Many of us have become used to living on our own, especially in a family home where parents have learned the hard way to give us our space & privacy. So it may be difficult to have to share some personal space and give up some privacy when sharing a house or flat with complete strangers. There may be times when you feel that you are getting an overdose of your flatmate and you would like some precious time alone.

Following a few simple, but very important, rules you should be able to not only maintain some personal privacy and space… but also your sanity!

Do not keep barging unnecessarily into your flatmate’s room if you are free and getting bored. Or you have issues to go over. Your free time does not necessarily translate into your flatmate’s free time also. If it’s earth-shattering news politely knock on their door, or catch them in the communal areas.

Agree on how you will give each other personal space and privacy when it is needed. Find out how important these issues are to your flatmate & how to know when to keep a low profile. Also, talk with your housemates about scheduling days out so that everyone gets an evening in the house alone.

Respect each other’s need for solitude and study or downtime. Leaving a ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign on your door may seem a bit 1980’s but it should do the trick.

If your flatmate has a guest over, do not try to over-socialize and hog the conversation. If invited to join, do so for a few minutes and then gracefully go about doing your business, unless otherwise asked. Hanging around and not being a part of the conversation can be unsettling not only for your flatmate and their guests but also for you. Read a book, meet a friend, complete your project, go for a walk, go to the movies, watch TV, do anything. Just don’t hang around like a bad smell!

Just because you share a flat does not mean that you will be a part of everything that your flatmate does and vice versa. Give your flatmate breathing space.

Do not snoop around in your flatmate’s room the moment you see them gone. Prying is a big breach of trust. Do not go through their personals and see how much money they have, no matter how strong your curiosity is. And leave those documents alone! Especially that juicy diary! It’s supposed to be personal.

Also, do not borrow clothes, CDs, music, books, money, and other stuff without your flatmate’s knowledge. Try to set-up guidelines for things you can share. How do they feel about loaning their possessions? Some flatmates do not mind, others do. Find out and make sure your flatmate knows how you feel, as well.

If your flatmate has left their laptop at home it does not mean you can check what sites they visit and their emails, or yours for that matter! Even if you both share a PC, resist the urge to take a peek.

If your flatmate discovers you’ve been playing the amateur sleuth and snooping around, prepare for a BIG blow-out. They are unlikely to trust you again. Remember, curiosity killed the cat!

Here’s the golden rule: do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Treat your flatmates with respect and they will return the favor!