Mastering the art of living with housemates

Whether you’re living on-campus or in a share house, navigating the highs and lows of housemates can be challenging.

Along with the newfound independence that comes with moving out of home, you’ll also have to deal with other people’s potentially annoying habits and an assortment of other issues – not exactly desirable during peak assessment periods.

We spoke with Student Living Support Coordinator Jen Elhindi and second-year medicine student Felicity Cheng to get their top tips on how to handle housemates.

1. Get to know your housemates

If you’re new to Newy, one of the easiest ways to make friends is through the people you live with!

“I’m so glad I spent time with my housemates as soon as I moved into my accommodation in my first year at university,” Felicity says.

“Since I moved in before the semester begun, I already had some friendly faces to look around for by the time classes started.

“Having this support and friendship early on really helped calm some of the nerves I had about moving away from home and starting study.”

2. Be respectful

Know your housemates’ boundaries and make yours known too. Some people want to hang out all the time, while others prefer to keep to themselves. The key is to keep communication open so it’s clear who prefers what and respecting those wishes.

“It isn’t just your house, make sure you are respecting the wishes of those around you and are open to chat about any issues that may arise,” Jen says.

3. Do your bit

Unfortunately, along with all the fun that comes from moving out of home also comes the boring bits like cleaning, cooking and washing. Making sure you keep your space clean will make life easier for everyone.

A really handy system is a cleaning roster – that way, everything gets done in a fair and organised way.

For Felicity, having a system in place made a world of difference.

“At first, living out of home was pretty tough because I didn’t know any of my housemates prior to moving in,” she says.

“Once we got to know each other and were able to set up practical things such as a cleaning and a bin roster, things were a lot smoother and I could relax more and focus on my work.”

4. Communicate and compromise

Living with strangers – or even friends – can be stressful, so it’s totally normal for problems to arise once and awhile.

Jen says the key to resolving housemate issues is to express how you’re feeling honestly and quickly whilst being willing to compromise.

“Our biggest suggestion is to be proactive in dealing with issues before things get out of hand,” Jen says.

“Don’t assume that someone else will address the issues the same way that you would, have a respectful discussion with your housemate as soon as possible about the impact their behaviour is having on you so it can be resolved.”

5. Know when to get help

If a problem with your housemates arises and you aren’t able to resolve it on your own, there are a variety of support networks available.

Along with external organisations, if you are living on campus, Student Living are able to provide assistance.

“If you’re living in the residences and experience any issues, your first point of call is your residential mentor (RM),” Jen says.

“An RM is a student staff-member who has received training around a whole range of topics that help create a good living environment in shared housing, including (but not limited to) having difficult conversations with residents about their behaviour.

“There is also a health and wellbeing coordinator (HWC) available to assist residents who live on-campus.”