Living in a shared space can be rewarding but it comes with its own challenges. You will always have someone to talk to but you may have run-ins about certain mannerisms and actions. We asked 5 Nigerians to share their experiences living with housemates in shared apartments. Here are some of their stories.
- I was fresh out of school, and on a lean budget, so to save costs, I decided to get a place with my friend. That was what was sustainable for me at the time. I decided to get a place with this person because we’ve been friends for 6 years so I thought it’d be easy to live with them. We had been roommates in school and we knew each other well. Everything seemed fine until we got the apartment.
The good: There was always someone to talk to, help you get packages, share food with and little things like that. When I fell sick, she was there to take me to the hospital.
The ugly: I would say she was very envious of me. She would help me take delivery of packages and ask me how I could afford things without a job. She was uncomfortable with my friends coming over. She wouldn't contribute to groceries. I singlehandedly furnished the house and I was the only one stocking up on groceries. I would put things in the fridge and she would just take them without asking. I would buy two of everything for the both of us and she would eat hers and mine too! She had no boundaries - she would wear my clothes and not return them.
To make things worse, she got a dog! I was always cleaning up after the dog because she wasn’t potty trained. Her hair was everywhere, You could be eating and see strands of the dog’s hair in your food. Towards the end of our time together, she came to me and said she would like to move out and asked if I wanted to keep the space and I said no. She came back a month after to say she changed her mind and would like to keep the space and since I said I didn’t want to, I should move out. While I was house hunting, she asked that I pay her rent monthly to live in the house. Meanwhile, it was my furniture and pots and electronics in the house. I thought living with a friend would be easy but the truth is, you don’t know a person until you have lived with them.
Now: Needless to say, we aren’t friends anymore. Would I consider sharing an apartment again? I can comfortably afford a space by myself now but because of security and emergencies, it’s a yes for me. However, there would be laid down rules and boundaries. - Black, Lagos
- In 2019, I moved in with my brother but he got engaged and had to move out. The plan was for me to keep the space but I couldn't afford it on my own. My sister in law also lived with her two sisters, so I suggested that one of her sisters and I moved into my brother’s space and split the cost. The sisters insisted that they both either move in or none of them moved in. Long story short, it became three of us in the apartment which had one room and a living room. We converted the parlour to a second bedroom. We didn’t have any relationship before moving in together. We didn’t even meet before paying the rent but I knew of them through my sister-in-law.
The good: It is great living with them, to be honest. One of the sisters is a lawyer so she had a way with words, especially with managing artisans. As a woman alone, they may try to tip you off but with the three of us, it is hard to do. We have bonded over time. We share personal stories and they took care of me when I was sick. I went through a round patch in my life in 2020 and they were there to provide the emotional support that I needed. We keep tabs on each other for safety as well. Just knowing that there are people that care about you and you can return home to is beautiful to experience.
The not so good: I get cranky a lot and one of the sisters is not so tolerant so we've had face-offs a couple of times. Our first major fight was over something very insignificant. She was having a bad day so the argument got blown out of proportion. We didn’t talk for a week but we made up after. Also, I work remotely while they both work a 9-5 so I’m home most days which makes me sort of the housewife. Calling artisans to fix things and general home management naturally falls on me. And I don’t feel too good about that. It gets tiring sometimes.
Now: We are really good friends now however I want to experience living by myself soon. If the house was bigger, it would be the perfect living condition. Sometimes, I just want to be by myself. I need more privacy. - Olaide, Abuja
- I relocated to another country and needed a place to stay temporarily. So I moved in together with my former housemates after being matched by a roommate matching service.
The good: We were of different nationalities and I enjoyed getting to understand different cultures. We took turns cooking each other's home food & had house dinners. It was a serviced shared apartment so we didn't any squabbles about cleanliness or tidiness. What is interesting about our time together is two of the housemates fell in love. 💀
The not so good: It wasn't enough privacy for me so I had to move out.
Now: We are all still friends to date. I would definitely consider sharing an apartment again but with fewer people. - Peter, Germany
- My first apartment was a size of a wardrobe and it was pricey. It was a self-contained apartment and the walls were so thin. I could hear the slightest noise from my neighbours. I had one window and there was a church right by that window. I didn't realize how small the apartment was until my friend came over and used the toilet. We had to step out of the house because of the smell. That was when I knew I had to move. My friend has flooding issues in her space at the time so we decided to get a place together. We were very specific about the kind of house we wanted because of our experiences so spacious, airy, with no flooding issues and in a quiet environment.
The good: We've lived together for four months now. Living with them so far has been good. I don't have to see them as much because I live in the master bedroom (which I pay more for) and it has a bathroom. The other two rooms have to share a bathroom so there have been arguments based on hygiene and toilet use. One thing I like about the way we resolve things, especially with my friend is it doesn't need to devolve into something negative. We talk things out as adults and we address them.
Now: I can't say that we are besties but we are cordial. - Angela, Lagos
- I wanted to move from my tiny apartment to a bigger space but Lagos agency fees were after my life and I couldn’t afford to get one by myself. So three of us teamed up to get space together. Somehow somehow, three became four. I’ve known two of the people I live with for a few years now; one of them longer than the other. We met the last person in the struggle of looking for an apartment. We bonded over our shared hatred for Lagos agents and the urgent need to change apartments.
The bad: At first, it was calm. But because didn't know the third housemate well before we moved in, I began to see some things I didn’t like and so I kept my distance. One seemingly insignificant incidence blew everything to smithereens. We fought over the use of shared spaces - kitchen and living room - and some things that could not be retracted were said. It affected my relationship with the other two housemates and now I just stay by myself in my room except when it’s necessary, like paying bills. We do not exchange words, not even pleasantries.
Now: I still live with them, unfortunately. I’m hoping that’ll change soon. I WILL NEVER EVER EVER SHARE A SPACE AGAIN. I’ve done it twice now and regretted it both times. Not even with family. I can have visitors but I can’t live with anybody ever again. May all my ancestors forbid it. Even visiting will come with rules because I remember one time someone wanted to visit for a while. A while became months until I was almost the visitor in my own house and then one day I realized the person had a key to my room that I did not give them. Ya Allah, deliver me from such shackles. - Kikelomo, Lagos
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