Co-Living Advice

The Good, Bad and Ugly of Living With Your Sibling

After years of living under your parents’ roof, you finally have the opportunity to spread your wings and fly. You’re on your own. The scent of freedom is in the air, as you triumphantly pack your meager childhood possessions and prepare to move out. You venture forth into the great unknown to find a fabulous new place and a roommate to share it with — then someone has a bright idea. Maybe it was your well-meaning mother or perhaps a friend who doesn’t know any better, but someone suggests you move in with your sibling. And they’re all about it. After all, you both need to split costs, and sharing household responsibilities is something you already know how to do together. It’ll be fun, right? Well, there’s no turning back now, so before you resign yourself to sulking, here’s the bright side of living with your sibling.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Hypothetical situations aside, Caitlin Ledger lives with her brother in Philadelphia, and she says it was a joint decision that’s yielded many benefits. Ledger and her brother enjoy the comfort of familiarity plus all the financial and social benefits of having a roommate, which allows them to experience a new city together.

That being said, it was a rough adjustment. After being apart for years, they found living together wasn’t as easy as it had once been, having developed their own habits and ways of living over the years.

“We found ourselves bickering over how to do dishes, how the fridge should be organized, leaving the TV or lights on, and so on.” says Ledger. “My brother and two of my other roommates are night owls. Dan is a bartender and I work a 9-5. He likes to play his guitar and video games after he gets off work late, so there have been a few nights where I’ve zombied down the hall in the middle of the night and had to close his door, or tell him to turn it down.”

There was also an altercation involving all the roommates (who may have ganged-up on said brother) about toilet seat etiquette and, of course, there’s always the thing that’s almost impossible not to fight about among roommates:

“Oh my god, talking money with someone in your family sucks enough, but having to pay bills with him makes my head want to explode sometimes,” Ledger says. “What’s different about living with your sibling is that we can easily call each other out on being irrational and have no filter with what comes out of our mouths. We’ve had to have some conversations about this, realizing that we can’t approach roommate situations with a sibling attitude. I can’t pout and stomp my feet to get my way and he can’t scold me like his little sister. It has to be two adults, solving a problem logically and fairly.”


The Best Roommates

After a few weeks of getting to know each other in their new roles as adult roommates, Ledger and her brother started to realize they had an upper hand on other roommates. Previous co-living experience really pays off when it comes to navigating the day-to-day.

“There are lots of benefits to living with a sibling since you already know their habits. Dan loves to take long showers so I make sure that I get in the shower before him so I’m not waiting for half an hour,” says Ledger. We also both love orange juice. We always had it in the house growing up and I prefer a small cup in the morning, but Dan loves a big glass of O.J. and goes through it quickly. We’ve had to adjust this because we’re sharing orange juice again and can’t go through a gallon every couple of days. We also both love to snack. So I’ve been hiding some snacks I don’t want to share in my room (which he’ll find out about after he reads this, so I’ll have to change my hiding spot)! And lastly, I can also tell when he’s in a bad mood, so I know when to stay away or ask him what’s wrong.”

Armed with the knowledge of a sibling’s strengths and weaknesses, and the ability to speak candidly, these close roommates enjoy a closer relationship than others.

“I consider my brother one of my very best friends,” Ledger adds. “We bicker sometimes, but every time there’s an issue, we get better and better at solving it — which I think will really help our relationship in the long run. We are already so close, but now I feel like we are becoming more friends than close siblings.”

And even if they drink all the O.J. or bump Call of Duty at 2 a.m., you’ll always forgive them. Your sibling was your first roommate, after all.