Moving in with a group of new people is daunting, no matter where or when you do it. And moving into a student flat when starting university can come with its own worries.
Maybe more than normal, getting on with your flatmates at uni can feel really important. Often, making friends with them not only creates a group of people you can go out, shop, watch films or cook with, but also makes your day-to-day living situation really fun – and you never know where these friendships will lead in the future!
But sadly, moving in and making immediate best friends isn’t always the case. It’s harder for some than others to bond with the new people you’re living with – but all hope isn’t lost! If you’re struggling, read our blog for some ideas on what to do if you don’t get on with your flatmates.
1. Try to find things in common
Before writing off flatmate friendships altogether, it’s worth one last push to try to get to know them. Try to find similar interests, whether that’s sports, cooking, Netflix series or the latest TikTok trends.
And if nothing immediately stands out, why not try something new together? See if you can find a society or sports club, art lessons, gym class or even a restaurant you all want to try, and see if that sparks something. The extra effort now will give you the best chance of making long-lasting relationships later.
2. Spend time alone
This one might sound somewhat counter-productive, but stick with us. It’s really important to make sure you have alone time – especially if it’s your first time moving out. The transition between living with people you’ve known your whole life to living with a group of strangers can take a mental toll – especially if a connection wasn’t made naturally.
Set some time aside each today to just chill by yourself and take a social break. Watch an episode of your current TV show binge, read a book, call friends and family or go for a walk outdoors. Sometimes having some time to yourself helps to remind you that the world is much bigger than what happens inside the four walls of your flat.
3. Make friends in other places
If you don’t feel like your friends are in your flat, make the effort to find friends elsewhere. People at uni are always looking to meet new people, especially at the beginning when everyone’s in the same position and won’t know anyone.
Joining a society or sports club means you’ll find friends with similar interests, plus have pre-organised events and socials to attend where you can start making memories. Similarly, your course may end up organising library revision sessions or drinks after a lecture. Whatever it is, make sure to chat to people in your lectures and seminars, and head out with them whenever possible.
4. Learn the art of ‘small talk’
Small talk is your best friend in a lot of life’s most uncomfortable situations, and one of those is known to be university flat kitchens. It’s the one place where you’ll frequently come face-to-face with your flatmates, which can make for some awkward encounters if you don’t really have much to say.
This is where simple questions come in really handy. Ask about recent lectures, assignments, sports matches, nights out, or the best meal they’ve cooked recently to make polite conversation while you’re both there. And, in typical British fashion, comments about the weather always work well, too!
5. Air out your grievances early
You’ll have heard this one before – honesty is the best policy. If you have a specific issue – whether that’s with the washing up, excessive noise, or something else entirely – it’s probably a good idea to have a very frank conversation about it as soon as possible. Letting your issues brew will do no good, as chances are the other person won’t even realise what they’re doing.
Communication is key to living harmoniously – at uni or not – so it really will benefit everyone if you make the effort to be honest early on. And remember, you won’t always get the answer you want, so sometimes it’s best to agree to disagree.
6. Put your mental health first
Ultimately, the most important thing to do is look after yourself. It can be really hard if things aren’t as simple as you were hoping for, and along with the other challenges of uni, it’s essential to check in with your mental health every now and then.
Speak to friends back home, your family, a personal tutor or a doctor if you’re struggling. Sanctuary Students also offers a free student advice line through Health Assured, which offers you professional support for any personal problems. You can give them a call at any time on any day of the year on 0800 030 5182 to chat confidentially.
7. Speak to us
If you’re truly unhappy and would like to change flats, we’ll try our best to make that happen for you. There will be a small admin fee, but we can place you in a new flat if there’s a spare room available.
To get this process started, chat to a member of staff at your accommodation site or send us a message on social media with some details.
University isn’t always easy, but you’re not in it alone. Remember to chat to loved ones if you have a problem, and always ask your uni or student accommodation if they can help to offer a solution. Prioritise your mental health and speak to us here at Sanctuary Students if you’d like to know more about requesting a flat change.