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Top Tips for Choosing Your Housemates at University

Top Tips for Choosing Your Housemates at University main image

By Lizzie Exton

Moving out of halls of residence or away from your family home is a big step when you’re studying at university. Taking that stride towards independence can be exhilarating, but it’s also a bit of a minefield and you’ll need to tread carefully if you’re going to make house sharing work.

Make a poor choice of housemates and you could end up footing most of the bills, bickering over trivial things like who should do the supermarket run and falling out over dirty dishes. Pick well, however, and you’ll find living with friends is great fun.

Not sure how to go about picking your new housemates for the start of a new term? Here are some top tips.

Know the sort of people you can bear to share with

Looking for housemates is a bit like online dating – you need to go into it knowing what you’re looking for and make that clear from the get-go. If you think you’ve found a potential match, ask your prospective house-sharer some questions to see just how compatible you might be. While you don’t want to make them feel it’s an interrogation, you need to get a feel for what they’re going to be like once you’ve moved in together.

People can be very different once the front door is shut, so getting to know them better before you agree to go house-hunting could spare you a lot of grief further down the line.

Start looking for a place early

Don’t put off until tomorrow something you could do today. There’s always fierce competition for the best houses and apartments in university cities, so if you want to stand a chance of finding nice housemates and nice place to live, then it’s never too early to start.

You’d be amazed how many people leave it until the very last minute to decide on who they’re sharing with and where they’re going to look for houses. If you want to end up living in housemate heaven rather than housemate hell, you need to start broaching the subject with people as early in the spring term as you can and start arranging to view a few properties together.

Don’t just choose to live with people on your course

Sometimes living with the people you ‘work’ with isn’t always the best move.  You’re probably most familiar and friendly with the people doing the same course or modules as you but remember that everyone needs some space now and then. If you’re living with the same people you’re in seminars with day in, day out, you might get sick of each other’s company very quickly.

Try to have a mix in your house if you can – not only does it widen your social circle but it can broaden your mind. If people are studying different courses to you, you’ll each learn something about the other’s subjects and you’ll be forced to find other things you can bond over, such as societies, hobbies or even your shared love of obscure foreign language films…

Don’t move in with the person you fancy

This never ends well.  Don’t move in with the boy or girl you fancy because you think it ups your chances of getting together – having an ulterior motive can backfire catastrophically and leave all involved feeling deeply awkward and embarrassed.

If you make a move and it all goes horribly wrong, you might find you’re back looking for a new house share to escape from the situation.  Finding new housemates and a new place mid-term can be next to impossible, so try to avoid getting into this predicament if possible.

Set out house rules from the off

Almost all household disagreements are avoidable in some way, so you need to set out a few ground rules right at the beginning.  Before you agree to move in with other people you need to make sure they’re the sort of housemates you can trust.

Chat with them and decide how to carve out who will organize things like paying the bills and how the rent will be managed.  Penciling a schedule for cleaning and cooking before you move in together will give you a good idea of whether or not they’re likely to pull their weight – if they look like they’re shirking responsibility, then maybe you need to look for someone else.

If a house share is going to be a success you need to know you’ll all get along and it’s not going to descend into chaos. Try to spend as much time as possible getting to know each other before you commit to moving in together. House sharing is a nightmare when it doesn’t work out but choose your housemates carefully and you could have a fantastic couple of years.

Lizzie Exton writes for Inspiring Interns, which specializes in finding candidates their perfect internship. To browse our graduate jobs, visit our website.

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Couldn't agree better