A Quick Guide to Surviving Shared Student Houses

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There are numerous ways to survive living in shared student housing and also a range of ways to make student digs not only a ‘survivable’ experience, but actually a fun and enjoyable one – and here is a quick guide to them.

Shared Student Houses

Live with Likeminded People

Living with friends whilst being a student isn’t always possible. In your first year you might not yet know anyone. In subsequent years you might have great friends but know that living together is not the right way to go, for the sake of a happy house or your friendship. Hence, instead of jumping at the chance to move in with mates or a university boyfriend or girlfriend, consider first the option of moving into a house of likeminded people by establishing a group of people with which to live.

Many student services operate schemes, lists or have the contact details and profiles of students looking to form house share groups, whatever year of study you are in. Hence, it is sensible to begin searching for housemates via your university student services or accommodation department.

Alternatively, or is your university doesn’t providing these services, you can search via a website such as The Student Room. Specifically speaking, an online community, The Student Room has a dedicated forum for students looking to find housemates and form house share groups,  and with members living all over the UK, wherever your university or you are there is a good chance of finding others there too.

Draw up a Rota

No student likes the idea that with moving out of the family home and into student digs comes chores, yet this is the reality – at least for students who want to maximise the good times in shared housing and keep the arguments, mess and ickiness to a minimum. So, as soon as you move in and way ahead of planning your first house party, take an hour or two to all gather round and draw up a rota of who is going to do what and when.

The best rotas usually rotate jobs to ensure nobody gets stuck on bathroom cleaning duty or bin detail for the entire year. Swapping jobs also prevents boredom and helps to keep everyone appreciative of the entire house.

Of course, there is scope even when implementing a rota to swap jobs or do favours for each other along the way. Just remember to return favours sooner rather than later, and communicate any issues you have or desire to swap jobs with your housemates to prevent chaos, confusion and potential arguments.

Ditch Student Digs

One of the easiest ways to ensure you survive student shared housing is to ditch digs altogether and instead invest a bit extra into living in accommodation that is of a higher quality.

Living in better maintained, decorated and furnished accommodation, such as that provided for example by Bellvue Students, can have a detrimental effect on a person’s wellbeing. After all, our surroundings inform our feelings and tell us how much we are worth, as well as simply being more pleasant to return to after a long day or study. Hence, it really can be worth looking into privately renting purpose made student accommodation over a single landlord owned property where often the minimum has been done in order to make a place ‘fit’ for student inhabitation.

Further, those moving into higher spec’ accommodation are more likely to make the effort to maintain it than those who even when first arriving do so to find a far less than cosy or homely place, and one in which they are going to have to live in for the next year or more.

The Pros and Cons of Halls Living

At the majority of UK universities first year undergraduate students apply to live in university owned halls of residence. This is often seen as the easiest, safest and surest ways to make the most of a first year spent at university. It can also help to settle a student in as they will of course be surrounded by other first year students and have a variable amount of amenities and facilities such as Laundromats and even shops, bars and a canteen or choice of places to eat at hand.

University halls are often neither the cheapest nor the best choice for some students though, and this is especially true of those who have previously lived independently, are moving as a couple or are particularly fond of their freedom. Most university halls are, it is worth stating, quite strict on allowing guests to visit and require over 24 hours notice before a guest is allowed to sleep over as well as implementing non-negotiable rotas which mean having to do chores every week, and worse chores you haven’t chosen or had any real say in.

Therefore, even if you are lucky enough to bag a place in your university’s halls of residence, before accepting it make sure you understand exactly what the terms of the tenancy are, its duration and as well how far the halls are from the campus where you intend to study; some halls are surprisingly far from the university which owns them and further away even than the cheaper alternative of renting student digs.

Understanding Student Tenancies

As aforementioned, many students moving into student accommodation for the first time are coming direct from their family home. Therefore, it is not uncommon for newly arriving students to neither know how to work the washing machine or even the terms or type of their tenancy. Of course, the former will get picked up quick enough along the way. The latter meanwhile is worth taking a moment to get your head around, and it is advisable to do this in fact before you sign on that dotted line to ensure you know what your are signing and are as such happy to do so.

Namely, there are two types of student tenancy taken out here in the UK. There is a sole tenancy and a joint tenancy and they both differ in ways that are important to understand before signing up for either. Whilst both joint and sole tenancies are used in student digs where multiple students live, sole tenancies are those which acknowledge each housemate has private and sole use over a room or more within one shared building. Meanwhile, joint tenancies mean that an entire property or ‘dwelling’ is shared jointly, giving no housemate any specific right over any of the rooms within it.

More Information

To learn more about sole and joint tenancies as well as what to do if you want to end your tenancy and how to pay rent, the Citizen’s Advice website is a great place to find out more. Also, if you do find yourself encountering tenancy, landlord or rent problems whilst sharing, you can always drop in to your local Citizen’s Advice office to speak with an advisor.

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