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The Essential Do's and Don'ts of Sharing Student Accommodation

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Every student knows that going to university and having housemates go hand-in-hand. Many young students start in the dormitories, sharing a room with another first-year or an older mentor during their first uni experiences. As you get more experienced, you can branch out into sharing a house with other students for a more residential lifestyle. Of course, whether you're in the dorms or a spacious house, sharing your home with housemates has the usual set of challenges.

Who washes up the dishes, takes out the rubbish, or camps out in the living room all influence your shared living experience. It's important to get along with your housemates and work together so that everyone has a good time. This is even more important since the pandemic when lockdown and restrictions have increased our time spent indoors with those who share each home. Sharing student accommodations successfully is all about creating a happy shared experience for every student in your house.

Along those lines, it's important to know what to do - and what not to do - to make your shared student life enjoyable for everyone.

DO - Be a Friend to Your Housemates

The first thing to do is make friends with your housemates. The best plan is to choose people who are already your friends and with whom you know that you get along. These might be friends from your dormitory days or friends you made in class, or even friends from your hometown who are attending the same university.

When you make a cuppa, offer to make some for whoever is in the house as well. When you watch a movie, invite your housemates to join in. Listen when you are stressed and share in fun times to relax. Be friends to each other - even when times are tough - and you're more likely to all have a good time sharing a home.

DON'T - Create a Sprawling Mess

For most uni students, the single most tempting thing in a household is to let your stuff sprawl. It's easy to take off a jacket and throw it on the chair, or to leave your dishes in the sink instead of washing them after a meal. Don't do this. If there is one known conflict among roommates, it's sprawling stuff. Don't leave your towels on the bathroom floor or allow your personal things to take over the living room. And hopefully, your housemates will do the same.

DO - Share a Chore Roster with Fun Penalties for Forgetting

Chore sharing is important when sharing accommodations with other students. If the chores aren't split up by personal duty or by a roster, then only the tidy people will shoulder the burden and resentment will grow.

Try to assign chores based on what people like best and what they are good at. You might have one housemate who enjoys a quick hoovering but hates to get their hands wet in dishes. You might have a housemate who doesn't mind hauling rubbish but can't bring themselves to scrub a toilet. Roster unpopular jobs and split up favourite jobs - and be sure to take your turn.

As for penalties, make them fun instead of punitive. First person to forget their chores has to take the shoe in your next game of monopoly, or has to use the potato filter during your next round of Zoom drinks with friends.

DON'T - Bring In New People Without a Group Meeting

Never ever bring in a new roomie unless your housemates have approved. Usually, shared student accommodations are already carefully balanced so that everyone is paying their share of rent and bills. Bringing in a romantic partner or a friend upsets that balance - and can also upset the balance of friends who like each other living in the house.

If you think you have the perfect new roomie or your partner will be welcome, just hold a group meeting first before bringing in a surprise long-term guest.

DO - Pay Your Way in Bills and Groceries

Uni students are often learning how to handle their own finances. Don't be the first housemate to accidentally spend your rent money or fail to pitch in for communal groceries. Set aside what you'll need to pay your way at the beginning of each pay period so that you're always able to be the responsible housemate you promised when everyone joined in.

DON'T - Touch, Take, or Eat Things Belonging to Housemates

Respect the privacy and property of your housemates. Don't go into their rooms when they are not present and definitely don't take or use things without their permission. This is a particularly common problem when it comes to eating a roomie's food out of the fridge or pantry. Even if that chocolate bar or bag of chips is oh-so-tempting, remember that your housemate might be counting not hat pick-me-up after their next big exam - and they paid for it with their own money.

If you do eat a housemate's food, perhaps in a midnight hunger delirium, replace it as quickly as you can. And if you want to borrow a jumper, be sure to ask first.

DO - Share Safe Indoor Activities

Right now, it's not safe for uni students to gather and party the way we're used to, but that doesn't mean you can't have a good time. Because your housemates are officially part of your household, you share an immunology 'bubble' with them. This means the safest way to have a good time with friends is indoors with your housemates - so plan to have fun.

Make plans for safe indoor activities like movie nights, video game tournaments, board games, or at-home karaoke. Another great way to spend an evening is to crank up the music and together rock out while you clean together. There's no better way to knock out the chore roster.

DON'T - Play Loud Music or Movies at Bad Hours

Other than rocking out together, do be courteous about when you choose to play loud music or crank up the volume on your films. Don't wake up your housemates or interrupt their studying. If you're all hanging out together (and don't have annoyed neighbours) then make noise when everyone is awake. And if someone is asleep or studying, pop on those headphones before you begin to rock.

DO - Respect Housemate Space When They Need It

It's important to spend time together, but it's also important to give people space when they need it. If your housemate has closed their door and said they want to be left alone (or you sense their stress without words), give them some time. Don't become too dependent on your housemates for social time - know what to do even if a mate needs time alone when you planned to hang out together. Sometimes, people need quiet to work out their feelings, or just to study or catch a nap during a crazy busy time in your lives.

DON'T - Put Housemates at Risk of Viral Exposure

With the pandemic still ongoing and housemate company being so important, be courteous about how you spend your time outside the house as well. If you are careless and become infected, you put your entire household at risk. So always wear a mask and clean your hands regularly when you leave the house. Be careful about your contact with others and try to minimise any risk of carrying infection back into your shared student accommodations.

DO - Communicate Your Disagreements and Appreciation

Last but certainly not least, do communicate. It's important to share what's really on your mind, especially when it affects your relationship with your housemates and peace in the house. If you have a problem, like another's towels on the floor or your own bag of chips gone missing, speak up but do so respectfully to make your objections clear.

And if you really appreciate something a mate has done, like washing your accidentally left dishes along with their own, speak up as well. Remembering to thank your housemates when they do something nice is the best way to encourage more nice things in the future between everyone in the house.

Sharing student accommodations can be the best experience of your university years. This is a time to make friendships that will last your entire life, so have a care in how you treat your shared home and the mates you share it with. For more helpful and insightful tips on the student experience or to find student accommodations to share, contact us today!

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