Eight Things No One Told You About Living off Campus

Hey second years, how’s it going? If you managed to find housing in that summer madness of the 0.6% vacancy rate, good for you! By now, you’ve probably realized that living on your own (or with roommates) is not as easy as you thought. If you are anything like me, you moved in with your best friends from res after first year, found a lovely suite, and expected to be Rachel and Monica (with Monica’s cooking skills) from Friends by now. Not there yet? Here are some things no one told you about living off campus to make your life a whole lot better.

1. It’s Important to Establish Household Standards


Are you a Suzy-Scrubber or a Lazy-Larry when it comes to the dishes? It doesn’t matter, really, so long as you are on the same page as your roommates.

Set a standard for when everyone wants things to be done, such as the expectation that all dishes are done before everyone goes to bed at night. Or, if you are a little neat-freakish like me and my roommates, set a cleaning schedule so everyone knows the expectation. That way, you won’t get in soapy battles over the stack of mouldy dishes on the counter.

Have this discussion at the very beginning of your time living together, and don’t be afraid to be honest about what you want. This goes for topics such as house parties and having visitors stay over as well.

2. Honesty is Key


Touching on my last point, honesty and transparency is central to any living arrangement. Even if you don’t tell her, your roommate is going to know that you’re mad at her when you’re stomping around the house, slamming the doors because she forgot to take out the trash again. If you’re upset about something, or you want something to change (which likely will happen), be polite, but tell it straight to your roommate. A nice “hey, would you mind trying to take out the garbage more often?” is way better than an angry note or a glare in the hallway.

3. Cooking is Hard

Tired of KD? When I moved out, my mum was lovely enough to send me away with a book full of my favorite recipes from growing up. Learning to make my favorite spaghetti, salad, or banana chocolate chip muffins made eating much healthier (and more enjoyable) but also was great when you start to feel a little homesick! When I have a bad day, I can make the homemade mac n’ cheese my mum used to make for me when I was feeling blue, and it’s like a hug in a bowl. I also recommend investing in a good cook book (there are lots of good student-on-a-budget ones out there) for when you get tired of eating the same old thing.

4. It Might Actually be Easier Living with Strangers than Your Friends


No one talks about this much, but most people I know have had a tough roommate situation. It’s hard! But also know that it’s perfectly normal. Moving in with your best friends can be tricky, because there is a lot at stake. If you make your expectations clear and are honest, that’s a great start. But I’ve also found that the times I’ve moved in with complete strangers (although slightly terrifying) have been my best roommate situations. Don’t be afraid to post a good old Craigslist ad, people! The UVic Housing Facebook page is also a great resource (that being said, screen your roommates VERY carefully!).

5. Adulting is Time-Consuming

Let’s be real, res-life was great. You got to roll out of bed, walk five minutes to the Cafeteria, scoop some yogurt and mango slices into a parfait, and voila, breakfast was done, and you were on your way to class.

Now though, you have to commute to school, grocery shop, plan your meals, cook your meals, make sure you’re eating enough greens, pay the hydro bill, and water all your succulents. How did your parents manage to take care of kids too?!

Like anything, the key here is routine. Plan to do all your errand-running and grocery shopping once a week, get good food you can make quickly on the go, and you can even meal-prep if you want. My go-to trick is making a bigger batch of dinner and having leftovers for the nights I have evening classes or work, so that my dinner is already good to go.

6. The Worst Thing You Can Do is Talk Behind Your Roommate’s Back


Have more than one roommate? The number one absolute worst thing I can think of in a living situation is ranting to roommate #2 about roommate #1. Roommate #1 will find out, either from roommate #2, or because of your basement suite’s thin walls. Next thing you know, she’ll be hiding all the toilet paper in her room, and you’ll be in the middle of roommate world war 3.

It’s easy to fall into this trap sometimes, but seriously, think before you blab! If you have a problem, go back to tip #2 and be honest with your roommate. If you do it tactfully, the problem is likely to get solved with a whole lot less drama. And if you simply must talk to someone about it, talk to someone outside of the situation.

7. Set Important Dates on Your Calendar

Somehow, I always forget when it’s the first of the month. Now, I set an alarm on my phone that goes “ding ding-a-ling, Hello Ali, you’re an adult, it’s time to pay your rent!” – such a fun time. But now I don’t forget! It’s also really important to pay your other bills – hydro, internet, etc. on time, and stay on top of any ice-cream-run debts you may owe your roommates or friends.

8. Make Time for Roommate Bonding


My roommates and I camping at Sombrio Beach before school started

You’re all so busy that you haven’t seen Sally since last Tuesday, when you were doing laundry at the same time! What is that! The thing is, living with roommates can be really fun. Schedule in a group dinner taco night, have a Harry Potter movie night, go on a camping trip, or plan a festive party together. It’s so much more fun living with people who you can hang out with!

These tips may seem like extreme common sense, but believe me, these tips would have saved me A LOT of stress in second year. Best of luck, everyone!

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