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Zen and the art of shared living

Zen and the art of shared livingNo-one wants hassle at home. Find out how to choose your flatmates and make sure you all get along!

Choosing flatmates

If you move into a privately rented house or flat, choose your flatmates carefully:

  • Do you want to live with all guys, all girls or a mix?
  • Smokers or non-smokers?
  • What do your flatmates do? It is usually easier to share with somebody around the same age with the same interests.
  • Are you compatible? Can you live with somebody who goes clubbing every night, when you like quiet nights in? (and vice versa)
  • Can you put up with somebody being really messy‚Ķ or over tidy?

Sharing the chores

Like it or not there are certain tasks which have to be done. The toilet is not self-cleaning, the rubbish has to go out eventually and disposable plates are not the answer to washing-up. Floors, bathrooms and gardens also need attention.

What can you do to stop your house turning into a pit?

  • Write a roster for certain tasks, especially cooking and washing-up. It's the best way to make sure that everyone pulls their weight.
  • You could have a chart where people put down a tick every time they do the washing-up. Then you can see who's skiving!
  • Set up some rules at the beginning as it will save you a world of hassle later on. Make them realistic!


  • Be clear about what is shared and not. You may be happy to share your TV, washing machine, stereo and pots and pans, but you may not fancy sharing your computer, food, shampoo or gym equipment. Be clear up front so you don't get annoyed when your flatmate didn't realise.
  • A closed bedroom door means "Stay out". Never enter your flatmates bedrooms if they are not at home and always knock if they are.

Resolving problems

After you've moved in and the honeymoon period is over, it's not uncommon for a few problems to arise. All the little things that you didn't mind about someone at the beginning, can start to annoy you. Before it turns nasty with a flatmate, it's good to talk things through...

  • Deal with them face-to-face. It's always better than sending emails, leaving notes on their cupboard, banging on walls, throwing things, or talking to other flatmates about them.
  • Plan to sit down with them at an appropriate time and allow enough time to do it.
  • Think beforehand about what you want to say. State clearly what the problem is and how you feel about it. Don't blame your flatmate for everything.
  • Give your flatmate a chance to tell their side of the story.
  • Try to get over the problem together. Work out what you both need to do to smooth things over.

Noisy neighbours

Noisy flatmate? How do you deal with it aside from buying ear plugs? Your first step should be to try to talk to them first. If that does no good, you could speak to your university accommodation office, your warden/halls manager or your landlord about it.

Try to find a compromise, for example, loud music is fine, but only at weekends.

Advice and support

Where can you go for housing advice and support?

  • Student Union - there will be a welfare officer and/or an advice unit. This is located on your university campus. If you have issues with your landlord, or queries about housing benefits, talk to them.
  • Student services and the accommodation office

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