This week’s Housing Campaign theme is Who do you want to live with? That might seem really obvious: I want to live with friends – but it’s actually more complicated than it seems. The important thing isn’t how much you like your potential housemates; it’s how compatible your lifestyles are.
I won’t bore you with the saga of my second year house (where by the end of the year half the housemates weren’t on speaking terms, our kitchen rota looked like the International Space Station operational manual, and I was down hundreds of pounds for other people’s bills), but take it from me that there are some things you really need to get straight before you start looking for a place to live. In particular:
Budget. Cards on the table, how much can you afford? Is that including bills? What are you prepared to compromise on (e.g. location, facilities, putting on a jumper instead of turning on the heating) in order to get a cheaper deal?
Housekeeping. Be honest. How long is too long for washing up to be left? How clean do you expect your housemates to leave the bathroom and kitchen? (You should especially talk about this stuff if you’re in catered halls and don’t have to deal with it at the moment…)
Lifestyle. Real tensions can arise when some housemates want to settle down and get to work on their degree, while others want to kick back and enjoy life. How do you all feel about late nights, visitors, and parties?
Remember, there’s nothing wrong with deciding not to live with your best friends if you find you have very different ideas about how things will work. In fact, it can sometimes be the best way to preserve your friendship.
But I don’t have anyone to live with. Don’t worry! You have ages to sort it out and your perfect group are probably just around the corner – remember you can look on the Studentpad message board for potential housemates. Plus, you’ll have loads of options for living in purpose-built student accommodation, where you can book either individually or as a group, and won’t have to worry about whether your flatmates will pay their bills – it’s all included anyway.
Remember, it’s still way too early to look for accommodation – but it’s a good time to start talking honestly about what you’re expecting.
Residence Life Helen