Going away to university is exciting, whether it is your first year or not. One of the big decisions is where to live and many students opt to find the right property for rent rather than live on campus – there’s just a little space between you and university when you do this. But most students can’t afford to rent a house or flat by themselves so the obvious option is to live with housemates. This can be challenging but there are some things you definitely want to know before you both sign the agreement – here are five important examples.
One of the big arguments between housemates can be around groceries and food shopping so it really pays to establish rules about this from the start. There are two main options – share the shopping or each shop yourself. If you share the groceries, you need to decide who does it and what happens to the shopping – is it a free-for-all or do you have some stuff that is yours and some theirs? Alternatively, if you decide to keep separate, establish where you keep each other’s stuff to avoid arguments over what food belongs to who.
Personal or communal stuff
Another source of controversy can be property. Some stuff has to be communal – the TV is a good example unless you each have one in your room and just watch them there. Kitchen equipment is another that both or all of you will use – no house has room for two cookers and two washing machines! So decide what you are willing to share and what’s hands off. Some people are happy to share everything while others like to keep some stuff to themselves – electrical gadgets like laptops and tablets are good examples.
Like the grocery shopping, establish routines and responsibilities about cleaning from the outset. You need to find out if your housemate is a neat freak or a bit of a slob and there are gentle ways to do this without being offensive. Compare your approaches and work out something in the middle that satisfies everyone – creating a cleaning chart is a popular way to keep track of tasks and stop any arguments.
Paying the bills
Living together means sharing certain bills such as the rent and utility bills. But you also need to sort out who is going to actually pay them and how will it be done – for example, if a direct debit is set up from one person’s account, does the other set up a standing order to move their share ahead of the payment? Or will you manually pay the bills when due – if so, who is responsible for the actual payment process? Working these things out before you move in is an important step.
Approach to studying
Even at university, there will be people who have a laid back, relaxed approach to studies and want to have a good time as well as learn. Others will be hyper focused and all about their mission to earn their degree. There’s no right and wrong but try to understand what your housemates approach to studying is before you begin as this can save arguments later.
Making a rented, shared flat feel like home can be hard work, especially when you’re living with strangers. I’ll make sure I get myself a student bus pass so that’s one less thing to worry about.