Unless you are living at home whilst at studying at Lancaster university or the University of Cumbria, it is likely that you will be living in shared student housing. When it comes to sharing a communal kitchen, living area and bathroom and being faced with general household chores, it’s important to figure out a way of dividing things up responsibility so everyone does their fair share. This informative guide by StudentHQ Lettings in Lancaster provides tips that will make it easier to live together, and probably more fun too!
Important issues when living in shared student housing:
- Washing Up
- Cleaning and Chores
- Paying Bills
- Bedtimes and Music
- Personal Space
- Dealing with Slackers
How to deal with cooking when sharing a student house.
If the constant jibes about how students only eat pot noodles and yesterday’s pizza haven’t started yet then count yourself lucky. You’ve got three years of this coming right up! Just because the general public believes students live on scraps doesn’t mean that you actually have to live this way! Cooking is a central part of any household and there are a number of ways you can cook with your new housemates. Not only does this help save money, you’ll also get to suss out who you actually like a lot quicker.
Cooking as a group:
This is by far the cheapest but demands similar tastes and an agreed group budget. It can also cause some issues if one of you doesn’t “eat in” all the time. If you are all shopping as a group though, it also alleviates the issue of “who stole my milk/butter/eggs” and trying to fit everything you own onto one tiny fridge shelf. Or the bottom drawer if you were the last one to rock up.
Do what you want, when you want. Expensive due to waste but a lot easier to manage. Can also lead to insane food jealously when you notice the duck and sautéed potatoes your housemate is “just knocking up”.
Take it in turns to cook for each other:
Needs commitment and initial planning but means that you get a varied diet. You also still get to buy your own stuff on your own budget and adjust the rota if someone is away a lot. It also means you get nights off from cooking without having to go hungry!
Come dine with me:
You could run your own version of the hit TV show once a week and if you’re looking to go all out you can even invest in a scorecards and set up a camera. Just no going through each other’s knicker drawers please.
StudentHQ Best Pick:
It might seem an effort at first, but having a cooking rota means you get all the benefits of not having to share your shopping if you don’t want too, but you can still look forward to hassle free nights of food. However you decide to split up the cooking though, it’s always best to try and plan ahead for the week. Working out what you’re going to cook might seem a bit dull, but it’ll stop you getting tempted by things you don’t need when shopping and help you to budget better.
Everyone needs toilet roll in their life, but who ends up paying for it? While not exactly glamorous, food and house essential shopping are very important, especially when it’s 3am and you really need the toilet. As with cooking, there are various ways you can all collaborate on the weekly shop.
Shop as a group:
Though not always practical, it is much cheaper. Make even bigger savings by using www.mysupermarket.co.uk which also saves your shopping lists for next time.
Group shop essentials:
More practical and allows for personal food preferences. Either all chip in to the washing up liquid and bog roll fund, or just take it in turns. Make sure to write down who bought what though, as tiffs over oven cleaner have been known to escalate horribly.
Independent essentials shopping:
Makes little sense, and leads to waste and arguments. There’s no point in having a bottle of washing up liquid each (especially in a house of 8)!
SudentHQ Best Pick:
Group shop on the essentials all the way. It saves money and still gives you the freedom to buy what you want food wise.
The Dreaded Washing Up
Nobody likes doing washing up and if you do then that is a bit weird! It’s not often we admit that the stereotype is right, but washing up does have a tendency to pile up in a student house. For the safety of all involved and the desire not to get in trouble with your landlord it’s important to lay down the law early on.
Do your own as it comes:
Okay as long as you do it straight away. Stacked dishes blocking the sink won’t make you too popular housemate.
Whoever does the cooking that night:
Makes sense and shares it out, though maybe stagger the rota so someone else washes up when they don’t cook.
Use a rota:
Using a rota doesn’t have to be rigid, but can be tricky as the level of washing up may vary.
StudentHQ Best Pick:
If you’re sharing out the cooking anyway, it makes sense to share out the washing up too.
Household Cleaning and Chores
There should be a bit of give and take with cleaning. You need to make sure that everyone knows what standard is to be kept and then stick to it. Be appreciative of other people too. While you might be growing quite attached to the furry monster growing in the fridge, your housemates probably aren’t. Though it can seem like a lot of work, if everyone comes to some sort of agreement it shouldn’t be time consuming or too much effort. It’s also worth accepting early on that chores will never get split exactly equally, but if everyone pitches in there shouldn’t be any hard feelings. And, if you do notice something in the house is messy, dirty, disgusting or a health hazard, do something about it instead of standing around moaning about it.
Do it as a group when it gets too bad:
If you’re going to go for the group clean up approach, make sure you’ve got some clear ground rules about what “too bad” is. It is easier to root out the slacker this way, and it is probably less arduous if you’re all cleaning in a big group and having a laugh. You’ll also get an amazing sense of satisfaction at the transformation.
Have another rota:
So you might have guessed by now, we like to suggest rotas. This can cause a bit of tension though, if some people don’t feel like they’ve made any mess.
Clean up your own stuff:
Works well in theory, but kind of forgets that some things need doing no matter how much you clean up after yourself. Also, the chances are that someone will be slacking off.
StudentHQ Best Pick:
We’d say the easiest thing to do is clean up after your own mess when cooking and then make arrangements for a rota for stuff like taking out the bins, cleaning the toilet or mopping the floor weekly. That way, everything gets done and no one feels like they’re constantly cleaning up after someone else.
Paying Bills when Living in Shared Student Accommodation
This probably won’t be an issue in your first year, but if you’re living in shared student housing without bills included in the rent, you’re going to have to learn to divvy it all up. There’s a lot of different bills to think about from water, gas and electric to broadband and television licence. With a lot of money on the line with bills it’s really important to make sure bills are split fairly and paid on time. There are a lot of different options, but a lot depends on how well you know the people you’ve moved in with and how reliable and trustworthy you deem them to be.
One person take charge of each utility:
So, one person will take charge of each bill, then collect the money each month. This is probably the most popular option, but does rely on everyone having enough money to cover the direct debits and everyone stumping up the cash.
Set up a joint bank account:
Setting up a joint bank account which everyone puts money in means that no one person can be left with all the responsibility. Potential issues though include the fact if someone doesn’t pay up it will affect your credit rating too, even if it wasn’t you fault. Also a lot of hassle setting it up!
SudentHQ Best Pick:
The best option is to rent one of our excellent student houses with all bills included in the rent! This way you need not worry about paying any bills during your stay!
Bedtimes and Music
At the risk of sounding a little bit like your parents you probably should have a conversation with your housemates about your routines. There’s nothing wrong with being a night owl, but if your fellow housemates have lectures at 9am, they really don’t want to hear you blaring out rock music at 3am. If you’ve got something heavy on the next day, then make sure you tell your flatmates. Equally, once it gets past 10pm it might be worth opting for the headphones anyway so you don’t annoy the neighbours!
Respecting Personal Space
Living with a group of like minded people can be a great experience, but don’t forget that everyone also needs their own space. Many student houses will come with locks on the doors, which you should probably take as a hint not to go wandering into other people’s rooms. Even if they don’t, it’s just common courtesy to knock first.
Dealing with the Student House Slacker
This obviously depends on how you want to act. You don’t want to become a nagger but on the other hand it’s not fair if someone is not pulling their weight.
Here’s a few ideas below:
- Make up an embarrassing forfeit.
- Don’t involve them in communal activities (eg. Dinners).
- Everyone get on their back about it.
Obviously you should get on with your housemates and there will always be points of friction throughout the year but it’s all about having fun.