National Student Money Week blog of the day – Look after your house/flatmates

As this is the final Money Week blog focusing on the national theme Where I Live, we thought we’d do something a bit different and not just talk about money. We hope that you’ve enjoyed the week and we’ve answered some of your more pressing questions. We’ll be responding to any renting worries in a round up article next week, giving the answers to the energy quiz and announcing the all important winners of the different competitions, so if you want to receive this direct into your inbox, please subscribe by email.

When thinking about who we might want to live with, we  will automatically be drawn to people we know already, but sometimes the opportunity to live with strangers can bring fun and exciting new experiences into our lives. In terms of living together in a shared space as a group of individuals – how can it work to best suit all of you?

Come together as a group and agree some house rules from the get go. You may want to review and change these as you go along, so try to have regular house meetings,  maybe enjoy a house meal together and discuss any issues and concerns in a relaxed way where you can hear each other’s opinion. A bonded home is more likely to feel like a unified home.

Here are some pointers to get you started:

  • Early risers versus night owls – try to establish some reasonable boundaries about noise levels. How do you all feel about parties, having friends over, early morning workouts?! Also consider your study timetable and any employment commitments you have. Most students have to work to subsidise their income, and much of this will be shift work in pubs, clubs, call centres, shops so it’s not just about getting up for uni, but getting in after a late shift at work.
  • Social butterflies versus privacy seekers – the way we socialise can also vary from one person to the next. Some like to host parties at home, pre-drinking and getting ready for a night out together, whilst others prefer more quiet time or partake in gaming or online socialising. Get to know each others’ preferences and work out a happy balance.
  • The fastidious cleaner versus the more relaxed approach to housework – the division of labour over household chores can be a divisive and cause the best of friendships to be challenged. Some love a rota (as long as it is adhered to!) whilst others might be more impulsive. Its better to be honest about expectations rather than give unrealistic promises like “I’m just like Monica from Friends” if you know you’re most certainly not. There may be tasks that some of you enjoy which others don’t like, so trading your chores might work for you.
  • Buy household items together in bulk – cleaning products, toilet roll, any household basics you all agree on. It might be an idea to start a kitty and all put in an equal share on a certain date then do a mass shop together. That way you’re less likely to run out of essentials and if you do on the odd occasion, it will potentially be less confrontational.
  • Work the bills out – it can be tricky talking about money, and as a group living together you may be on completely different budgets, which can have an impact on how much you think is reasonable to spend on heating, hot water etc. That said, most people want to pay as little as possible because utility bills are expensive. TV ‘extras’ may be essential to one but an unnecessary expense to another.

Enjoy spending time together as a house and try to make time in your busy schedules to share some fun times. We all need a shoulder to cry on, or if we’re stressed with deadlines, or feeling unwell it’s comforting to know that someone at home can look out for us, make us a cuppa, or be a sympathetic ear.

Try to make friends with the neighbours, or at least establish a level of civility and say hello every now and again. For students living in a typical “studenty area” there may already be a negative stigma which isn’t your fault, so if you know you’re planning on having a party do let the neighbours know. Likewise if you’re living next to someone else who is particularly noisy, it’s fine to respectfully ask them to keep the noise down.

If you living near someone less mobile than you, keep an eye out for them, or if you see them struggling with shopping, a buggy or putting the bins out. You might need them to look out for you some time.

If you do fall out as a house, it doesn’t have to be final. Try to talk it out calmly and maybe with the intervention of a third party. As joint tenants you should also recognise each other equally and respectfully. Usually for students most tenancies will last 12 months, if not less, so it won’t last forever. And most importantly, if you are unhappy, please come and talk to someone in confidence. Student Services is here for you.

For more advice and suggestions, Save the Student has this helpful guide: How to Survive Shared Living and the NUS has a wealth of information around Housing Advice and being Ready to Rent.

Sadly, today is the last of the roadshows, so be sure not to miss out. Pop along to the Sallis Benney Theatre foyer in Grand Parade main building between 12 – 2 and ask the Student Advisers or Community Liaison and Housing Advice Officer any question you like.If you can’t make it, you can contact us in person, over the phone or via email and don’t forget to have a go at the Money Week quiz – all about saving on energy at home.

We’ll be sending out an article next week announcing the winners of our money week competition along with all the quiz answers and sources of information.

Our advice doesn’t stop here – we’re open all year round, including all the holidays, so if you have got a question, comment, suggestion or worry, please contact Student Advice at your campus or ring the general number 01273 642888.

Happy weekend!

Student Advice Service

Helen is the Student Advice Service Manager within Student Services and is based in Tithe Barn on the Moulsecoomb campus

Posted in National Student Money Week

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