My first seven days in a share house

June 15, 2015
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Seven days ago, armed with two rugs, a lamp, a bed frame and a mattress from my family home, I became totally, utterly independent. Moving into a share house can bring trepidation and excitement in equal parts — particularly if, like me, you’re not experienced in cooking, cleaning, or doing anything that requires much hands-on work. I’ve been pretty lucky with the transition so far, but a few extra pointers certainly would’ve been helpful.

Dont feign competence

You’re an idiot. If you’ve never lived out of the family home before, there’s a reasonable chance that your core life skill competencies are limited at best. Accept this. Ask stupid questions, and be prepared to be told when you do stupid things. Take critiques and corrections with dignity. It might feel patronising, but your friends and housemates are only giving you advice because they want you to survive.

Perhaps you’ll put washing powder in the wrong section of the machine. Perhaps you won’t know how to use a gas cooker. Perhaps you’ll find yourself unable to make top or tail of a can-opener. I have done all those things in the last week, and that’s OK. I am learning.

Throw your budget out the window

Your first week in a share house will be dotted with realisations that there are basic, pesky household items you need to purchase: salt, pepper, elastic bands, pegs, Glad Wrap and the like. Of course, if you’ve moved into a pre-existing household that shares these staples, this won’t be such a concern.

On top of this, you’ll also need to fork out for the long-life foodstuffs you might want to consume in the coming weeks. Subsequent shops will be more based on topping up – thus being far less expensive - but the initial investment is a fairly hefty one.

A final tip here: bring lots of canvas bags to ALDI, and prepare to be stressed at the checkout. It’s a very intense space.

Accept mediocrity (for now)

A week in, I haven’t had an opportunity to decorate my room. The walls are very, very blue, and could do with some warm colours to offset the current cheap Greek hostel vibe. That’s OK: my shoot with Vogue Living isn’t happening for a few weeks yet.

It’s also fine that my attempts at cooking haven’t been without their difficulties (see the above can-opener and gas cooker references). As long as the food produced is edible and vaguely nutritious, it’s doing its job. Nigella Lawson’s multi-million pound empire wasn’t forged overnight, and 4 Ingredients is all I can handle just now.

Make yourself at home

As I type this sentence, it’s nearly 5pm. I’m wearing a dressing gown and my bed is unmade. Earlier this afternoon I was doing some ironing (my area of expertise), and found myself humming along to the Little Mix songs emanating from my iPod. One of my housemates was cleaning out a fish tank in the next room, and was probably amused - or bemused - by my not-so-dulcet tones (as well as my choice of music). Perhaps I should be embarrassed, but if you can’t do this sort of thing in your own home - regardless of who it’s shared with - where can you do it?

John Rowley

John Rowley studies a Bachelor of Arts (Media & Communications) at the University of Sydney. Between eating pistachios, writing and tweeting from @JohnLRowley, he doesn't have time for much else.

Image: Katie Brady, Flickr Creative Commons license