Flatting: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
This day and age, it doesn’t matter if you’re planning on moving away, studying, or working, flatting is something you’ll almost certainly experience (insert joke about house prices here).
Overall, flatting is an amazing time where you get to see how other people live (for better or worse), achieve independence from living with your parents and live a lifestyle that is truly your own.
In this, there are a few things to consider which can make or break your flatting experience. Therefore, our latest addition to StudyTime-gives-life-advice, we’ll flesh out some things to bear in mind both before flatting, and during, to try help you stay sane in a communal living environment.
Think about your lifestyle
It may seem funny, but thinking about your own lifestyle and habits is a good place to get started when you think about flatting. These may be things such as your regular routine (e.g. work and study), schedule, and daily habits.
Most of our day-to-day is so habitual that we don’t take a moment to engage and think about it. This is a useful first step before you start thinking about potential flatmates as you have an idea of the kind of environment you would like to live in.
Knowing yourself will quickly help you figure out the kinds of personalities and people that you will be able to live with.
For example, if you work or study during the day, it may not be in your best interests to live with someone who’s a bit of a night owl, as it could disrupt your sleep schedule and vice versa.
These kinds of things aren’t always a make or break, but it’s useful to think about beforehand (and potentially discuss) so you don’t run into surprises later down the track.
Picking your flatmates
Everyone has dreams of living with their best mate and flatting being a year-long sleepover. Unfortunately, this isn’t always in our best interests.
You can love your friend to the moon and back, but if they’re in the habit of blasting Billy Ray Cyrus at 9 am it’s not going to be a great time for you (unless this is also your jam).
Our dreams of living with our best friends and having nothing but the fun has to be sprinkled with a bit of reality.
The hardest thing about this is communicating with a friend that you don’t think it’s a good idea to live together, without it feeling like a personal attack. It’s important here to emphasise that it has nothing to do with them and that it doesn’t mean you dislike them, it’s just a practicality thing.
There is nothing worse than thinking you can suck it up and make it work, only to realise 2 months in that you can’t. It’s always better to be honest from the get-go, and if you have hesitations before even moving in together, it’s pretty unlikely that you’ll be pleasantly surprised later.
It’s often better for the friendship to not live together, as flatting adds a whole new layer that can make or break relationships.
Another thing to consider here is the size of the flat you’re thinking of going into. Big flats and small flats both have their pros and cons and again boils down to your personality and the lifestyle you want to have.
For example, big flats are great if you love to be social and almost always have someone around to listen to your bad chat. The con to this is a lack of productivity if you struggle with FOMO because you’re almost always wanting to hang out rather than do work. Smaller flats are great for having more freedom and less compromise about fridge space, but you have to make sure that you really, really get along with the people you live with because there’s almost no escape, and any small thing they may do will be enhanced by the fact that there aren’t heaps of other people around to buffer others’ eccentricities.
There is no such thing as the perfect flatmate, and you’re almost certainly going to have aspects that you dislike about the people you live with. The important thing here is knowing what you can and can’t tolerate. There can be a bit of trial and error, and issues will always arise that you haven’t considered, but a bit of foresight can save you headaches later on.
Dealing with communal living
For the most part, this is the most fun about flatting. Got an assignment due tomorrow and want to complain to someone? Find your flatmate. Need some company but don’t want to get out of your dressing gown? Flatmate. Need outfit advice before going out? Flatmate, with the added bonus of their wardrobe if you’re the same size.
A good general rule is a respect for communal spaces. The main ones are the lounge, kitchen and bathroom. Your room can be in an absolute state, but don’t force the people around you to suffer as well.
One of the biggest gripes in flats is cleaning. Some groups opt for a roster which can be great, especially in larger groups. If you clean on good faith though, be sure that the people around you have similar standards. There is nothing more annoying than trying to make dinner than realising that your flatmate hasn’t cleaned the pan since their Sunday brunch cookout. Don’t be that person for someone else.
In this, it’s important to pick and choose your battles. How important is this issue to you? How much does it impede on your ability to go about your day? Unfortunately, you can’t have everything your way and compromise is an incredibly useful skill.
It’s also not fair to expect everyone around you to do exactly what you want (within reason). One measure for this is the distinction between messy and dirty. It’s messy to leave your jackets lying around, but it’s straight nasty to leave mugs in your room until they grow mould. Things that border on a health hazard are definitely worth bringing up, messy things are annoying and can be dealt with on a case-to-case basis instead.
Think to yourself: If you did this kind of thing at home, would you parents be on your case about it? If the answer is yes, you should probably sort it out.
Lastly, if you do have an issue with a flatmate that you deem worthy of bringing up. Be respectful, and address it immediately. There is no point in bringing up issues 6 months down the track where it’s no longer relevant, as it can come across as really petty and is unlikely to be well-received.
Consider how you would like someone to address and issue with you, and be careful about the language you use because people are quick to ignore you if they perceive your actions as being petty or overly aggressive. It can be a fine line for sure.
If you are the person at the receiving end of the complaint-stick, it’s also important for you to be respectful of the people you’re living with. If things bother others, you should be taking this on. It’s not always going to be valid and it’s up to you to decide how you want to respond, but keeping it as a constructive discussion is always going to be better than a blowout that results in no one talking to anyone in the flat anymore (believe us, it happens and it’s not awesome).
Money is hard
Now that you’re living on your own, you have to be responsible for managing your money and paying bills. If there is any kind of advice that can be given here, it is: pay for the necessities before spending on other things.
The necessities are rent, power, wifi, and food. Make sure these are covered before you go spending your pay on that nifty pair of pants you’ve been eyeing up.
Creating a budget, or guideline for your weekly spending can also be a great way to keep yourself accountable. Luckily, we’ve created an article on budgeting which you can check out here.
There is nothing scarier than having a flatmate who is unreliable with money. Don’t be that person in a group because that is a surefire (and pretty justified) way to not have anyone to live with the following year.
Running a house
Nothing makes you respect your parents more than realising how damn hard it is to keep a house up and running.
You’ll be forced to consider a lot of things that have probably never occurred to your before like, how often do you clean a toilet? When was the last time someone vacuumed? And do eggs go in the fridge or pantry (jury is still out on this one).
Rosters aren’t the most fun thing in the world, but they are a practical solution for most situations. Whether it be cleaning or food prep, having clear expectations for everyone in the household is one of the best ways to keep the dynamics harmonious.
As easy as it is to let your room descend into chaos, it’s usually better to try and keep it clean.
Take pride in your space because it can really influence your mindset when you’re outside space is feeling as messy as the inside. This is the one big job that is entirely up to you, so be sure to check yourself.
Living with others can be both a blessing and a curse. For the most part, it is one of the most fun times of your life where you can almost certainly eat cereal at 3 am without judgement.
It’s important to ensure that you’re sticking to the things that you deem important. Not everything will go your way, but considering the main points here can be a good start to minimising any flatting qualms that come up.
Want more? Follow us on social to make sure you’re always up to date.