15 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Moved Into A Flatsharing Community

When I first moved out of my parents´ house I so badly wanted to live in my own little flat. As it turned out there are very little good and affordable student flats available and I ended up moving into a flatsharing community. So far I've lived in two different flatshares with 3 different pairs of flatmates and I've learned a lot over the past 3.5 years. Honestly, moving into a flat share is so different than what I was expecting. Here are 15 Things I wish I knew before I moved into a flat sharing community.

Never Move In If You Don't Know Your Flatmates

That's probably the biggest mistake I made when moving into my first flatshare. The situation there was that the tenants were the only people deciding who moved in, neither me nor the flatmate I was about to live with had ever met each other before. This resulted in a not fitting flatsharing community twice! So whatever you do, try to meet the people (or at least 1 person) you're going to move in with beforehand!

It´s All About Compromises... A LOT of Compromises

I know this is exactly what everyone tells you but I never took it seriously. I was always careful around other people but I also wanted things to be done my way. The truth is though this is not just your home and the other person might not always look out for your wishes as much as your parents did. For a good flat share you have to make a lot of compromises and sometimes look the other way!

Be Open & Talk

As much as you might hate confrontation it´s the only way to ensure a happy flatshare. Go up to your flatmates and talk through the things that annoy you. If they are nice people (see point 1) they'll want you to feel comfortable there and you'll most likely find a pretty perfect solution. On a sidenote though, you shouldn't confront them in the heat of the moment. Instead let a few hours pass by and talk to them calmly.

You Don't Have To Become Best Friends

Every movie and tv show ever suggest that flatmates will immediately become best friends. The truth is the chance of that happening is similar to that of finding a unicorn. But you don't actually have to be best friends to be a happy flatshare. I find it much more valuable to be able to chat with my flatmates when we meet each other in our communal space. Most importantly for me, you should feel comfortable enough around each other to not fear leaving your room when one of your flatmates is around!

It´s Not For Everyone - You Can Move Again

I know lots of people who found out the hard way that living in a flat share is just not for them. Don't feel pressured to move into one because everyone else is doing it. If you are finding it out the hard way too, try to find an alternative living situation that fits your needs better. Despite what you might think, you don't have to live in one flat for long (this also goes for when your flatshare just doesn't really work).

Cleaning Up Can Be So Easy

I still fall back into the habit of not cleaning up properly when I'm at my parents´ house - after all there's always someone there to clean up after me. The truth for me is that if I stay in the room (e.g. for eating) then I'm more likely to clean up after myself and I don't end up with dishes piling up in my room! Also I find it now much easier to keep my room clean as there's always a chance of your flatmates knocking on your door.

Living With Each Gender Has Up- and Downsides

I've lived in a flatshare with just girls and am now living with just guys. There are very different ups and downs to both situations and depending on your individual flatmates. In the end it´s about liking the people you're living with and having the same sense of cleanliness. For me it has turned out that it´s easier for me to live with guys - the exact opposite of what I always thought. So instead of discriminating one gender when looking for a flat share meet them & see if you're compatible.

Anything That Isn't Sorted Into A Shelf Is Shared

You'll most likely have some sort of system that determines which belongings are whose. Everything that doesn't follow this system is up for grabs! It´s a hard one to realise when your faced with an empty bottle of ketchup late at night but it can be to your advantage as well. Also flatmates sometimes leave stuff behind when they move out - those are shared as well!

You Can Use Each Others Skills

Everyone has different talents and different resources when they move in. One of you might be super good at fixing stuff around the flat, one might be a great baker and make treats for the whole flat. I love sharing those skills with each other! In our flatshare stationary is also a big resource that is shared if needed - finally all my colourful tape and patterned paper comes into play!

It´s Okay To Have A Breakdown About Your Living Situation

No matter how happy your are in your flatshare there'll most likely be a few days when it just becomes too much. I then always think about how much easier it would be to live alone. I always try to look back at all the good memories I have of living with my flatmates. Most likely I'm just having a bad day anyway and I don't honestly want to move.

The Space In A Flatshare Is So Useful

One thing I've always appreciate about a flatshare is the many different spaces you have available to you. I never realised this when I was first looking at flats but even though you have to share the communal space in a flatshare there are a lot more different rooms to be in than in a singles flat! I love getting up from my desk and sitting in the kitchen. Sometimes my brain just needs the change of scenery! Plus, with more rooms there's most likely also a bigger hall which I might have used for dancing around in before.

The Flat Feels Weirdly Empty If Your Flatmates Are Gone

As much as a day/weekend without your flatmates might seem godsend it always leaves me with such a weird feeling when the flat is empty. Firstly, I really love having somebody there and hearing little noises (only at night I can´t stand any noise). Secondly, I feel much safer at night knowing there's someone else with me in the flat. If I'm alone at night I feel like I have to lock our door and sometimes even push something in front of that. The sudden, deep silence just makes me feel so lonely.

Share Costs & Responsibilities

What seemed like a benefit in my first flat share turned out to be pretty much a horror: My tenants were responsible for almost all bills. It wasn't a horror because the tenants didn't do their best (they were actually awesome) but because it meant that me and my flatmate had no actual responsibility over them which left us pretty helpless at times. Being responsible definitely comes with a few downsides as well. I love splitting the responsibility as well as the costs - that way it´s easier for everyone! In my old flat share I ended up being responsible for the one bill not covered by our tenants & I ended up paying it alone for two years as it was hard to talk to my flatmate about it because she had absolutely no responsibility for our flat!

Stay Flexible In Your Routines

As much as you'd like to you cannot control your flatmates - this especially goes for bathroom schedules. Most likely you'll soon figure out the general everyday schedule but there are always days when something switches for someone else and then someone is suddenly in the bathroom when you wanted to go. I've constructed a routine for myself that leaves me the freedom of switching breakfast with bathroom time as that makes it much easier for everyone!

Rule No. 1 - Would I Be Annoyed If My Flatmates Did This?

That's the one question I always ask myself before doing anything in the flat. It took a while for me to learn this even though I was always careful around my flatmates. This should definitely be the first rule for everyone living in a flat share. Everyone might have a different perception of what behaviour is annoying but you at least act more responsible in your flat that way!

Even if I have times of doubt I absolutely love living with flatmates. I love coming home to a flat that feels homely and alive. It brings so much colour and fun into my life. I'm a very talkative person and I love having people around that I can just talk to - especially since I spend a lot of time in the flat. I think I´d be very lonely very fast if I lived alone right now! However, a flat share is a lot of work too. Personally, I believe it´s worth the work! Especially since I've learned so many different skills by living with other people that'll come in handy in different situation as well!

What is/was your living situation as a student? Did you learn anything from it?

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