University is an exciting chapter in life, filled with new experiences and opportunities. One of the most significant aspects of this journey is finding the right housemates to share your accommodation with, especially for those looking to rent privately. Living with housemates you can get along with can make your university life more enjoyable and stress-free. To help make university life and manage shared spend a little easier, we’ve listed below some of the common areas that are worth considering before you make a decision.
Get Started Early
Finding suitable housemates for university should begin well before the academic year starts. Begin your search during the application process for student housing or off-campus rentals. This gives you ample time to connect with potential housemates, evaluate compatibility to see if you gel, and make informed decisions. In doing this you should start to think about if you could cooperate on key things like budget sharing and managing joint expenses together.
Use University and other free Resources
Most universities offer resources to help students find housing and potential housemates. Participate in social events and gatherings organised by your university, especially during orientation week. These events are excellent opportunities to meet fellow students and potential housemates in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere.
These resources may also point towards external resources such as online housing platforms, housing fairs, or social media groups dedicated to housing and roommate searches. Take advantage of these tools to connect with like-minded individuals.
Before making any commitments, consider your own preferences and habits. Think about factors like the type of accommodation, cleanliness, noise tolerance, and study habits. Be honest about your own quirks and expectations, as this will help you find housemates with similar lifestyles.
Whilst you do not necessarily need to find a copy of yourself who has the exact personal traits, finding housemates may be one of the exceptions where you do not want too big a gap in personal preferences when it comes to living. After all, that’s the place you want to have some space for yourself.
While personal compatibility is essential, don’t underestimate the significance of financial compatibility. If you find potential housemates who share similar financial values and goals, you’re more likely to enjoy a peaceful and happy living situation. Otherwise, money matters can be a source of tension among housemates.
Whilst you do not need to worry about anyone’s personal spend, it is in your interest to be mindful about all potential communal or shared spend.
Rent, utility bills or even weekly shopping costs are significant expenses for students sharing accommodation. Discuss how these costs will be divided and shared among housemates. Consider whether you’ll split them evenly or allocate them based on room sizes or other factors such as room facilities. Make sure everyone is comfortable with the arrangement to avoid future conflicts.
The tricky part of managing shared spend is how to practically track them. Many student accommodations tend to have one tenant that is shouldering all these responsibilities, in terms of both tracking and payments. Not only can it be a hassle for that person, it can also be financially straining if settlements are not made by others promptly.
One best way to manage shared spend today is using a money management app. The iSpent19 App has a dedicated My Lounge feature, where a private virtual room can be created for all household members to join. As soon as someone spends on something for the house, they can simply place that transaction into the private room where all shared spend is tracked, so everyone can see who has spent what on what.
You can choose to even out all spending at the end of each month. Splitting can be done on headcount or basis, depending on your agreement with each other. Once the bills are settled for a month, you can shut the room and create a new one for the next month. This simplifies the process of paying communal bills and ensures that everyone contributes on time.
Effective communication is key to finding the perfect housemates. Engage in honest and open conversations with potential roommates to discuss expectations, responsibilities, and shared living values. Address any concerns or questions upfront to avoid misunderstandings later. It is also easier to talk about how you want to share expenses and all things money management early on so there is no confusion at a later date.
This equally applies to friends who want to rent a living space together. It may actually be harder to discuss frankly with friends, on topics that may require you to express your boundaries, for fear of damaging the friendship.
But remember, it is often not what you say, rather how you say it that makes the difference. We all have our own interests when it comes to living. Expressing own boundaries nicely and knowing how flexible you can be is a good starting point in helping you handle such conversation. More importantly, not losing sight of the common interests that you share with others would help reinforce friendships.
Trust Your Instincts
Once you have found someone suitable to share and rent accommodation with, don’t hesitate to reach out and initiate conversations, although be mindful of your own safety and security when interacting with your potential housemates whom you have never met before.
Intuition can be a powerful tool when evaluating potential housemates, including their approach to money matters. If something doesn’t feel right or you have reservations about a particular individual, trust your instincts and keep searching for a better fit.
Finding the perfect housemates for university students is a crucial step in ensuring a successful and enjoyable academic journey. By starting early, utilizing university resources, and fostering open communication, you can increase your chances of finding housemates who complement your lifestyle and values. Remember that compatibility is key, including how to handle money matters. With the right approach, you can create a positive and supportive living environment that enhances your university experience.