By Peter Barrett
Share houses have long been the domain of 20-something uni students, inspiring many great books (He Died With A Falafel In His Hand) and cult television series (The Young Ones).
But thanks to rising living costs, even more people are deciding to shack up with strangers.
With this in mind, here’s a handy spotter’s guide to the six most common share-house dwellers and how to handle them.
It’s one thing to let your flatmates know the house is running low on milk. A true Note-Writer, however, imbues their missives with a subtle-yet-maddening passive-aggressive tone. Ignore them where possible (they find this particularly infuriating), but be warned: when provoked, Note-Writers can resort to dramatic gestures. For example, if you have studiously ignored weeks of kitchen duty, don’t be surprised to come home one day to find your bed covered in dirty dishes. The message may not be in biro but this is definitely the hand of the Note-Writer.
It starts with a one or two-night sleepover. Soon you realise your share house has grown in number by one but your rent has stayed the same. How is that fair? Be careful when approaching The Couple because by nature it operates as a power block. Like the former Soviet Union you may have to engage in a cold war of niggling attrition until one half moves out, blows up or finally pulls their combined weight with the bills.
Johnson with Claudia Karvan and Deborah Mailman on The Secret Life of Us.
The Sneaky Eater
Perhaps your share house pools resources for meals and cooks together (in which case, you probably also live in a fantasy wonderland of mutual massage and endless cups of locally sourced honey-sweetened tea). For the rest of us, there’s nothing worse than a Sneaky Eater. That half of a Violet Crumble bar you were saving as a treat? Gone. The Greek yoghurt tub you bought to make a fancy Ottolenghi dish? Disappeared. Like the snow leopard, Sneaky Eaters are infuriatingly illusive. Consider installing RVS (refrigerator video surveillance).
The Silent Enigma
Lock on the door? Check. Obfuscations when asked about their work? Check. Strange obsession with foreign language/numbers/extensive Smurf collection? Check. Looks like you’ve got a Silent Enigma on your hands. In most cases, this species is relatively benign (unless you’re throwing a house party). In a few cases, however, Silent Enigmas have been known to work for non-share-house-friendly government organisations. Our advice: the walls have ears.
The cast of NBC sitcom Friends in action during the final episode in May 2004.
The Jekyll And Hyde
Remember that housemate who struck you as so “normal” when you first met? So how come they are now a slavering booze hound, who stays up until 4am in the kitchen, cackling with their mates at cat videos? Once identified, there is little you can do to affect a Jekyll And Hyde’s behaviour. Consider insulation or relocation if it bothers you. Or, better yet, pour yourself a glass of something, punch “cat vs cucumber” into your video search engine and relax.
The Perfect Housemate
Considerate, clean, neat, yet laid-back and definitely not on the Fun Police payroll, the Perfect Housemate is, well, perfect. Often glimpsed in bathroom mirrors, this species is so rare there may only be one of them left in the wild. A natural joy to live with, perhaps the only fault to be found is their tendency for complete lack of self-awareness. So, next time you come face to face with one, be sure to remind them just how wonderful you, sorry, they are.