Moving into shared accommodation is an incredibly exciting time, with new people and new opportunities a-plenty. Most often, your new flatmates will quickly start to feel like family. In a city with a population of over eight million, it’s important to develop strong relationships as quickly as possible. By choosing student accommodation, having something in common with your flatmates is a given, but you also need to be mindful of any differences in culture, expectations and lifestyle. There will be disagreements – that’s just human nature – but it’s important to not let these get in the way of any student flat harmony. To make sure you’re doing your bit, check out our top tips for living in a shared flat.
Shared Accommodation Tips
Living in student accommodation is an advisable experience every student should through. Having grown up as an only child, always being pampered and spoilt, moving into a shared flat after living in my own apartment for 3 years was quite a challenge. Yet somehow I managed having flatmates London, and I have actually truly enjoyed my time here. While being away from home, dealing with a challenging university course load as well as having 5 other people living with you in close quarters can be supportive. Nonetheless, there are also challenges to face. So to make life just a bit easier, here are some tips to get along with your flat mates and have a happy and clean flat!
The Importance of Manners in a Shared Flat:
As with any situation, communication is key when living in a shared flat. Common courtesy and polite manners are a definite must. Yet, from my own personal experience, I can say that it doesn’t hurt to emphasize this once again. You’d be surprised at how simple things like “please and thank you” can get lost in everyday hustle and bustle, and the difference these can make in establishing a comfortable flat atmosphere.
Why Communication is Important in a Student Flat:
For quick and easy communication with all members of your shared accommodation, having an established method of communication is vital. A Facebook or WhatsApp group can work well but be mindful that not everybody uses Social Media – yes, those people do exist. Regardless of what kind of communication you pick, make sure it suits everybody. Make sure that you communicate early and clearly. Don’t wait until the situation becomes out of hand and frustrations and emotions build up. Make your concerns and requests heard from the start, and as long as you stay polite and clear in your requests, nobody should bite your head off.
Team Building for Students:
Try to have regular team building events. There’s a reason pretty much every company has a set budget – sometimes fairly significant – for team building events, and you should take this as a sign that it works. You don’t need to go all out, even an afternoon coffee or a flat dinner can help you get to know each other better and form a “community” spirit.
Sharing the Work in Student Accommodation:
Living in shared accommodation, it is important to make sure that no member of the flat feels like they are being taken for granted or carrying all of the load. It’s worth considering a rota for flat tasks like taking out the trash and emptying the dishwasher. What matters most is that effort is recognized and appreciated by the whole flat. So maybe send a quick thanks in the group chat or leave a nice note in the kitchen when somebody does something that benefits the whole of your shared flat. As silly as it sounds, it can make a big difference with a flat-share in London.
Shared Accommodation Does Not Mean No Privacy:
Give each other space. Shared accommodation in London should be fun! However, not everybody is a morning person, and not everybody is particularly keen on company late at night. Sometimes a flatmate may simply want to go into the kitchen to grab a quick drink or bite to eat, not have an epic discussion about how their day has been. Basic etiquette and friendly smiles should, of course, be maintained, but try to gage each other’s moods and rhythms, and do not try to force a conversation during a simple chance meeting in the kitchen.
A Clean Student Flat is a Happy Student Flat:
Always make sure to leave the kitchen and common space how you found it – clean up after yourself. Don’t leave Nutella stains on the counter, wipe down and discard your crumbs, put your stuff back in the fridge, don’t leave food – or worse hair! – in the sink. Place dirty dishes at least in the dishwasher, where they are out of sight (you can always come back later to clean it by hand). This may sound like things a nagging mom would say, but we are all adults by now. Even if deep down you don’t feel the need to clean or do these things, remember that this is not your area and you are sharing with other people.
Keeping A Shared Apartment Clean:
Arrange regular/weekly cleaning chores. It’s always worth looking into arranging a weekly cleaning service. When you split the cost evenly, it’s surprising how reasonable a cleaning service can be. Organising a cleaning service guarantees that a professional comes in and keeps your shared student accommodation in perfect condition.It’s also worth remembering that some student acccommodation providers like urbanest offer an in-house cleaning service for a reasonable fee. And with urbanest options for private bedrooms, en-suite bathrooms, underfloor heating, superfast broadband and more, you get the highest quality of student living right in the heart of the city – such as Zone 1 locations like Vauxhall, Hoxton, St Pancras, Westminster Bridge, Tower Bridge and King’s Cross.
Take a step back and recognise that you are not on your own anymore, you are in a house share in London. For those of you who prefer things a little more messy, but especially for the neat-freaks: a shared flat will never be as sparkly clean as you’d like it. Compromise is a must and you need to be willing to meet somewhere in the middle. Try to overlook the little things.
Shared Items for a Shared Apartment:
Establish a “community cupboard”, where you can store all the community goods and items. That way everybody knows that things in this particular cupboard are free to use for all and there won’t be any confusion or rummaging through individuals’ cupboards in search of dustbins or washing up liquid.
Split the Bill:
Most shared accommodation comes with independent payments for the residents, so you only have to worry about your own rent. But there’s more expenses than just bills. That’s why we recommend having a shared expense sheet. There are even apps that can simplify the process, such as Splitwise and Venmo. Record even the little things like dishwasher tablets and kitchen roll. It may seem silly, but these things add up, and only if everybody is clear on recording even the little things can expenses be shared fairly.
Buy in Bulk:
Try to buy things in bulk. If you know your flat mates before moving in to shared accommodation (urbanest has a private Facebook group for you to interact with your flatmates), try to coordinate the purchasing of essentials, such as dishes, cleaning supplies, spices/sugar, and even – if you get along really well – milk, butter, and other basics can easily be shared. Just be sure to keep track of the expenses and be clear of what the flat agrees to share and what individuals would rather purchase themselves.
A Shared Kitchen Does Not Mean a Free-for-All:
Clearly assign your fridge and cupboard space. Worst case, if people don’t respect it or confusion persists, invest in a label maker and go crazy labeling everything!
Ask Before You Borrow:
Another self-explanatory rule, but worth mentioning nevertheless. To me, this is one of the most important rules of living in a shared space. There’s no issue if somebody uses a little butter or milk provided they have asked beforehand and make sure to get their own next time they’re out and about.
Rules for Visitors in a Shared Apartment:
Discuss such things as giving your flat mates notice or warning in advance, especially for loud and noisy gatherings. This is especially important when you are planning on having many people over or if you have somebody staying with you for a few days.
Be Open-Minded and Flexible:
Living in a shared flat is an amazing experience and exposes you to a variety of different cultures and experiences. For example, I live in quite a unique flat with a great mix of cultures. I’ve been able to taste authentic Chinese food and in turn explained to two of my flat mates how to cook penne with tomato sauce (quite a challenging dish). My Dutch flat mate brought me Dutch sweets that I remember from a childhood trip. My Swiss flat mate helped me brush up on my Swiss German. Everyone is unique and different in shared accommodation. Living in close quarters with anybody will bring challenges and difficulties but try to embrace the differences and opportunities this offers, rather than getting caught up in little everyday hassles. Now you know the best ways to get on with your flatmates, check out our guide to the 7 Types of Student You are Bound to Meet at Uni and the rest of our Student Journal for the best general and London-specific advice and guidance.
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