For many students moving into university accommodation, the experience will be the first time they’ve lived with others outside their family home. And, naturally, this can raise a number of challenges – foremost of which being getting along well with those you live with.
Living in shared accommodation can take some getting used to. Being thrust into a situation where you need to cohabitate with strangers, all from different backgrounds and walks of life, can be difficult for a lot of young people – but you stand a much better chance of feeling at home if you yourself are a good housemate.
And when we say, ‘good housemate’, we don’t just mean cleaning up and keeping the noise down (though those are important, too!). Living with others is about recognising boundaries, valuing people’s space and lending an ear whenever someone has a problem. Get these things right, and you’ll have a much smoother, happier experience of living in shared accommodation.
To help you be the best housemate you can be, we’ve put together this guide brimming with tips and advice on living with others. We’ve also enlisted the insight and expertise of human behaviour and relationship expert Patrick Wanis to help make sure your experience of living with others goes off without a hitch.
Tips for being great a housemate
To start, we wanted to share a few basic tips that can help you nail being a housemate right off the bat. Simple changes and thoughtful actions are all that’s needed here, so read our tips on how to get it right:
- Chip in – whether it’s cooking, cleaning or taking out the rubbish, show you value your home and those you live with by chipping in with the daily chores.
- Ask questions – no doubt you’ll feel wrapped up in your own world when you first arrive at uni, but try to make time to ask your housemates about themselves. Not only will be a good ice breaker, but it’ll create a great first impression and show your roommates that you’re someone they can rely on for a good chat going forward.
- Seek to resolve small issues before they get worse – we know it’s hard to confront your roommates with small problems and issues. You might feel conscious about rocking the boat over something so trivial, but it’s important to air your concerns before things get worse. Addressing issues as and when they happen is much better than letting things stew, and will mean you don’t harbour any feelings of resentment.
- Respect other people’s boundaries – you’ll be living with people from all walks of life, with differing views on what constitutes a good time, so it’s important to respect their boundaries and give them the space they need.
- Lock up and look after the place – simple things like making sure the doors are locked, windows are closed, and the shared living space is kept clean and tidy are key to being a good and respectful housemate. Those you live with will want to feel that they’re sharing a space with someone who cares about their safety, security and comfort.
Conflict resolution for students in shared accommodation
Living in a shared house or flat is always a matter of give and take. Everyone is different and has different standards and ways of doing things, so you have to find a way to live together harmoniously – even if there are big differences.
Naturally, in such an environment, conflict can happen. But it’s how you deal with such grievances that can make all the difference. Here are a few quick tips to help you resolve conflicts with your uni roommates.
- The problem: Your flatmate never washes up
- The solution: Create a rota to keep track of who is accountable for which chores
- The problem: Your flatmate is constantly playing loud music until late at night
- The solution: Talk to them about the problem without getting heated. If possible, ask other housemates to help you come to an arrangement about what time is reasonable for loud music.
- The problem: Your roommates bring loads of friends into your flat all the time
- The solution: Check what the rules say on bringing friends in the flat. If they’re disrupting you, you have the right to calmly raise the problem with your roommate.
- The problem: Your roommate is rude and doesn’t want to get to know you
- The solution: Keep an open mind and recognise that they may have things going on in their life. Rise above it and try to be as polite, open and friendly as you can.
These are just a few of the issues which can arise when living in shared accommodation, and there are many ways you can deal with small problems. If, however, you’re concerned by a flatmate’s behaviour, be sure to get in touch with your accommodation welfare team.
A word from our expert
Living with others in a shared space can be challenging, but also really rewarding. To help you get the absolute most from your experience, we invited human behaviour expert Patrick Wanis to share his tips and insights on how you can be a good roommate and get on well with those you live with. Read Patrick’s advice below.
“Living with someone else can bring out both the best and worst in everyone. The primary key to getting along is identifying what is the deal-breaker for each person, i.e. what is the one thing that neither of you are willing to accept?
“Next, seek to deeper understand your housemate: what is each person’s temperament? What are their needs? What are their routines and habits? For example, is he/she an introvert or extrovert; does he/she need more, or less time alone than you do? Do they study in quiet or with music? Do they want to become best friends or do they want to have stronger boundaries and simply live as housemates, not companions or friends? Determine the ways that they want to be treated.
“Remember, do not try to guess these things; sit down and have an open conversation to express your personality, temperament, characteristics, needs, desires, habits and routines. You could begin by drafting a simple questionnaire, ask everyone to fill it out, then have a roundtable/living room discussion about everyone’s answers. Do all of this as soon as you move in together; do not wait until after you have had your major argument and then resentment and bitterness enter and infect the household.
“Finally, if you expect perfection from everyone, including yourself, you will be deeply disappointed. Be willing to communicate when something goes wrong and be willing to give as well as ask for a second chance!”
At Nido, we do what we can to help make sure your time in shared accommodation is rewarding, fun and comfortable. For more information on our stylish and contemporary student homes, visit the homepage today.