First flat fitness: live your best life

by Oscar Francis

So, you’ve survived some study. You might have spent your first year in a flat, or with your parents. Maybe you took a more circuitous route to uni. Anyways, flatting can be the time of your life, or a total nightmare. You’ve probably heard stories of both. If it’s your first rodeo you’re probably equal parts nervous and excited. The good news is that having a great first-flat experience is totally achievable. Read on to find out how! 

Fuss over finding flatties  

Your choice of flatmates is key to the success of your flatting experience. Are you a partier living with a bunch of bookworms? Or maybe you want to watch films in the lounge while your flatmates would prefer to turn it into a hall of homebrew? Chances are you’re going to have way less stress and conflict if you’re living with a bunch of like-minded people with similar temperaments. [Text Wrapping Break] 

Flatties first, friends second 

The title says it all. Good friends don’t always make good flatties, especially if you’ve got very different lifestyle habits, or approaches to communal spaces and the hygiene standards within. Likewise, don’t assume that because you live together you’ll be friends forever. Focus on being good flatties first, and the friendships will slot into place. It simply doesn’t work the other way round — being a bad flatmate (I.e: not doing your share of the household labour, or generally being a dick) will ensure that people want nothing to do with you.  

Working together 

Flatting is a team spot, and being a good flatmate is a skill everyone can learn. You’re all in this together and you’ll get the most out of your experience if you all step up for each other. Don’t give up and burn your bridges at the first sign of trouble, because you’ve got a year to get through and you never know when you’ll run into people again later in life. Communication is key — forgot to do your share of dishes because you were running out the door, late to class? Try being proactive about your communication. But make sure your actions match your platitudes. 

The long winter months  

Dunedin can be pretty miserable over the long winter months. A cold winter can fracture previously amicable relationships. Strategise ahead for what your cold weather plan is — will you spend more time in the library, or will you stay home and crank up a bedroom heater (and if so, who pays for the extra electricity?) 

Know your rights  

Know your rights as renters. How often can your landlord visit?  What do you do if something breaks or gets damaged? Above all, know how to get your bond back (pro tip: carpet cleaning charges are usually levied upon naive-looking renters by unscrupulous property managers, and won’t stand up to scrutiny).  

Get agreement 

Flat meals? Chore wheel? Get an agreement sussed beforehand. And don’t forget you can always revise things if they aren’t working out. But you need to be able to have that conversation. Don’t let bad vibes fester — But sometimes its a superior strategy to let the small stuff slide.  

There’s nothing wrong with being passive aggressive 

This might be a controversial one. Nobody enjoys having a pointed note appear, reminding them to clean the toilet, or do their dishes. But remember, the onus is on you to put in the effort to clean up after yourself — don’t put it all on others to remind you to clean up after yourself. And if you get called out: say ‘thanks’ for the reminder, fix up the problem, and move on with your life.  

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