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Clean dishes and lifelong friends How to make your off-campus living experience a success

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By: Jennifer La Grassa

“You’re living with five other girls?! And you only have two bathrooms? Good luck with that.”

“Just make sure nobody brings candles and lights them, that’s the last thing you need to worry about.”

“Oh man, six girls? Can you imagine when all of your menstrual cycles sync and PMS hits at the same time?”

Upon entering my second year of university, whenever I mentioned that I would be living with five friends in an off-campus house, I usually received one of the above responses or a variation of all three.

Fortunately, it went a lot better than everyone expected. We lived in harmony, didn’t set the house on fire and continue to be friends to this day. I am by no means a student-house-living-guru, but I hope to provide you with some advice that will ease the initial struggles you may encounter.

Upon first moving in, you and your housemates should have a “house meeting.” Even if you lived with the same people the previous year, it’s always good to start fresh and remind everyone of the rules that were put into place, as well as those that need amendment. For you student house virgins, a house meeting will help you organize and plan for the year ahead.

One of the main topics of your discussion should be how and when the house will be cleaned. I suggest making a schedule that rotates weekly and putting it up on the fridge; this allows everyone to have a clear outline of their duties and not get stuck with the same task each week.

I can’t stress enough how important it is to keep your house clean, if not for your own comfort then for the peace of mind that you won’t be having any other housemates moving in (ones that may be small, furry and not much help in paying rent). As well, if you are planning to make household items—eg, paper towels, dish soap, dish sponges—communal, discuss the purchase of these items.

Other topics of discussion should include cleaning up after oneself (specifically not letting dishes pile up), having friends over, playing music, and sharing food. Each of these topics doesn’t need a strict rule, but you should make sure that you’re all on the same page about how they should be dealt with.

Should conflict arise, promoting communication and calling a house meeting is the best solution. If something isn’t working for you, don’t allow your frustration to build up to the point where you’re leaving passive aggressive notes around the house.

The best way to deal with a difference of ideas is to be upfront and tell your housemates what needs to be changed. If you’re not one for confrontation, then make sure to create a Facebook group to politely mention your concerns.

A Facebook group or group chat of some sort will come in handy when discussing any and all household matters, especially for times when you are too busy to gather for a house meeting.

Remember, everyone has their quirks and the stress of university life can make anyone irritable, so try to be understanding and accommodate the needs of others. Once the technicalities of living together have been put aside, my best piece of advice is to go with the flow and enjoy the experience.

After a long day of classes, coming home to have five of my best friends eager to hear about my day was the most rewarding part of it all. My housemates became my family, and I truly hope yours do too.

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