Design your life to include more money, health and happiness with less stuff, space and energy.

Design your life to include more money, health and happiness with less stuff, space and energy.

Live with Other People, Better

Finding good roommates is hard enough, but then you have to live with them. There are a million things that can strain the best of roommate situations: remembering who cleaned the fridge last, keeping on top of shared bills and so forth. A new venture called Chored, seeks to reduce some of these tensions with mobile technology. Through a crowdunding campaign, Chored is looking to make an app that digitizes the more contentious aspects of inter-roommate relations. Through the app, bills can be set up on an online account, split and paid through Paypal. Chores can be setup, assigned and tracked via the app as well. You can allocate “ad hoc tasks” such as getting toilet paper and note who did it and paid for it. If used–and that’s a big if in our minds–Chored could mitigate or eliminate much of the random grievances that make roommates resent each other (or it could amplify them I guess).

As we’ve said before, house-shares are often as (or more) space and cost efficient as micro-housing. But many people will pay a hefty premium to live alone rather than deal with common roommate-induced headaches. Living with people–even ones you like–can take a lot of effort and require systems to keep things running smoothly. Some of the best roommate situations I ever had were also the most regimented and rule-intensive. But most of my roommate situations were in a time long, long ago when not everyone had a smartphone. I could see how having a digital log of who did what and when could help people live together better. Time will tell whether: A. Chored gets their funding, B. people will use it, C. it’ll help people live together better.

If you currently live with a roommate/housemate, or successfully lived with one in the past, what systems did you use to keep things running smooth? Let us know in our comments section.

Thanks for the tip Sam

  • Marrena

    I can think of a few marriages this would help with, too.

  • Christopher Tilley

    I’m one of those people who’s very very very happy to pay the premium to live alone.

    • RealGirlInTheRealWorld

      I’d rather live in the streets than share a nest with another human. My dog only leaves one dirty dish on the floor.

  • marty

    one of the several reasons I live alone

    • marty

      one I only have to argue with myself and I always give in

      • marty

        two -morning breath is the least of my worries

        • marty

          three I don’t have to use dishes or silverware

  • Dominic Brown

    I’ve lived alone, with a single roommate, with a spouse, with a few roommates, and with twenty-four housemates. I’ve also observed many other shared-housing arrangements among friends. From what I’ve seen, one or two people can share easily, and twenty people can share easily, but groups of three to eight are a disaster.

    I think I know why (~500 words):

    Two people can easily share a space and chores equitably, because anything you chose to neglect, leave dirty, disarrange, or fail to purchase, you clearly expect exactly one other person to look after. It’s a plain statement: ‘you do it’, and if you’re not a sociopath, you’ll only impose on the other person to a degree you can justify to yourself and to them.

    With a dozen or more people, on the other hand, it’s obvious to everyone that you have a big space to manage, lots of food to buy and store, a ton of dishes and laundry, and chores too burdensome to leave to whim. You will therefore organize a system to handle it all—some kind of duty rota, cooking teams, a schedule for using the laundry room, that sort of thing. It’s not fun, and house meetings can be a pain, but everyone will accept that so many people sharing space and equipment will have to organize formally.

    With (say) five people, though, it all breaks down. You can pack your whole Costco trip into the fridge, not worrying about whether you’ve left enough room for other users. As long as there’s no system, the rudest and least considerate housemates will win the free-for-all. Anyone can leave a mess in the kitchen, vaguely (unconsciously?) hoping that ‘someone will clean it up’ without actually knowing who that someone might be. Finding that other people have left a mess, you feel no responsibility to clean it up…so your own incremental contribution to the stove grease, grubby counter, clutter of newspapers, or what-have-you, doesn’t seem like your responsibility either. It’s all just general dirt. At the same time, though, such a small group will reject formal schedules, division of storage space, or chore assignments—thinking, naturally enough, that a mere five people in a house should be able to get along without all that onerous bureaucracy. The result is chaos.

    I’d worked all this out years ago, after living in a hippie-commune sort of place with a lot of elaborate organization, painfully worked out over decades to prevent conflicts and unfairness. I vowed that I’d never move in with roommates numbering more than one and less than ten. Naturally, life being what it is, I moved in with four other people, about two years ago. Sadly, my predictions were entirely accurate. They’re fine people as individuals—exceptional people, in fact—but the kitchen is a pigsty, the bathroom is coated in shaving stubble, and I no longer eat fresh vegetables because I can’t get space in the fridge. No matter how smart and well-intentioned the people, a five-person share is inherently unstable.

    I’d love to offer some clever suggestion for making medium-sized shared accommodations work. There are a lot of good-sized family homes that would be a lot more sustainable if they housed five or six roommates rather than one childless couple. Homes with room for a dozen adults, on the other hand, are tough to find. Unfortunately, I have no insight. The problems are manifest, but the solution probably calls for shifts in attitude, habit, and culture—in my experience the toughest to bring about.

    • Amelie

      It can happen. 🙂 I shared a flat with two other women in my twenties, and we had a working system. One cooked, one made the dishes every day, and the third could just sit down and eat. A cleaning day every week, and money was taken care of every month. Having lived like that for years I actually believe three adults in a household is perfect for me, but I without a working system? Nope, nope and nope!

      • Dominic Brown

        That’s a good system. The best thing about living in that commune, with two dozen roomies, was that you only had to cook or wash up once a week—it was a big task, mind you, a good couple of hours, but the payoff was coming home to a three-course meal every day, mostly cooked by someone else. Cooking for twenty-five is hard work, but not remotely twenty-five times as hard as cooking for one.

        • Amelie

          We tried to get a flat in a commune earlier this year, but they choose another family. To bad!

  • Oliver – CEO of @Chored_app

    Honestly, I can see people liking the novelty of dishing out the chores over smart phone, but that it could be discarded as a novelty after a while. That why we built in an automatic rotation tool, so that once set up, the app will go through each person in turn, reminding them when its their dishes to wash. One user input, one time and the app automates the rest.

    But I think that the real utility, and the reason why the app will be picked up and used again and again, is because we are integrating the entire billing cycle into the app. Utility bills, like electricity, or gas or whatever, come into the app automatically when they are due. Chroed will then split the bill out between all of the housemates who can then pay their subsequent parts through the app (which then goes straight to whatever utility company).

    Its a convenient way of managing cash flow in shared house, and keeping track of all shared bills, past and present. Seeing whats owed, who paid and when is something that we hope will put this app on the home screen, long after you’re bored of bossing everyone around the housework.

  • Madelaine Daley

    My roommate is my 21 year old daughter. What a good idea! An app. Ive done this sort of thing on paper, stuck it on the fridge but she doesn’t look at it. She would use an app though.