You’ve started uni – freedom! No more nagging parents, battles with your brother over the PS4, or your annoying little sister eating all the biscuits. But little do you know about the brand new, even crazier family you’re about to move in with.
Getting used to living with your flatmates can be a challenge, especially if you’re in your first year and haven’t met the people you’re sharing with before. With a bit of compromise and understanding though, you’ll have the time of life.
Our guide will walk you through the different types of flatmate you’re likely to meet, and explain how best to get on with them. Remember, you’ll be one of these types too – can you work out which?
The Messy One
Let’s be honest, most of us would agree that there’s more to life than cleaning, but this housemate takes slobbiness to the next level. His room is awash with a sea of takeaway boxes and dirty clothes, which you can handle – until the smell starts to spread.
Her washing up will begin to pile up in the kitchen, until she’s used up not only all her own crockery but everyone else’s too, by which time the sink will have developed its own unique ecosystem and becoming a threat to humanity.
Catch this one early, before a resentful stalemate develops. Politely explain how their mess is affecting other people, and maybe offer to help sort it out. If you’re the organising type, you could suggest a cleaning rota to make sure everyone does their fair share. On no accounts buy them paper plates. It won’t end well.
The Party Animal
This housemate can be good fun, they just don’t know when to stop. Phone ringing at five thirty in the morning? That’ll be party animal asking you to let them in and pay their taxi fare. Weird yowling noises coming from the living room? Party Animal and their buddies are at the karaoke machine again. Strangely dressed figure asleep in the hall? That’s right – it’s Party Animal.
You could get revenge by getting up early and singing in the shower as you get ready for a morning of wholesome activities, but talking to them will be more effective.
Explain that you need to get up for lectures, have an exam to study for, or a Saturday job to hold down – chances are they simply won’t have thought about this kind of thing. Compromise is key, so agree on keeping the noise down midweek in exchange for putting up with it at the weekend.
The Loved-Up One
Buy one housemate get one free, anyone? The Loved-Up One is surgically attached to their other half, and will have no qualms about snuggling on your sofa and taking over your kitchen for romantic nights in. Even worse, said boyfriend or girlfriend doesn’t contribute to the rent and is probably eating all the communal crisps. And God help you all if they break up.
Again, talking is the best way to deal with this. Ask to have a chat with them without their boyfriend or girlfriend in tow, and calmly explain how you feel. Be positive about how much you like spending time with them, and suggest a flatmates-only night once a week.
The Control Freak
Thought your parents were demanding? You ain’t seen nothing yet. This housemate has very exacting standards, and is determined to force them on everybody else too. She’ll already have detailed spreadsheets on your shower usage, cleaning responsibilities, and weekly butter consumption, and won’t be afraid to harangue you if she thinks you’re out of line.
He’ll also be the one leaving those annoying passive-aggressive notes everywhere, informing you which shelf the cheese goes on and the precise temperature the central heating should be at. In true passive-aggressive style, these blunt notes will be signed off with a cheery ‘Thanks’ and an infuriating smiley face.
Understand that The Control Freak is well-intentioned and genuinely trying to make the flat a place everyone can enjoy. The washing up regime is simply their way of dealing with being away from home for the first time. Fly into a rage and they’ll be hurt that you don’t appreciate their efforts.
Get all your flatmates together and come up with a set of house rules that everyone can agree on. The order will reassure Control Freak, whilst allowing the rest of you to veto some of their crazier demands.
Everybody borrows the odd teabag or slice of bread now and then, and that shouldn’t be a problem. The Borrower, however, appears to live entirely off of what he’s scavenged from other people’s cupboards. This is particularly annoying when that leftover pizza you were looking forward to all day has gone, or someone has drunk the beers you were saving.
An interesting variant of The Borrower is the replacer. She’ll scoff all your chocolate biscuits and mature cheddar, then replace them with the cheapest rich teas and rubbery non-descript cheese. You can’t even be properly cross with her without sounding really snobby and spoilt.
Sharing can save all manner of arguments about food. Club together for basics like bread, pasta, tea and milk, so that no one runs out and everyone is less touchy about it – it’ll save you money too. And if you’re really protective of your handmade artisan goats’ milk chocolate, or that special bottle of rum you got on holiday, keep it in your room.
The Mysterious One
You met her a couple of times in the first week, and you’re pretty sure her name is Sarah, but other than that she’s a mystery. She has a hefty lecture timetable and goes home at the weekends, so when you occasionally see her in the kitchen it’s pretty awkward.
In many ways The Mysterious One doesn’t present much of a problem – he’s clean, quiet, and isn’t around enough to reveal any annoying habits. He could be practising for life as a monk, but chances are he’s probably just shy, and as a good housemate it’s your job to make him feel included. Organise a flat night in, or just knock on his door and invite him to watch a film.
Even if you don’t have that much in common, breaking the ice will make your flat a much happier, more relaxed place. Loosen him up a bit and you might even discover a friend for life.
The Dramatic One
Life is never boring with The Dramatic One. One day he’s getting his girlfriend of two weeks’ name tattooed on his bum, the next he’s sobbing on the sofa because they’ve broken up. Watching sport with him is an emotional rollercoaster only the toughest can survive, and don’t even think about playing board games with him.
Get too caught up in the drama and it’ll take over your life. Before you know it you’ll be getting tearful phone calls in the middle of lectures, and wasting hours of your life listening to cherished memories of her recently deceased goldfish. It’ll cost you a fortune in tissues too.
Obviously you need to be there for your flatmates in tough times, just don’t let it get out of hand. Use humour to diffuse potentially dramatic situations, and if they really are just being daft – tell them so! Instead of letting them get worked up, acknowledge that they’re upset then suggest going to watch a film or get a coffee to cheer them up.
You and your flatmates may have your differences, but with good communication and a bit of understanding you’ll end up with brilliant friends and develop some valuable people skills. Keep reading our blog for more advice on student living, and check of the different sharing options available in our accommodation.