Whether you’re sharing a house, a flat or even a room, living with someone you barely know is very likely to cause some problems. Most of the time these problems are simply misunderstandings, but there are often episodes in universities throughout the nation where the issues are a bit bigger then trying to get everyone to respect your rule about the toilet seat. To help you navigate the minefield that is shared living, we’re listing the most common flatmate problems and offering our best advice on how to get by.
1. Cleaning and chores
Everyone has different standards of cleanliness, and they also have different methods in which they clean. Maybe you’re territorial and like your space just so, or perhaps you’re a bit of a slob and don’t see the need to spend your day on your hands and knees scrubbing away. Whatever the case, finding a middle ground where this topic is concerned is extremely important when you share an abode, and its one of the most common flatmate problems.
Remember that you won’t get your deposit back if you fail to look after your student accommodation, and excess mess and dirt can lead to household pests and just generally very unhappy flatmates. If it’s not you that’s the issue then stage an intervention with the offending flatmate.
2. Extra flatmate problems
Common flatmate problems occur when an extra person who wasn’t originally accounted for comes into the equation. This can be a good friend or one of your flatmate’s partners. Many people can find this problematic, and so it’s important to lay some ground rules. Remember that you would always want your friends to feel welcome in your home and so preventing your flatmate from doing the same is simply not fair.
On the other hand, there are certain times when having guests over is simply not practical, such as the exam period, and too many times in the space of a week is a little rude, especially if you’re not included. Try to lay some ground rules. For example, guests are allowed over three times a week. When it comes to boyfriends and girlfriends, and so long as you get along with them, try to be a bit more lenient. It’s hard to be apart when you’re a couple, so allow your flatmate some grace and don’t be afraid to politely talk to them if you feel they’re taking your welcoming approach for granted.
3. Parties and noise
Of all the flatmate problems this is one of the harder issues to navigate. When you first start university everyone is excited to party every night, eager to make new friends and act wildly without parents to complain about it. However, as term develops most students want to settle down into their studies and start living a more sedate student life, whilst the rest are determined to make the most of their free time by partying.
If you’re finding that your flatmates fit into the second group, and you’re deep into essay deadlines, then it’s time for a chat. It’s all well and good to spend a few weeks a term living like a hedonist, but when this begins to affect other people it’s really not fair. Sit your flatmate(s) down and ask if there’s any way they can scale back the partying, or maybe take it somewhere else if they don’t want to stop.
4. Different sleep schedules
If you’re more of an early bird and your flatmate is definitely a night owl, your completely different sleeping schedules may bring you both to blows at some point in the future. There are, however, ways to navigate the tricky problem of your sleeping times so that you both get the rest you need. First of all establish some ground rules, such as keeping noise to a minimum from midnight onward and from 6 until half 7 or 8. This means no loud television or music, no talking on the phone in parts of the house where your flatmates can hear you, and no slamming cupboards when hunting for food in the kitchen. Buying earplugs is also one of the best ways to ensure you sleep soundly.
5. What’s yours is mine
If you have siblings you’ll be more than aware of the rage directed at yourself or to your siblings whenever anyone takes liberties and uses someone else’s things. Unfortunately, if someone at university steals your things you can’t childishly run to mum to intervene, shouting ‘I hate you’ as you go. If you notice that one of your flatmates is taking your stuff take steps to make it harder for them to do so. It’s hard to build up enough evidence against someone to confront them if you think they’re taking your belongings, and much easier to simply take your things away from their grasp.
If, once you’ve moved your things to your room, you find things are still going missing, then it’s time to confront them about the issue. Taking your things without asking is bad enough, but invading your personal privacy is another deal altogether. Explain that you’re not OK with them going into your room, nor are you OK with them taking your things as and when they please. Hopefully they just assumed everyone would be sharing, and will accept that this is not something you enjoy.
6. Personal hygiene
This issue can be connected to mental health so it’s a little trickier to navigate. Still, after a little while of living with your flatmate hopefully you’ll know them well enough to determine whether their lack of personal hygiene is a normal thing with them, or indicative of a deterioration in their mental state.
Whatever the cause it’s important you’re as tactful as you can be if you plan on talking to your flatmate. If you know them well enough you can pass this off as a joke, which may get them thinking, or tell them you care for them and think they’ll feel a lot better if they get under a nice hot shower.
7. You just don’t get along
This is the most problematic of all the common flatmate problems. If you don’t see eye to eye, and you’ve really tried your very best, then it’s time for something that we haven’t mentioned yet: look for an alternative housing arrangement. University should be one of the best times in your life so living with people that you just don’t fit with is not an option. After all, you’re not supposed to be friends with everyone you meet in life.
If any of your flatmate problems are getting you down and you feel like they’re unsolvable then don’t despair; you don’t have to stay in your accommodation forever and you should make steps to move out if you feel like its the right thing for you. That said, everyone at university is trying to make new friends so chances are slim that you’ll end up living with someone who isn’t eager to make you a part of their lives!
House sharing can be a minefield – from noisy flatmates, to lack of hygiene, to the extra baggage you may not have been expecting. Which of the seven problems covered best describes your situation? Jump back to them using the list below.