Guide to Communal Living for Mature Men
This is the advertisement I found on Craig’s List…
Four bedroom fully furnished house on quiet dead end street in suburbs. Mature men only. Two Full Baths. Shared eat-in kitchen with dishwasher, pots, pans, dishes, and cookware included. Two Refrigerators. Washer & Dryer. Fenced in rear yard with large garden and mature trees. Off street parking for six vehicles. No pets. Smoking allowed outside only. Small workshop with general tools in basement. Ample storage. Each bedroom includes all furnishings and basic sheets, blankets, pillows, large TV, closet, dresser, nightstands, computer desk and chairs. Central heat and air. All utilities paid. Internet and basic cable with WiFi provided. Also large screen TV in living room with DVD. Includes trash, snow removal, and lawn care. Mature men only.
Price: $500/month per bedroom
I didn’t waste much time checking it out…there was one bedroom left…on the second floor which was not only the largest bedroom but the only bedroom on the second floor. Big enough that I am able to have all of my computers set up and my rolling office chair can travel the length at will.
Too good to be true?
Well, it wasn’t. Later I found, this same landlord owns several houses in which he operates the same way…successfully. He seldom has a vacancy, never worries about the rent being paid on time, and makes a small profit on top of his mortgages being paid. A month ago he bought another house and is the process of repeating his formula. His secret? Very simple, it boils down to one word: Mature.
And yes, I still live here today(albiet, I live here when I'm on the East Coast)…why would I not?
Butcher, Baker, Candlestick maker…
Now, of course, not everything is always pleasant here in Econoville. Even with the ideal set up, living with three other guys sometimes has had its challenges over the past year. But then again, the word mature is the operative word. It works because we work it.
One guy is a warehouse forklift driver. He works 2nd shift. He is divorced and about 52 years old. One is a thirty year old guy, never married, no girlfriend, no kids and is a retail cell phone specialist in a big box store. His schedule is all over the place seven days a week. The other guy is a 42 year old divorced bank auditor working 9-5 with travel out of town once or twice per week. He has one grown daughter and a girlfriend that visits several times per week. Me, I’m a divorced 56 year old man with nine grown children. I am a writer and consultant and unless I am at a client’s place of business, I generally am here all week long.
With all of that being said, working out the details of communal living with three other guys presents itself with a list of things/rules that have made it work. Perhaps, you may find what follows useful. There was no grand plan involved and no house meetings—again, that’s where mature steps in.
Rule #1: To each his own
There are 17 cupboards and seven drawers in the kitchen. I own two of each. Unless I open them, they stay shut. I own two shelves in the fridge and two in the freezer—do not rearrange my long range survival plan. And do not put a 20 pound turkey in the upstairs fridge. My car parks in the space to the right. Your girlfriend can park behind me if she lets her keys on the table. My room does not exist, stay out. And, of course, I will do the same for you.
Rule #2: I am not your mother
The broom lives in the corner, the forks go in the second divider, and your coat gets hung on the coat rack. The toilet paper rolls over the top, the living room remote sits on the end table, and when I’m taking a shower, don’t start a load of wash. It’s the “little” things that make the difference. And oh yeah…ice cube trays don’t fill themselves.
Rule #3: Thou shall not steal (beg or borrow)
Even though all four of us treat each other in a friendly way, we are not “best friends”. We are also not “best” enemies. We do not take others food, we do not borrow money from each other, and we don’t hitch rides to work. On the other hand, from time to time, we may make a cake and share it. I may ask if anybody needs anything from the store, or, I may share a bottle of wine if it is offered.
Rule #4: Headphone zone
I like loud music but not yours--especially if I am trying to watch a movie in the living room. We all own headphones, and we all use them from time to time. On the other hand, we have been known to set up speakers in the backyard on a hot summer day, and lounge while watching the garden grow or grilling.
Rule #5: Share the wealth
Sitting on the windowsill above the sink is a mason jar. In it goes pocket change. You are encouraged to drop a quarter or two in it from time to time. When the dishwashing liquid goes low, pick up another... if you are going to the store feel free to pay yourself back. If you find a good buy on paper towels or if the salt shaker is empty…you get the point.
Favorite Grill Food
What is your favorite grill food?
Rule #6: Oh yeah, the bank called…last month
I am neither your secretary nor your legal advocate. But, I am considerate enough to leave you an accurate message on the kitchen table or under a magnet on the fridge. If I see the note is missing, I know you got it. Please do the same for me. It works.
Rule #7: No thanks, I voted for Kermit the Frog
I have no clue of who my housemates do not vote for, nor do they know if I do, or do not, vote at all. No one else knows the balance in my checkbook and I don’t know if the other guys even use a checkbook. The point is, that even though we have lively discussions on politics, religion, and finances, we do not impose ourselves, or our beliefs, on each other.
Rule #8: The dirt stops here
We do not have “imposed” general cleaning duties. Toilets need cleaned, carpets need vacuumed, trash needs taken out, and once in a while, windows need washed. Somehow, It just happens…again, definition of mature.
Rule #9: Visiting hours
Even with the varied schedules we all keep, we are respectful of assumed quiet times. Company is fine and a house guest spending the night is fine, but none of us are the last stop on our buddy’s night on the town. House rules apply to all.
Rule #10: Do unto others
Bottom line, its okay for me to bring in my housemate’s Wall Street Journal if I come in and see it in the driveway on the way back from my morning walk. Its okay if there’s somebody else’s spoon in bowl in the sink when I go to wash mine…I will wash the bowl and spoon. And, it’s okay when my roommate’s girlfriend sets a place at the table for me. (But not if her boyfriend isn't home!)
Never too many cookbooks!
On the other hand…
On the other hand, there is a great communality among us that indeed helps makes things work. We all love to cook and grill. One of the best features of our “fully equipped” house is that it includes a large stainless steel grill. The rule is…Never Let The Tank Go Empty! We are very adamant about that. So much so in fact, that we each have purchased a spare “just in case.” We use our grill every week, every month, all year long. Two of the drawers in our kitchen are fully dedicated to grilling utensils, meat thermometers, brushes, and misters.
We accept gifts
Know someone like us? We are pretty much set in our ways and don't really need a whole lot to make us content...however, get us a new cookbook or cooking utensil...can't go wrong there!
Mature Toys for Mature Men
Okay, now I got myself hungry...I'm thinking a steak!
One last note...and then I'll shut up
Being, single, divorced, and old, I've learned a couple of things about being frugal. I don't go without food or a roof over my head, but I am always looking for good free stuff. Did you know that there are literaly thousands of free Kindle books available?