As a student experiencing the joys of being independent and new responsibilities at the same time, living in a shared space has its charms. Beyond the obvious financial advantage, living in a shared space means you form a social bubble with people and do more than simply live together, like sharing in the good times, bad times, personal setbacks and achievements... In a nutshell, there’s a whole host of emotions at play when in a group setting.
Want to make the most of it? Remember that in any society, even a tiny one, a few rules are needed to keep the peace and keep spirits high :)
« Mi casa es tu casa » is your new motto in life. The freedom, the fun of sharing and the excitement that radiate from the group will give you a boost so you can go and take on the world. But you didn’t sign over your rights to your privacy and your own belongings? Did you? Absolutely not! Everyone needs their own space to recharge their batteries, for a spot of “me time” and to store your possessions. So don’t raid your flatmate’s shelf in the fridge (or their separate fridge), don’t open their bathroom cupboard, don’t open their laptop without permission and definitely don’t go into their room without asking.
Once you’ve laid down the ground rules around privacy, you’re ready to enjoy the best of shared living: cooking together, chatting over some pizza, chilling in front of the TV, playing table football, changing the world, exercising together, meditating, enjoying parties and celebrating milestones throughout the year. As individuals, we have to overcome a lot of obstacles in life, so doing things together is something worth doing! Whether you’re in an apartment or in the communal areas of your student residence, there’s only ever one motto: have fun!
Shared student living is exhilarating, as long as everyone pulls their weight. It’s a fact that daily life is not just a bed of roses — it takes work. The bins need emptying, those bills need paying, the housework needs doing and the fridge needs filling. All those chores are the reason why Jean-Michel grinds his teeth every time he has to pick up Paolo’s socks. To avoid things turning sour, why not put a weekly planner up on the fridge? That way, everyone has clearly defined tasks that change the following week (so Jean-Michel can see a dentist about his teeth). Stay calm and relaxed about it, though. No need to release the inner domestic tyrant!
Whether you choose to live with someone or whether you’ve never met your flatmate before moving in, the only way to learn about someone’s personality, their little quirks and their lifestyle is by living with them. And these differences sometimes cause tension. The solution? COM-MU-NI-CATE There’s nothing worse than unwritten rules or things being left unsaid. Has Emma still not paid her share of the electricity bill? Gently remind her without waiting until you’re overdrawn. Does your cousin want to come over for dinner? Ask the gang for permission. Is Mary quite loud every time she gets upset? Be firm with her, but let her express why she’s feeling that way. Has Steve just finished the washing-up that’s been left on the side for three days? Thank him with a note on his bedroom door. Don’t underestimate the power of a small thank you!
What if you just create a flatmate agreement? When you first starting living together, get everyone round the table and jot down the “key” issues of living together in no more than ten points, such as dividing up the chores or the bills, organising timetables, rules for having guests round, shopping trips etc. This is a good opportunity to get to know each other and get the ball rolling with complete transparency.