The lottery of flat-sharing. A potentially wonderful experience, meeting people from various cultures and countries, developing new friendships, food shopping together, cooking over glasses of wine, laughing like the happy people who appear in photo frames to buy in shops, film evenings with hot chocolate, creating a joint hub of fun…or, a potentially stressful, exasperating, irritating, blood-pressure-increasing time. Either or.
I have been exceedingly lucky when it has come to flatmates, having had, on average, fantastically fun times, doing all of the former list of things. Unfortunately, it didn’t quiiiite click so well when I moved into a new flat last year in Berlin.
I like to think I’m a pretty easy-going, adaptable person to live with. I like things to be clean, but won’t have a heart attack if the dishes aren’t washed within two minutes of being piled next to the sink and I don’t have any particular oddities when it comes to everyday life. I am a fan of recycling, though. And if you don’t wash out your plastic before putting it into the plastic recycling, I might slap you. Other than that…
Caring is sharing…A personal favourite phrase of mine, as long as I am the one using it, of course. When others wield this phrase around, it doesn’t always have the best outcome, in my opinion.
This previous flatmate enjoyed sharing things with me:
‘I’m taking pills now to try to prevent hair loss…although I think they are killing my libido. I don’t even want to sleep with you.”
Erm, thanks? Phew?
“So, my cousin is coming over for dinner and he has ‘some problems’, so just so you don’t freak out. He’ll probably do some coke during dinner.”
Oh, right then.
“Oh, why I left the front door to the flat wide open? I was just letting some fresh air in…”
WINDOWS, WE HAVE WINDOWS!
“I don’t understand the concept of personal space, and will actively refuse to learn what it is.” OK, well he didn’t actually say this, but this is precisely what he did. At all times. Walking into my bedroom at all hours, wearing only boxer shorts, because he actively took his clothes off when he came home, asking strange questions about how many times I had used the washing machine and if we had any oranges at home?! DID YOU BUY ORANGES? NO? Then we probably don’t have any for you to eat.
So with things going swimmingly, I obviously saw no potential issues when my flatmate suggested he would start ‘pet-sitting’ in the flat as a part-time job. I asked him not to, suggested he find a coffee shop job or anything else which wouldn’t take place inside our home.
Returning back to the flat one evening to three cats sauntering around, it became quickly obvious that my requests had been blatantly ignored. Having acquired two cats from one person, and the third from somebody else, I could see no problem bringing territorial animals who don’t know each other into a new environment. I instructed my flatmate to keep the cats away from my room; I wanted nothing to do with the inevitable carnage that would later ensue.
After a night of cats screeching and clawing at each other before one was thrown into my room at 1am, subsequently resulting in a sleepless night, I told my flatmate that, under no circumstances, was he to continue with this business venture. Some budgies (two of which escaped out of a window), a dog and another cat later, I succeeded in having his contract terminated.
Life lessons learnt: Always try to meet your future flatmate before you move in together, and preferably before you sign your contract. Or, ideally, don’t have a flatmate.