Top tips for living in shared student spaces
Sharing a living space with complete strangers can be a lot to take in, but with a bit of planning and a lot of consideration for each other you can make a shared home work for you and your new housemates.
Sharing is caring
We think the way to a happy shared home is actually pretty simple! It’s all about the sharing! More important than anything else when you first move in together is to work out how you and your housemates are going to share things – this includes everything from chores around the place to household essentials you’re all going to need like toothpaste, toilet roll and milk.
The key thing to remember here is that you really don’t need to duplicate all the essential items around your house or halls. No house needs five ironing boards (or probably any at all, if we’re being honest, but that’s a different story!), and you’re not going to need a kettle for every housemate! This is a bit different if you’re a fresher of course, as you probably won’t know the people you’re going to be living with, but if you’re moving into a house share, it’s a good idea to get together before you move in and work out splitting bigger household and kitchen items.
Even things like washing powder, washing up liquid and cleaning products can be shared as long as you all agree from the start how you’ll pay for them. It’s also worth talking about food. Will you have meals together and have a rota who’s buying and cooking each night, or will you all have your own food? If you’re all going to be sorting out your own food, it’s a good idea to allocate individual cupboards, and make sure everyone’s on board so you don’t get any biscuit thieves on the loose! Even if you’re not sharing food, it can be handy to split things like tea, milk and bread if you all like the same things to save on waste. How about having a kitty where you all put a fiver into it each week for shared things?
The main thing to keep in mind is that it’s great to share everything you’ve agreed can be shared, but don’t help yourself to what isn’t yours! Nobody likes the biscuit thief!
Keep it clean
Cleaning (or lack of) is one of the things most likely to cause arguments in a shared house. No one wants to come home to a kitchen sink stacked with dirty dishes that aren’t even yours!
As with everything, one of the most important things to do is agree ground rules with your housemates when you first start living together. Set boundaries for what is and isn’t acceptable and agree how everyone would prefer your shared space to be cleaned. It might sound a bit of a fun sponge activity but it’s a really good way to save arguments further down the line.
What rules do you want in place? Dishes are cleaned before leaving the house/going to bed? Or how about a cleaning rota for the bathroom/hoovering? Who’s in charge of buying cleaning supplies?
Once you’ve got all your essentials in like washing up gloves, cleaning cloths and kitchen cleaners, and a rota to follow, everyone will be clear on what’s expected so you can all get on with enjoying your time at uni.
Want some tips on how to whizz through the cleaning? Check out our blog on traditional cleaning methods as well as loads of other cleaning tips on our Ideas & advice page.
Make sure your stuff’s safe and secure
Your own space is precious when you’re in a shared house or university halls, and protecting what’s yours is important.
No matter how well you know the people you're sharing with, it’s still a good idea to give yourself a little extra security for anything valuable or private.
If your new home doesn’t already have it, it’s worth having a door lock fitted to your bedroom. This is something you may need to speak to your landlord about. A lock will give you privacy and peace of mind when you're out and about, stopping people from going into your personal space when you're not there.
You may also want to think about some extra security in your room. A small digital or keypad safe can help you securely store documents, cards and cash. Or how about a lockable storage trunk? Or even a cupboard/wardrobe you can lock with a combination padlock?
The more secure your shared home is, the better it is for everyone. Keep your personal belongings under lock and key where you can, and as always agree good ground rules with your housemates, so that everyone knows to keep windows and doors locked, and to set the alarm if you have one.
Be the friend you want to have
At the end of the day, a successful house share always comes down to how considerate housemates are of each other.
With house rules set from the start, you should all know where you stand. But our advice is simple - be considerate, make allowances for each other and do all you can to make sure everyone has a good time and makes the most of their shared home.
- Be considerate when doing things like taking showers. Don’t use up all the hot water! How about getting a timer to make sure everyone knows how long is too long?
- Try to coordinate with everyone, draw up timetables and rotas where you can so that everyone knows what to expect from each other – who’s got a 9am Monday morning lecture so should have first dibs on a shower that morning?
- It may seem obvious but be polite. Say hi, be pleasant, get to know those around you. You’ll be spending a lot of time with them, so the stronger relationships you can build, the better
There’s a lot to consider, and if it’s your first time away from home it may seem daunting, but as long as you’re doing what you can to make your home a nice place to live with like-minded people, we think you’re going to love it!
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