• Thu. May 30th, 2024

Rookie Guide for Finding Your Future Flatmates

room mate needed sign on lamppost (words written in blue)

Passive-aggressive post-its, dishes sitting in the sink for a week, taking long showers at 3am, living room/kitchen anxiety, somebody’s boyfriend has finished the last of your posh cheese, unnecessarily loud sex, wet laundry perspiring in the machine for over 3 days; you get to 4th year and realise that you have either seen/done/heard it all.

Flatmate problems are something you never see coming, especially when you are moving in with a group of friends. We all want the dream flat of our 20s; dinner parties, chaotic pres, everyone is best friends with each other, memories constantly made. Given the current housing crisis, it has become a privilege to even pick your own flatmates and move into a place all together. Emphasising that we all deserve a space that feels safe for us to exist in, emotionally and physically. If you are currently in the course of picking your flatmates, here’s a rookie guide for you.

1)      What’s their schedule like?

Schedules reveal a lot about a person; independence, going out habits, a morning/night person and eating habits. I am not suggesting you go through your potential flatmates’ diaries. Rather get them to discuss if you are compatible in the long run. But most importantly, think about what your schedule looks like first and what you would want it to be like. Find the areas you are willing to compromise on and the areas you don’t want to give up for the sake of your sanity. I really regret not having my own schedule formed and basing it off of my flatmates’ in second year, it left me always feeling like I had no structure or control in my life.

2)     Friends and foes

Mutual friends are a popular reason why flatmates fall-out. Some people are very protective of their friend circles and have clear boundaries, some people like their friends all mixed together and some prefer one-on-one time over group time. There comes a time where you might feel a pang of jealousy when you see your flatmate hanging out with a mutual friend or when they have more mutual friends than you do with them. Things can get messy, awkward and resentful very quickly. Even before you decide to become flatmates, test what everyone’s expectations and boundaries are with friendships and people they have fallen out with.

3)    There is never enough delegation

Cleaning rotas as far as I’m concerned are essential in every flat. Get your crayons, make a table and stick it on the fridge. Are you dividing by area or task? Are you washing your own dishes but have a rota for communal meals? Decide if it is best to organise by strengths or to let everyone have a rotation of jobs. Set a weekly deadline for the jobs to be done and let your flatmate know when you will do your bit that week beforehand. If one person pays for wifi, let someone else take on bills, and someone else transfer rent, it helps to not assign one person with all jobs

4)     What’s mine is yours and what’s yours is yours?

Decide how communally you want to live. Are you sharing pantry ingredients like flour and spices while individual weekly shops stay or will you share it all? How will you organise the finances for this? I recommend the app Splitwise, it tells you exactly what you owe, when you owe it and who to pay for it! If you are sharing, set up an advance payment system to avoid awkwardly chasing people up.

5)     Conflict is unavoidable

We all have things we don’t see eye to eye on, if you don’t talk about it you only build resentment. Yes, you may feel like a dick for pointing out that someone ate your yoghurt again, but talking about it as soon as it happens is better than months down the line when you are trying to figure out where all the problems even started. Notice how your flatmates react to you when you bring up things like this. Communication and the way things are resolved can really change your whole flatshare experience.

You are never planning for too many details when asking to establish boundaries or expectations when it comes to any of the above things. Your flatmates need to know why something bothers you. My flatmate and I have lived together since second year and I remember her saying to me the day we moved in that she hates waking up to a pile of dishes in the sink. While it did take me a while to do washing-up the night before, it eventually became a habit and in the long run not a big lifestyle change at all. Know when something isn’t for you and don’t be afraid to start over, even if this isolates you, nothing is worth your mental peace. Be kind and know you deserve a space that feels safe, somewhere you can put your feet up without spiralling.

Image Credit: “roommate wanted” by dreamsjung is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

By Karishma Balasubramanian

Karishma Balasubramanian is a 4th year Finance and Business student who joined the paper in September 2019. She is currently the president and resident agony aunt of the paper, holding positions of treasurer and social secretary in previous years. She has a keen interest in lifestyle journalism and writes about life, love, skincare, fashion and held the position of lifestyle editor from November 2020 - March 2022.