City Cast

How to Survive a D.C. Group House

Kaela Cote-Stemmermann
Kaela Cote-Stemmermann
Posted on July 24
Homes rented in Columbia Heights. (Grace Cary/Getty Images)

Homes rented in Columbia Heights. (Grace Cary/Getty Images)

In D.C. it’s common to live in a row home with 3 - 10 (or more!) people far into your 30’s. While you might be picturing a New Girl situation, oftentimes it’s more like this:

“We had all settled down to watch TV one day when we heard scurrying, and before anyone could react, a big fat rat fell from the ceiling! It bounced off the couch and ran around our living room while we screamed.”  - Hey DC reader, Erin L.

“I lived with three other girls in a 1B/1B row house that was completely infested with rats - we had to keep all our food in bins. Also, the smoke alarm would go off every time you turned the oven on, but we didn't care, we were so distracted by the rats.” - Hey DC reader, Rebekah B.

But it's not ALL bad, in fact, group homes can be a great way to build community.

“Six of us all lived in a group home (a former brothel!) for years. Those that moved away all found themselves coming back for parties and sleepovers. Fast-forward 12 years and everyone has moved out, but we’re still best friends!” - Hey DC reader, Kim B.

“I live in AdMo with seven roommates. I love that we have a beautiful space for hosting! We’ve hosted for Porchfest, have done several Sofar Sounds concerts, pottery events, BBQs, etc!” - Hey DC reader, Charlie C.

Living in a group home also means being able to host things like Poarchfest! (Kaela Cote-Stemmermann/City Cast DC)

Living in a group home also means being able to host things like Poarchfest! (Kaela Cote-Stemmermann/City Cast DC)

So, how do you keep a happy group house? You all had some advice:

“Discuss how sharing food and cooking works up front, will it be individual or family style?” - Hey DC reader, Auj B.

“Call out other’s messes quickly and don’t take hygiene comments personally. This avoids passive aggression and nips problems in the bud.” - Hey DC reader, Ben H.

“Keep a chore wheel and have regular house meetings!” - Hey DC reader, Cora L.

“Ask someone if they are an axe murderer - their answer tells you lots!” - Hey DC reader, Margaret C.

"Learn the history. A lot of these homes used to belong to wealthy D.C. families, and you can track their history at the People's Archive at MLK library. My home's original owner was a doctor who practiced in the basement! - Hey DC reader, Charlie C.

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