When deciding where to live, it’s important to consider living with roommates. It’s a great way to lower rent. It’s also an opportunity to make some amazing friends or, failing that, to simply not live alone. We’ll dive into how best to navigate student life with advice on college housing, budgeting, and decor. We even included a handy roommate guide, which covers everything from choosing the correct person for you to being a good roommate yourself. We’ll cover agreements besides simply rent that you’ll want in place, and help you navigate the common issues that can arise.
Things You Should Look For When Choosing Student Accommodation
There are many things to think about when choosing your accommodation and moving. Here are just a few:
Location – it’s everything. If you drive, do you have parking? If you rely on transit, are you close to a stop? If you are staying on campus, are you near amenities, such as groceries? Does your location seem ideal in the worst conditions, such as snow? Google/Apple maps is a great ally when considering your area.
Safety – You need to feel safe. How’s the neighborhood? Student housing has a lot of people coming and going. Perhaps you’d prefer a security staff always on-premises. Are you comfortable with simple keys for your locks, or would you prefer key fobs?
Affordability – What can you afford? This doesn’t merely apply to rent. What about bills? Some housing has all your utilities included in the rent. If you’re too busy juggling homework to manage your bills, this may be ideal for you. It’s important to remember there will be at least a month’s rent as a deposit owed the day you move in.
The paperwork – Finally, there’s the fine print. If you live in a shared space, are you signing an individual tenancy agreement or a joint tenancy agreement? The former holds you responsible for only your portion of rent. The latter holds you and your roommates accountable as a group. How long is your lease? Are you able to sublet if you decide to travel? Are there special rules or conditions to be aware of? What penalties would you take if you needed to break the lease early? Take your time, read and understand the different sections in your lease, and go into your new place confident in your housing agreement.
What are some housing considerations?
When considering where to live, think about how many rooms there are and what condition each of those rooms is in. Are you paying for the room with the walk-in closet or the hole under the stairs? A bigger room may mean a higher cost.
Does each room get internet? How is that connection, room by room? Each of you may need the internet constantly, so ensure you have the bandwidth.
Beyond the basic needs of a student, there are housing issues to consider. Is anything broken? Are there any pests, mold, or insulation that require attention? What about water damage? If you rent a place and an issue with the home comes up, you’ll need a solid handyman to help you out.
Whether you have a room or a whole house, it’s important to consider all the functions you’ll require from your space. Set up designated zones for activities. Having a desk strictly for work puts you in a work mentality upon sitting down. This goes the same for a workout corner, a reading chair, and a relaxation zone. One of the best ways to navigate student life is a multifunctional space that can handle all your needs.
Utilize your natural light! Set up your workspace so the windows illuminate you. Not only do studies show that this increases productivity, but it is also a great sleep aid and mood booster!
Create an ideal study space. Leave all your distractions behind. Video games should be in your relaxation station. You should eat food in your food space. How’s your temperature and lighting situation? Are you comfortable at your study desk? Is your equipment ready to go when you are?
Beware of vibrantly colored walls! The colors we’re surrounded by affect our moods. Reds increase heart rate and are associated with rage and anger. In fact, the most vibrant, energetic colors will remove you from a study mindset. When designing your space, go with colors that hold the balance of comfort, relaxation, and non-imposing.
Your bedroom is your sanctuary. Try to keep this space in the same condition you want to keep your mind: uncluttered, calm, and ready to accommodate your needs.
Proper shelving and storage can make or break any living quarters. Try to ensure everything has a home. If you often find you use a floor or table as a temporary storage space, create a home for those items. It’ll serve your area very well. If you need more space you can always rent a storage unit in Brighton.
Tips for a Good Roommate Relationship
Relationships are hard — period. But things can get even trickier when you’re sharing a living space with someone. We all have our quirks and habits that can drive another person nuts. Here are some tips that’ll help keep your roommate relationship smooth, peaceful, and hopefully fun too!
Ensure you’re both compatible. Sure, you may get along with everyone, but that isn’t the same thing. Consider your cooking habits, working schedule, and cleanliness. Other important factors for compatibility are your personal goals, what are your career development plan, hobbies, and the things that you are passionate about in life. Consider knowing your non-negotiables in a roommate and some ideal traits you’d prefer. Other things to consider are shower time preferences, how social they like to be, how they spend their weekends, and how much they smoke or drink.
Communication is paramount. Don’t assume your roommate has the same sensibilities as you. Tell your roommate what your needs are. Establish your boundaries. Tell them what they’re welcome to use and what they are not. At the same time, understand your roommate’s boundaries. Bring potential problems up early. If you know you’re going to be partying one night and may make noise when you come home, let your roommate know in advance. As well, if you feel uncomfortable about something, don’t say yes to try and please them. Your roommate trusts you to say no. All of this advice goes both ways. If your roommate has an issue, listen to the problem first.
Chores need to get done. Splitting them up is never an easy task. Start with what you really don’t mind doing. If there’s some serendipity, your roommate will hate the chores you don’t mind. Once you both have a baseline, work together to split up the rest. Consider a rotating schedule or a compromise you both find fair.
Much like chores, if something is important, establish it early. If you work extremely early in the mornings, perhaps you and your roommate agree to a late-night noise rule. It’s important to remember that you live together, and any rules need to be agreed upon by both of you.
