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Top Tips for Living in a Shared Flat

8th May 2015 Chris Clark Accommodation, Careers and Finance, London Life

This is a guest post by Lisa Herms from Florida, USA, currently a resident at urbanest King’s Cross. She is studying International Health Policy (Health Economics) Masters course at London School of Economics. 

Interesting fact: I actually enjoy reading Shakespeare…and all types of classic literature!

“What I love most about London are the people, the shopping, the history, the atmosphere!”

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 of my personal (or researched) tips to get along with your flat mates and have a happy and clean flat!

  1. 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.
  2. For quick and easy communication with all members of your shared accommodation, having an established method of communication is vital. I highly recommend having either a Facebook or WhatsApp group. Try to be mindful though that not everybody may have a Facebook – yes, those people do exist – and that some people may not be a fan of WhatsApp. Regardless of what kind of communication you pick, make sure it suits everybody. Worst case, there’s always pencil and paper…
  3. 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.
  4. 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 does work. You don’t need to go all out, but even an afternoon coffee or a flat dinner can help you get to know each other better and form a “community” spirit.
  5. 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 without being appreciated. In reality, as much as one may want to share the burden, there will most likely always be one or two people that carry most of the load – probably because they are the most sensitive and picky. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, and, speaking from my own personal experience, these kinds of people don’t actually mind doing it, either. What matters to them though is knowing that their effort is being recognized and appreciated by the others. So maybe send a quick thanks in the group chat or leave a nice note in the kitchen when somebody took down the trash, emptied the dishwasher, bought new washing liquid, etc. As silly as it sounds, it can make a big difference with a house share in London.
  6. Give each other space. Shared accommodation London should be fun! However, not everybody is a morning person, and not everybody is particularly keen on company late at night. Sometimes someone simply wants to go into the kitchen to grab a quick drink or bite to eat, not to have an epic discussion about how the 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.
  7. 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.
  8. Arrange regular/weekly cleaning chores. My personal tip is to arrange a weekly cleaning service that is provided by a partner of Urbanest in-house. If you split the cost evenly, it won’t be as much and at least that way it will be guaranteed that a professional – outsider – comes in for a cleaning.
  9. 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, see #7, but especially for the neat-freaks: a shared flat will never be as sparkly clean as you’d like it. Both must compromise and meet somewhere in the middle. Try to overlook the little things.
  10. 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.
  11. Have a shared expense sheet – or use an app like Splitwise or Venmo. Record even the little things like GBP 2 dish washing liquid. 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.
    1. 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.
  12. 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!
  13. 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. I do not mind if somebody uses my butter or milk…so long as they ask me beforehand and let me know.

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  14. Have clear rules for how to handle visitors to the flat. Discuss such things as giving your flat mates a notice or warning in advance and hours 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 kind with you shared accommodation in London.
  15. Be open-minded, especially for the different cultures you may encounter in your flat. It is an amazing experience and exposes you – in great depth – to a variety of different cultures when having flatmates London. I live in quite a unique flat with a great mix of cultures. I got to taste authentic Chinese food and in turn explain 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 I remember from my childhood. The 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 make you see their pet peeves and bad sides, but try to embrace the differences & opportunities this offers, rather than getting caught up in little everyday hassles.


Chris Clark

Chris Clark

For more great posts from Urbanest about accomodation, London life, study tips and much more, visit the Student Journal.