How to stop your housemates from driving you crazy

Written by Charlotte Sides

When you are a student, moving into shared accommodation with people you have never met before can be extremely daunting. Even though most enjoy the experience and make friends for life, a clash of standards and lifestyles can lead to arguments.

Bill sharing company Split The bills recently commissioned a survey asking about the main concerns people have when moving into shared housing. A quarter of people cited privacy as their biggest worry, while more than one in 10 stressed about housemates not paying their bills.

To put these worries to rest we have produced a useful set of rules that will help ensure things go smoothly and you don’t clash with your new housemates.

A lack of privacy

It can be overwhelming to be introduced to a group of new people, and it is perfectly acceptable to want your own space. In fact, our research found that 25.7% of people are worried about having a lack of privacy when living in shared accommodation. To ensure you feel more comfortable around your housemates, make sure you have a lock on your bedroom door, and if not, ask the landlord to fit one.

It is good to set ground rules as early as possible, so as soon as you move in be sure to ask everyone to knock before entering your room. If you have a communal bathroom it might also be worth creating a schedule to avoid any embarrassing moments.

Felix Henderson, CEO of BubbleStudent – an online service which helps students search for their perfect home – said: “If you’re concerned about personal space, I would recommend looking for a property that will afford each of you plenty of room.

When you’re at home, it’s natural to want some time apart but for many students, sharing your home with your closest friends represents a real highlight of university life and with the right house it’s even better.”

Having a cleaning rota

Arguments can break out between students due to disagreements around cleaning.  Almost one in six people surveyed (15.6%) said they worry about living with untidy housemates. The natural balance of housemates when living in a shared home means there is often that one person who leaves their dirty dishes in the sink until mould takes over, and someone who tends to pick up all of the slack. However, this could be easily avoided if a simple rota is organised to ensure everyone is putting just as much effort in and cleaning up after themselves.

Weekly food shops and group meals

Doing group supermarket shops and batch-meal cooking is a great way to save time and create a social environment in the house. However, it was found that a small proportion of people (3.6 %) do worry about everybody contributing equally to these chores, so planning meals in advance or creating a shared menu could be a huge help. If you decide to do all of your cooking and shopping separately, it might be useful to organise who gets access to the kitchen at certain times.

Splitting the bills fairly

If you have only lived with family before becoming a student, being responsible for your own bills can be a massive shock to the system. To avoid paying too much or getting hit with a surprise cost, it is important that you read the fine print when researching the utility companies you might use. A good way to organise the outgoing payments is to all set up a monthly transfer into one person’s bank account or create a joint account. However, it can be very confusing to calculate how much everybody owes. As many as one in nine people thinking about sharing a house worry that others might drag their feet over paying their share. To make sure the responsibility doesn’t fall on to one person, using online bill splitting tools like Split The Bills can help to divide payments equally into one simple monthly payment for each person, reducing stress dramatically.

Felix added: “For many students, moving into shared accommodation will represent several first time ‘adult’ experiences, such as responsibility for bills, signing a legal contract, or organising a viewing. It can be a daunting administrative process and students often worry they’ll make mistakes.

“Money can be a difficult issue to talk about but it’s vital that everyone’s honest about what they can afford and what they’d like to pay. Once you’ve found a house you like, it’s a great idea to gather everyone in the group chat and have an honest discussion about bills before you move in.”

Noisy housemates

It isn’t uncommon to be thrown together with people you wouldn’t normally socialise with in student accommodation, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. However, noisy housemates are a big concern for many (11.3%). This can be an extremely irritating situation, especially if it disrupts your sleep. And if not dealt with quickly it can lead to a tense environment which could turn into a heated argument. Just by being honest about your feelings, the situation could be swiftly defused before it escalates.

If you have conflicting schedules and some house members aren’t coming home until the early hours because they may do shift work part-time to help pay for their course, it might be useful to invest in some ear plugs.

Being respectful

It may sound obvious but respecting your housemates and their belongings will go a long way. The last thing you want is to become the person who is always stealing everyone’s food in the middle of the night and using their pots and pans without asking. Anybody doing this will quickly build a reputation as inconsiderate and this will most likely lead to an uncomfortable living situation. Setting clear boundaries at the beginning is the best way to make sure everybody else shows mutual respect for one another.

“There’s a lot of anxiety surrounding moving into your first home away from home but it can be a really fun and exciting process too. Once you’re all comfortable in your new house, you will genuinely be surprised that you were ever worried,” said Felix.

Source: The research was conducted via an online survey of 1,000 people aged 18-34 years old in September 2018.

Survey Data

Lack of privacy

25.7%

Untidy housemates

15.6%

Housemates not paying their bills

11.8%

Noisy housemates

11.3%

Sharing shopping and cooking duties fairly

3.1%

None of the above

32.5%

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