Shared living is part and parcel of University life! Whether you’re sharing with complete strangers or some of your closest friends, there are many common obstacles that can arise.
Choosing your housemates
Make sure, if you get the choice, you chose the right people to share with. This can quite literally make or break your living situation. It is important to live with people you are compatible with and share similar priorities with. For example, if living somewhere that is spotlessly clean and tidy is high on your priority list, don’t choose to live with that friend that is notoriously messy. If you’re a very sociable person, make sure the people you are living with are sociable too and will want to spend lots of time in the communal areas with you. Just bear in mind your best friend might not necessarily make the best housemate.
Make the effort to spend time together
It is really important that you try and get on with your housemates and the key to this is everyone spending quality time together. Aim to get everyone together one a week or once a fortnight and do something fun. This could be going out for some drinks, taking a day trip or it could be as simple as a movie night. This will help bring you closer as a household and make you much more comfortable with each other, making awkward topics, like chores or someone not pulling their weight, much easier to discuss.
Split ALL the bills
Quite often, bills (such as gas and electricity, water and broadband) aren’t included in your rent and it is down to you to sort this out between yourselves. One way to do this is to have one person be responsible for collecting the money and paying the bills. This a lot of responsibility for one person so they would need to be organised and reliable. It also relies on the other housemates sending them the money. Another option is to use a service like Split The Bills, which combines all household bills into one payment, which is then split equally between all housemates. This can be very useful as it takes the pressure off the individual responsible for paying the bills. Remember, it’s not just bills that should be split equally. The cost of items such as toilet roll, soap, washing up liquid etc. should be split equally so that everyone is paying their fair share!
Cleaning can be one of the main reasons for tension and fall outs in a house share. This is one you definitely want to get ironed out early! One option is to come up with a cleaning rota that everyone has agreed on and has agreed to stick to. This will ensure everyone knows what they should be doing on a weekly basis and will hold everyone accountable. Alternatively, if you can all afford it, you could hire a cleaner for the communal areas and then you know the cleaning will definitely get done.
Respect each other’s schedules
You will all be living different lives with different schedules and it is important that you all respect that and help each other where you can. If one of your housemates has an exam the next day, respect that and don’t be making lots of noise into the early hours. Just put yourself in their situation and treat others how you would want to be treated.
Ask before you borrow or use
There is nothing worse than finding out someone has used your things without asking! It really isn’t hard. If you need to borrow a plate or use a splash of milk, just ask. It is just common courtesy and most of the time your housemates will be absolutely fine with it and will be more inclined to help you out again in the future. Also, if you do borrow something that needs washing after you’ve used it, such as a plate or a frying pan, then make sure you wash it. Don’t leave it for the person you borrowed it from to wash it – that’s not fair – you use it, you wash it!
Hopefully by considering everything above you will survive shared living and you might actually enjoy it. Living with a group of friends can be the time of your life, don’t let little, easily fixable issues get in the way of that…