Before you decide that you want to live with your friends or rent a room in a shared house or apartment, consider what living with a group of people might be like.
Suddenly, decisions aren’t your own – from deciding which property to rent, to what takeaway to order and who is going to clean the toilet. You will need to be good at compromise and negotiation and this increases with the more people you live with. It is unlikely to always be plain-sailing so think about how resilient you might be and what your limits are. Things such as noise, smoking and mess can be very triggering for some people and you don’t want to find yourself living with people for a year or more who act in a way that upsets or distresses you.
Finding your own space in a shared home can be hard whereas you can still live with your friends in private halls but they often have other communal facilities which mean you can get away from your immediate flatmates when you want to.
If you rent a shared house or flat from a letting agent or landlord, this will usually be one tenancy agreement and you pay the bills yourself. So all of this will need to be looked after by one person in your group and money will need to be transferred every month to either one person or into a shared account to cover the rent and bills. So think about the people you have chosen to live with and if they are responsible with money or if they are likely to stay for the whole year – those bills still need paying even if someone moves out or spends all their money on clothes. Living in private halls though is much more straightforward – you are only responsible for paying for your room or flat and bills will be included.
3. The Property
Before signing on the dotted line, have a think about how the house or flat you have chosen meets the needs of the group. For example, for the number of people living there, are there enough bathrooms, is the oven big enough, can everyone sit on the sofa in front of the TV, is there a suitable space to study and is there a garden? Consider as well how you will look after the property – how easy will it be to clean and is there a lawn to mow? Your group will need to be in agreement on what is and isn’t important and that wont always match what you think – so again compromise is key but always have a list of non-negotiables, after all living somewhere for a year is a long time.
Deciding who you want to live with is a big commitment and is often a decision that is made at the very start of your first year when you have only spent a few weeks living in university halls and have made some new best friends. Waiting to think about who you really want to live with can pay off in the long-run.
By Sarah Canning – Student Accommodation Features Editor