Top tips for living in shared accommodation

27 March 2024

Undergraduate student Eugenia shares her advice on living in shared accommodation at university.

One of my favourite things from my first year in university was living in the halls of residence. It's a fun and memorable experience and will be the first time most of you have lived away from home. However, it is still a big change and comes with numerous challenges, so I hope these few tips will make your transition to university easier!

Get to know your flatmates

It may sound obvious - but getting along with your flatmates is one of the most important aspects of living in a shared accommodation! You'll be living together throughout the year, sharing the kitchen and maybe even the bathroom! 

Being friends with your flat makes everything more fun: you can cook together, go grocery shopping, or even tackle chores as a team! Plus, there are practical advantages too. Your roommates are the first people you can turn to if you need help—whether it's a small emergency or just forgetting to defrost some meat. Having someone you trust around really makes things easier!

Try chatting with your flatmates when you are together in the kitchen, or invite them to hang out and do something together! Being proactive pays off, as it helps to build relationships with your flatmates.

It is not necessary to become best friends with everyone in your flat, after all, they are a small proportion of the people you will meet at university. Don't worry if you don't share the same tastes or are not compatible as long as you have a cordial and friendly relationship, living together will be easy! 

Organise the cleaning

We have all heard stories about the typical messy kitchen in a student flat – the ultimate shared accommodation stereotype! Living together with many people (11 in my case) can seem daunting as, let’s face it, all of us cook, spill, have dirty dishes and tend to make a mess.

However, maintaining cleanliness in your kitchen and other spaces is easier than it appears! Setting up cleaning rotas and task allocations, such as taking the trash out, not only helps establish a standard for the state of the flat but, most importantly, ensures that these tasks aren’t left to just a few, making the whole process easier! 

Keep in mind that your room is your own space, and you can pretty much leave it however you like (within some standards, of course). But when it comes to shared spaces, like the kitchen or living room, they're used by everyone. So try to keep them tidy—not just for yourself, but as a sign of respect for others sharing the space!

Embrace the differences

Moving away from your family to living with people your age is a change that takes time to get used to, as many of the dynamics you are used to will change.

There will be more noise and probably more mess! Some flatmates will bring their friends over a lot and take over the kitchen, while you will hardly see others. There will be early birds, night owls, social butterflies, as well as more introverted people. The point is - you are living with different people! Most of your flatmates, if not all, will come from a range of backgrounds and cultures, affecting their lifestyle and way of sharing the accommodation. 

My tip here is to embrace these differences and try to make the most of them while being patient. Make an effort to respect and get used to the new dynamics, and take the opportunity to learn new recipes and traditions and broaden your views! It might be hard at first, but being respectful of other lifestyles will make co-living a smooth process.

Living in accommodation can be incredibly fun and interesting, so try to make the most of it! But remember, in the end, it is just a part of your university life, so don’t forget to also enjoy the other aspects of the experience!

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