University: Choosing Your Housemates

Having lovely or nightmare housemates can make or break your university experience. I wrote about having nightmare housemates a few months ago (amazingly winning a Chromebook in the process – thanks Currys!), and now it’s time to write about choosing your housemates to make sure you have the best year.

 photo 2014-07-08105917_zps6e2cc3e9.jpgI was lucky when I first arrived at university, picking up some friends either in the first lecture, or even on Facebook before I arrived. I actually introduced one set of friends to the other to fill up the last room in your second year house, and whilst I was terrified they’d all hate each other, it worked brilliantly. So much so that three of us are continuing to live together next year after placements end (SO excited). But I have heard of many people not getting on with their housemates, despite being friends at first, and I’ve come up with some ideas of what you might want to think about before deciding to move in together;
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Coursemates or Not?

For me, I’m not sure I could live with someone doing the exact same course as me (I have fixed modules, so everything would be the same). I’m just not convinced I’d ever have chance to get completely away from the study side of things. On the plus side, you’d always have someone to walk to those 9am lectures with!

Libby does a very similar course to me, roughly half our modules are the same, and I personally found that a great balance. Always someone to ask for help, but I didn’t feel like I had to continually compare my progress.

I’d also be wary of living with someone studying a completely different course. Our house was made up of an architect, a forensic scientists, and us two mathletes, so we weren’t hugely similar. But they were all courses with significant contact hours – I’d avoid living with someone doing a lot less than you, as you don’t want them to be inconsiderate when you have a 9am the next day!
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Similar Interests

I love cooking, and so a decent kitchen was on my list for a house. It made sense that my future housemates felt the same way, and luckily we ended up with a small (but perfectly functioning) kitchen that produced many delicious cakes and bakes. Featuring: Peanut Butter Caramel Cake!

We also had lots of other things in common; one housemate was from where I grew up; two of us loved dogs; another two were pretty much beauty addicts. The only slight issue was the love of candles combined with the fear of fire, but we got around that.

And the best thing – we all loved the Great British Bake Off!
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Finances

I personally get a little bit jealous of people that have plenty of money to live on at university. It’s a bit selfish I know, but I can’t help it! I’m on the minimum loan, and my parents help me out as much as possible, but if I wasn’t receiving an academic scholarship I wouldn’t be there. It’s important to work out that you all have a roughly similar budget, or there will be regrets and tensions when you do find somewhere.

It’s also good to iron out how you will be paying bills if they aren’t included. All putting an equal amount in each month, or splitting them off and evening it up at the end?

Other Halves

Possible a strange thing to consider, but I’d think about it anyway. If your future housemates are in relationships then it’s important you all get along with each other’s partners. If not, it will just be an awkward atmosphere.

You might also want to think about whether anyone will likely be left overnight on their own a lot. I think we managed to avoid this on the whole in second year – and it obviously depends on the area you are living in as to whether it’s a big concern. It wasn’t for us when we first moved in, but a few incidents around this time last year made us a bit more aware!
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Food Preferences

This is something I’ve thought about more this year, renting a spareroom. I live in a small two-bed house with my landlady (her partner, three large dogs and a cat). She’s a vegetarian, and I love meat. I’m always wary about cooking something too ‘meaty’ as I don’t want to offend her, plus it clearly makes her feel queasy! It’s not a make-or-break situation, but if you are a die-hard steak fan, I avoid living with a veggie if possible! Or encourage them to have more evenings in the library…

Cleanliness

This is a big problem. You’ll know from this post that my housemates in halls were in general disgusting. Living with clean people was a big issue for me when deciding who to live with. As I’m living with them again next year, I’m sure you can all tell that they were up to scratch!

More seriously though, if you know someone doesn’t do their fair share, and you know that will irritate you, think twice about living with them. Or have a strict rota – we had to implement one for putting out the bins!

Now I just feel like I am being fussy about housemates, but in reality it was so easy for me to find people I wanted to live with – and I can’t wait to live with some of them again next year! How do you find housesharing? Any tips I have missed?

  • Jennifer K

    It can be so hard choosing who to live with! I have to say that in three years of choosing who to live with, I’ve been pretty fortunate – there’s always some ups and downs but I don’t know that you can ever get it perfect. This is the first year I’ve lived with all people doing my course, but luckily we all do our modules in different orders and go out on placement so it doesn’t feel like it. There’s a divided opinion amongst my coursemates about whether all-medic houses are a good thing – this phenomenon of ‘medic-chat’ comes up as a negative a lot! Luckily my housemates all have plenty of other interests so we don’t talk medicine quite as much as people think.
    It’s interesting what you said about making sure you’ve all got some interests in common – five out of six of us have been keen horse riders, but it was by complete chance that we all ended up together rather than us all being horsy!
    Cleanliness is also a big issue for me but I find it really hard to judge until you’re living with someone unfortunately.
    Jennifer x
    Ginevrella | Lifestyle Blog

    • ninegrandstudent

      I agree – though it sounds like you have managed perfectly. Luckily I actually had to cook in friends halls in my first year (when my kitchen was so disgusting) so had the opportunity to see how clean they were! x

  • Joanne

    Wow, very lovely post! These are great tips (especially the one about the same course). I totally understand what you’re saying, and will be keeping this in mind for when I enter university later on. Thanks for sharing! Xoxoxo

    http://thoughtsintiffanyblue.blogspot.com/

    • ninegrandstudent

      No worries – glad you found it useful! x

  • This is a great post!

    Hannie at // Chapters Like This //

    • ninegrandstudent

      Thanks! x

  • Definitely agree on a lot of these. Also I think that just because you get on well with someone doesn’t mean you should live together. I lived with a good friend and out friendship got a lot worse because of it, now we don’t live together we’re a lot closer. On the other hand I now live with someone I barely knew, and he’s like a brother too me now. You’ve just got to be realistic and get to know what people are like.

    Emma x
    Writing Essays With Wine

    • ninegrandstudent

      Oh definitely! It works for some, but I know of a few people whose friendships have been almost ruined from living together. x

  • emily

    The biggest one for me was the course load-I did chemistry, and that is a lot of work, a lot of after-hours lab work, and a lot of writing too. The terms that I lived with roommates who were doing easier courses were difficult, as they always wanted to go out and do things together, but I couldn’t. I found a better balance when I moved in with friends who were more serious about study.

    • ninegrandstudent

      That is probably my biggest point too – I don’t need to be interrupted from study or sleep! x