Congratulations on taking the first step towards flatshare living!
You already know the benefits, especially what it will mean for the price of rent, but moving in with complete strangers can be somewhat overwhelming. We’re here to help you smooth out the process of settling in with your new flatmates.
1. Establish rules before you need them
Let’s be realistic, you’ll be living with people you don’t know, meaning you might (and probably do) have different cleaning habits, food preferences and lifestyle choices. Leave all that aside and set a few basic rules that will apply to all the flatmates. Do this at the very beginning, but take a friendly approach. Sit down and talk about the basic chores – dishes, laundry, cleaning, and make a rota. Ask about the shared costs and what exactly they apply to. Will you also share food or buy that separately. Will you be having friends or partners over? Anything you might be confused about, ask with a friendly, but direct approach.
2. Be both firm and flexible
While having the talk with your new flatmates, you’re bound to run into some disagreements. Like we said, different lifestyles will surely clash during your flatshare life, and that’s just something you’ll have to learn to live with. Try to keep an open mind and work around each other’s schedules. If your flatmate starts his mornings early for work/classes, be considerate and keep your nights in more quiet. But, when it comes to things that cross the line with your or break the basic rules you’ve established, put your foot down. That said, when conflicts arise (and they will)…
3. Address, don’t avoid conflict
The first couple of weeks will be the most quiet your flatshare will have, you’re still adjusting to each other, tip-toeing around the little things that irk you and keeping your thoughts to yourself. Then, you find out that one of your flatmates borrowed a pair of your shoes, or conveniently forgot to do their chores for the week.
Ignore the urge to be passive-aggressive, throwing around stink eyes and snarky comments. Instead, sit down with your flatmates and address the issue, why it bothers you and how to avoid it from happening again (or if your other flatmates agree with you or are also affected, set a group meeting and talk about your deal breakers). A mature and direct approach is always best, but when this doesn’t make things better, perhaps it’s time to look for a new flatmate or flat.
4. You can, but don’t have to be best friends
All the sit-coms we’ve watched through the years, from Friends to How I met your mother to the Big Bang theory, convinced us that we must and will become best friends with the people we flatshare with. Lies, lies, lies.
If you start your flatshare life with this grand expectation, you’re in for a let down. Don’t get us wrong, it’s not that this is completely impossible, but flatsharing brings together so many different personalities and characters, that you just can’t be best friends with all of them, especially not in the first few months of living together.
Getting to know each other takes time, as well as learning to respect each other’s differences. In the end, it’s not even about those superficial differences, it’s about your core values aligning. If you happen to have a flatmate who is on the same wavelength as you and becomes your closest friend, that’s amazing! But even if you don’t, that’s okay too, just be kind and respectful to everybody you live with.
5. Set aside time just for your flatmates
Work, classes, or both – you and your flatmates have your own life outside of the flat, but you shouldn’t let that stop you spending some quality time with your new family. Set aside at least one hour per week for all of you to sit down, maybe have a Sunday dinner together and talk about everything that’s going on with you. Discuss some flatshare related topics, or just hang out! Remember, you don’t have to be besties, but it’s nice to have a feeling of belonging in your new home.
We hope these tips help you adjust to your new flatmates without tension and stress, and make your flatshare feel like a home.