A big obstacle with choosing a house is choosing your flatmates. I chose to live with two guys, feeling that I would perhaps get along better with them rather than living with girls. One friend chose to live with her boyfriend and another chose to live with people she knew from halls. None of our housing situations turned out the way we imagined. My naivety in choosing flatmates based on gender soon revealed itself as the inevitable bickering about washing up and using the bathroom began. My friend who moved in with her boyfriend, well it wasn’t loves young dream, and my other friend, one of her flatmates moved out half way through the year forcing her into a very awkward position with the landlord. It seems that whoever you live with there are always going to be problems.
The problem with London is that you have to wait ages until you can even begin looking for somewhere to live. While your friends in other areas of the country have secured their house by February at the latest, we have to sit around until at least May, when the properties available to lease from July onwards start cropping up onto the market. On top of the regular things to think about such as budget, size and if a lounge is necessary (yes, yes it is), you also have to think about the added extras, e.g. bills, the commute to university, (does it have a washing machine???) and how near is the supermarket?
Once you’ve chosen your flatmates and flat, there’s the issue of the dreaded box room. That room your landlord has squeezed a double bed into, where the desk is the size of a bedside table and there’s barely room to swing a cat. Who gets this hole? Draw straws? Pull names out of a hat? In my previous flat, I got the largest room as I paid slightly more than my house mates, but in my new flat I been brought back to reality with the box room, but really it’s not that bad. Yes, the bedside table is now on top of the wardrobe and all my clothes are vacuum packed, but it’s not terrible.
Once you’re all moved in the real test of actually living together begins. Phase two of the housing crisis. A year filled with arguments about whose mess is whose and which persons turn it is to buy loo roll can be easily avoided if you discuss it at the start of the year. I’m the first to admit I’m not the tidiest person, I’ll probably become a hoarder later in life, yet I’m moving in with a clean freak so compromises have to be made. Sharing the load is a must, personal space is personal space but the shared space needs to be kept to the same standards by everyone, including any guests that may come round, aaaand the issue of guests is an altogether different kettle of fish. I am a big advocate of always letting your flatmates know when people are coming over because you never know what kind of day your flatmates have had – they may just want to open a bottle of wine and binge watch Netflix in the lounge without any guests, and you should respect that – it is their living space too.
The main issue with finding a house after that cosy first year on campus is that no matter how much you prepare for the inevitable, issues will arise throughout the year. The real test is how you deal with the crisis once you move in, it’ll make the whole house hunting experience seem like a walk in the park in comparison. Avoiding confrontation is not the answer and neither is constantly making it. You’ve successfully completed the obstacle course that is finding a place and people you want to live with, don’t throw it all away because you then struggle to deal with the never ending chain of who bought the bleach.