Leaving the warm and familiar nest of home can be difficult, especially if you have to do so for the unfamiliar and weary nest of commune living.  This might be your first thoughts as you start walking up those stairs with your bags under your arms, having mom and dad explaining to you how great your first year away from home is going to be.

The honest truth is some of us believe them and for the rest of us, we know they are talking nonsense, especially after seeing the rif-raf sleeping next to you.  Well this was the case for many of my college friends.  Some loved commune living and other hated it.  But the gist is that those who did hate it, all hated it for the same reasons.  The lack of hygiene, lack of consideration and that simple lack of silence.

There are however a way to guarantee a successful happy commune living, with you and all your roommates.  The answer is consideration, it’s truly that simple. Be considerate to your roommates as you would like them to be to you.

The fact of the matter is that commune living among students are quite popular. This is obviously for the financial reasons, but also for the social reasons. This guide I hope will help you and your mates to make this year your best year, not only for you varsity studies, but for commune living.

Step 1 – Know your zones

Each of us are different, some are use to the insistence interference of a sibling and others are only children with control issues.  The gist is that you need to know with what you will be able to deal with.  It doesn’t help you move into a space where you are going to be unhappy because there are too much socialisation or too little.

Are you one for a double room or one for a single room that can share the communal spaces, like the kitchen and lounge.  Do you absolutely need your own bathroom or can you share.  These are the questions you should ask yourself before signing that student accommodation lease.

“Once you signed the lease and settled in it wouldn’t be a bad idea to have a sit down with your commune mates and have a frank discussion about the dos and dont’s of you, each other and the house.”

Step 2 – Be Considerate

“Be Considerate – I can’t yell this loud enough.”  

The biggest cause of unhappiness is being inconsiderate to your roommates.  Remember that you all come from different backgrounds and are different people, so always try and see a problem or a potential problem from their side as well.

The Kitchen:

If you are going to take the Chutney to your room for a late night snack, then do so.  But remember to take it back before your morning class the next day and while you’re at it, take the dirty plates as well and put them in the dishwasher, not only on the counter.  Remember that you and all your mates need to share the communal spaces, try and keep them as neat as you can on your side.  This way you ensure that every roommate feels gratitude towards you and not resentment.

For those who are lacking in this matter try and get a routine in which you become the ‘clean one’.  After you use the milk, put it back.  After you used the pan, rinse it and put it in the machine.  By always cleaning up after yourself, you find that living in a clean manner takes no time and everyone yells less at you.

Your Bedroom:

If you are fortunate enough to have your own bedroom then what you do in there is entirely up to you.  But remember the walls are thin. You don’t need your roommate to hear your hard rock at 3 in the morning, for that you have earphones.  Truly the best advice I can offer you is invest in a good set of earphones, not only for your communal sanity, but walking to class and studying in the library.

“Life is better with good music- always”

The Bathroom:

The bathroom is always the one thing everyone hates about everyone.  It is often necessary for roommates to share as an apartment might have 3 bedrooms, but only 1 bathroom.  The thing to remember (you guessed it) being considerate towards your mates.  It might be a good idea for each roommate to have a bathroom basket.  A basket where each person can put in their shampoos, toothbrush, est.  Take it out, use it and put it back under the bathroom basin.  Also remember to wipe down your mess and flush the toilet every time you are in there.

Step 3 – The communal funds piggy

This depends on the commune in which you live, but many communes have a communal funds piggy.  This money is typically for this communal products like household cleaners, communal kitchen supplies, a cleaning lady, gardner, internet, DSTV, est.

Don’t be too picky and stuck up with this, remember all of you are most probably equally poor – you are students it is too be expected.  Be aware of where the funds go, but never pick a fight over it.

Also never say “I never used any of the milk so why should I contribute to it”.  This kind of behavior is only going to make all your roommates angry at you, add you few Rands and be happy about it.

O by the way, if you have a personal supply of tea bags or Tabasco sauce then share when the others run out.  They will share again with you at a later stage.  If they don’t, then they are the idiot not you.

Step 4 – Bring your classmates home

All of your roommates are going to bring their own friends around, especially the boyfriends/girlfriends.  The question is how do you make your student home welcoming to them and keep your roommates happy.

Again the answer is consideration.  When you bring your friends around go have a chat in the garden or in your room. If it’s going to be in the kitchen or lounge then make sure you clean up after your classmates.  Their mess are your responsibility.  This goes for your significant other too.

Step 5 – The noise

Commune living are known to be on the noisy side.  This you will have to get use too no matter what.  You can ask you mates to keep it down, but once there is a social in the kitchen the entire house will know about it.  The best advice here will be to use those earphones or get earplugs.  This is especially true if you have the thin walls.  Also if you bring your class mates home, remember to send them home before the clock strikes 12.  You have mates who have a 9am class remember.

University is suppose to be the best time of your life, if it’s not then I encourage you to find out why and change that immediately.  Keep the lines of communication open at all times, and remember to be considerate to those around you.

P.S. Last bit of advice, have a weekly sit down with all your roommates and discuss the problems of the week, before you want to rip each others heads off.

Looking for student accommodation, go check out our student accommodations.  We have something for all kinds of students.

Written by Lizl Brink, Lizl is copywriter and designer based in Johannesburg, she is also a frequent contributor to the Mafadi blog, and as an Urban investor and rejuvenation shares a passion for urban regeneration, go check out her personal portfolio here
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