5 reasons you should (and shouldn’t) live with friends
Although you might not be able to choose your family, you can choose your housemates. But, is living with your besties really all it's cracked up to be?
Once your first year at uni is over and you've survived shared living with strangers, you then have the luxury of actually getting to choose who you live with next year.
But, as exciting as this sounds, choosing who you want to live with can be one of the most stressful decisions of your uni experience – particularly deciding whether or not to live with friends.
Unfortunately, it's not always as straightforward as you may think. Living with friends can come with as many complications as it does perks. Here are the pros and cons to consider before you decide.
What's in this guide?
Why you should live with your friends
Wondering if you should live with your best mate? These are the top reasons to share a house with friends:
The house will be sociable
If you're unsure whether it's a good idea to live with friends, it's worth bearing in mind the biggest perk: getting to hang out with your best mates at home as much as you like – even night and day if you're really keen.
Making plans to socialise suddenly gets so much easier, and you won't need to worry about FOMO if you're staying in at the weekend with your friends.
You also don't have to worry about making time for friends in between juggling uni and a part-time job, as you'll come home to them every night.
You can cook and eat meals with friends
Cooking for one and eating alone can get a bit tiresome at times (and not to mention expensive if you haven't mastered meal prepping yet).
Living with friends can make cooking and eating much more fun. Making dinner together is a great bonding exercise and makes boring jobs like peeling potatoes and chopping tomatoes feel much more bearable.
Check out our guide to cooking for friends on a budget for some inspiration.
You can share housemates' things
We've all had our experiences of 'the borrower' when living in shared accommodation – that one flatmate who borrows just about everything from everyone and usually forgets to return it, or breaks it before they do.
Living with friends makes this much less of an issue as it's generally a bit easier to share with people you have a good relationship with (if you don't mind sharing, that is).
Plus, it means you get to borrow from them too – without being labelled 'the borrower'!
You will feel less homesick
Having good mates around you is the ultimate cure for the homesickness blues.
In a house full of friends, you're unlikely to feel lonely. If you or your housemates do ever have a down day, you can count on each other to be there to perk each other back up.
And, if that doesn't work, our tips for coping with homesickness will do the trick.
You can study with housemates and motivate each other
Living with someone who's on the same course or who takes some of the same classes as you can be a brilliant motivator to get out of bed and make it to that 9am lecture.
Just try not to let it get too competitive...
Why you should not live with your friends
While living with friends can be great, it comes with these cons:
You might never get time to yourself
While being able to hang out with your mates as much as you like can be amazing, the flip side is that you might start to feel the pressure to do so, even when all you really want to do is watch Bake Off in your room alone. Especially if you live like these two students do!
There's absolutely nothing wrong with wanting time alone – in fact, studies have shown that spending time alone is the best way to de-stress.
But it's worth bearing in mind that not everyone needs or enjoys spending time alone, so this can cause problems if you feel too much of an obligation there.
Similarly, you might start to feel guilty about doing stuff outside of the house that doesn't involve your housemates.
If you spend a lot of time together, you can start to feel under pressure to invite your friends out with you whenever you do anything, particularly if they seem bored or under the weather.
It's important that you get to retain a life of your own. If you think this could be an issue and it's leading you to doubt if you should live with friends, you may need to give it some serious thought.
You could lose some of your things
Time to be honest with yourself – for the sake of your friendship (and your sanity).
While being able to share stuff is often a perk of living with mates, are you really someone who is happy to share, or are you likely to feel the rage burning inside you when you see someone using your favourite coffee mug?
A potential issue that comes with living with friends rather than people you're less close to is that some mates see living together as a situation where everything is borrowable – from your best frying pan to your shower gel, and even your new clothes.
If you think you'd struggle to cope with this, you may find it a little tricky to cope with living with mates.
You might feel pressure to always be upbeat
We all have our bad days, our sad days and our downright I-want-to-kill-everyone-who-comes-close-to-me days. That's just life and you're only human.
The only problem is that this can occasionally make it hard to be your best self – even the most friendly and super likeable friend can easily transform into a monster for the day. All you need is a bit of time to let it pass, but living with mates can make this difficult.
Money issues can put a strain on friendships
Whether it's a matter of whose turn it is to buy toilet roll, if it's cold enough to put on the heating, or how long is too long to spend in the shower, money can be a touchy subject in any shared household.
And, unfortunately, financial disagreements can have a bit more weight if they happen between friends. This is not to say that money issues will definitely arise, but it's worth asking yourself if this is a risk you're willing to take.
Whether you choose to pay bills individually or have everyone pay one flatmate as the designated bill-payer, there's clearly space for things to get complicated.
For example, if you have one friend who you know is experiencing money troubles, you might feel guilty about putting pressure on them to pay their way, but at the same time resentful if you're having to help by paying out more to cover them.
We've got a guide on how to ask friends for money that they owe you in case you're struggling.
You might spend too much time in the house
Another (slightly paradoxical) downside to living with besties is that it might make you a bit more antisocial.
While it can be great having your mates at home with you every day and night, you may end up making less of an effort to widen your social circle by meeting new people or socialising outside of your cosy flatmate bubble.
If you and your mates are prone to procrastinating (and let's face it, who isn't?) living with friends might not be the kick up the backside you need to get work done.
You could also end up leaving the house too much. If you're slightly lacking in willpower and feel easily persuaded into going on nights out when you should be hitting the books, living with your pals could be risky for your studies, and your student bank account.
Think about whether or not living with your best friends would be too much of a distraction – as important as it is to have a good time at uni, you are there to get some studying done.
Things to discuss with friends before living with them
Before moving in with friends, it's important to talk about the following things with them to avoid issues when living together:
- Your budgets for monthly rent and energy bills
- How you would split up cleaning tasks
- Your daily routines (e.g. what time you each take showers and when you need to leave the house by in the morning) – if you find your schedules don't all work together, you'll need to discuss compromises with each other
- Whether you'd share anything – if so, what you'd share and how you'd split the costs of these items
- How you'd deal with disagreements in the house.
So, should you live with friends? Now you're armed with arguments for and against, and a list of some things to chat through with them first, the decision is yours to make.
No one can really tell you whether living with your best mates is a good idea or not, as only you can ultimately decide this. Good luck!
Next stop: nailing the house viewing process. And we've got just the guide to help you with that.