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Living with your student housemates

Advice for student and international student living and house sharing

Learning to Live with Flatmates or Housemates

Moving away from your family to somewhere new does have its fair share of pros and cons. While being able to decide what you want to eat and watch on TV is pretty sweet, there’s always the baggage of being in a city that’s completely different to where you grew up.

This is particularly relevant when you’re starting out at uni, surrounded by new buildings and new faces. You might feel anxious, perhaps even a little fearful, especially when meeting fellow students for the first time.

While in the lecture theatres and seminar rooms, this might seem scary enough, when you’re living with complete strangers, there’s no knowing what could happen throughout term time! You could either get on with someone like a house on fire or potentially make a lifelong enemy.

Fortunately, if you’re new to the concept of sharing a flat with many other new students, we have a series of top tips for making it all work. From doing the dishes to making sure the property stays clean and tidy, you’ll be sure to get on with your new friends from the first lecture of the new term right through to results day.

Living in the Student Property

Living in a houseshare does come with its many advantages. Only having part of the flat to maintain is handy for those of you who hate cleaning, while you’re able to split the food bills with your fellow tenants. You can also have nights in with them and share your experiences with one another.

There are many things to bear in mind when actually living in a house-share with other new students. The first is use of the utilities - gas, water and electricity. Make sure that the water is at an optimum temperature - over 50C when hot and under 8C when cold.

As for electricity, make sure that you only keep lights on that are needed when someone’s in the room. The heating should be on during the winter months to help keep you all toasty and ensure that damp is kept at bay, at a temperature that’s to all flatmates’ liking.

When it comes to gas, use it responsibly. Keep the boiler clean and free from debris and it’ll be less likely to malfunction. The same applies to electric boilers, central heating, wall heaters and showers.

Speaking of keeping things clean, if and when the flat begins to look a little untidy, it’s worth clubbing together with your housemates and cleaning it together. Perhaps you could allocate tasks evenly, giving everyone a room to take care of. That way, no-one will feel as though they’re doing all the work while other flatmates aren’t lifting so much as a little finger.

Finding the right Housemates to Live with

If you’re the first person to move into a flat designed for sharing with other students, you’ll want to find housemates who are easy to get on and live with. To do that, it’s worth putting the word out about spaces available by advertising it, but how do you go about it? Take these steps before advertising it:

  • Think about what sort of people you’d like to live with - party animals, quiet students, anyone in the same year as you, people with shared interests
  • Work out how much rent each housemate should pay per week
  • Consider where to advertise it - we at RentInc can take care of that for you

As far as letting the whole world, or at least the student community of Leeds, know about available places for a house-share, it’s worth heading online. Tell your friends on social media, advertise it on sites like Gumtree and event let people in seminars and lectures know where possible.

Should you want to move in with people you already know from the same university, why not get together and find a property you can all live in? In living with people you’re familiar with, you can avoid the potentially awkward phase of getting to know each other, while you’ll become aware of everyone’s strengths and weaknesses as housemates far more quickly.

If you’re in the process of choosing who you want to live with, why not ask potential housemates to tell you a little about themselves. It could allow you to gain greater understanding of whether or not they would be good to live with. It can let them show that they want to make friends and, should they move in, they’ll stick to their side of the bargain.

Another way of figuring out whether or not your prospective new housemates are right for your house-share is going out with them for a drink. You’ll be amazed at how a pint can help to relax someone. That way, you’ll get to know them a little better and, if they move in with you, they’ll get to know you as well, so it’s a win-win situation.

Getting on with your new Housemates

Arguably the trickiest part of trying to make a house-share or flatshare work, you’ll undoubtedly remember the best (and worst) people you have ever had the privilege of sharing a home with. What you want to do is ensure that, no matter how different you may be to your new student housemates, the house-share or flatshare works well for all of you.

Split The Bills makes and make Student Life easy

In one of RentInc’s properties, you won’t have to worry about electricity, gas or water bills, but there are some things you have to pay for, namely food and drink. At the start of each week, draw up an extensive shopping list and then split the estimated cost between you when in the supermarket.

Should that not float your boat, perhaps it’s worth drawing up individual shopping lists and ensuring that no-one eats one another’s food without the permission of whoever bought it. It might seem a little bit over the top for some, but a labelling system could work, using a colour code or putting your name on everything in pen.

Splitting costs between you could also apply to things like subscriptions to film/music streaming services, taxis on the way home from a night out, drinks and any furnishings. It’ll keep you all on the same page.

Respect each other’s Privacy

This is something that helps you and your housemates to feel comfortable. Whether you’re studying, on the phone to a relative or just having some quiet ‘me time’, the last thing you want is to be interrupted. Having some sort of verbal agreement in place where you promise to give each other personal space will keep you all happy and free to do whatever you please.

To make sure that you respect the privacy of your housemates, put yourself in their shoes. How would you like it it one of them waltzed into your bedroom while you’re in the middle of writing an essay? That wouldn’t be the most convenient thing in the world.

To be on the safe side, some signs to hang on the door of your room saying things like ‘I’m busy. Knock if it’s important’ might help to give you the space you need. That will give you some much-needed quiet time for when those essay deadlines are looming.

Find Shared Interests

While we all have different topics and activities that interest us, to strengthen the bond between you and your housemates, why not see if you have anything in common. During the first day together in your new place, sit together with a cuppa or a beer in hand and talk a little about yourselves, mentioning what you’re into.

It could be a sport, a hobby or a skill, but if it interests you, talk a little about it and see whether or not your new co-habitants are interested in the same things. If so, you could play that sport, go to an event or just talk about it when you get home from a day on campus. That will help to break the ice and, who knows, could result in you gaining a friend.

Go out (and stay in) Together

Finally, to really get to know each other and get on throughout the year, it’s worth having a few nights out and nights in. You’ll be amazed at how this can help you all to bond and share some great memories. For nights out, decide on a venue or event, such as a gig or comedy night and stick with it. In the name of equality, let one housemate decide on where to go each time.

As for nights in, these are a piece of cake to organise. All you need are some snacks, a few drinks and something like a DVD, board game or computer game and you’re set. As with a night out, either decide between you what you’d all like to do or let each housemate pick a film or game every time you have a night in.

You could spend a whole night watching films, playing on an Xbox or just nattering away and you won’t have to pay any admission fees like you would at a nightclub! You could even invite your mates, but be sure to clean up afterwards!