Living in a house with a bunch of strangers isn’t necessarily something that comes naturally to everybody. Unless you’ve lived with multiple roommates before, the whole concept of coliving is probably pretty new to you, and you might be wondering if there are certain rules or general etiquette guidelines to follow. That's why we've compiled this list of tried and true rules to live by when coliving.
Luckily, if you follow our tips, it’s easy to be a great housemate and have a pleasant coliving experience. Spoiler: A lot of it comes down to being respectful and considerate. So whether it’s your first time coliving or you’re a returning guest looking for some refreshers, we have some pointers for you.
Here are 10 rules to live by when it comes to coliving etiquette.
Be prepared to get out of your comfort zone
Especially if you’re preparing for your first coliving experience, go in with an open mind, and prepare to be at least a little bit out of your comfort zone. Traveling somewhere new and living with a handful of strangers is not necessarily a “normal” thing to do. If you’re used to living at home by yourself, with family, or with a familiar roommate, the idea of coliving can feel a little scary. The experience will be different than what you’re used to at home. However, if you’re willing to step out of your comfort zone and go all in on a new experience, you’ll be glad you did, and you’ll get used to coliving in no time!
Being friendly doesn’t mean you need to be best friends with everyone in the house – it simply means being pleasant to be around. Introduce yourself to anyone you meet when you first arrive, say hello when you pass someone in the hallway, and be cordial with fellow remote workers in the coworking space. A little smile can go a long way.
Don’t be messy
When you’re coliving, you’re sharing a whole house with other people, so you have to be considerate. You don’t necessarily have to be a neat freak, but you should certainly be mindful of the messes you make and be willing to clean up after yourself. Some ways you can do this are by doing your dishes (or putting them in the dishwasher) in a timely manner, putting away cooking supplies after you’re done using them, and taking any hairballs you make washing your hair in the shower out of the drain.
If you’re coliving in a shared room, there’s a little extra cleaning for you to do, because you’ll have to be mindful of your bedroom as well as the common areas. Don’t leave your stuff all over the place. Instead, keep things neatly organized near your bed or utilize available closet space and drawers – they’re there for a reason! Keeping your own area tidy will set an example for your roommates to do the same.
Respect the house rules
When you booked your coliving stay, you likely agreed to some house policies, so make sure you follow the rules that you agreed to. House rules are there to keep things in order, and following them can help everything go smoothly.
For example, if the house has quiet hours, be sure to respect them. Many people at coliving locations are working professionals who need to be up early to start their work day, and being loud at night after quiet hours can make it hard for these people to get to sleep. Put yourself in their shoes, and treat them how you would like to be treated. There might also be rules against smoking and having guests over, so be sure to be aware of what the policies are so you don’t make others in the house uncomfortable.
Know what’s shared and what’s not
Don’t just assume that somebody won‘t care if you use some of their almond milk every morning – ask! Sharing a house with a bunch of people doesn’t mean that everything in the house is up for grabs. Respect your housemates’ belongings the way that you would like them to respect yours. Pay attention to labels in the pantry or fridge, and know what products are for communal use. If you want to use some milk or whatever other tempting things are in the fridge, just ask!
This goes for things in the bathroom as well. Don’t use others’ toiletries. If you ran out of toothpaste or shampoo, a housemate will likely be totally willing to let you use some of theirs. Just be respectful and ask first.
Be mindful of phone use
There’s a couple different aspects to this, not just avoiding talking on the phone loudly in common area. Some examples include:
- Call and notification sounds – loud ringers or text message alert sounds can be really distracting to others who are working or sleeping. Avoid putting your ringer on the highest volume, and if you’re in the coworking space, put your text messages onto silent or vibrate so everyone doesn’t get distracted every time a “ding” goes off.
- Alarms – This one’s big for shared rooms, especially. There are few things worse than hearing that dreaded iPhone alarm sound over and over when you’re trying to sleep. If you’re used to hitting snooze 5 times at home, don’t continue that habit when you’re coliving. One and done! Turn that alarm off ASAP if there’s another person (or multiple people) in your shared room still sleeping.
- Taking calls – If you’re taking a call, whether it’s business or personal, head outside so you don’t distract others who are trying to work or sleep.
Communicate if and when problems arise
When you’re living with multiple people, it’s natural that some conflicts might arise. There might be somebody who never does their dishes, somebody who takes other peoples’ food, or somebody who is constantly on loud calls inside. Our advice is to calmly communicate with whoever is causing the problem and confront the problem head on, rather than being passive aggressive.
Being passive aggressive can really throw off the vibe in the house, and it likely won’t even get to the root of the problem to make any changes. If there’s an ongoing problem even after you have communicated and talked it out with the person, it’s time to get the house manager involved.
Don’t wait for someone else to do “it”
It can be tempting to turn a blind eye when you see something that needs to be done and think, “Oh well, someone else will do it!” In coliving arrangements, “It” can be a bunch of things: replacing the toilet paper if you just finished the roll, letting your house manager know that you’re all out of coffee beans (eek!), or taking out the trash if it’s about to overflow. Everyone in the house should put in a little effort to keep everything running smoothly. Teamwork makes the dream work!
Be a member of the community
There are several ways to be an active member of the community. Joining in on the fun and connecting with housemates can really enrich your coliving experience. If there are events being held at the house, attend them! If someone suggests having a house potluck night, join in. First one to wake up and making coffee for yourself? Why not put on some extra water to provide coffee for the next few to wake up? If you’re going to check out a cool event by yourself, ask if anyone wants to tag along.
Last but certainly not least, have fun! Enjoy yourself and make the most out your coliving experience. You’re likely in a coliving situation to have a nice place to stay and work, but you’re also there to make new connections and enjoy new experiences. It might not always be as easy as living at home in your own space, but you’re coliving for a reason, right? The experiences you have coliving will be different from what you’re used to – and that’s a good thing. You might just create some of your favorite travel memories while coliving!
Check out all of our coliving locations here, and don’t forget to follow these rules when the time comes for your stay!