Student Accommodation: 'It was horrible .. No one cleared up'

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The Independent Online
LUCY ADAM, 27, is a third-year law student at Oxford Brookes University. She has lived communally for two years and now shares a house with four others.

'We all get on well but we carry on our own lives. Last year, two of the people I shared with were a couple and that was difficult as they were very much a unit, and we didn't know them very well. They would cook meals for two, whereas the rest of us - who are single - tend to cook for everyone. Now it is just single peole the kitchen has become a communal area again.'

Ms Adam admits that living in an all-female household also makes life easier. 'I think it means that we are more responsible about respecting each other's things. We make sure we clean up after ourselves, and we don't nick other people's food from the fridge. There's no rota, but things do get done whenever we are in the mood.' Choosing whom you live with is paramount, she says, as is agreeing the ground rules in advance. 'We write things like phonecalls down and one girl is in charge of making sure we all pay our fair share. The other bills are included in the rent which helps enormously.'

The actual layout of the house is also something to consider before you move in, suggests Ms Adam. 'We all have our own space and our bedrooms have locks. We warn each other if we are going to be socialising, and it helps that the rooms are sound-proofed.'

But for Ms Adam the most important factor in living together happily is to choose compatible housemates. 'We are all completely laid back, and we all look out for each other's interests.

'It is a support system but it doesn't impinge on your privacy either. That is one of the most important things - we all respect each other's personal space.'

Simon Russell, 20, is a third-year economics student at Kingston University. Last year, after his initial house-share fell through, he moved into a house with four other students whom he knew only slightly.

'It was horrible. I lived with four blokes and no one ever cleaned up. The bathroom was cleaned once a term, the loo never. Food always went missing, although you tend to expect that, and the phone was a nightmare. When bills came in they were never paid, or at least not until we were threatened with being cut off.'

After two terms of this, Mr Russell moved out, fed up with the lack of co-operation. Two of his housemates did the same. His advice is to know the people and their personal habits before moving in together. 'I ended up having to pay for a whole year's accommodation, even though I only spent two terms in the house. I also despair of ever seeing my deposit again as the house was in such a mess by the end of the year.'

Next year Mr Russell has decided to opt for a room of his own as a tenant of the member of the tidier sex.

(Photograph omitted)