So, you’ve survived your first year of university, and hopefully found some moments of thriving too. Second year might be a time when things change from what you experienced in first year such as moving into a shared house from halls. This blog post provides tips for moving to second year living spaces. This is based on my own experience of moving from university halls to a shared private student house. The tips equally relevant if you are staying in halls.
House sizes and space will vary vastly, and some places can be very limited around the suburbs and city given how built up the surrounding areas are. Saving space to keep things clear for others is a really helpful way to have a much more pleasant living experience when sharing. One of the essentials for renting shared or alone has been an organised bin with different compartments for recycling. Even better, I later bought some stackable ones to provide more floor space but not compromise on the waste disposal amount I need. Of course, this may not be as applicable if the accommodation is fully or part furnished but this is definitely something to think about when sharing.
Cash pot for shared house essentials
We started our second year immediately with an agreed amount of cash to use for household essentials such as cleaning products. We would then top this up when the pot got low, which given the nature of what we used the money for, this wasn’t too often. This was really helpful in bringing small amounts together rather than relying on each other to do rounds of buying shared items and making it fair in terms of spending.
One thing we implemented from day one was rotas, particularly weekly ones for emptying the bins. This was really good in keeping a couple of people each week responsible for emptying the inside bins and taking the wheely ones up the drive…very rarely having a gross overflow in the kitchen! This generally worked well, even with eight of us. One housemate definitely did not do their bit that often, so we all ended up rotating and taking their place with their ‘bin partner’ on their turn. But overall, this worked really well. We did also try to do something similar for bathroom cleaning and vacuuming which, again mostly worked. Exam time was always much tougher to keep the routine fairness. I would advise others that try this to really try to keep to their responsibilities or at least ask for help when they can to avoid frustration between housemates.
Agree and respect boundaries: noise curfew, parties/events.
You may be living with others who have very different values, lifestyles and experiences than you. It really is important to discuss and set boundaries regarding your own and others needs within your accommodation. This is particularly important if you have moved out of university halls given there is unlikely to be a warden to help. Whether this is respecting cultural boundaries, having rules in place regarding gatherings and parties and noise curfews. For our shared house, we had a noise curfew of 11pm, which was really helpful in both allowing others to have events that wanted to such as pre-drinks but to be out of the door by 11pm so that they weren’t disturbing others too late. I experienced one time when a housemate and friends were sat talking in the kitchen – right next to my bedroom – until later when I had my part time job the next morning. Unfortunately, it took a couple of times to tell them to be quiet or move rooms, which they did in the end. These kinds of scenarios are important to remember to respect that you are likely to live with others with very different pressures and routines. It is always important to have discussions and also know you can negotiate these boundaries too.
It is likely to take some getting used to the dynamics of moving into a new place with people you’ve never lived with or are only just familiar with from your first year. It’s such an exciting time to get independence but equally can be frustrating with working out how to allow everything they need in a shared space. Keeping discussions going and trying to be as empathetic as possible with your housemates is key in ensuring people are feeling comfortable. Even if you don’t understand how they feel, it is always important to listen and try to work to resolve any issues. Though equally, it is just as important to know your wants and needs and have them met. I really hope you have a fun time in your accommodation and can make the most of your experiences. Despite some of the disputes, I do miss it!