The 5 Biggies in Community


When I teach workshops about building community I make sure I talk about some of the small details that can turn into huge problems. Many people don’t even think of these things when they are getting started. These can destroy friendships and even marriages. And when it comes to living with housemates you may not know well these small problems can easily become amplified. If you’re considering sharing a single household with several other people here are the 5 biggies that you should consider.

  • Pets: Do you want pets? Should you have pets? What about people who bring a pet to the table? I would never advocate telling someone to give up their beloved animals in order to move in but if pets are a deal breaker than perhaps this shared situation isn’t going to be a good fit. There may be a middle ground. Cats might be fine if they are able to be confined to one part of the house. Dogs maybe okay in certain situations as well. It is also important to consider future housemates and potential allergy issues.
  • Noise (TV): Noise level is another potential point of contention. When one housemate wants to sit in the shared space and read quietly another may wish to watch television at a rather obnoxious volume. It is important to set ground rules to meet somewhere in the middle. Have quiet time and television time in shared spaces.
  • Temperature: There is typically only one thermostat to control the heating and cooling in a house. It is guaranteed that everyone will want the house at a different temperature. The only way to establish a solution is to have a discussion with everyone in the house before moving in. Determine the cost of heating and cooling and try to think about creative solutions.
  • Cleanliness and chores: Individual bed rooms are easy but what about the shared kitchen or living space? Who is in charge of cleaning the bathrooms? An old fashioned Chore Chart may be one of the most effective tools in this scenario. Everyone who lives in the house should pitch in according to their own abilities with no questions asked. If someone isn’t pulling their weight then a larger discussion should happen. Don’t resort to passive aggressive technique like the photo above!
  • Guests: Benjamin Franklin once said, “Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days.” When sharing a home with multiple unrelated people guests can become a big issue. What if someone wants their grandchildren to come visit for the summer but another housemate isn’t exactly a fan of little kids? This needs to be a larger discussion and ground rules need to be established before a situation gets out of control.

What are your biggest concerns about sharing a home with multiple people?

Answer in the comments or join our conversation on Facebook.


  1. The top five listed above are my main concerns. I’m glad to see this group, since I’ve been wondering how to investigate starting a “Golden Girls” arrangement.

Women For Living in Community