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Advice for anyone moving away from home/ out of halls Watch

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    I wanted to write this just to communicate some pearls of wisdom to people who are moving away from home into communal living/ moving out of halls and moving into house shares with people of your own choice for the first time. I've been a student for 4 years now. 3 years spent at one uni and my 1 year postgraduate spent at another. I like to think I have a fairly balanced view of communal living (both from good and bad experiences) and I'd like to share my perspective with people who'd like some tips:

    Halls:
    1.) Try and make the best of your first year in halls. Being tossed into a flat with a load of other bewildered freshers in theory is a recipe for a nightmare but most halls offer all bills included, many will have ensuite bathrooms, enough storage space for everyone in the flat and 24 hr mainteance and security - you will miss that when you move into private accomodation. No matter how bad your flatmates are just be thankful you're not having to chase them for bill money and you can call security if the neighbour's party is going on til 2am and you have an exam the next day!

    2.) You may not meet your best friends in your flat or even in the neighbouring flats or your halls - you will meet like minded people at some point so don't let yourself get down if you don't click with your flat. Just be pleasant, considerate and busy yourself with the people you do get on with.

    3.) Get into the habit of raising issues with flatmates face to face early on. Avoid text messages when you can and try and employ a bit of give and take - Yeah your flatmate in the room next door is chatting on the phone til midnight but you did have friends staying over last week who woke the whole flat up coming back from a night out. Exercise a bit of tolerance (ear plugs help!) and try not to be a hypocrite when it comes to noise/ mess.


    House shares:
    1.) Obviously, try and live with people who you're pretty confident are going to be good housemates. You may 100% click in terms of your interests/ passions/ humour - but if you're an uber clean freak and they couldn't give a toss about any form of hygiene its going to cause friction no matter how much you get on on a friendship level. Not everyone who is a good friend is a good housemate and vice versa. Being friends with someone does help massively but you'd be surprised how much tension and stress a dirty pile of washing up or a filthy bathroom can cause after you've been slaving away in the library all day.

    2.) If you are desperately unhappy - get out early and don't put up with rude/ selfish behaviour.


    3.) When you are forced to live with people you don't already know for whatever reason here are my top three pieces of advice:

    Firstly, if you like personal space/ quiet make sure you find a house where you're not practically living in each others pockets. For my masters year I ended up in a tiny council house with 4 other very noisy people. I didn't know them previously so I had no idea they were going to be noisy.. but I ended up resenting them because i never felt like I was more than 4 metres away from someone and the walls were incredibly thin. It was originally meant to be myself and 3 others living in that house, but the final person filled a spare room we weren't originally intending to fill, last minute.. I agreed on account of it bringing the rent down.. I seriously wish I hadn't because it massively impacted on my comfort levels throughout the year. In hindsight I should have looked for a bigger house or put my foot down and said we shouldn't have more than 4 in the house - think of logistics and what you'd be comfortable with! e.g. "if these people turn out to be noisy is the house big enough so I have space and it won't impact on me?" ... "If these people are quiet am I close enough to other student areas so I can meet others?"

    Secondly, I personally wouldn't recommend you live with people who aren't students if you don't already know them. It creates a bit of a lifestyle clash. When you're a student your free time isn't really your own - you're constantly doing essays/ planning things/ job hunting. When you live with someone in employment their own time does tend to be their own and they can end up intruding. Either that or you'll drive them crazy with partying whilst they need to be up in the morning.

    Thirdly, try to put things down to a personality clash if their are disagreements and move on. It would be incredibly lucky for you and however many other strangers to meet and instantly become best mates with them with no conflict at all.
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    Two (almost) essential moving day items: door stop (so you can have our room door open whilst you unpack) and some food or drink to share with new housemates (creates a talking point which is what you need on your first day).

    And definitely don't pre-judge anyone. I know it's hard not to but just don't. I met my then future flatmate on Facebook after we'd been assigned the same flat in halls. I Facebook-stalked her and decided we wouldn't get on. I'm still living with her nearly three years later. Yes she's not my best friend but I'll definitely miss her loads next year.
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    The most important thing is to be respectful of others as the biggest problem in communal living is when people are selfish.

    If you start doing stuff that annoys others or is selfish then you can go one of two ways, either dig in and argue that you have the right to do it, or apologise and change. A lot of students will just dig in and argue and this is how you become alienated. You might win your argument to continue doing it but you become someone that other people will talk about behind your back and not in a good way, and if you've annoyed more than one person they will all agree with each other about you.

