We’ve all heard the horror stories, the way a happy house of friends can turn into a Jeremy Kyle-esque spiral of so-and-so said this and so-and-so didn’t do the dishes. Well here is some friendly advice from a second year living out who is keeping a happy home. It may sound simple, but so many people forget to do it.
Choose the right people to begin with. So simple yet you hear so many stories of houses that have fallen out before they even have a house or worse, just after they have signed, and are stuck with one another for a year. Be sure these are the people you want to spend the next year with, even if it means you sign later. Trust this bit of advice: you would rather have a worse house with the best people than the best house with the worst housemates.
Have house meetings and set rules. Yes it may sound boring but it really does help. We cook communally, have a chore system and ‘a day of reckoning’ (a system where we split the cost of things for the house), all of which makes life so much easier. However, we wouldn’t have been able to if we hadn’t discussed it in at least an initial house meeting. Also if there is a problem, just be honest.
Have your own space and make your house your home. There are loads of lovely little ways a student house can be made that little bit more homely. At my house we have room signs, a houseplant (lovingly known as Bruce) and a tea/coffee/Nesquik (don’t ask) sign so we know how everyone likes their drinks. Little touches can make you feel at home so quickly. Also try to contain mess to your own room – rather one room in need of a massive clean than clutter all over the house.
Remember you are all only human. Although I’ve mentioned setting some ground rules don’t be over the top. If you are too anal about the rules this can lead to a bit of resentment so if something is winding yourself just stop and ask yourself: am I really stressed about something else? Remember that everyone is human, mistakes will be made and rules will be broken every now and again because life just gets in the way. This leads me nicely to my next point:
Do favours and be flexible. Not only is it polite but it makes living with others a lot easier. Also if you do favours for others they are more likely to do favours for you.
Get out of the house. Don’t spend all of your time in the house! When I’ve had discussions with others they have often said about getting sick of being around the same people all time. I think this is fair enough towards the end of the term when home comforts call to you but you don’t want to get bored of your housemates halfway through the term. The main reason why this happens is because people just spend all their time in the house and don’t see anyone else. Getting out of the house, going to a society or visiting other friends’ houses can easily solve this.
The power of the DMC. The DMC (or Deep Meaningful Conversation) is a favourite in our household. Whether it’s a post-night out discussion when everyone is really a bit too tipsy to discuss anything or the sober spontaneous DMC, these conversations can start with something mundane and before you know it you’ve discussed life, the universe and everything. I think our house record is a two-hour DMC. These conversations are great because afterwards you feel like you know everyone a bit better and thus is a great bonding exercise for any house.
Bond through stressful times. Essay deadlines or looming exams can be stressful for any person though going through it with others can make us stronger. This hint obviously depends upon how you study but working with housemates and have designated breaks for a chat and a cuppa was brilliant. I’d suggest doing this during stressful times as not only does it encourage you to work but you can chat to your housemates at the same time.
Compromise is the key. Some say compromise is the key to healthy relationship, which may also be applicable to a healthy housemate-ship. Now I’m not trying to become some housemate version of Dr Phil, but it honestly does help. Going for somewhere in between two viable solutions is often the most reasonable thing to do.
Remember to have fun! Living out can be stressful at times with the majority of livers out being second years or above and more often than not you feel like you’re just fumbling your way through. But don’t forget to have fun with your housemates, even if it’s just small things like watching a film together or chatting; remember to do something fun so that it is not just domesticity awaiting you when you get home.