Embrace a roommate’s diversity. There can be a lot of friction and extra communication if you and a roommate fundamentally come from very different places. If you navigate this, you will find that different cultures, ideologies, and thought processes can significantly enrich your experience and broaden you as a person. Differences can greatly strengthen a relationship if handled deftly.
Ultimately, you will both need to be flexible. Your roommate will make mistakes or have bad days — you will have them too. Approach concerns with respect rather than authority or anger. If your roommate has concerns about you, don’t get defensive. Ask questions, and understand where they’re coming from. By acting with respect and allowing yourself to be flexible, you’re giving each other the best odds.
Tips to Deal with Homesickness
Homesickness is distress or depression caused by being away from home. It can look quite different from one person to another, but there are common symptoms. You may feel sadness, depression, or even grief. You might withdraw into your room or even be anxious to leave it. You may have a strong sense of nostalgia for your home. You may feel irritated by the differences in your new home. It’s common, and there are some healthy ways to tackle homesickness.
- Acknowledge that you’re homesick. Once you understand what you’re experiencing, you will be better equipped to handle it. You’ll understand that your mood stems from a longing to be home. These are normal feelings and get worse if you ignore them.
- Bring some comforting items from home, and decorate your place with them. Wrap yourself in your favorite blanket, or put pictures of your family up. If you can make your surroundings feel comfortable or familiar, it will help.
- You might not feel up for it, but staying busy helps acclimatize you to your new surroundings. Join some hobbies, get involved in some clubs around the school, or help with a charity. These will have the added benefit of potentially meeting new friends.
- Limit your social media. It isolates us from good social experiences. It can make homesickness worse. Instead, create new experiences so you have stories to tell everyone when you do catch up.
- It’s okay to call home because you miss your family. Even a small phone call can be encouraging on a tough day. The trick is not to overdo it. A pick-me-up is ideal, but constantly calling your family can tax everyone’s mental energy and time. Achieving a balance here will be excellent.
- Meet new people, even if you’re shy. Go out and say hi. This can lead to unexpected new friends and experiences, which will keep you busy. These new friends may also be staving off homesickness and be an ally to speak to.
- Explore new places. Be a tourist in your own city. Head to the park, or try a new café each week. To be worthwhile and validating, an adventure doesn’t have to involve throwing a ring into a volcano (what do you mean you’ve never seen Lord of the Rings?). You’re once again expanding your experiences and building new memories by visiting new places.
- Enjoy a good night’s sleep. Sleep is one of the most important ways to keep our brains healthy. By maintaining a consistent sleep schedule that embraces enough sleep, you will be clearer and more alert to your emotional needs. Plus, if you’re keeping busy, you will need that sleep!
Time and Money Management Tips for Students
Time and money are two trivial aspects of student life, and as students, we tend to be short on both. School is expensive and time-consuming. We’ve gathered together some advice on managing your time and your money.
One of the best ways to save money is to share your expenses. Consider the costs for streaming platforms as an example. Keep track of what you’re spending money on, and consider where you and your roomy can split some costs.
Keep track (wait, didn’t we just say this?) of what you’re spending so you can budget. Budgeting is extremely useful for managing money, getting out of debt, and still having fun. There are many ways to build a budget, but the basics are largely similar. Find out how much you have per month. Find out your bills per month. Split the difference between what you want to do. The important thing here is you consistently track your spending.
If you don’t have space to cook, or you just hate it, you should consider a campus meal plan. It may cost a bit more, but it will definitely beat eating at a restaurant daily.
Pay attention to your supply costs. Just because a store is on campus doesn’t mean it’s cheap. In fact, many places use convenience as a great excuse to justify higher markups. Consider textbooks from used book stores and supplies from bigger chains or even dollar stores.
Impulse shopping is how a lot of places trick us into spending money. That’s why all the tasty snacks are located at the grocery store tills. Impulse spending can really ruin a budget fast, so have discipline and constantly question whether your purchase is necessary.
When managing time, you need to prioritize. If you have a looming deadline, you probably should prioritize something due in the future. If you have multiple big projects to manage, you’re going to want to prioritize when you work on them and track how they are coming along.
A schedule is one of the most significant ways to manage your time. Whether you are studying, working from home in the gig economy, or working full time, a schedule dictating when you do your work each day will be an asset.
Setting goals is great, but they must be realistic. Rather than try and clean the whole house, break that down into different rooms and, better yet, chores within those rooms. You’ll feel good if you sweep your floors and can check that off your list. Same with dusting. Then laundry. Before you know it, your house is cleaner than it’s ever been, thanks to goals you can accomplish and manage within a short period of time.
Waking up early has some major benefits, which also tie directly with our next point. For one, it eliminates a lot of distractions. Your need for sleep, and your will to get up early, will also have you considering your bedtime management effectively.
Tackle one task at a time, and have small, manageable goals. You can have a lot of them, but if you switch between one goal without finishing it, you’re doing yourself a disservice. Now that you have small goals start on the most pressing one and get it done. You’ll find yourself accomplishing a lot more.
There’s little more exciting than venturing out to live as a student. Go and make your space your own. Find and surround yourself with intelligent, aspiring people. Prepare yourself, your budget, and your space as best you can. Check in and acknowledge where you miss your mark. Do the same with your roommate. Look at the past, discuss how to better the future, and together you’ll thrive. Set yourself some small, manageable goals, and you’ll accomplish a lot. Now you can find your new home, fill it with wonderful new people, and fulfill your studies to the best of your abilities.