Moving into shared accommodation at college is a big step. First time living away from parents? It’s an exciting time and you have a lot to look forward to in the year ahead! However, with any new adventure comes the fear of the unknown.
To put your mind at ease, we’ve answered 10 questions you might have about living in shared accommodation.
1. WILL I GET ON WITH EVERYONE?
Whether you’re moving in with friends or with strangers, you’ll be meeting so many new people that you’ll lose count after the first week – so it doesn’t really matter if you get on with everyone. After all, there are more important things to worry about, like stuffing yourself full of free pizza at freshers’ fair.
Living together is likely to cause occasional friction between even the best of friends, but try not to worry about it too much (unless it’s a regular occurrence!). Over time, you will learn each other’s habits and how to resolve any differences you may have.
In shared accommodation, having a non-stop social life may really appeal to you, but remember that it might not for everyone. Respect that everyone needs their own space, and they’re more likely to do the same for you when you need it. If you’re a fan of flat parties, the same rule applies. Check that everyone is ok with it first and be mindful of anyone looking to get an early night.
Living together is about finding out what works best for everyone involved and how to accommodate each other’s personalities. Friendship groups shift and change over the course of the year, just remember that everyone is equally keen to make a good first impression and find a group they can settle into.
2. IS SOMEONE GOING TO EAT MY FOOD?
One day you will open the fridge and the leftover pizza you were saving for breakfast will be long gone. On par with someone grabbing a cheeky splash of milk for their tea, this is a small annoyance you might encounter but one that, in the grand scheme of things, isn’t really a big deal.
One certainty of shared accommodation is that food will go missing at some point; there are no two ways about it. The easiest way to avoid this is to assign a shelf in the fridge to everyone, so you can keep track of items. Anything on your personal shelf will be assumed to be yours to use, rather than a communal item.
3. WILL SOMEONE USE MY COOKWARE AND PLATES?
“I’m just leaving it to soak” and “Sorry – I thought it was mine” will be two of the most common phrases you hear regarding the kitchen and anything in it. One of the downfalls of everyone opting for the cheapest kitchenware around is that you will most likely spend the year mistakenly using someone else’s baking tray, plate, or cutlery.
An easy way to get around this is to mark the bottom of your plates with a permanent marker to keep track of them – and if you do end using someone else’s cookware by mistake, just wash it up and let them know.
4. WHAT DO I DO ABOUT BILLS?
Unless you’re living in halls, the most important thing you need to know is who is responsible for the bills. Will they be included in your room fee, or do you need to pay them as a household? Nailing this down as soon as you possible will save you a lot of hassle further down the line. If bills aren’t included in your room fee, using an app like Splitwise can help you divide all the costs fairly between the household and avoid any arguments over who forgot to pay what.
Thankfully, in halls all your bills (and internet) are included in the room fee, making it easier to manage your monthly outgoings.
5. WHO’S IN CHARGE OF CLEANING?
Remember all the times your mum asked you to clean your room? The good news is that you’ll finally be able to put all that expertise to good use. You’ll be officially in charge of cleaning up your room and, if you’re a decent housemate, you’ll also take on your fair share of the communal cleaning.
Like most things these days, household chores can also be simplified with an app. Try setting up Chorma with your housemates to keep track of what needs doing and when. No-one likes cleaning the toilet or taking out the bins, but at the end of the day, these things have to be done – and having a rota in place will make it easier to distribute tasks fairly.
6. ARE WE ALL GOING TO BE COOKING TOGETHER?
When you think about shared accommodation, you might have visions of everyone cooking together, or takeaway boxes littering every surface – in-keeping with the student stereotype – but in reality, it’s a mix of both.
Most people will probably prefer to cook for themselves, in order to keep full control over their weekly food budget and to avoid the hassle of trying to find something that everyone agrees on.
With this in mind, why not organise a weekly “family meal”? It’s a great way of promoting a community spirit in your accommodation and will help to make it feel like your home away from home.
7. DO I NEED TO BRING KITCHEN APPLIANCES?
Being well-prepared is a good tactic, but generally, everyone will have the same great idea to bring a toaster or a kettle – so you can easily end up with your kitchen resembling a small-appliance store.
Most halls of residence now have their own Facebook groups where they will publish details of who is in which flat, making it convenient for you to find out who you’ll be living with and who’s planning on bringing what. If people are already planning on bringing something for communal areas, see if they would be happy to make it a communal item, and save everyone bringing their own.
8. WILL I HAVE SPACE FOR ALL MY STUFF?
It’s likely that you’ll be fairly restricted when it comes to storage space in both common and personal areas. After all, there’s only so much room you’re going to get no matter how big the fridge is. Generally, most shared accommodation will be furnished so that everyone gets a cupboard and fridge shelf, so keep that in mind when packing the essentials.
Thankfully, there is nothing a quick shop can’t solve. Invest in some storage containers if you have space under your bed, and really make the room your own with some decorations. No matter how much room you have, remember that it’s all yours to play with and you can use this opportunity to declutter. You’d be surprised how effectively you can prioritise your belongs when everything has to earn its space.
9. ARE COMMON AREAS SECURE?
You’ll be happy to know that your own room will come with a lock, and flats in student halls all come with their own separate locks or key-codes these days. However, be mindful that you’ll be living with a lot of people so it’s always better to be on the safe side.
Remember that it’s not just the people you live with who have access to these areas, but also anyone they choose to invite around too. Avoid leaving expensive items, or ones with sentimental value, in common spaces if they’re not something you would be fine with losing or finding damaged.
10. WHAT CAN I EXPECT FROM LIVING AT UNINEST?
All of our locations provide comfortable and safe places for students to live, with modern design and all the 21st-century conveniences today’s student needs.
Because we like to spoil you, we’ve included utility bills in your room fee, we’ve added a desk and built-in under-bed storage in each room, and all of our kitchens come with a toaster and kettle included.