Student accommodation: 10 ways to make the most of a small bedroom at university

If you get a third of a room, you should also be paying a third of your share of the rent, says the CEO of shared expenses app, Splittable

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The Independent Online

Students can expect great Wi-Fi, gaming areas, and foosball tables in a lot of halls these days so, for the first-timers out there, student living really isn't that bad at all.

However, one area which will continue to remain consistent – as it has done through the ages – is that, at some point in their three to four years, students will be packed into a house or flat that maximises every nook and cranny of floor space.

What does this mean? The dreaded ‘box room’ is likely to be a bone of contention at some point. So, if you’re the unfortunate recipient of the smallest room in the world in the first semester, here are the ten things you can do about it:

1) Decorate creatively

It’s not about the size, it’s what you do with it. So, embrace your inner Kelly Hoppen and find an ingenious way to store your books, maximise the light, and create a Zen-like bubble in which to nail that coursework. Ikea and Tiger are good places to start your hunt for inexpensive, space-saving design pieces.

2) Rent discount

Make sure you’re not paying the same monthly rent as your friend on the top floor palatial suite. You get a third of a room so you should be paying a third of your share of the rent. It’s always best to get this in writing too if you can.

3) Bill discount

If getting a reduction in rent isn’t an option, then negotiate a discount in bills. Working out the monthly contributions between housemates is easy with apps like Splittable. Tedious Excel budgets, or awkward and unwanted chats around the kitchen table? Gone.

4) Room swap

Like a prison sentence that’s shortened for good behaviour, do your time quietly and obediently – and get out by Christmas. At that point, it becomes somebody else’s problem and you can glide off into the sunset on your new four-poster bed.

5) Avoid it

Hate it that much? Use it as little as possible. Sofas, a friend’s house, and even your car are all more comfortable and almost certainly more spacious. The library, the front room, and the local café are all alternative spaces you can make your own when you need to knuckle down to work.

6) Embrace it

Alternatively, love it for what it is. Like the birthday present your mum gets wrong every year, keep smiling, accept that it’s not quite what you wanted, but live in hope that it can’t happen again next year. Can it?

7) Source storage

Agree a little corner elsewhere in the house that’s yours. It might be the loft, the airing cupboard, or it might be – Harry Potter style – under the stairs. Heck, you might just get a cupboard, but it’s yours and, by God, you’ll love it.

8) Housemate appreciation

You don’t need to lord-it-over the house, but your housemates are now essentially in your pocket. The first time you hit the bar when you move in, make sure they appreciate your sacrifice and let the good times roll – for one night anyway.

9) Don’t complain

Nobody likes a moaning housemate so, whatever you do, don’t complain. If you get the box room, you get the box room. Any moaning is likely to escalate, resulting in your festering anger, along with their feelings of annoyance at your negativity.

10) See the bright side

Finally, university life is one great rollercoaster, so chalk it down to experience. Look on the bright side and focus your energies on other aspects of life you can influence and know that, next term, the double bed, en-suite room with a balcony and ocean-view is all yours...

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