So you have decided to move off campus and share a student house with some uni pals. Your choice of housemates has the potential to make your student house experience fantastic, or, drive you absolutely crazy.
Getting on with others is a key life skill, but navigating shared housing can be a bit tiring at times, so here’s a short list of tips on some common issues that come with living with others, so you can have the best time at uni without having to worry about those regular household issues.
Student housing is not generally known for having an abundance of storage space and you could very easily get landed with only half a shelf in the fridge if your fellow housemates move in before you. Combine this with multiple pots and pans, plates, utensils and cutlery all squashed into one kitchen and the frustrations of not enough storage could easily result in arguments.
The Fix: Plan ahead and consider sharing with your fellow housemates if space is at a premium. It’s a good idea to take a look at the place before everyone moves in and decide exactly who gets what. This will save any potential disagreements when everyone moves their belongings in at the start of term.
People with different likes and dislikes living together in a small space is always likely to lead to potential arguments. This can create an unpleasant atmosphere for everybody and can become a major problem if it leads to housemates wanting to move out. Try to remember that the student house you are sharing is everyone’s home for the year and no one should be made to feel uncomfortable.
The Fix: It’s always a good idea to try and come to some sort of compromise. It’s not pleasant living in a house where there are underlying issues and tension between fellow housemates. If you really can’t reach an agreement then try to put the matter behind you before matters gets out of hand. If you’re not directly involved in the matter then try not to take sides, it is much better to leave it to those involved or you risk the situation blowing out of control – maybe lock yourself in your room for a while or get out of the house. The last thing you want is for the bad atmosphere at home to affect your university work.
Bedrooms in shared student houses always come in a variety of sizes. Even within the same student house you can have rooms with completely different levels of desirability. It’s only natural in these situations that everybody wants the best room for themselves, so how do you decide who gets what?
The Fix: You can find ways to work around rooms fairly; in my house, the person who found the house got the best room. If this wouldn’t work for you, then something as simple as pulling room numbers out of a hat is a reasonable way to do it. Make sure before you sign anything make sure you end up with a bedroom that you can live with for the next year of your life.
If you’re a clean freak then sharing a student house with housemates who can’t be bothered is likely to drive you crazy. Spending your spare time cleaning the house only for inconsiderate housemates to spill their dinner all over the lounge carpet and leave a stack of dirty pots in the sink will have you tearing your hair out, if not theirs!
The Fix: If your housemate’s filthy habits become a big issue make them aware how much it is upsetting you and ask them to be more considerate. It may be they are totally unaware that their lack of cleanliness is driving you to distraction. If the issue becomes a big one call a house meeting and try to agree on a clean house policy. Working together as a house rather than taking an individual approach might have a better chance of success.
Save Energy and Pay Less
Responsibility for paying bills yourself after living in student halls of residence can be scary - you have to quickly discipline yourself to turn off lights and moderate the use of central heating. Unfortunately despite your best efforts it might be that your fellow housemates are not so disciplined when it comes to energy conservation. Waking up in the morning to find every light in the house left on is guaranteed to make your heart sink and dread the monthly electricity bill.
The Fix: The shock of a huge energy bill may wake people up to the realities of adult life, but if not, you just have to be tough and make sure you’re reminding people to turn things off. After all, no one wants to be out of pocket for other people’s forgetfulness. An even better option is to rent a house with all bills included in the rent like those let by StudentHQ Lettings.
Getting to know your fellow housemates
Perhaps the biggest issue with living in a shared student house is realising you don’t know the people you are sharing with until it’s too late. You may find that you start to clash with people who you would ordinarily get on with due to your close living arrangements.
The Fix: Whatever happens always try to create a pleasant atmosphere in your house for everyone; if you don’t get on with somebody, don’t antagonise them and stay out of their way. You don’t want home conflicts affecting your work at university. Remember that although you need to fulfil your contract, you only have to live with them for the duration of the year and then you can find somewhere or someone else to live with.
In order to make sure that any issues in the house are sorted out quickly good communication with your fellow housemates needs to be a priority. It is very important that everyone is kept up to date with any problems, as well as ensuring everyone knows when bills and rent are due. Communication is the most effective way to sort out any issues as it gets them out in the open so that they can be dealt with in an adult way.
The Fix: House meetings might seem a bit formal but they can be a great way to discuss matters of concern. Decide who’s in charge of what at the start of the year and have regular discussions about these responsibilities.
Living in a shared student house with a group of mates is generally great fun and is likely to provide you with many happy memories that you will look back on fondly in years to come. Remember to be flexible and open to new idea, you never know the living habits of your fellow housemates might actually have a positive impact on your life!