This article was written by Madeline Hosking, a recent graduate of the University of South Australia. She enjoys traveling, bar hopping, and seeking out the best pho in town. You can find her documenting her misadventures on Instagram at @madelinehosking.
I always imagined that the first time I moved in with someone it would be exactly like it is on Friends.
I’d have a spacious apartment in a big city and drink coffee all day while surrounded by my best pals. But, unless you’re somehow loaded in your early-twenties and can afford more than some shanty, run-down hole in the wall, it’s likely that is not your destiny – it certainly wasn’t mine.
Molly and I met through a mutual friend at university. We were both looking for a new place to rent downtown and thought we may as well look together. We found this little apartment off of 17th Avenue for only $1,600 per month.
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It wasn’t very big, but it was a really cute three-bedroom, one-bathroom place, with a patio and a fireplace. Bargain!
However, we are poor university students and therefore needed another roommate.
Molly and I are quite extroverted, and we wanted someone who was okay with us having friends over regularly. We found a girl through Facebook Marketplace, and though she was initially a bit shy, Laura seemed great.
Fast-forward a couple weeks and we were all shuffling our things into this apartment. Molly and Laura both went on separate trips to the United States, so I spent the first two nights at our new home all alone.
Alas, my sweet new crib was to be somewhat tainted. I was sleeping that summer night with the window ajar when a grown man decided to rip my window open at around 4 am.
After the initial, obligatory scream, the first thing out of my mouth was, “Can I f*cking help you?”
“Hey! I thought you guys got kicked out?” he replied.
“We’re the new tenants, what do you want?”
“Who am I talking to…?”
“I’m Maddy! Dude, get out of my window!”
“Can I see who you are?” he said, lifted up the blinds, and poked his head through.
I tried to cover myself with my sheets as I was simultaneously blinded by the light coming in from the street.
“Oh, sorry. Wrong person!”
He was walking away when I yelled, “At least come back and shut my window!”
He came back and apologized again, gently slid it shut, and left.
“Classic,” I thought; only a Canadian would apologize after basically breaking in.
Obviously, I nearly went into cardiac arrest and cried a lot. In hindsight, I probably should have called the police and reported it, but he was oddly friendly and apologetic at the end, so I didn’t think I needed to.
I emailed my landlord explaining what had happened, though. That morning he rolled up asking if I was okay and fitted new security screens on our windows.
A couple days later we were talking to our neighbour, who informed us that our cozy little nook was previously a drug den. The old tenants allegedly used to cook and deal methamphetamine from what is now my window, kind of like a McDonald’s drive-thru.
The girls returned from their trips and the twitchy, on-edge feelings caused by my too-friendly visitor eventually faded. We started to get to know each other a bit better, but I guess I never really considered what one bathroom shared between three girls would be like (it’s gross, there is literally hair everywhere).
I didn’t really think about how small the place really was until we’d moved all of our furniture in.
Laura doesn’t even have space for a bedframe in her room, and Molly is basically a hoarder.
As extroverted as I am, I didn’t realize I’d have such a problem with the lack of personal space (evidently, I wasn’t very self-aware). Like when you’re in the shower and someone comes busting through the door to use the toilet. Or when you’re sound asleep at the quite reasonable hour of 2 am and your roommate comes barging in with no pants on to tell you about the boy who is in her bed AS WE SPEAK.
After a couple of “incidents” where one of us did something to annoy the others, we’ve now established a chalkboard in the kitchen with a set of rules banning certain activities.
Pro-tip, you must establish boundaries early and ensure your roommates are aware of your no-no’s.
Rule number 1: “No Frat Boys.” Some of my good friends are in fraternities; however, they’re still 20-something-year-old males who tend to think with something a little more southerly than their brains.
Molly wears her heart on her sleeve and feels things pretty intensely, so every heartbreak from the result of a frat boy only wanting to get her into bed has resulted in the establishment of this rule as well as the vanishing of many tubs of ice cream.
Rule number 2: “If It’s After 1 am, Maddy (that’s me) Can’t Enter Laura’s Room.” I tend to get super chatty and have no volume control when I’ve been drinking, and I can’t seem to comprehend that not everyone is awake and buzzing at 3 in the morning. This rule was put into place after more than one scenario of me kicking open Laura’s door in a bid to get her up and partying.
Don’t get lost in the sauce, friends. Your roommates will resent you for it.
Lastly, rule number 3: “No Shower Sex.” This one has been banned in its entirety. The apartment feels like it has paper walls when someone is “saving water” with a special someone else. It literally ends up sounding like a construction site with the amount of banging and drilling going on (pun intended). Pair that with each individual’s own beautiful… noises…and it’s all super uncomfortable and irritating.
Especially when there’s just the one bathroom in the entire place.
What I’ve learnt in the last couple months of living with strangers is that you have to be okay with people eating your food, borrowing your clothes, leaving dirty dishes everywhere, and that, on occasion, you’ll need to block out their weird sex talk that echoes through the walls. Really, the key lesson to learn when moving in with anyone is tolerance.
I lucked out with my two girls. We all definitely have annoying habits, but overall, we get along super well, are willing to sit through each other’s dramatic stories, and get to down many bottles of red wine together.
My “visitor” hasn’t come back yet, but I still make sure to lock my windows at night and to not be so trusting of ground-level apartment buildings in downtown Calgary.