What I Have Learnt from Flatting


If you are confused by the title and more specifically the word ‘Flatting’, that is probably because you do not live in New Zealand. ‘Flatting’ is the New Zealand equivalent to living with roommates, housemates, etc. Although I will use the words ‘flatting’ and ‘flatmates’ in this article, please know that my advice is universal. Living with other people, no matter where you are in the world, can be an absolute fuckery.

At the beginning of this year, I made the bold move of moving in with my boyfriend, my ex-girlfriend, my ex-girlfriend’s boyfriend, and my party-animal friend. Without even describing my experience, I am sure many of you can guess the nature of it.

At first it was new and because it was new, we enjoyed it. We all put on our ‘adult’ caps on, organised our house the way we wanted, filled the cupboards with our favourite food, planned our lit parties and savoured the freedom. Like all new things though, the charm eventually wore off and the suffering soon began.

I will now present you with a list detailing the realities of flatting. I do not intend to scare you but I think that this knowledge is essential to life.

  • Not all human beings are capable of cleaning. In fact, some are so incredibly disgusting that you wonder if your house will feature in the television show ‘Hoarders’.
  • If you are in charge of bills, know that you will bear witness to just about every excuse for your flatmates not paying on time.
  • You are bound to walk in on at least one of your flatmates naked. The social exchanges following this event will be awkward but they will get better in time.
  • At least once every two weeks, the fridge will start to smell. When someone finally decides to seek out the source, they will find rotting meat, leftovers from a week ago or off milk.
  • You will have to compete for space in the fridge. Even if you do find somewhere for your food, expect it to be shoved to the back so that your flatmate can fit in their food nicely.
  • There is always that one flatmate who will purposely do a really bad job at cleaning just so they don’t get asked to do it again. Have no mercy.
  • You can write your name on your bag of organic apples as much as you want but they will still be eaten by people other than yourself.
  • Friendships will be tested. You could move in with your best friend and leave the house as enemies. I am not exaggerating.
  • You may realise how lame you really are when your flatmates bring home new friends every night but you never do because you already live with all of your friends.
  • Sex. Sex is a thing and sex is something you will hear a lot of.
  • I know that I have already mentioned cleaning but seriously! Some people just don’t know how to clean.

There you have it… the blunt realities of flatting. Somewhere along the way, you will think to yourself; “I could totally just live alone.”


Although this article does lean towards negativity, I promise you that flatting isn’t all that bad. Even if you take the list of realities into account, there are still some positives to be found.

You learn things. You honestly do. By living with other people and having them observe your lifestyle and vice versa, you begin to understand diversity. Some people are clean, some aren’t. Some people are organised, some aren’t. Some people are always smiling, some aren’t. Some people are well-mannered, some aren’t. I could go on and on but the point is… We are all different.

You learn, very slowly, to confront the difference and compromise with it. “I will be a little less of a clean-freak, if you do the dishes a bit more.” “You can have your friends over but can you please keep the noise down because I have work early tomorrow.” “I can manage the power bills but can you manage the internet bills?”

Compromise is what will make flatting bearable and once it becomes bearable, you can work towards it being fun. You can organise Taco Tuesdays, you can have a flat-viewing of all eight Harry Potter films, you can plan house-parties together, you can all go out for dinner… There’s quite a lot of fun to be had really.

Ultimately though, I think that no matter how functional a flat is… there are always going to be problems. It is just a matter of changing your perception of those problems and realising that sometimes… people are just so impaired, that they physically and mentally are not able to wash dishes to a humane standard.

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