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There was once a time when living with housemates was just a phase. Maybe you'd spend a few years in a sharehouse with them but then you'd be off!—being able to afford your own home, becoming an adult etc.
Now though, housemates can be a reality deep into your 30s and beyond. Bleak.
But there are good housemates and there are bad housemates. The good ones leave you alone and know the secret to keeping houseplants alive. Bad ones clog the drains, love psy-trance as much as they do kick ons, and seem to have a near endless supply of mates who need to "crash on the couch, if that's okay? They're just in a really tough spot right now. Should only be for a couple days, or a week or two."
If you're looking for bad housemate stories, where is better to start than Sydney—a city where you'd be hard pressed to find a shoebox room for less than $300 a week. We headed out to Pitt Street to ask for people's grossest housemate stories. Warning, there are many, many mentions of cockroaches in this piece.
Todd, 23 and Isabella, 22
Tell me your gross housemate story. Everybody has one.
Todd: There was this old as fuck bottle of tomato sauce in my house. My housemate pulled it out of the cupboard and when they opened the lid it exploded, it actually hit the roof. There were still stains there when I moved in, and apparently it had happened like six-eight months before. So that proved how much they wanted to clean it.
Can you still picture the stain?
It was just like red. Well, not even red anymore, it was more like brown stain all over the roof. It shot everywhere, not just straight up. It exploded out of the nozzle. It was really gross.
What that as bad as it got?
I found a nest of cockroaches under our toaster. Because they ate the crumbs and they liked the warmth. I lifted it up one day and there was like 40 of them underneath there.
What was your reaction when you found that?
“I need to move out of this fucking house.” Nah I was like, “Man, I’m just not making toast anymore hey?” I cleaned the entire house and within like two weeks, it was back the same it was. I was like, I’m not really interested in cleaning this house every week.
I found loaves of mouldy bread down the side of the fridge. It’s just disintegrated because there was so much fucking mould... you couldn’t even see it. It was like vaporised. Everything inside was just powder.
Did you ever go off at your housemates?
I mean I tried to but they just try to pin it back on you. Like, “This is your shit.” I’m like, nah, this is not my shit. Like, kick ons worth of MDMA encrusted plates and shit. They would be left there for like two weeks and they’ll be like, “Clean up your plates!” I’m like, ahh do you see my pupils? I’m fine bro! That house was disgusting.
What’s the most disgusting habits your room mates have had?
Graham: I used to live in a warehouse that had 12 people. A bunch of different people—uni students, drug dealers, sex workers, strippers, artists. And because there was no responsibility taken we probably had, per weight, more cockroach than people.
Please don't tell me you woke up to one crawling on your face? That's genuinely my worst fear.
You’d get up at night and if the ground didn’t move when you got up, it was a strange experience. There were that many there. I actually know what the smell of cockroach shit smells like. I’ve seen what happens when a cockroach breaks down, they turn into this white fuzzy matter.
Tell me some of the other places you've seen cockroaches.
I’ve seen a saucepan that was left for three months because the owner, who had used it last, couldn’t be bothered cleaning it up. So after three months, someone threw this cockroach infested saucepan away and the owner got really irate. They said, “I can’t believe someone did that, that was my grandmother’s!” I just started laughing and he’s like, “It’s not funny man!” Actually it was funny, because if that was such an important item, you should have done something about it. It was sitting there for three months.
Was that the grossest thing about the house?
We’d be living with 12 people and we’d buy bulk toilet paper. Toilet paper would run out, no one was bothered to buy more. You’d shit and shower.
And, let me guess, no one would ever clean the shower?
Nah, no one would clean the shower. One of the girls that lived there, her cat brought home a dead bird. It literally stayed in the middle of her floor for three weeks. She didn’t want to move it, it was too disgusting.
Meri, 21 and Andrea, 25
What’s the most disgusting habit one of your room mates have had?
Meri: The first night that she [their new room mate] live in the house, she come with one boy and she…
Andrea: She fuck in the couch
In the living room?
In front of everyone?
Meri: No, but we hear them. And after she come to my room with this guy, and the guy in the night [Meri makes snoring noises] so I have to go sleep on the couch.
Andrea: (Laughing) He snored a lot!
What’s the most disgusting habit your room mate has ever had?
Vicky: My ex-boyfriend used to cut his toe nails. Not over the toilet, he used to just cut them on the floor. So they’d be all over the carpet. I’d be walking and have something stuck to my foot and there would be a toenail on the bottom of my foot. That was disgusting.
Did he ever try to justify leaving his toenails everywhere?
He said he could get a better angle when he sits on the end of the bed than if he does it over the toilet seat.
You can't argue with logic.
Also, my old room mate used to have this habit where if she’d been to the shops, she hated going again, which is understandable. But it would mean you'd would go to make a cup of tea for everyone right, and you’d be like, "Do you want a cup of tea?” And this person would obviously know that there was no milk in the carton and yet would agree to having a cup of tea, so that you, the tea brewer, would have to go to the shop to buy more milk.
That’s psycho. Did you ever say anything to her?
I used to leave notes around the house, saying like “When milk is gone, what do we do? We say something!”
Passive aggressive. I love it.
What’s the most disgusting room mate you have ever had?
Rhees: So I had an English room mate and he wouldn’t do his dishes for about eight or nine days. They would be piling in the sink to the point where you couldn’t fit a plate on the sink. We’d get cockroaches and it smelled really bad.
Did you do anything about it?
I got really annoyed one week and I bundled them up in a plastic bag and I put it out the front of his bedroom door. He got really angry and wanted to beat the shit out of me. He said, “You want to take this downstairs? I’ll fuck you up!” I’m like, “Oh man, it’s just dishes.”
What happened next? Did you take it downstairs?
After this whole dish thing, my room mate decided he couldn’t be bothered doing his dishes anymore. So, what does he do? He goes and gets paper plates. He and his friend, who lived with us for a month, ate every single meal out of a paper plate with plastic spoons, so he could throw it away and he didn’t have to do any dishes.
How did things end up?
We weren’t too tight after that. I moved out shortly after, I met a girl and we just moved in together. She turned out to be worse.
Well, she’s actually my partner and the mother of my child so I probably shouldn’t say anything too bad... She’s just messy! She’s got a wardrobe and just leaves all her clothes on the floor. We are talking like 20 centimetres high all along the bedroom floor.
Just the right height to make clothes angels hey?
I bought her a guitar once for her birthday and I hid it in the back of the cupboard behind all her clothes once for three weeks. It’s a tiny apartment so there’s nowhere to hide a guitar. [On her birthday] I pulled it out and she says, “Where did that come from?” I replied, “It was hiding underneath all your clothes and you didn’t even know.”
What’s the most disgusting habit one of your room mates has had?
Jason: I had a room mate who used to floss his toes with his socks
What was he hoping to achieve with that?
Getting rid of itchy dead skin, I guess.
Did he do this outside or inside?
Just inside, normally on the lounge.
Did you confront him about it?
It was just one of those things where you eventually just kind of look at him and go, “What the fuck are you doing?”
What did he say?
He thought it was pretty normal.
Did he clean it up or did he wait for you guys to do it?
He kind of just left it for the vacuum, didn’t he?
So he’d leave it a few days?
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