How to be the PERFECT housemate

How to be the PERFECT housemate

Living in shared accommodation is a big part of what makes the university experience so unique and memorable. For it to go smoothly, you need to know how to be a good housemate.

Estate agents and TV shows may say that “location, location, location” is the main factor for happy living arrangements. But when it comes to student accommodation, “flatmates, flatmates, flatmates” is more accurate.

Who you live with and how you act will determine how enjoyable your living situation is more than anything else. Living with a group of other students is lots of fun, but it can test your patience at times, especially if you have a flatmate who doesn’t share your vision of “Home sweet home”.

Nobody wants to live with a nightmare flatmate, and you certainly don’t want to be labelled as one. So, to avoid being the one who gets on your flatmates’ nerves and makes them want to move out, here’s a guide on how to be the housemate that everybody is glad they live with.

How to be a good housemate — do’s and don’ts

Do your washing up. Nobody wants to live surrounded by your dirty pans and plates. Wash them up after you have eaten — it only takes a few minutes.

Do your share of communal cleaning and other chores, such as emptying the kitchen bin. Don’t be lazy and leave it for someone else to do. Sure, cleaning sucks but you know what sucks more? Not doing it. If someone in your house isn’t pulling their weight, consider talking to your flatmates and agreeing on a cleaning rota.

Don’t leave your personal belongings all over the place. Sometimes it can be hard to notice your own mess, but you can be sure other people notice it. Be considerate and keep your stuff in your room rather than using communal areas as your personal dumping ground.

Be willing to share your stuff. Unless it is expensive, precious, or has sentimental value, be willing to share your things with your flatmates. If someone seems overly reliant on borrowing a particular item of yours and it bothers you, politely suggest they buy their own, but don’t be a dick about it.

Ask before using or borrowing other people’s stuff. Don’t just assume it is okay. Most people will be happy to lend you something of theirs if you ask them but might feel that you are taking liberties if you start helping yourself without checking with them first.

Don’t leave lights on or doors and windows open when you are not in a room. It uses more energy, which is bad for the environment, increases the cost of your bills, and can potentially be a security risk (though leaving a light on if everyone is out for the night can be a good idea from a security perspective).

If you are in your room, keep your door open sometimes, especially in the first few weeks when you are getting to know people. You are entitled to your privacy, but don’t shut yourself away from everyone all the time — it can come off as rude.

Be considerate when playing music. Don’t be blasting music out at an unreasonable volume when people are trying to sleep or study. If you want to have a party, clear it with your flatmates first.

Don’t be the person who uses the last of the milk, loo roll, or other essential items without replacing them. You don’t want to be that guy. There are lots of names for people who do this kind of thing and none of them are good.

Pay your fair share of bills and other communal costs on time. Don’t make people chase you for money — it’s selfish and annoying.

Don’t act like communal spaces or items are your own personal domain. You don’t have a special right to always lie on the sofa, control the TV remote, etc. Remember it is other people’s home as well as yours.

Be tolerant of people’s habits. Everybody has their own quirks they are not necessarily aware of, including you. Learn to deal with it.

Communicate with your flatmates. Don’t let resentment build so that you fall out over something that could have been easily resolved by talking to one another. Don’t leave passive-aggressive notes around your flat either — nobody will respect them, or you, if you do. If someone is doing something that bothers you, talk to them about it like an adult.

Don’t retaliate if someone pisses you off. This will only escalate the situation and make it worse. Remember that most people will not be deliberately malicious towards you. Even if it may seem like they are sometimes, they are probably not. Not everybody knows how to be a good housemate. When a flatmate does something annoying, they are probably not aware of how it affects you. If you bring it to their attention in a respectful manner, they will most likely apologise and change their behaviour, solving the problem without any drama. Just remember to approach them with de-escalation in mind, not escalation.

Stick to these principles and you should be able to enjoy your first year in student accommodation without it being spoiled by the most common problems and sources of stress that occur when people share their living space with one another.

If you find yourself living with someone who doesn’t know how to be a good housemate, you might want to link them to this article. For more info on living in shared accommodation and dealing with difficult flatmates, see this dedicated article.