People live in shared houses for various reasons, for company, for affordability, to take a step away from the family and towards independence, and, most often, during their time as university students.
For the first year at university, many people will ease themselves into their new experience by staying in residence halls. This purpose-built accommodation block will usually provide a private room and bathroom, with communal kitchen and living spaces where students can socialize and get to know each other. After your first year, you will probably be itching to get out and choose your place to live with your new friends.
You will start looking for shared houses in the area you’ve found to have the facilities and social options that are most suited to your tastes and needs, so why shared house? Living in a shared house will give you the chance to grow even more as an independent young adult. Still, you will need to approach the experience with an open mind, as it may not be everything you expect!
Firstly, while it may seem that living with your mates is the perfect way to party your way through your next year at university, sharing your student accommodation will also mean that you have responsibilities – both to yourself and others. While it’s certainly likely that you’ll party a fair bit, you also need to keep a handle on the grown-up side of things.
Before you go rushing into decisions, it’s a wise idea to talk to your potential housemates about expectations and priorities – you need to make sure that you all have a similar outlook to what you want from the situation and what kind of place you want to live in. Consider things such as communal space, number of sharers, and whether a garden is essential before settling on which shared house to rent.
Once tenancy contracts have been signed and you’ve moved in, you need to make sure you’re all on the same page when it comes to cleaning and looking after the place. Set up a rota or share jobs out by a democratic process of taking the chores that you each least mind doing – then promise to stick to it! Nothing turns a fun atmosphere sour quicker than built-up resentment or feelings of people taking advantage, so keep talking, tackle issues as soon as they arise, and try to keep a sense of humor.
Respecting your housemates
One vital thing that all house sharers need to respect is people’s privacy. Just because you all pay rent for the same house, it doesn’t mean you have an automatic right to enter someone else’s room. You all pay for the privilege of having your private room and the use of shared spaces.
Most student accommodation will have locks on bedroom doors, but regardless of whether they get used or not, never enter someone else’s room without knocking, or without their knowledge. Unless someone has explicitly said to you that you can, this is an invasion of someone’s personal space and could even lead to accusations if something were to go missing.
Other things to bear in mind if you want to survive your shared house experience include not letting your guests stay too often, not stealing other people’s food, and being considerate with noise levels (especially if you know one of your housemates has an early start or exam the next morning), or small gestures like offering everyone in the communal space a cup of tea if you’re making one. It’s also important not to leave a mess in the toilet (grim, but yes, we’re talking both up and down ejections here!), not to make people feel uncomfortable with naked streaks to the bathroom and always have enough money to pay your way with the bills.
Sharing your student accommodation can be great fun and even help you forge friendships that will last the rest of your life – make sure that you all know your shared house rules and keep things fair. It should be another significant aspect of your university days.