Etiquette and Expectations When Renting a Room Instead of a House


2014 has dawned on a whole new adventure in my life. A week or so ago, I did something I’ve never done before. I rented a room in someone else’s house. I was looking for a place for Bekkie, Dj, and I on Craigslist and I kept running into ads for people who had extra rooms available. Money being tight for me with Bekkie going to college and Dj not working, I wasn’t really thrilled with the places that I could afford. I don’t want to live in dangerous neighborhoods anymore, nor do I want to be afraid of it going up in flames or falling down around me.

Back when Tanya left Chef, he had rented out his extra room to a guy who answered his ad on Craigslist. As it would turn out later, the guy had a severe drinking problem, but that aside, he did pay his rent on time. So, I made some separate arrangements for DJ, and then set about finding a room to rent for Bekkie and me. The one I settled on is in a very large house in an excellent neighborhood. The lady who owns the house (we’ll call her Kate) has the large master bedroom on the ground floor, and then rents the three very large bedrooms upstairs. Bekkie and I fit comfortably in one room. Another room is rented to a woman we’ll call Melody, and the last room is leased to a man we’ll call Tony.

Basically, you have your own room, but you all share a kitchen, bathroom, and living room spaces. You don’t share food, and are assigned a cabinet in the kitchen ROOMMATES-LikeLikeLikeLikeLikefor your groceries, and you have a space in the refrigerator for your cold goods. There is an honor system to the whole thing. I can see where this kind of arrangement can be really great, or it can go south pretty quickly. There are things that are in gray areas, like pots of coffee. We all drink coffee, and a lot of it. To me, it is just a fair assumption that other people will drink out of the pot of coffee I make in the morning. I simply don’t care about stuff like that. However, since coffee is expensive, others might not assume the same as me. One person in the house gets upset if we drink their coffee, so the rest of us use a different coffee pot. It’s little things that can dictate the peace of the house.

roomateCleaning is another thing. Obviously, we are responsible for our own rooms. However, shared spaces are a little harder. Cleaning a kitchen involves more than just putting dishes in a dishwasher, to the great distress of my children growing up. There are counters to wipe down, sinks to clean out, and floors to be mopped. Who does those things? Same with bathrooms. Who gets to scrub the toilets and mop the floors? How often should these extra things be done? Daily? Weekly? Who pays for the cleaning supplies? Who should vacuum hallways and the stairs? These gray areas are a point of contention with the landlady at times mainly because every one involved has different ideas of what is expected when you are paying rent, including her. Not only that, but some people have different levels of tolerance about what is considered dirty or clean. I’m interested in seeing how this plays out. I have no idea how this doesn’t make people’s heads explode after a while.

I like my fellow room renters a lot. Tony The Italian works crazy hours, and is almost always gone or asleep. He fought in Iraq and got severely wounded. He seems a little haunted at times, but he’s always so friendly and generous when he’s around. He speaks a bunch of languages, and makes the best Italian food I’ve eaten in a while. He told me a little about what it felt like to be in a war, and I find him a wealth of knowledge about some things I’ll never get to experience for myself. Believe me, this man has got his own story to tell.

Melody was going through her own marital break-up about the same time I was. There are some things, like infidelity with a younger woman, that were similar for her, but she had a mentally ill husband who had been long diagnosed. Her marriage, unlike mine, hadn’t been mostly happy. She told me that her husband and she had never been friends. She had to work her butt off every step of the way to make it work, and when it fell apart, she felt something different from what I felt. If I get permission, one day I’ll explore those differences in more depth on here. Despite everything, this is one really cheerful, optimistic lady. She’s about my age, and had been married about 20 years as well. I don’t see any bitterness or anger in this woman at all, ever. She still has a minor son, and as such, she has to deal with her ex-husband quite a bit. Unlike my ability to blow Chef off when I feel like it, she has to continue raising a child with hers. He tends to be harsh with her daily, and while it bothers her momentarily from time to time, she seems to bounce back quickly and completely. She’s slow to anger and quick to forgive, even with her ex-husband. She’s generous with her things, even offering Bekkie and me food when we had none at the beginning. I admire her in a lot of way and I’m glad to have met her.

