide the chores

In all likelihood, you have certain chores that you hate doing, and so do your roommates - but those could be different chores. So create a list of chores you a) enjoy b) don't mind and c) hate. And if there's a chore that you hate but your roommate loves, then let your roommate do it. If more than one roommate would rather vacuum the floor than clean the bathroom, then take turns doing it. Divide the remaining chores by drawing them out of a hat, or simply take turns to volunteer to do them.

Create a calendar or chart

It helps to record everyone's duties on a wall calendar or create a chart that lists everyone's names and responsibilities next to it. In doing so, there will be no confusion over who's responsible for what. You could rotate the chores monthly so you won't all get stuck in your roles for the entirety of your lease. It helps to record your initials next to your chores once you've completed them, just so everyone is held accountable for their responsibilities.

Photo by Daiga Ellaby / Unsplash

Split the cost of supplies

Supplies such as trash bags, vacuum cleaners, cleaning agents and dishwashing detergents can add up to a fair amount. As long as you’re living under the same roof, everyone should chip in equally for supplies. However, you and your roommates might have different financial commitments and a different notion on how much you’re willing to spend on cleaning supplies. Discuss how much each of you is willing and able to spend to ensure that everyone can afford the cost, then split the cost evenly.

Take note of specific preferences

Not everyone has the same way of doing the chores. Just because you like the laundry to be done a certain way doesn’t mean your roommates feel the same. You can do the laundry your way when it’s your turn to do that chore. Plus, everyone might have a different schedule, so don’t enforce a time when all the chores should be completed. Gently remind your roommates if they haven’t done their tasks in a few days, but if you know they’re busy, you could offer to switch chores if that might work better for everyone.

Living with new people might seem daunting at first, but with good communication and negotiation before and during coliving, you can find your roommates from completely different backgrounds can become your best friends and support system in a new city.


Be it coliving or private accommodation, search for hundreds of rooms and apartments for rent at Hmlet. We’ll help you find a home fuss-free, so you can focus on doing more of what you love. Get started here.

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