Flatmates can make or break your time at university. If you’re lucky, you’ll end up making friends for life. But whether you’re living with one person or 13, flat-sharing can be difficult. It’s all too common to hear people talking about the flatmate from hell. Even though it makes a good story, no-one wants to have one, and they especially don’t want to be one. So, if you don’t want to be the person everyone complains about at the pub, try to avoid making these common mistakes.
After a long day sometimes you just want to go to your room and shut the world out. That’s understandable, but walking past your flatmates everyday without so much as a “hi” isn’t really OK. Maybe you all didn’t turn out to be best friends straight away, but nothing alienates you more than not communicating at all. Just smile and be friendly, they’ll appreciate the effort.
Cleaning is probably the biggest cause of arguments between flatmates. Most people aren’t looking to live with clean freaks, but they also don’t want to live in a place that could be featured on How Clean Is Your House. Simply keep your things tidy, wash your dishes, and do your share of the chores and you’ll be safe from waking up with mouldy food-covered plates in your bed.
Don’t clean yourself
Basic personal hygiene seems pretty obvious, yet sometimes people don’t adopt as thorough a routine as they should. No-one wants to be known as the guy who doesn’t wash his clothes or the girl who doesn’t shower enough. This is pretty simple, just wash.
Turn up your music
If you’re lucky enough to live with people that have the same taste in music as you then this may not be much of an issue. During the day most people don’t mind a bit of background noise, but at some point, everyone’s going to want to sleep. Be courteous, turn it down a bit during the small hours, or invest in a good pair of headphones.
Give your romances an audience
‘Overnight guests’ and thin walls don’t make a great combination. You can bring people back, it’s your room, but bear in mind that your flatmates probably don’t want to hear it all happen while they’re trying to sleep. Try and be as subtle as possible. Squeaky beds are OK; porn star screams are not.
Party all night, every night
Everyone loves a party, but not everyone loves it in their flat every night of the week. Try to let your flatmates know in advance, or, better yet, invite them to join. But be considerate if someone has a test or coursework to do. If you can, come to a compromise: finish the party earlier and head to the pub to give them some quiet time. The last thing you want when you’re hungover the next day is a scowling flatmate giving you hell.
Owe them money
“Neither a borrower, nor a lender be” – wise words from Shakespeare’s Hamlet that still ring true today. Whether you’re the one borrowing or lending, be careful, money squabbles can ruin friendships. If you need cash make sure you’ll be able to return it, same goes if you’re lending. The safest thing to do is not to mix money with friendships if it can be helped. It’s great to be able to help people out, but your relationship with your flatmate may suffer for it. Think carefully before money changes hands.
No matter how much you and your flatmates get on, you’re bound to see some things differently. Be flexible sometimes. If your flatmate is doing something that you can’t just ignore, speak calmly to them about it. Try to be friendly and make a joke out of it if you can. Stand your ground though. Most people are pretty reasonable, and as long as your request is too, it should be fine.