Living with friends is one of the most exciting aspects of student life and a great set of housemates can quickly become as close as family in a shared house. We’ve already uncovered those top tips for finding the right accommodation for you and making sure your landlord is reputable, but what about the actual people you’re going to be living with all year?
While most people find living with other students in a shared house can be a fantastic experience, jumping into a housing contract too soon can cause the types of rifts no fun-loving student wants hanging over their head. It’s perfectly normal for your ‘roomies’ to occasionally get on your nerves, but for happy living it’s worth making sure your housemates are on the same wavelength as you before you take the plunge.
Some universities even give their students-to-be accomodation questionnaires before putting housemates together to ensure they’re a good fit. These questionnaires typically ask questions about work ethic and social lives to make sure the wild 7 night party animal isn’t put with a quiet non-drinking student. As well as trusting your potential housemates, making sure your values are similar is a good indication you’ll live harmoniously.
Think of that friend you love, but know you couldn’t stand to live with. Sometimes great housemates need to be viewed in a ‘domestic’ sense! Speaking to graduates who’ve been there and come out the other side (still with their housemates as friends we might add!) we’ve put together the top housing issues that tend to arise and how to overcome them without resorting to housemate revenge. (Salt in the sugar tin etc. etc.)
While your landlord will usually charge each individual separate rent (based on each bedroom) and rents can include utility bills such as gas, water and electricity; often tenants will also need to pay their own bills and other essentials such as wifi connection. The fairest method to pay bills is to set up a joint account and each set up a direct debit from a personal account each month.
While some costs may be known (i.e. £20 per month internet connection) utility costs can be unpredictable, so a good method is to each pay a certain amount in each week (£10 is a realistic amount) and see if this works for you. Obviously you may need to pay in more, but if you’ve slightly overpaid by the end of the year, you can divide the money and use it for a house day/night out! It goes without saying that bills can cause arguments and in the worst case scenario can leave some members out of pocket, so ensuring everyone has set up regular automated payments into your joint bills account is always good practice.
Another common housing gripe and again, this is an area that’s best established before you move in together. Does one potential housemate leave washing up for days while another expects everything spotless? This can be hard to establish if you’ve never lived together before but having the ‘I’m tidy but not obsessive’ conversation can save any rows over the breakfast table. Having a cleaning rota with two housemates on each week can also ensure the place stays clean and no one is blamed for slacking on cleaning duty!
While you might love living with your sister/coursemate/boyfriend, it doesn’t mean your existing housemates will and having any non-rent paying guests stay over too often is likely to get the nerves on your utility bill paying housemates. Establishing in a friendly way that if you sign up for a 5 bed student house, you expect 5 people to be living there is a good way to let everyone know that a guest staying half the week every week isn’t acceptable.
It sounds simple, but common arguments amongst housemates can emerge because a house member flouts the guest rule to the point where other housemates think the ‘visitor’ should be contributing.
Moving in with your friends is a brilliant student perk and even trawling around suitable properties (the good, the bad and the condemned) can be fun, but if you’re signing up to live with friends for a year, it’s always worth establishing some ground rules before making the leap.
In Manchester and at other UK universities, students usually live in university owned accommodation during their first year and then move into private student flats or houses in their second year. This is probably the best system as it allows students to really settle in with other new students. At New College Manchester we have a range of accommodation options designed to suit all students on our English language courses, get in touch today for friendly advice and more information about our student housing choices.