When you move into shared accommodation at university, it will most likely be the first time you have lived with a group of your peers – or indeed, anyone other than the family you grew up with. It can be hard to adjust, so we wanted to share some tips for living with flatmates during your time at university…
Personal space is key
Everybody needs personal space and this is so important to remember. You’ll have your own room, and you’ll have a communal area. Don’t enter someone else’s room uninvited, and if you have designated cupboards in your kitchen or communal space then don’t put your belongings in somebody else’s. Treat everyone’s space as you want yours to be treated!
Label your belongings
If you have items which you are particularly precious about, then either keep them locked in your room or label them. It is rarely meant in a malicious way, but things go missing – especially if you live with people of the same gender or with similar interests to yourself. Someone might use your favourite coffee mug thinking it’s theirs, or your shampoo might run out faster than you expect. Use your common sense when it comes to keeping your stuff safe!
This is an important skill to learn in any aspect of life – but setting boundaries is a huge priority when you have flatmates. Discuss these on your first day or during your first week so everybody knows where they stand in terms of e.g walking around in their underwear or sharing cutlery.
Share the responsibilities
There is nothing worse than letting all of the cleaning to fall to one person – and the same goes for emptying bins, replenishing shared items and so on. Discuss a rota that everyone is happy to stick to, and tackle the subject openly and honestly. You don’t want to fall out over it, but stand your ground if you do seem to be the only one who notices when the toilet roll is running out or there’s week-old noodles stuck to a pan next to the sink…
If you know your flatmate has a 9am lecture and your room is right next to theirs, don’t blast dance music until 4am. If you get in late from a night out, don’t slam the doors and wake everybody else up. And if you notice something is empty: replace it! This goes for other peoples’ milk, the bin bag stash and the hand soap in the bathroom.
A huge part of living with flatmates is just treating people how you would want to be treated – and respecting each other’s time, space and belongings. It’s a learning curve and it’s okay to make mistakes as long as you are open to apologising and changing. Go forth, make friends and get to know each other. You’ll likely make some friends for life in your flatmates, and they’ll make your time at university so much better!