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Surviving shared accommodation at university

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Student Henry Tysoe gives us the low down on surviving shared accommodation at university.

Moving away from home and into shared student accommodation at university is a big move for anyone. Some are brave, others are shy. It takes all sorts, and you will meet them.

If you think that living with your neat freak mum, annoying siblings and DIY obsessed dads has prepared you for life in shared accommodation with total strangers then think again!  One year on and I’m finally getting a handle on student living. Here’s a brief outline of the main protagonists you are likely to meet in the drama to come.

The people you will meet at uni

The landlord

Your landlord can be either the worst part of your year or just a name at the bottom of your rent invoice. For many the landlord will be the first local that they have to deal with which can be scary. But don’t worry; it’s all part of the learning process.

The politician

If you’re into your politics you’ll be able to find a reasonable amount of intelligent discussion in shared accommodation together with some less than eloquent discussion.

If you’re after a more organised political debate then whether you choose the local CommieBar™ where they won’t serve you if you look like the Bourgeoisie (as my Dad found out the hard way), or the campus Conservative Society, which is usually too small to be taken seriously, you’ll find something to suit.

You’ll also meet some very interesting people, and while some of this lot will become student union reps, who can be really helpful, and a few may be lucky enough to win real political power, for most of them the only means of production they could seize is your frying pan.

The loudest guy in the building

With 200W speakers, a sub that would make a Hummer shake and a terrible taste in music you’re sure to be best friends. There are always a few of this lot in any halls and if they’re too close to each other full-on loudness war may commence. But if you can’t make as much noise as humanly possible in a student halls then where can you? Pro-tip: usually any loud neighbours will be obliging enough if you level with them before filing a noise complaint.

The kitchen kleptomaniac

In any student kitchen there are always people who believe everything is up for grabs. Bit of milk? – Theirs, baked potato? – Gone, kilogram of bacon? – Didn’t want it anyway. Watch out for this – it doesn’t always stop at food and soon enough cutlery, kettles and toasters start disappearing too and you find yourself forced into a daily pilgrimage to the next kitchen just to make a cup of tea. If you can get one a mini-fridge to keep in your room can at least keep some of your stuff from being stolen.

The ghost

This silent, mouse like roommate may avoid detection for the entire year. You may never realise they’re there and whether they know they’re living with others or not we may never find out. You genuinely may never see them, but there are signs, like the shower being on at 3am and the hob cooling down at 3pm.

The waster

For this person, living with other people and personal responsibility doesn’t come easy. They lose their keys in the first term and never pay for the replacements, which you may as well do because it’ll be taken out of your deposit anyway. Washing up, for the waster involves chucking their stuff in the sink, turning the tap on and leaving it there, and they run the shower for 10 minutes before using it. They’ll often tell you they’re off to ‘sort their lives out’. Sorting their lives out however doesn’t involve any retrospective activity, so all their mess remains as a reminder of their need to reform and of your diminishing patience.

Getting the most out of living at uni

Your first year at university will be whatever you make of it. Your first year is really about the people that you meet and the person that you become.  Sort the wheat from the chaff and don’t take others too seriously. In years to come you’ll laugh about all these people – most probably with the other people you were observing them with.  Some of those strangers you awkwardly wave hello to as your mother tries to organise your kitchen cupboard might become your business partners, godparents to your children and your friends forever.

When it comes to surviving shared accommodation at university, embrace the change.  Maybe even knock on the door of the ghost – you never know they might appreciate it and you might make a friend for life.


About Lynette Daly

Lynette is the publishing editor of Moving On magazine. Moving On is devoted to helping young people make good choices for their future – education, qualifications and careers. Moving On really wants to motivate you! Our articles cover a range of topics to inspire and give ideas. Our magazines are delivered free to all schools, colleges and sixth forms in England and is also available online.

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