There is a common saying that has stood the test of time and often receives knowing nods when it is uttered: “You don’t know someone until you live with them.”
It is fair to say co-habiting is the acid test of any friendship or relationship. And the truth is, it doesn’t matter whether you are moving in with six complete strangers or with a bunch of friends you have grown up with through school and college – their annoying habits, their little quirks, their reaction to their environment will only be obvious to you once you reside with them.
Think about it – your best mate of the last five or 10 years is someone who you probably assume you know inside and out. You have been through so much together, the highs and the lows, the road trips, the nights out, the challenges that formative years bring your way.
But do you really know what their views are on things like washing up the dishes or putting out the bins? Cooking meals, tidying the living room, cleaning the bathroom? Day-to-day responsibilities which, if neglected, inevitably lead to tension, arguments and conflict at home.
Suddenly, fingers are being pointed. Doors are being slammed shut. The person you barely had a crossed-word with over the previous decade is now virtually unrecognisable, all because you are occupying the same space.
The good news is, there are ways of dealing with this situation and bringing harmony to your student accommodation. If there weren’t solutions out there, all university students would be living alone! With a joined-up, collaborative approach and a give-and-take attitude, you can look forward to a peaceful few years, and emerge with friendships intact at the end of it!
Here are three top tips to help you nip it in the bud and avoid such unnecessary issues on the home front:
Create a rota
Before you yawn too hard at the mere mention of the word ‘rota’, this is the single-best way to get all your ducks in a row and divide the workload (there’s another yawn) evenly. Produce a rota which demonstrates who should be carrying out which responsibility, and when they are supposed to be doing it.
Amanda is putting the bins out on Tuesday. Paul is washing the pots on Thursday. Eric is vacuuming on Sunday. The alternative is a daily slanging match along the lines of: “You never do this, I am always doing that, when was the last time you helped with this?” If in doubt, consult the rota. It knows everything.
Respect each other’s boundaries
Even if you have known your housemates for years, don’t automatically assume that it is fine for you to go bounding into their bedroom. Everyone needs privacy, even more so when they have never lived away from home before. Emotions are running high in the early months of adjustment and sometimes a quiet period of alone time helps to recharge the batteries.
Give people space and chances are, they will afford you the same courtesy when you feel like taking a step back.
Chip in for the essentials
For the most part, it is quicker and easier to buy your own stuff. Not every single item in your student accommodation needs to be paid for evenly – that would not be practical. However, there are certain household essentials which are essential to everyone, and which were perhaps taken for granted when living with Mum and Dad.
Toilet roll, washing up liquid, bin liners, dish cloths and cooking oil all fall into this category, so why not create a kitty which everyone contributes to and which goes exclusively towards these items, or alternatively take it in turns to buy them all.