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How to choose next year's housemates

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The apprehension generated by organising a house for the next year is often an overlooked but nevertheless agonising process, riddled with doubts and concerns. First years face the challenge of orientating themselves through the haze of freshers and directing themselves through the maze of temporary friendships, course mates and halls acquaintances, to find the 'perfect housemates'.

At university it is inevitable that you become entangled in a whole myriad of social groups so: how should you choose your housemates and what is the best course of action to avoid second year disappointment?

1)      Take your time. Finding a house and organising who you are going to live with is an anxious period; perhaps you are not sure who you would like to live with at this stage but the important thing to remember is not to fall prey to the initial rush and make a rash decision. Remember that although hastily agreeing to live with people without considering the possible house dynamic could temporarily appease your worries but ultimately you will reap the consequences next year. Take the time to consider your options before impulsively agreeing to plans.

2)      Consider what you would prioritise in a house. Would you prefer to live in a house with only a couple of others, would you like to live in a house with a greater number of people? Do you prefer to go to bed early and are you concerned about noise? How important is house cleanliness to you? Working out what is important to you and making a list to discuss with potential housemates will give them a greater insight into what you want from your experience. It is far better to discuss these things in advance as it helps you avoid nasty surprises later on. Remember that when living with others, previously concealed neuroses do come to light; for example a housemate's dogmatic approach to hygiene.

3)      Remember that although you may be close friends with somebody, this does not mean that they are the ideal living partner. Living with others allows you an unlimited insight into their life and very little respite; consider whether you will still love your friend's spontaneity and impulsiveness when it means that they are unable to afford to pay the bills because they've maxed out on their loan? Or whether you will enjoy living with the friend you go out with twice a week, when they’re out most nights and are inconsiderate when you want to work? You have to consider the practicalities of sharing living space with somebody and accept that maybe you love your friend but that you would not love to live with them.

4)      Think about whether you want your house to just be a place to stay, or whether you want to foster a house atmosphere. Some people merely consider a student house as a place to crash during the week and prefer to go home during the weekends. Make sure to discuss what you want from your housemates; maybe you want to go out together once a week, or cook together and share food? It is important to avoid the pitfalls of phantom housemates whose almost mythical presence in the house is so sporadic that you forget that you're living together.

5)      Accept that nobody is going to be a perfect housemate. Sharing a house with people after moving out is all about experimenting with what you want from a house and that whoever you live with it is inevitable that you acquire greater interpersonal skills and self-awareness. Remember that not everything is going to be easy with your housemates all the time but that this teaches you diplomacy and tact. Bear in mind also that although it’s frustrating when your housemate has yet again neglected to wash up, your housemates also see the best and the worst in you which is a very humbling experience. Student living, like all other living arrangements, centres on compromise and sensitivity to others. 




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