Kate has a hard story about her life, and it has definitely caused some very deep, angry wounds in her. Her marriage fell apart more like mine did, only it happened 27 years ago. She is most obviously a broken soul, and this manifests itself in ways that cause me to feel irritated at times. I am choosing to be a little more patient these days with other people, having developed a hard edge over the last year due to all that had happened between Chef and myself. I have always possessed a quick, sharp tongue when I get defensive or feel backed into a corner, and after Chef’s Midlife Crisis fiasco, I’ve had too many opportunities to exercise that dubious skill. I don’t like that about myself these days, and I’m in a position now to have plenty of exercise holding my tongue instead. I used to be very slow to anger, always trying to understand to some extent the actions or words of the person who was getting under my skin. When Chef, Tanya, and drugs entered the picture, I stopped even remotely trying to be anything resembling empathetic, and lashed out at them often. As I have been healing though, the anger is more controllable and my emotional stability has returned enough to make me think before speaking when I get pissed. I’m rusty, but I’m back on a good track again.

I don’t know how long I’ll be staying at this place. It’s a completely different experience for me, and probably a good learning lesson as well. It’s been awhile since I engaged with people who had nothing to do with my old life, and I think it feels kind of cool.

So, that is what I’m up to these days. Hope you all had wonderful holidays and are looking forward to 2014 as much as I am! God bless you all !!


9 responses to “Etiquette and Expectations When Renting a Room Instead of a House”

  1. I have always wondered what this kind of living situation would be like. Thanks for the enlightenment, and hoping 2014 is better to us both.


    • It’s different, but I’m enjoying it for the most part. It’s just a new adventure for me.

      2014 is going to rock for both of us. Mark my words….



  2. I hesitate to ask about your Dad… I probably can put the pieces together though without you saying anything. I hope you and D.J. and Bekkie get settled ….eventually where you can feel at home… once again…. Take care Diane


    • Dad is doing as well as can be expected. I purposely haven’t been writing about him because of a post I’m writing that covers my decisions.

      You know, Diane, lately, home has been more of a state of mind that comes from within me, not so much my physical environment. I am less stressed about the logistics these days, and I’m able to trust the Lord so much now, I can literally just enjoy the ride I’m on.

      How were your holidays? Good, I hope. If you’re like me, though, they are bittersweet and I’m glad they are over now.


      • The holidays of course were stressful… while my daughter called Christmas Day it did not mean that all had changed and we haven’t heard from her since… I so wish that it didn’t affect me as much as it does because I feel like I’m not trusting God enough…. in fact I know I’m not and have confessed it…. If I could keep my eyes on Him… then I wouldn’t fret so… Anyway … hope you are able to get settled soon…. thinking of you ….. Diane


        • You wouldn’t be a normal mother if you were able to control those anxious thoughts with ease. In times like these, we can only focus on the moment we’re in. Be gentle on yourself. Feelings are incredibly powerful, and sometimes, those winds blow despite our best efforts to calm them down.

          I do hope you have a break through with her this year. We’ll both pray for that, okay? I owe you so many prayers, and I’m happy to bug the Judge on your behalf with you. 🙂 Keep a happy thought. I love you so much!!


  3. It sounds like you are moving on with your life. Good on you.

    It also sounds kind of exciting, like going away to University and having to live with strangers, finding your independence again.

    Good luck for 2014, I hope your journey is smooth!


    • Right? I’m really kind of enjoying a dorm-like atmosphere for a change.

      I’m so much better than I was this time last year. It really feels more like two or three years ago that all this was happening. I’m returning back to my more stable, peaceful, happy self. Whew! What a relief!! I was afraid I’d be this emotional whack job forever!!


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