Many second- and third-years will understand the struggle of living in a shared house. Unfortunately, the freshers won’t know what hit ‘em till it’s their turn. Since we’re coming up to the time of year when first-years are frantically looking for a house, it seems appropriate to share a few positive and negatives which myself and others I know experienced.
1) Cheaper Grocery Deliveries
Living in shared housing is a godsend for cheaper deliveries. You no longer need to spend large amounts of dough from the already dwindling student loan to reach the minimum value for deliveries. Just do a joint shop and split the delivery cost. You can also happily stock up on some Ben and Jerry’s ice cream without worrying about a 40-minute trek to and from Tesco or losing sleep over obscene prices from the university store.
2) Sharing the Cooking
If you’re like me (can’t cook to save your life), then living in a shared household might make life a bit easier, and if your friend is a culinary genius, even better. In our house, my friend and I cook together (which equates to her cooking and me helping). This saves a lot of time and energy; the cooking is done twice as fast, allowing us to catch up on some valuable studying time (or maybe have a Brooklyn Nine-Nine marathon).
1) Hair Everywhere
There’s always one person who leaves their hair in the bath, on the floors, and if that wasn’t bad enough, in the sink (I can almost see your heads shaking in dismay). I found myself quite regularly dealing with clogged sinks as a result of someone else’s hair. It’s honestly not that difficult, people! Surely if I can take care of your hair, you could take care of your own!
2) Unpaid, Overdue Bills
When you come home to opened, but unpaid bills from up to two weeks ago, you start to wonder how certain people have managed to survive up until this point. I find it really difficult to understand why anyone would forget to pay a bill, or worse, open it, ignore it, then fail to tell anyone else that it exists. Excuses are always weak, so if you want to make sure things get paid, put yourself in charge.
3) Overflowing Bathroom Bins
I only have two words for this: utterly disgusting. I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who knows the bathroom bin is not a bottomless pit. Sadly, in my house, only my friend and I seem to know this. We decided within one week to no longer use these bins for hygienic reasons; during the first few weeks, they were overflowing with tissues and feminine sanitary products to the point where the surrounding floor was covered with them. No one claimed responsibility, however someone eventually took the bins out after it became unbearable.
4) No Privacy
You’re going to have to get used to having little to no privacy when living in a shared house. The walls are paper-thin, so think twice before bringing someone home from a night out. We can even hear the neighbours arguing next door, which in all honesty is quite entertaining but not on nights when you’re trying to catch up on sleep.
5) Invisible Fees
Hidden fees can crop up very quickly after you first show interest in the house. Deposits, checking-in and -out fees and cleaning costs sometimes lead you to begin questioning whether living in a shared house is in fact cheaper than living on campus as previously thought.
6) AWOL Landlord
Almost every time we’ve tried to get in touch with our landlord, he appears to be busy or out of town. It’s astonishing how long we have been left with a broken heater and washing machine despite making numerous calls. While the rest of the UK has enjoyed finally being graced with warm weather, a broken heater that releases heat constantly has taken away from our house’s enjoyment of summer. Additionally, not being able to do a load of laundry for longer than a month means you eventually run out of clean clothes to wear.
The girls I live with are really nice, and I’m glad for the experience of living in a shared house. However, I wouldn’t want to relive this in future. The whole experience has ultimately put me off living in shared housing and driven me to apply for student halls on campus which I would recommend any day in comparison to living with others. All I can say to the freshers of this year and the future is this: be prepared by making a cleaning rota, scheduling bill payments and being aware of hidden fees. Not everyone is bound to have a bad experience, but I wish you all good luck.