Despite the fact that I’m nearly starting my third year of university, it wasn’t until a few months ago that I was able to experience the ‘real’ student life
Going to university in Auckland and already living in Auckland meant that living at home with my parents was a whole lot easier and cheaper, and it is pretty much the normal thing to do if you’re already a JAFA (just another fucking Aucklander; apparently the rest of New Zealand hate us). This resulted in me staying at home all the time studying and watching television shows instead of socialising with the rest of the world. I was in my own little bubble most of the time.
Living in a flat with 7 other people, all but one who I had never seen or spoken to in my entire life was definitely a new and exciting experience, and it was honestly the best experience, EVER.
Naturally, over the past few months I’ve discovered some things that work better than others, so I thought I’d compile them in a list for you all, just in case you’re looking for a few tips, or want to see what I’ve found useful whilst flatting:
Buy a doorstop: If you’re living in a room that has doors that don’t stay open, I highly recommend you buy a doorstop (I got given a free one from a university society at the Societies Fair). There’s nothing more anti-social than a closed door, so if you’re just in your room listening to music or chilling and don’t mind people coming in to say hello then an open door is a great invitation.
This worked really well in my flat, where I had the bedroom right by the kitchen, so whenever people walked to the kitchen they’d always stop for a quick chat or just yell a hello. It also means that whenever you’re bored you can stroll down the corridor and see what everyone else is doing. Another plus is that if people are used to seeing your door open, when it comes to study time and you want some peace and quiet, shutting your door will let people know that you don’t want to be disturbed. It really was one of the most effective ways of keeping social. It also means you can talk to people by yelling down the corridor without leaving your bed 😉
Budget: Most of the time flatting means that you have a limited budget because you have to pay for accommodation, food and a night of partying or two. Having a budget will definitely help you survive. The best way is to have a budget for food (and a separate one for nights out if you’re the partying type,) and try and have a little left over to save, in case of emergencies (like finding a really cute pair of shoes ), especially if you’re not working.
Meal plan: Having a meal plan was something that really helped me stick to my weekly food budget. I’m not talking about dieting plans either, I’m just talking about having a fair idea of what meals you want to cook throughout the week. That way you can make a shopping list at the beginning of the week and figure out everything you might need. It doesn’t take very long, and a lot of the time, having things like pasta and rice consistently in your pantry means it’s an easy go-to if you’re ever short of ideas/time.
Do one big shop a week: Carried on from the previous tip, if you do a quick meal plan for the week, doing one big shop is a good way to get all the shopping done in one go, so you don’t have to keep popping out everyday. You can also usually get good deals and savings if you’re buying multiple items of the same thing. This also helps with food budgeting. I would usually do an online shop at the beginning of the week, that way I could see how much everything cost right in front of me and was able to make alterations if I had gone over budget, or added a few treats if I was under budget. It also meant I didn’t have to lug all the groceries back home with me because it was all delivered straight to my door (yes, I’m very lazy).
Do things as a flat: As well as being the best excuse to get completely hammered every night, Freshers Week is also the best time to do things as a flat and (drunkenly) get to know each other. Simple things like going as a flat to the grocery store, partying hard with your flat or even just having a night in playing a board game (we were obsessed with the app Quiz Up for so long), NERF gun fights are fun too, trust me.
There is really nothing better than having inside jokes and funny stories you can discuss as a flat. It makes flat life so much more memorable, especially if you have a whole lot of people to share the memories with.
Ironing without an iron: Something that one of my flatmates taught me was a quick fix way to iron your clothes, without an iron. It might not work if your item of clothing is REALLy wrinkly, but every time I tried it it worked wonders.
Pretty much you just need to hang your wrinkly item of clothing on a clothes hanger and hang it up in your bathroom while you have a shower. The steam from the shower (more effective if it’s a small bathroom) helps to steam the wrinkles out and voila! Wrinkle-free clothing, without the effort of /need for an ironing.
Invest in Tupperware: Food is a very easy thing to lose your money to. Especially when you’re on campus and have no food. The best way to save money food-wise is to cook a big dinner and save the leftovers in tupperware for the next day. That way you save time and money the next day come lunch time.
Freeze food: Another great way to save money is to buy in bulk, whether it’s meat or bread, and freeze it! Buying in bulk usually saves you quite a lot of money, and freezing food makes it last a lot longer.
Tidy up after yourself: This one is probably pretty obvious, but seriously, make sure you tidy up after yourself. If you have your own room you can do whatever you like in it, and keep it as messy or as tidy as you’d like, but in communal places like the kitchen, or shared bathroom etc, tidying up after yourself is the best way to not just keep the house tidy, but your flatmates happy. There’s nothing worse than having a flatmate that leaves their stuff EVERYWHERE, but at the same time there’s nothing worse than having your whole flat pester and nag you to tidy up (it’ll be like living at home in your parent’s house again).
Talk it out: I think the main thing is just to respect and be courteous to your flatmates. Talk often, and if anyone has anything coming up like an exam or assignment, make sure the whole flat knows, so that no one will be playing house music on full blast at odd hours of the morning, the night before someone’s exam. In general, and as cliche as it may sound, talking really does help. Try talk about issues that you might have early on, before they accumulate into something much bigger.
HAVE FUN: In the end, university and flatting is all about having a bit of fun and banter with your mates (oh, and gaining a degree), so have fun!
There’s really no proper way of flatting or living in a big household, but above were just a few things that really worked for me and my flat and I literally had the best time I could ever have imagined!
I’d love to hear what you might have to add, or what worked or didn’t work for you while you were flatting or at university. Drop a comment 🙂