This and other advice for those about to start living in shared accommodation with strangers for the first time.

It all started at 720a Leytonstone High Road — my first address after completing my engineering degree and landing my first full-time job. Thirty- five years ago, I paid £38 per week to rent a single room in a house where the only shared space was a kitchen and a rather grubby bathroom.

It was the best I could find at the time living next door to a young man whose room permanently smelt of alcohol, unwashed clothes, and rotting food — the smell would waft out whenever he left his room.

I then moved to rent a couple of rooms with let’s call him Dave, and you can read more about my adventures here at

My next move to Debden, in Essex, wasn’t too successful either, burgled soon after I moved in and then I kept coming across BNP stickers and posters at the station, which kept reappearing as fast as I could tear them down.

So, I was thrilled to leave all that behind and move to Walthamstow, E17, where I found a room to rent in a lovely house. I could not believe my luck, but there was just one problem — a housemate who over a few months became the .

I picked up a vibe from the moment we met and it ‘kind of’ went down-hill from there. But I am not going to dwell on this today but rather to consider the etiquette needed to live harmoniously with others. Especially as I think about my daughter and the likelihood that she is likely to spend far longer renting, shared living space than her parents.

So, in no specific order here are a few things I learnt (the hard way) during my time as a lodger.

· Leave all and any shared space better than you found it, regardless. It is just possible that the people you are living with will notice and move up to your standards.

· Do not allow things to ‘fester’ so that your time is spent quietly seething with resentment until you explode. Better instead to deal with things whilst you can do so with a smile, rather than a snarl or through ‘gritted’ teeth.

· Do not do as one person I know did, pee in someone’s bath if someone is irritating you that much maybe it is time for of you to

· Conversely, probably wise not to leave the bathroom unattended if you have just run a bath. With regards to my friend, a whole host of irritations and resentments came to the fore, when presented with this ‘golden’ opportunity.

· If someone leaves a chair full of cuddly toys directly outside your room, probably best to start a conversation rather than persistently ignore it.

· Avoid at all costs, having a screaming match with your flatmate.

· Be wary of ‘live-in’ landlord owners looking for more than a lodger, who needs the hassle and the added complication?

Think that is it for me and I would be happy to hear about your ‘renting adventures’.

Until next time

Janice Taylor

Career Coach and Writer on a mission to discover how people can thrive and flourish in life and work.

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