Finding the perfect housemate can sometimes feel like finding a needle in a haystack, most sharers have had at least one housemate from hell experience. It is inevitable that you will find niggles with your housemates at some point. Things as simple as leaving wet towels on the floor or drinking the last of the milk (your milk that is) can have you seeing red if they happen regularly enough. Although, when your housemates throw a wild party, complete with drunken strangers sleeping (and worse) in your bed whilst you’re home visiting your folks, you will be quite happy to share a splash of milk!
It is really important when house sharing to be able to step back from a situation and choose your battles. If you are constantly complaining about every unwashed mug, no one will take any notice when you want to raise a more serious issue, such as the non-payment of rent. The bottom line is, everyone has irritating habits, and sharing your space with others 24/7 can be stressful. That’s why it really is worth taking the time to get to know as much as possible about potential housemates before you sign on the dotted line.
Surprisingly enough, one of the most common mistakes people make is moving in with their best mate. You’ve heard the saying “familiarity breeds contempt” and unfortunately, best buddies can make the worst housemates. Imagine the situation, your pal is late with the rent, keeps borrowing your stuff without asking, is ‘allergic’ to washing the pots; how do you bring it up without offending them or appearing a nag? Often best mates expect too much of each other, and it is incredibly difficult to draw the boundaries in a house share environment. Another massive house share no-go is never, ever share with someone that you fancy. This is an absolute recipe for disaster. Ask them out on a date and keep searching for the flatmate!
So, how do you make sure that you are not entering into a contract with the devil when it comes to choosing your housemates? Firstly, talk, talk, talk and talk again with them before you commit to living together. Find out as much as you can about them, the hours they keep, the sort of socializing they like to do, do they smoke (and yes, “social smoking” counts as smoking!), do they have a partner and how often do they expect to have them staying over (you are looking for one housemate not 2)? It’s understandable that you want to share with someone who you know; friends of friends are the best bet for this. Chances are, if they get on with your friends they will get on with you too, and, most importantly, you have a bit of security that they aren’t going to turn out to be an axe murderer! Try to choose people with similar tastes to you, especially music. Be realistic – everyone will want to play their own tunes, and if you are sharing with a thrash metal fan, you are going to be hearing a lot of it!
So what happens if you end up in a nightmare situation, where your living conditions are simply unbearable? It is so important to be happy in your living space, especially if you are hundreds of miles away from your family. The simple answer is to speak up. Minor problems can often evolve into serious issues if left to fester without being verbalised. Speak with your housemate/mates to try and resolve the situation.You may find that your housemate is surprised to hear how much their actions are upsetting you and a simple conversation is all it takes to resolve things. If that doesn’t work, speak to your NUS Residential Advisor, they will have dealt with similar housemate disputes time and time again. Failing that you could always look into finding a replacement tenant and end your tenancy early.
For the majority of students, housemates from uni end up being friends for life, and as for the housemates from hell – you certainly won’t forget them and at least they will make a good story to tell down the pub!
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