How to Negotiate Household Chores With Your Roommates

Singapore Jan 12, 2023

Clean House = Happy Mind. Here’s how to achieve a clean apartment while being a better co-living neighbour and roomie.

Co-living in a new apartment with strangers can provide an abundance of positives, but it can also be tricky working around everyone’s preferences. From navigating chores to personal space, co-living with housemates may require delicate handling.

To alleviate the pains of negotiating and assigning chores, at Hmlet, we offer weekly housekeeping as a service for our living spaces. Before we begin, here are examples of some points that you may have overlooked when living with housemates:

  • Clearing up after yourself
  • Returning items that you’ve used back to their original place
  • Pushing in your chairs at the dining table

Just like any other interpersonal relations, compromise and patience are required to make it work. Without further ado, here is a step-by-step guide to preventing a confrontation over living arrangements and chores.

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

Step 1: Lay down some ground rules, and stick to them

First and foremost, agree on some ground rules. E.g. informing your housemates if you have a guest who would be staying till late.

It’s important to establish boundaries early on so that you don’t overstep them down the line. After exchanging introductions, you and your housemates will need to discuss arrangements and be on the same page on everyday activities and chores like cleaning, noise level, air conditioning, fridge and pantry space, and more.

The sooner everyone comes to a consensus and acts on it, the less friction you and your housemates will face.

Step 2: Discuss chores

Chores can be a hassle to deal with, and it’s not a particularly fun topic to talk about with your new housemates. However, these nitty gritty details are an essential core of your co-living experience.

Gather your housemates to decide what chores need to be handled from sweeping or vacuuming the floor to cleaning the kitchen and taking out the trash to washing the dishes. Remember, no chore is too small to list!

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

Step 3: Divide chores

After coming up with the entire list of chores to be done around the apartment, start dividing them. In all likelihood, you will have certain chores that you hate doing, and so do your housemates — but those could also be different chores.

Create a list of chores and categorise them by those that you enjoy, do not mind and hate. If there's a chore that you hate but your housemate doesn't mind, then let your housemate do it. If more than one housemate 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. This process of understanding each other's preferences and conflict resolving will keep everyone satisfied while achieving a clean house.

Step 4: Create a duty roster

It helps to record everyone's duties on a shared 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 also choose to 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

Step 5: Split the cost of supplies

Supplies such as trash bags, vacuum cleaners, cleaning solutions 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 housemates 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.

Step 6: Take note of each others’ preferences

Living with strangers means learning to understand and adapt to each other’s preferences. Not everyone has the same way of doing the chores and just because you like the laundry to be done a certain way, doesn’t necessarily mean your housemates feel the same. Also, everyone might have a different schedule, so don’t enforce a time for chores to be completed.

Instead, you may try gently reminding your housemates 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 co-living, you can find your housemates from completely different backgrounds becoming your best friends and support system in a new city.

Be it co-living 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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