It’s the time of year again when people from all over the world make the life changing journey into the world of shared accommodation. If you haven’t lived out of home before or have lived by yourself for a long time the first thing for you to understand is that at one point or another you are going to wonder what on earth you have gotten yourself into.
It is hard enough to get along with family members at times. Put two strangers into the equation and it can all end in a disaster, especially when the two have diverse experiences in taking care of a home and living peacefully with others.
Like any good relationship, the key to a long lasting house share is communication and trust. You need to set your boundaries straight away. Otherwise things could head south very quickly and you will be counting down the days until your lease ends and googling how to get back at your housemate (this is not a good idea).
Living in a well organised and happy environment will benefit your studies greatly, imagine all the unnecessary stress you can avoid by knowing whose turn it is to clean and that nobody is going to eat your food or use your belongings.
How can I achieve this you ask?
The most important thing to do when you find a new house share is to find out some information about the people you will be living with before you even move in. You will get better at this as you move through house shares, but the most important information to find out is as follows:
- What your room looks like and its closeness to important facilities.
- Who you will be living with and how many people.
- If your room will be furnished or unfurnished.
- Whether the house is fully furnished and the kitchen is stocked with utensils.
- Whether you have to share a bathroom.
- If it is a party house or a quiet study home (extremely important).
- If the house is smoking or nonsmoking.
- What your rent includes (does it include electricity, WIFI, water etc.?).
- How groceries and cooking arrangements are made.
- If you are paying the right price for the room and getting value for your money.
- Does the house allow pets?
Once you have found a place that suits your needs, checked out the room and decided you would like to move in, it is important to check with your potential housemates whether there are preexisting house rules or whether everyone would be happy to have a housemate agreement. If they are happy to do so, once you have signed the lease and have moved in it is time to write up a housemate agreement.
The following are some things to consider when drafting a housemate agreement:
- How clean the house is expected to be kept all the times (i.e. should dishes be washed and put away after every use?).
- Will everyone cook their own individual meals?
- Will any food items be communal (milk, coffee, tea, bread etc.)?
- Whose job will it be to clean what and when?
- Is there going to be a cleaning schedule?
- Will housemates take turns in buying household products (particularly dishwashing liquid, garbage bags, washing powder and toilet paper)?
- What level of security is acceptable for the home? E.g. can windows be left open during the day when nobody is home?
- Also in terms of security – is it okay for housemates to bring other people to the house? If so, at what times is it acceptable?
- What will be classed as acceptable noise levels (television, friends, music etc.)? Are there different times of the day/night when noise is okay and times when it isn’t?
- What habits will be acceptable/ unacceptable in the home? E.g. Smoking etc.
It may seem like a lot to think about now, but take it from someone who has had their fair share of housemates; sorting these things out at the start can save you a lot of stress, heartache and money in the long run.
Do you have any horrible share house stories? Share them with us below.
Good luck with your new house shares as we head into the new semester.