Nightmare housemates are a first-year rite of passage. Every person has that one housemate who drove them crazy—not washing the dishes, never leaving their room, never being in their room and a strange smell coming from under the door—we’ve all had them.
You never know who you’re going to end up with, and while a few people do find their best friends in the room next door, for most of us we have to look a little further to find our friends for life. That is the best thing about second year (or for some, leaving university altogether), the freedom to choose who you live with, and for most people their best friends are top of the list.
But who hasn’t heard the phrase “I love them, but I couldn’t live with them.” People tend to have a lot of habits that they keep secret from even their closest friends; toe-nail clippings all over the bathroom floor, a penchant for smelly cheese or blaring loud music into the early hours—living with your friends isn’t always easy. But I came out from the best year of my life living with my best friends and we’re even better friends than ever, despite my messiness and inability to hoover!!
I do know a lot of people though whose second year hasn’t gone quite so smoothly, so I hope this little guide will help you avoid an argument filled year!!
- Choose your housemates wisely
- Spend time with your housemates before you move in
- Do your bit
- Spend time together
- But spend time apart
First year is scary, terrifying in fact. I found it really difficult to make friends at first and before I knew it people were signing for houses and I still wasn’t sure who I wanted to live with. From my experience the majority of the people who were unhappy in their second year were the people who were the first to sign for their houses. They were the people who jumped in far too quickly. I was lucky in that I had originally panicked and later realised the people I had originally wanted to live with probably wouldn’t have been the best housemates. The girls I ended up living with I didn’t become friends with until January, but I knew straight away they were the ones I wanted to live with.
Get used to their habits and how they spend their time. You might notice one particular housemate likes early starts, and if you like a lie-in every morning you could maybe talk about how that would work when you lived together. Get to know what makes people tick, and what will drive them crazy so you know what to avoid!
Living with new people (presumably except for first year, these will be the first people you’ve lived with outside your family) can be difficult. You can’t always do what you want to do. For example I had an en-suite bathroom in first year whereas I shared in second year. I had to get used to not being able to have a shower whenever I wanted. I am also pretty messy whereas my one of my housemates liked to keep everything tidy. I wasn’t always fantastically tidy but I tried my best in the communal areas—the kitchen is usually a bug-bear for tidy people so at least keep that clean!
We all shared cooking in our house which was great. We’d do a bit food shop every month or so for all the things we shared and then just buy what we needed if it was our turn to cook. There were occasional instances where someone might eat something of someone else’s, but generally it worked pretty well. We also had a system where if you cooked, you washed up, which made everything much easier. Having a system (particularly if you have a small kitchen like ours) keeps everything in check.
We would, as much as possible, eat together every night and most evenings before bed we’d have a cup of tea and a chat. So many people found themselves alienated from their housemates simply because they didn’t talk. Discuss problems and issues. Don’t be the one who leaves notes! Remember why you moved in together in the first place: because you’re friends. While we all had our own friends, we were our best friends. We always went out and did things together which I think is the best way to live with each other.
No-one is perfect, and there’s no such thing as a perfect housemate. Spending a lot of time with each other can cause you to pick up on other people’s less than desirable qualities. If you’re on the same course as each other and live together you can often find yourself getting frustrated with each other. Go out and have fun with your other friends and really appreciate coming home to your uni family after a long day!