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This is a guest post from my friends at Zillow.  One of their employees had experience sharing a house with the opposite gender and I thought she could shed some advice on how to go about it.  She was restricted to Zillow’s publishing guidelines so she couldn’t go into the more personal details.

###Enter Jennifer Riner of Zillow###

Depending on personality type and similar interests, living with someone of another gender can be an enlightening experience. It used to be frowned upon for an unwed man and woman to share a home together. Nowadays, young couples are commonly cohabitating before marriage. In this modern era, friends of varying genders are also electing to collectively reside.


Shared gender households worry less about their clothes being borrowed or food constantly being eaten without permission. These are just a few, albeit archetypal, examples of why one may choose to live with someone of a different gender. Nonetheless, convenience and timing trump most other factors when deciding to live with the opposite gender. Making it work long-term may be a challenge, but consider these five tips before signing a lease with a roommate of a different gender.

Shop Based on Layout
Privacy is important, especially when living with a member of a different gender. Renters can look for apartments using Zillow’s free apartment search tool. Be sure to review bedroom proximity before deciding on a unit. Floor plans allow potential tenants to consider the essential space between sleeping quarters. Further, consider splurging for a multi-bathroom unit. While physically similar roommates are often comfortable getting ready in the bathroom at the same time, other roommates may have hesitations or concerns. Having more than one bathroom helps reduce bottlenecks when it comes to getting ready in the morning.

Meet Significant Others
Even if roommates are strictly platonic, significant others might experience jealousy. To avoid any drama or overprotectiveness, make an effort to get to know the partners of roommates a little better and attempt to reiterate honest intentions. Encourage roommates to invite their loved ones over for group dinners or game nights. Once a friendship forms and hangouts are frequent, the situation becomes more convenient than uncomfortable.

Implement a Guest Policy
Most of us tend to gravitate toward human beings with similar traits, both physical and emotional. It’s likely a male roommate, for example, that has a large number of male friends. He may decide to have his buddies over to the apartment on a regular basis. Female roommates might be easy going around her male roommates, but feel uncomfortable around unfamiliar male guests. Make sure to give fair warning when visitors are due to arrive to avoid awkward run-ins.

Encourage Cleanliness
Each roommate may have a different standard when it comes to cleaning and organization tactics. However, keeping a sanitary apartment is a positive habit for all tenants to adopt. Roommates should communicate and set expectations on their desired cleanliness levels, who will be responsible for what or how the chores should be divided. One option is to create a chore chart for shared cleaning schedules. Some roommates prefer not to make such hard-set guidelines, but talking and setting expectations is a good first step. By keeping organized, there is less chance for dirty build-up and the need to spend time and money on hefty cleaning when moving out.

Be Considerate of Gender Differences
For instance, roommates with long hair are likely going to require more time in the bathroom. Try to understand the extra time required for someone to take care of their hygiene. Avoid complaining; instead, politely request roommates are mindful of their habits such as leaving stray lengthy hairs scattered about or constantly leaving the toilet seat up. Rather, make a request for roommates to be more conscious next time, and try to understand everyone has different bodies and habits.

Mixed-gender apartments can work just as well as units housing same-gender tenants. Consider the aforementioned steps before diving into a lease with a friend or partner to avoid miscommunication and broken companionships due to a lack of understanding.

Jennifer Riner is a Marketing Account Manager at Zillow. She writes about home improvement, rental management and local real estate for Zillow partners and the Zillow Blog.  During her stay at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Jennifer lived with students of different genders. In her experience, mixed-gender living situations are a great way to develop patience to things she wasn’t used to (i.e. beard shavings on the bathroom sink). Her and her roommates improved on their organizational skills by learning from each other’s good and bad habits. They put together a chore chart to divvy up responsibilities evenly – regardless of gender. Overall, she would do it again in a heartbeat and recommends everyone step outside of their comfort zone to live with people they can learn from.



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