I previously asked, How can I ask my housemate to put my things back? Someone suggested that I could have avoided ever needing to solve this problem by establishing boundaries early on.

I'm also looking for a new house with established housemates right now. I'm using a website and I'm refining my marketing boundaries. I'm also refining the initial message I send.


An answer in the linked question suggested setting boundaries such as tidiness and noisiness early. Another commenter suggested that it could be annoying if I ask for too much too early.

How can I establish my boundaries early on in the process of moving in with new housemates while not creating problems?

  • This is a little broad. Not only are you asking a broad question (how does one set boundaries; give some examples...), but we don't know your situation (are you leasing the apartment and looking for roommates?) If you can edit it to something more narrow in scope, and who is responsible for the apartment/house, this might be answerable. Commented Dec 7, 2017 at 19:00
  • You made a good point. I've now updated the question.
    – user9959
    Commented Dec 7, 2017 at 19:48
  • When you enter a flat with several people already in it, consider you will be the "new guy". This is not really a position of strength to impose your boundaries. If you write them a lengthy message, it can be perceived as "wow this guy is really annoying." Thus, you should aim to select for "civilized" roommates who will be more likely to respect you and your boundaries.
    – user2135
    Commented Dec 7, 2017 at 20:10
  • hm, I think it is still broad - you even added a question with that edit! :) It's good to know what you've tried, but what are the results? (i.e., how are you needing to improve your approach?) Are you moving into an already established apartment? How are you initially contacting them?
    – Em C
    Commented Dec 7, 2017 at 20:11
  • I've addressed both of your questions, and I'm going to try to split them up soon.
    – user9959
    Commented Dec 8, 2017 at 1:48

2 Answers 2


You have to check early--before making a sharing agreement--to make sure that you guys have the same set of values and sense of boundaries.

Do not be afraid of scaring them away, because if they blanch when you reveal your expectations, you will have made each other miserable had you lived together.

Not too long ago, I rented a room in a house with a middle-aged couple. Over the course of the ensuing weeks, it became clear that they felt entitled to my food, to use my room when I wasn't there, and to "borrow" things (batteries, coat hangers, detergent, jackets, etc.) that they never felt obligated to replace.

Ultimately, they allowed guests to sleep in my bed when I wasn't there. In trying to explain that I felt they were overstepping normal boundaries in our relationship, they seemed simply baffled: "How does it harm you to have someone sleep in your bed when you're not even there?"

So, it is much better for each side to lay out their expectations explicitly beforehand. If it scuttles the prospective living situation, count your blessings and move on. I ultimately had to move to another place after a few months, and that was a pain. Learn from my mistakes.

  • This is a good example of why it's important to set boundaries, but OP is asking how - can you address that part of the question?
    – Em C
    Commented Dec 9, 2017 at 23:25
  • Thanks. StackExchange has helped me refine my marketing process this Christmas. It's all come together in a mass-marketed subliminal story. Returned, Video.
    – user9959
    Commented Dec 10, 2017 at 18:34

The first answer here is correct. Here's mine:

I've laid the expectations out both in a bold advert, on a house search website, and at the initial viewing. I'm keeping in touch with the housemates after the viewing as well, to know what their priorities are.

I worked with my friends, you, my family and advert replies to refine my own search as well, which I reviewed with an excel spreadsheet initially. I've also sorted out some space issues where I am now. Thanks a lot.

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