Words by Hannah Morrish


House-sharing at uni is a big adventure and one gigantic life lesson. Living with different people with different expectations of cleanliness and common courtesy can be a little bit mind-blowing. It’s worth realising early on that some people can be pretty clueless and not realise how their habits are affecting their housemates.


Here are five housemates you might run into at uni, and how to handle them while retaining your own sanity.

1. They never take out the kitchen bin



How it might make you feel

Everyone is on strike. It feels like everyone is discreetly watching the bin, but nobody is making the effort to move it.
Now you’re annoyed. You’re going to have to take it out for the sixth week in a row.



Life lesson


Taking out a bin when it is full and starting to pong is common decency right? Perhaps it now feels like somehow all your housemates have the expectation that you’re the resident rubbish collector. Well maybe they just assume that you’re happy to do it and leave you to it. That doesn’t make it OK, so rather than seethe in silence it’s best to calmly bring it to everyone’s attention. You might want to acknowledge that you’ve been doing, and that maybe you don’t mind carrying on doing it if other members of the house are happy to take on jobs that will help keep the house neat and tidy.

They eat your food when you’re away for the weekend.



How it might make you feel

Livid. I remember when I returned from the weekend and someone who regularly nicked and picked at my food had eaten some of my microwave meals without asking. When I pulled her up on it she offered to replace them but asked whether she could get them from a cheaper supermarket.


Life lesson

Be compassionate but firm with your housemates. Explain that it’s not OK to eat your food and if they’re desperate in the future they need to ask. If they have money worries, offer to help them out with budgeting or getting an appointment with student services in the student union. Sometimes this kind of behaviour is really just a cry for help so try not to judge and ask if there is anything else you can do to help.
But if you’ve helped them out and it happens again make sure you talk to them about it again. Don’t let them mistake your kindness for being a pushover.

Their hair keeps blocking up the shower but they never unplug it


How it might make you feel

Like you want to be sick? Yes pulling out somebody else’s hair from the plug hole is pretty grim, especially when it’s probably collected leg shavings and blobs of old hair conditioner and god knows what else. Gross. When I had to clean up the bathroom and unblock the plughole I would feel my whole face get taken over by a grimace. I’d pick it out and toss it into the bin as quickly as possible.



Life lesson

Sometimes you have to take the hit. This is all about self-preservation. Do you really want to stand in the shower in your own dirty water because it won’t drain? Thinking ahead to the future, when you have your own home and family, clearing up mess and unblocking drains and plugs will be your responsibility. This is an opportunity to skill up now and get some practice in.
Don’t feel that this should all be your responsibility now though. Once you’ve cleared out the block there is no reason why you shouldn’t let your housemates know. Mention it casually in passing, consider making it into a funny story, acting it out with emphasis on pulling out the hair with all your muscle power. When people are relaxed and laughing with you they are less likely to feel attacked or criticised and will respond more positively.

They've started taking a long shower every morning when you’re trying to get ready to leave the flat for lectures



How it might make you feel

Frustrated, annoyed with yourself for falling into the same trap again. Angry at how selfish some people can be.


Life lesson

People have routines, wise up to them and work around it. Sadly some people just don’t realise how their habits can impact on others. Remember that it’s not personal and they’re not trying to wind you up. Living with people helps you to appreciate and understand the behaviours and values that you appreciate. It will also help you to gradually accept that we’re all different and approach doing certain things in different ways.
Feel empowered to manage the situation by getting up a few minutes earlier and hopping into the shower before they start their morning routine. You’ll feel happier for it.

They've been dumped by their boyfriend and expect you to be with her all day every day, if you leave, she says your abandoning her.



How it might make you feel

Guilty, frustrated and perhaps a little bit exhausted, at times resentful.



Life lesson


Some people struggle with break ups and uni because before they will have been used to the comfort of being supported at home by their family. That’s probably why they are now so dependent on you.
Remember that you can’t create someone’s happiness for them, they can only do that for themselves. By sitting in with her day in day out, you’re not going to make the break up any easier and you’re soon going to get really fed up.
Instead, if you’re popping out, invite her with you. If she doesn’t want to come that’s up to her. By going about your day-to-day life you are not abandoning her, that’s simply her perception of the situation. Friendship is a two way thing and she needs to understand that you need you own time to be able to relax and look after your needs too.

What problems have you had with housemates and how did you deal with it?