By Ruth Hoey | Advice Editor
Living in university halls, or even a shared student house is a starkly different experience than living at home. Building a positive shared housing environment is just one of the ways to help yourself relax and maintain a positive mindset throughout your studies.
This new style of living takes a lot of getting used to. Whether in halls or a house, it is only your bedroom that belongs solely to you. Everything else is shared, sometimes with complete strangers.
Often these people you are sharing a living space with have very different lifestyles, schedules and cooking habits to you. University accommodation has the amazing benefit of bringing together people from many different cultures and backgrounds. This is a great way to broaden your perspective and experience new ways of living. However, it may take a while to get used to your flatmates different schedules and lifestyles.
Learning to co-exist and have fun living with new people is one of the best ways to help your mental health at university. Your flat should be a stress free and welcoming place for you as it is, at least temporarily, your home. Having a positive shared housing environment can offer you the foundations for success. On the other hand, tension or disrespecting of boundaries within your flat can leave you feeling drained and on edge. This could even end up disrupting your studies or social life. The Mental Health Foundation suggest that a person’s home is directly related to mental health. They state that, “having housing problems can make your mental health worse.” Thus, having a positive environment to call home during your time at university is extremely important.
Tips for building a positive shared housing environment:
This is one of the most important ways that can ensure a positive shared housing environment. Everyone has different boundaries so it’s important to quickly establish what everyone in the flat’s boundaries are. This can be in terms of personal belongings, space and even schedules:
- For personal space, find out how each other feels about visiting each other’s rooms and when it’s okay to do so.
- In terms of belongings, find out how everyone feels about using each other’s kitchen utensils etc.
- Personal schedules are also important to respect. Being aware of when everyone goes to sleep and reducing noise is just one polite way to be kind to each other.
Keep a clean shared living space
It’s also important to remember that the space you inhabit also belongs to the rest of your flatmates. Keeping the shared spaces tidy is important to maintain a healthy relationship with your flatmates and ensure that you are respecting each other.
Having a cleaning rota is a great way to reduce tension surrounding keeping the flat tidy. This may not be necessary in some cases as many university accommodations have cleaners. However, this is often only once a week. It may be a good idea to have a rota to just give things a quick tidy or even a rota to take the bins out. A rota has the advantage of saving you from making passive aggressive texts into the group chat asking people to pick up after themselves!
Spend time together
A great way to build a healthy shared housing environment is to get to know your flatmates. Spend time with them and learn about their backgrounds and interests. You don’t all have to be best friends (it’s great if you are) but just being friendly is enough. Have a ‘flat night’ where you get to know one another.
Whether it’s a movie and pizza night or a party, a social environment allows everyone to get to get comfortable around each other . You could also explore and get to know the city together or even decide to have a weekly grocery shopping trip as a flat.
Any of these suggestions will build a relationship between you and your flatmates. Building positive relationships in your flat will help it feel more like home.
These tips are just a few of the ways to build a respectful, cooperative, even friendly structure within your flat. With flatmates who become your best friends this may be easy. Sometimes however, flatmates do not see eye to eye or just have completely different lifestyles and schedules. It is important then more than ever to continue to be respectful and try as much as possible to implement these positive steps for a clam, stress free house.