Going to university can be one of the most exciting, but equally nerve-wracking times of your life. In the build-up, you’ll be focussing on getting the right grades, buying everything you need for uni life, making the move as simple and stress-free as possible, and of course, ensuring you find accommodation.

But for many, this will be their first experience living away from their parent’s house, and this can be an adjustment. Plus, whether you’re living in halls or a house share, you’re likely to have been placed with complete strangers.

Getting used to living alone is one thing, but living with a group of people you don’t know is quite another. This can require an adjustment period and there are certain rules you should follow to ensure everyone is happy and comfortable in their new home.

Below, we’ll guide you through the dos and don’ts of living with roommates, so you can get the most out of your years as a student and the new relationships you will inevitably make.

Communication is key

When you’re living with housemates for the first time, particularly when you don’t know each other very well, good communication is absolutely critical. This can ensure that no issues become bigger problems further down the line.

So firstly, this means talking to your housemates if an issue arises and coming to an amicable agreement. Secondly, this means listening to them if they want to discuss a problem. Everyone deserves to have their feelings heard and communication is a two-way street.

It’s also important that you don’t moan about your housemates to one another. It’s not worth the gossiping and bad atmosphere. By starting conversations instead, you can solve problems and create a much happier living environment.

Sort out bills or house money early on

If you’re living in a shared house rather than halls, it’s likely that you’re going to be paying bills, possibly for the first time in your life.

As these will be split between you, it’s a good idea to find a way to split utility bills up as simply and easily as possible. This will stop you or your housemates from having to chase money. It can also be helpful to get important stuff like this in writing just so everyone is on the same page.

It’s not recommended that you set up a joint bank account as this can cause other problems, but there are tools out there you can use to help you split the bills equally and easily. For example, Splitwise is an app that allows you to pool your money and keep track of shared expenses.

You could also set up a kitty for basic household items to avoid everyone buying their own, or one person always fronting the cash. This could be as simple as a jar on the side that all you put £10 a month into and this can be used for basics like toilet rolls, washing up liquid, etc.

The most important thing to do is find a system that works best for all of you and ensure no one is ever out of pocket. It’s also crucial you don’t end up fighting over money, so once again, if there is a problem it’s best to talk it out.

Spend some time together

It’s likely that you will have your own life outside of the house. You might be on different courses, have different friends and have different interests. However, it’s still a nice idea to spend some time together as a group whenever you can.

The likelihood is you’ll become good friends and this will happen naturally anyway. However, if you’ve not seen much of your housemates for a while, it can be a good idea to arrange an activity. That could be anything from a dinner party or night out to all going shopping or doing the laundry together.

Spending time like this allows you to discuss any issues, catch up with one another and keep the household happy.

Respect others privacy and belongings

One of the key pillars of living with housemates is privacy. You must respect their belongings and privacy at all times. It’s likely that when packing for university you’ll all take your own separate items like cooking equipment. We advise sharing wherever you can, but it’s important that you don’t just start helping yourself to whatever you need.

That’s not to say that you can’t ask for things occasionally and if you get really close to your new housemates, they may allow you to borrow stuff without question. But in the early stages, it’s important that you don’t just take anything that isn’t yours.

On a similar note, if your housemate is in their room with the door closed, always be sure to knock and don’t go inside without their permission. Although we said that socialising was important, it’s also important to give your housemates some alone time when they need it.

They might be in their room studying, working, watching TV or just trying to catch up on some sleep. So it’s crucial that you always respect their privacy and you should certainly never go through their things without asking.

Clean up after yourself

This might be something you already do anyway, but if you’re not one for cleaning as you go, this needs to change. It is not fair to expect others to live in your mess, so make sure you aren’t always leaving washing up on the side, smelly outdated food in the fridge or just generally making a mess around the house.

Of course, you need to go about your normal life, but just be sure to clean up after yourself as you go. It’s also helpful to find a common definition of ‘clean’ as some people will be far tidier than others. This could mean that you all have to compromise a little, but it will ensure peace and harmony.

It might even be helpful to create a rota for bigger chores like hoovering the house, taking out the bins, or cleaning the bathroom if this is something you all agree on.

Treat others how you want to be treated

Ultimately, what it comes down to is treating your housemates how you want to be treated. This means that there are times when you might need to be flexible and compromise with one another. It also means informing housemates if you’ve got friends coming to stay or even if you need some quiet time to study and request they keep the noise down for a bit.

It’s all about mutual respect and communication. That is the key to a happy household.

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