Live alone or share with friends? If you’re lucky enough to have the choice, what will suit you better? We spoke to students and graduates about the pros and cons, and how to make it work.
Living alone brings freedom. You can do what you want, when you want - whether that’s scoffing Pot Noodles in bed, lounging around in PJs, blasting out music or relishing the peace and quiet. No fighting over the TV control, no fridgefuls of furry foodstuffs, nobody else’s mess, nobody to judge you. Sounds like heaven if you’re sharing? BUT (and it’s a big BUT) alone can be lonely at times, so you need to have friends nearby when you feel like a bit of company. And solo living can work out expensive, as there’s nobody to share the bills.
Rental costs and lack of cash mean most of us do end up sharing homes while we’re young and single. And anyway, living with friends can be so much fun! It can be the best of times…or the absolute worst! Our group of grads and students all agree that the secrets to successful sharing are: choosing the right people, setting expectations, respecting each other and doing things together. Get that right and you’re sorted! So, follow their tips for a happy shared home life.
‘Be careful when choosing who you live with, as you’ll spend a lot of time with them. I’ve had very different experiences with people I have lived with - and unfortunately, a lot of them were bad! This was mainly due to lack of respect for each other - mostly to do with mess, noise and money!’ - Charlotte
Good friends don’t always make good housemates, good housemates don’t always make good friends
If you’re a clutter-free clean freak, while your carefree friend can step over mounds of laundry and ignore the pans festering in the sink…you might be great soulmates, but you won’t make happy housemates! Think about what’s really important to you - tidiness, budget, doing things together? Ask a few questions and try to find like-minded people.
‘It's important to feel comfortable around your housemates - to trust that your possessions are safe, but also that you can be yourself: wake up when you want, eat what you want, dress how you want, without feeling judged.’ - Jules
Look outside your course
Sharing with students from different disciplines gives some variety and makes it easier to switch off from work when you get home.
‘It is better to find people who don’t follow your every move, as I’ve heard this can be very suffocating, and often gets extremely competitive!' - Jessica
Living with people from different cultures
Customs and cultures vary all over the world; be open-minded and tolerant, and accept that people might do things differently. Better still, embrace diversity - you never know what you might learn! Talk, cook, and go out together.
Everyone has their own values and views of what is acceptable behaviour and living conditions. But you can’t assume you’re all on the same page. So agree some ground rules early on, as a starting-point for a harmonious house-share.
Mess can be a major cause of conflict. It’s wise to create a cleaning rota, but also agree on how you do things - one person’s ‘clean’ may be another person’s ‘gross’! Doing chores together can be less daunting and ease tension: stick on some cheesy songs, don old clothes and rubber gloves, and get down to business!
Sort shopping for shared essentials, decide whether you will cook together or do your own thing. Avoid arguments by setting rules and sticking to them.
Agree on protocol for having friends over.
In any relationship, there will be petty irritations and inevitable conflicts. But pick your battles - address only the important issues and learn to let go of the little things, they are not worth falling out over. Be prepared to compromise and accept how other people live, because it’s their home too. If something needs saying, say it - but do it nicely, and respectfully. Try to reach solutions together that are acceptable to everyone.
‘Even if you’re not loving the sharing experience, and your flatmates are not your favourite people, it’s still very easy to manage just by being civil and respectful of each other.’ - Ali
Quality time with housemates helps you de-stress and build relationships. Even if you have different schedules, plan some house nights in or out, so you can look forward to spending time together. Enjoy some of our tried and tested house-bonding ideas.
Food can be a very social occasion - cook up a feast together once a week, try a TV takeaway night, or at least sit down together at meal times. Host ‘Come Dine with Me’: if you’re living with people from different cultures, you could be served up some amazing dishes.
TV or movie nights
Even if you’re not actually speaking to each other, it’s comforting just to be together.
‘We used to pick numerous TV series, and made sure we were home so we could watch them together. Ex on the Beach was the favourite! ‘- Sophie
House exercise sessions
A really fun way to stay fit, by following YouTube videos and unrolling yoga mats in your largest communal space.
Become an agony aunt
It’s good to just chat and air problems.
‘If we discussed things together, by the next morning we would be ready to tackle the problem or sort it out! - Alex
Helping others makes us feel valued and is a great way of bonding with people. Find a cause close to your hearts and take on regular volunteering together. Combine a weekly run with a good deed at the Good Gym, help out at your local food bank, or start something yourselves: read about how a Bournemouth student set up a beach clean club. Find volunteering opportunities in your area.
Give each other space
There are plenty of ways to bond with your housemates; but no matter how well you get on, living with others can sometimes feel very intense. You’ll need time to relax, with no one else around. So respect each other’s privacy, close your door and chill. Even when you’re living with friends, you need some time alone.
for uni & beyond
Whether you’re flapping about your future, mangled by money worries or simply submerged in a sea of revision… we’ve got tons of tips to get you sorted! The one-stop source of info, tips & real life insights from students, graduates & experts in the know.
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You can live with friends at iQ locations all over the UK. Our Book with Friends scheme makes it easy to reserve rooms in the same flat for you and your friends - giving you both a place of your own and living areas to share. Find out more about Book with Friends
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