If you’re in your late teens or early 20s, you’ll probably be looking at flying the nest and moving into your first houseshare. The taste of independence only just out of reach, and you want it more than a drunk me wants pizza.
Living in a house share is obviously cheaper than living solo, but it’s also a lot more fun if you’re moving to a new city and makes the whole ‘I need new friends’ thing easier to navigate, so I’d definitely recommend it.
Renting in the North East
Property in the North East is known to be more affordable than it is elsewhere in the UK. I can testify to the fact that Newcastle, in particular, isn’t just affordable in terms of its accommodation, but the cost of living is cheap too. You can rent a lovely room, in a house or apartment bang in the city centre, for somewhere in the region of £400 to £500, bills included. I personally used Spareroom to find my place, but there are loads of options if you just hit Google with the right keywords.
Top tip: Always check reviews for the real estate agency you’re thinking about using. You’d be surprised to learn just how many shady agencies are out there, and if you’re a student, you’ll be an even bigger target for ‘questionable’ landlords.
Sidenote: why I didn’t want to rent a property in Malta
In Malta, this time tends to come along a little later in life because rent and property costs are extortionately high thanks to the obscene hike in prices we’ve seen following the gaming industry boom. The average cost of renting a property in a central location in Malta (by which I mean a room in an apartment or a one-bedroom ‘cosy’ apartment) would set you back around €700 to €1000 a month without bills.
Anything cheaper than that is either a golden nugget of a find or somewhere with questionable standards, to say the least. That’s the lion’s share of your typical Maltese salary, living very little for things like food, savings, and a social life after you’ve paid bills. No thanks. Moving swiftly on.
Tips for living in a house share
One of the best things about moving out of your parents’ place and sharing a home with people you’re not related to is that you’ll learn how to live alongside folks who come from different backgrounds to your own. You might become a little family unit away from home and watch Great British Bake Off together every week, or have an absolutely awful time because people are funny. Here are a few tips to avoid the latter, or at least help you handle potentially awkward situations.
1 | Always pay your share of the bills on time
Nobody wants to be that housemate. If one of you has taken responsibility for calculating and paying the bills each month, the rest of the house needs to put up their share sharpish.
The best way to avoid any dilly-dallying when it comes to money matters is to send out an email each month with a breakdown of the bills and the details for the account that everyone needs to transfer over to, with a deadline tacked onto it. Make sure the deadline you set for everyone gives you enough time for the money to come in before bills go out.
2 | Don’t leave passive-aggressive notes
You’re grown-ups. Kind of. You need to be able to talk things out, especially when they’re essentially nothing more than minor misunderstandings. Sticky notes and passive aggressive texts (especially ones that start with ‘can we please remember…’) just piss everybody off, so put on your grown-up panties and talk it out face to face before things get weird.
Before you get to the stage where you’re absolutely vibrating with rage because Brenda left her dirty dishes out longer than you’d like, take a breather. Remember that just because you like to live your life a certain way, doesn’t mean others have to adhere to your cleaning schedule and whatnot. That being said, if Brenda’s leaving her crap all over the house for four or five days at a time, it’s time for an intervention. Not over text.
3 | Organize house dinners
This is the perfect way to bond with your housemates, show off your cooking skills (or try and sharpen them up), and create a warm ‘family’ atmosphere.
Good food, good wine, and some background music set the scene for a little camaraderie and a lot of laughs. Also, it’s always kind of awesome to come back to a home-cooked meal once in a while when you’re no longer being fed by your mum on the regular.
4 | Respect boundaries and space
I’m going to say this one time and one time only: do not assume you can wander in and out of anyone’s bedroom. It doesn’t matter how close you are, and it doesn’t matter if Wendy left her Netflix running and you can’t stand the murmur of Orange is the New Black leaking out into the hallway. It doesn’t even matter if Brenda left her bedroom light on. You do not. Go in. Their rooms. Okay? Okay.
Beyond your bedroom, every other space in a house share is communal. Having a private space that you know people aren’t going to have access to (unless you’ve expressly given that permission) is essential if you’re going to hold on to that precious sanity and zen. For those of us who might struggle with such things as ‘personal space’, ‘boundaries’, and ‘basic human decency’, here are a few quick bits to remember:
- It’s not your room.
- If you’ve knocked once or twice, to no avail, do not just walk in. Silence ain’t consent (THIS ONE WORKS ON SO MANY LEVELS).
- Just because you’re fine with people wandering into your room, doesn’t mean the rest of the world feels the same.
- Why do you even need to get into that room? What’s so urgent? That’s what I thought. Take your hand off the door handle, Bernice.
Oh, and while we’re here, respect for spaces also applies to communal areas. Other people use that space, so make sure you leave things clean and ready for the rest of the house to use it.
Right, my fellow twenty-somethings, that’s it from me. I hope these quick tips save you some awkwardness in the long run, and if they don’t, well, I tried. 10 points to me.
If you have any tips on living with people you’re not related to, hit me up in the comments!