Choosing housemates can be tricky! Most students prefer living with friends and this is usually the best option, and the most fun, but there are important things to first consider.
Before signing a contract with your friends, remember a best friend does not always equal the best housemate. If your friend wants you to move in with them, don’t feel obliged to say “yes” without giving the decision due diligence. Some students prefer to live with acquaintances or course-mates than their best friends, so that they have a separation of partying and studying.
Ensure you consider your options and evaluate your priorities, to allow you the opportunity to make am informed decision that will make your tie at university the best it can be.
Priorities are the values (social, clean, same-sex, kind etc) that you consider more important than others. You might prefer a social housemate to a houseproud one, so to avoid moving in with the wrong person, ensure you know your priorities to allow you to be able to effectively evaluate how compatible you are with potential housemates. If they want someone who is super-clean (not you!) and you want someone who isn't fussed about mess (not them!), then it might not be the best idea to move in together. If you want to live with friends, ensure you check what priorities you are giving up. If they are fun and sociable yet untidy and always partying at home, is this going to be a problem?
Before signing a contract, ensure you meet with potential housemates to discuss living together and what expectations you all have to determine whether you are comfortable spending almost a year living together. Avoid moving in with the wrong people by meeting them before signing a contract because if you find out after that your flatmates are not the best to live with, leaving the contract may prove difficult! This can be difficult when you want to live with friends, but allow yourself the opportunity to consider your priorities and to meet with any potential housemates in order to discuss the feasibility of living together.
Establishing ground rules to live by or, if you are moving in with people who already live in the property, getting to know what they are, is very important. Discuss the communal areas (kitchen, bathroom and living room) and how you are going to treat them. Designate communal spaces (cupboards, fridge and shelves) to each housemate. Decide if you are you going to share basic amenities (salt, pepper and oil) or communal items (detergent and toilet paper) and create a house kitty if necessary. Assess if you need to buy any other communal items (pans, plates or a clothes horse) and agree how you are going to pay for them. You will also need to discuss what a reasonable level of cleanliness is and agree how you will maintain it within the communal areas (weekly, monthly, cleaning rota). Lastly, discuss the bills. What bills do you have? Are you getting a TV license? Discuss who is paying each bill and how the cost will be divided and by when. For further information, read our advice on Fees and Bills.
Be realistic when deciding who you want to live with and ensure that you are prepared to be honest with whomever you choose. Allowing small issues to slide, can eventually cause them to snowball into full blown arguments. Ensure you allow your housemates and yourself the opportunity to raise problems and air grievances. After establishing ground rules, continue meeting every month (or week) with all of your housemates so that you can talk about issues before they turn into problems. If something is annoying you, then you will need to be able to speak to them about it. Remember, confronting a housemate who is a friend may prove more difficult than confronting one who is not as we tend to be overly forgiving of our friend’s behaviour.