Hannah Slapper | Contributing Writer | Saturday, 21 February 2015

Question: What’s Worse, Having Nightmare Neighbours Or Horrible Housemates?

The Debrief: Answer: Both are pretty damn bad

Anyone who has lived somewhere other than their parents’ house will have encountered two similar but ultimately different problems: the horrible housemate or the nightmare neighbour.

If you’re lucky enough to have stumbled into a harmonious living arrangement with a friend or stranger, then you’ll most likely have some rowdy old bastard living next door. Or, if you live in tranquil surroundings, maybe your ‘roomie’ is a total nightmare. Either way, I’m sure you’re sitting there thinking your situation is definitely the worst.

It’s time to find out once and for all.

NOISE

Neighbours: It’s 8pm, you’ve poured yourself a glass of wine and are watching a nice rerun of Grand Designs. Maybe you’ll have some crisps and hummus. It’s lovely, refined, sophisticated. Then Geoff from downstairs pops on his favourite dub-step song at volume 480,000 and your flat has gone into full Jurassic Park trembling mode.

Fast-forward six hours and you’ve abandoned all hope of sleep in favour of singing along to the song, which you now know off by heart.

Fast forward six months and the local council noise team can identify you from the sound of your exhausted, despondent, dub-step destroyed voice on the other end of the phone. Disaster.

Housemates: Loud music isn’t really a problem with housemates because, in my experience, you just give their door a cheeky knock and then do a Ross-from-Friends kind of ‘keep it down’ hand motion with an ‘apologetic but please understand’ face. It works, even though you can feel them giving you the finger as soon as you close the door.

The real issue here is sex. There is literally nothing worse than hearing your flatmate ask her boyfriend to ‘put it in my bum, baby’ while you’re trying to finish your dissertation, and I’m speaking from experience here.

Conclusion: Horrible housemates win. I think every human being in the world would prefer to listen to muffled dub-step a thousand times over than hear their friend’s sexual fantasies played out at close proximity. 

ARGUMENTS

Neighbours: Overhearing your neighbours arguing is, in my opinion, quite funny. People are generally quite inarticulate when they’re angry, so listening to them trying to make a point is like the equivalent of watching someone try to push a large sofa through a small door. Amusing. However, what’s not funny is getting involved with a dispute, yourself. 

As soon as you have to politely explain to someone that when they let the bath run over it leaks into your living room, you’re opening yourself up to a world of frustration and pain. The sad truth is that people just want to carry on doing whatever it is they’re doing and not think for one second about what effect that has on your life. And you can see it their blank eyes as they dishonestly agree with you, and make concerned cooing noises. British neighbour disputes lead to the least satisfying arguments ever.

Housemates: As soon as you sign a tenancy agreement with another person, you’re opening yourself up to a world of bitchiness. The screaming rows are one thing, but it’s the petty, life-ruining, post-argument passive aggression that really bites. I’ve had people switch off the oven while my dinner was cooking. Turn off the bathroom lights from the outside while I was having an evening shower (you cannot rinse out conditioner in the dark, FYI), leave piles of non-folded not-quite-dry laundry outside my bedroom, take all the unwashed dishes and pop them on my bedside table ‘as a reminder’, and leave notes with just a ‘!’ next to empty toilet roll holders. It’s enough to make you take a vow of isolation.

Conclusion: As much as neighbours can be a pain in the ass, nothing in the world is worse than an uptight girl who wants a fight. I know because I am that girl. Housemates win again.

READ MORE: How Long-Term Housemates Make It Work... Tips From Those Who've Done It (Successfully)

CRIME

Neighbours: For the last two years I lived above a drug den. I’m not going to lie, it wasn’t cool – but sometimes it was quite funny hearing them outside my bedroom window getting angry that someone called ‘Riz’ hadn’t given them their money on time. Well, it was funny until you start worrying that something quite unpleasant might happen to Riz in the near future. But then you’re kind of like, ‘Well Riz probably should have budgeted for his cocaine habit’.

But the worst thing about living next to crack-head criminals was definitely the police, sirens blazing, druggies instantly scarpering, a lot of confusion, and me perpetually explaining they probably should have come in a Ford Fiesta in plain clothes if they wanted to actually witness something.

Housemates: Hah – drug-dealers and violence? Whatever. What about all the crimes that go unpunished every day? What about all the girls who have to put up with their flatmate’s wide-eyed protestations that she definitely didn’t steal your Bardot crop top – even though you saw a tagged Facebook photo of her definitely wearing it? What about the unforgiveable stealing of your emergency egg noodle supply and then the unabashed denial of your flatmate as she protests, judgingly, that she doesn’t eat carbs? It’s just like having sisters, but without the right to beat them up when they steal your stuff.

Conclusion: I would genuinely take class-A drug crime over helplessly knowing that another girl had been stealing my precious Bioderma and feeling like the bathroom cabinet would never be safe again. Housemates win.

Well, there you have it. A unanimous decision by myself, and I’m sure you agree that when you draw the short straw with a housemate, it’s best if you utilise that break clause ASAP. Or ask the neighbour if you could move into their place instead. 

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Follow Hannah On Twitter: @HannahSlapper

Picture: Francesca Allen 

Tags: Housemates Head To Head, Home Sweet Home