So this isn’t really that relevant to our moving to Australia. But I wrote it, and here it is! Please feel free to skip it.
Cleanliness – your room is your own space, and you can keep it as messy as you want, but common spaces must be clean enough for the most tidy person in the group (probably you?) Basic rules of humanity apply – if you use something, put it back, if you break something, replace it.
Food – discuss if you’re going to do house meals (I cook M and W, you cook T and Th etc etc) or if its every man for himself, and if so, there might be a household fund to buy groceries every one uses (you each don’t need your own sugar and olive oil, you might share some of these things) but that’s why a house fund is helpful. The only problem arises if one person uses sugar, butter, oil and all the household foods all the time, and others don’t use them as much, but if everyone pays the same, it might feel unfair to the one who doesn’t use it as much. So working out something like that is a good idea.
Noise – Work out if you will have quiet hours. This can be more complicated if one of you is on shift work. But for the most part, if you agree to quiet hours like 10:30-7AM on weeknights and 2AM-10AM on weekends or something like that, you should be fine.
Houseguests: If you want to have company, no problem just respect the quiet hour rules, or make sure all your roomies are on board if you will break the quiet hour times. Its always nice to invite ALL hoursemates to ALL parties held in the house. Sleepover houseguests should respect the quiet hours as well (includes loud sex noises).
Finally, a dispute resolution mechanism is helpful – agree to have open lines of communication and try to all be open to hearing feedback for better or worse, and giving feedback for better or worse. If you’re going to give someone a criticism, couch it in a criticism sandwich. (1 positive comment, 1 negative comment, and one positive comment) i.e. “Jessica I really appreciate that you always wipe your hair out of the sink after you use it. I was hoping that you could put your hair dryer away after you use it because it clogs up most of the counter space in the bathroom. I am also really glad to be your roommate because you sing while you cook” You CAN have a monthly house meeting, but I think that is probably unnecessary.
I suppose it is also important to have a rule about money. One person would probably be in charge of paying the rent, and the others give him/her the money for their share. I suggest the rule is every one pays their share on time and in full. No excuses. No exceptions. Make it happen. Never borrow from or lend money (including covering rent) to a roommate. Hopefully that won’t be an issue.
Well, my only other thing that I’m not sure how you can address is the biggest risk factor with having roommates: If someone moves out (temporarily or permanently) it can really affect the other roomies by forcing them to pay more, or having to live with a subletter until the contract expires.
One final thing I’d put into the house rules, not as a rule but as a guiding principle which will facilitate an easier living situation that will last longer is: Everyone should ask as little as possible of your roommates. Expect as little as possible of your roommates. Expect them to meet the rules you agree on and no more. When people feel put upon, that is when strain starts to happen. Does that make sense?