shelves and mugs

10 things I've learned from living in student accommodation

It’s not too long until you’ll be moving into your new flat or house, some of you for the first time, so here are a few things I picked up from my first year living in student accommodation.


Get used to walking into your kitchen and finding more people than you’ve bargained for. Whether it’s between lectures or in the evening, you may find that your flat becomes the stop off for quick cups of tea or maybe something a bit stronger before a night out. This is a great way to meet new people, but make sure you let your flatmates know if you’re having people to stay – the last thing they want is to come home to a flat full of your guests that they didn’t bargain for.

2 – Unassigned mess will not clean itself

I cannot tell you how many months a charred chip has been in our oven. No one’s going to bother clearing that out, but you do want to keep on top of your own washing up. If there’s anything I’ve learned about sharing a kitchen is, you won’t make any friends leaving the place a mess. The last thing you want is a note slipped under your door letting you know your dishes have been cleaned…again.

3 – Colds are contagious – it’s inevitable.

Before you start barricading yourself in your room or quarantining the first person to sneeze, just remember there are thousands of new people coming to university and ‘freshers flu’ has its own name for a reason. The only thing you can really do is take better care of yourself – and maybe offer to go out and get your flatmates extra tissues and cough sweets. Then hopefully they’ll repay the favour when you eventually succumb, rather than it being every man for himself. Top Tip: Hot water, lemon and honey – the ultimate cheap flu-fighting concoction.

4 – Your deposit – you do want it back

Your flat will most likely come with things like a vacuum cleaner and ironing board, and to get your deposit back these need to be pretty much in the condition you found them. So, that means usual wear and tear is fine, but think about your deposit when you try and test the strength of the ironing board.

5 – Your flatmates will ‘borrow’ your ketchup. (Milk and butter are also up for grabs)

“Oh, I thought it was mine.” “I was only borrowing it.” “I’ll buy you another one tomorrow.” You wage a personal vendetta when you’re the victim, but when you’re the culprit, it’s only borrowing, right?

The best way to avoid this is by having a communal pot as a flat or house for things like milk, butter, and the sauces that everyone use – it will stop any awkwardness when you get caught.

6 – If someone wants their privacy, let them have it

That is all.

7 – ‘Trophying’ has evolved

Okay, collecting trophies from freshers events or nights out might be a thing but whether it’s a pine cone or a traffic cone, stealing is not okay, regardless of what you’ve had to drink. Whatever you bring home with you, just think, is it worth the effort of putting it back?

8 – Every flat has a cardboard cut-out, inflatable animal or something peculiar in their windows

Campus Way is a museum of memories and you will undoubtedly get swept up with trying to outdo your neighbours. My morning commute passes a young JFK, a wall of Jaffa-cake boxes and lots of festive decorations that were far too fun to take down after Christmas. Just make sure the competition doesn’t start becoming a fire hazard.

9 – Your flatmates will learn to read you just by the look on your face

Whether it’s early in the morning and you’re just going to bed or it’s late at night and you’ve only just got up – your flatmates will be able to tell what mood you’re in just by the look on your face. If you’re really lucky, when you need it, someone will come to your rescue. In my case, when I was too ill to cook for myself one of my flatmates made me pancakes – if that does happen you’ve got a fairly good idea who to live with next year.

10 – Communal space means people will end up using your stuff

Do not be surprised if you catch someone using your favourite mug. Plates, mugs, cutlery, some people see them as things to share, others don’t. But you’ll find this all out getting to know the people you live. Let them know how you feel about your stuff. During first year I definitely learned to appreciate my belongings more. One of my silliest flat disputes involved someone using my favourite tea-towel to clean up a spill. They didn’t know that it meant something to me, but they sure do now!

Like me, some of you will want to bring mementoes from home and these will mean a lot to you, I even kept a broken mug on the windowsill for over a month because I couldn’t bear to bin it. For many of you this will be your first experience of living with other people, so hopefully these tips will be some help when you move in this September.