    The general flashpoints are:

    - noise
    - mess
    - general space issues (especially the fridge)
    - prank wars


    Noise

    Some people think there's a link between being cool and a fun person with making lots of noise, which is how they try to argue their case, but it's not true, if you are annoying people it doesn't make you cool and social it's just annoying. You can be social and go out and party in noisy clubs and then just be quiet when you come home when others are sleeping: there are no extra points from coming home at 3am hollering and banging on doors, or turning the music on back again to wake everyone up.

    Usually being noisy is the mark of an attention seeker - they want people to notice them. "I like this music, so everyone has to listen to it so you know who is listening to this music". "I've been out clubbing tonight, so I want to make sure everyone knows I was out clubbing and drank alcohol, hence me shouting and banging about to wake you up when I get back in".

    Note that if you are noisy, people will have already been irritated by you before they bring it up, if they bring it up its a sign you are really disturbing them. If you dismiss them and insist on your right to be noisy because you're a student and accuse them of being boring or less cool than you and need to get a life, then you can 100% guarantee you are someone other people hate.

    Mess

    You have to expect some give and take, there will be some people that are very anal about being super clean and some people that live like slobs. You just have to try and meet in the middle, if you're a slob, keep the mess to your room and try and leave the kitchen and bathroom liveable. If you're anal about cleaning, you have to chill out a bit and recognise students are not going to want to spend their whole lives cleaning: if you want it to be spotless then do the extra cleaning yourself and don't lecture everyone else about it. It's fair to pick someone up about leaving mess all over the place for others to clean up, but if they aren't especially disgusting and you're the one that starts setting up rotas, insisting that everyone spends a big chunk of their weekends or evenings cleaning then again you become the person no-one wants to live with. The worst type of this person is the one that makes more mess than others (eg because they cook more) and tries to free-ride by roping everyone else in to cleaning it up.

    If you're a messy person, the general rule for staying out of annoying people is: don't leave anything about that will start to smell, stuff that clutters where other people want to use (eg the sink) or stuff related to your body (like hair in the bathroom, or piss all over the floor).

    Space

    On space for kitchen and stuff, just because you fancy yourself as a gourmet chef doesn't give you an implied right to take up all the space (which some students will think it does) and cramp everyone else out. The exception for this is if you cook for everyone else a lot in which it's fair enough. Some people like cooking and actually this can be a great way to make friends: in my halls there was a girl in the flats above that was really in to cooking and she would invite people for dinner, we'd all muck in with buying ingredients and take care of the washing and she basically did the cooking, everyone wanted to be her friend and she was just doing her hobby. If you're being cooked for, don't be a free rider, buy some ingredients and clean up and all round be nice to your chef and do stuff for them, buy them drinks/coffees etc when you are out.

    Fridge/freezer space is often at a premium. Think what you really need to put in there: you don't need to be storing fruit, vegetables in the fridge. You don't need to buy bread and freeze it. Don't fill it with alcohol. If you are getting some cans in that you want to go cold, just put the cans in briefly a few at a time before you drink them, one lad in our halls permanently took up one of the shelves with cans of beer and when we raised it he just said "haha priorities: alcohol over food lol", this didn't go down well. Ice cream in the freezer is another one. If you want to get ice cream ask the others in teh flat is it worth getting some as it will take up a lot of freezer space, if you all eat it then great. If you're one girl who hoards her own ice cream in the freezer taking up half the space then they will talk about you and the references to your weight and appetite will not be flattering.

    Prank wars
    If you're doing prank wars then choose the audience carefully, ie other people that want to do a prank war. If you choose someone that doesn't want to play along then it will really annoy them. In general I think they are risky even if you want to play along, because they escalate. Someone does something 'funny', then the victim retaliates with something they think is 'funny' but is probably worse. You have to accept that at some time a revenge prank might come in that you don't think is funny and this makes it awkward as you look like the killjoy especially if you didn't start it. Prank wars get disgusting very quickly and if you are the smartass that started it then you get home to find someone has done a **** in your bed and start whining that it's not on the same scale, then when everyone hears this tale, they will all be laughing at you because you instigated it.

    In general

    You want to be known as a good housemate as in future you will need to move out and you will want people to live with you, if you are not a good housemate then you will struggle to find people, even if they are willing to be friends with you put not live with you. It's not hard to be a good housemate but you just have to check yourself before you do stuff and think will this irritate others. Just because the other people are students doesn't mean they will tolerate everything, they still get annoyed by the same things everyone else does. This includes neighbours as well with noise. If your default position when someone asks you not to do something is to insist haughtily on your right to do it because it's a free country then you are going to be someone that other people hate even if you think you're cool.
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    In regards to fridge/freezer space. In halls there should be enough to have a shelf each. Then just put whatever you want on your shelf. I didn't care what my housemates were buying as long as it didn't take up my space.
 
 
 
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