Finding flatmates 101: The do’s and dont’s of who you should live with

Illustration: Emilie AG

It’s getting to that time of year again. No, not Christmas, but you guessed it – housing season. Get ready people, it’s time to pick flatmates. Choosing people to live with is a big deal, and the people you pick are far more important than the place you end up. If you’re living in a slightly shabby flat with great people, you’ll have a great time; but if you don’t get along with your flatmates, you could be in the most ideal location and be utterly miserable. Below is a short list of the ‘do’s’ and ‘don’ts’ to help you achieve your goal of the perfect flatmates.

Illustration: Emilie AG
Illustration: Emilie AG

The Dont’s:

1. Party Animal

I’m talking about your uber cool mate who’s constantly out partying and having the time of their life, spending more time in Dervish and the Vic than their own room. They’re great fun; they always have stories about their drunken antics and seem to know everyone – not just in a St Andrews bumping-into-your-lecturer-in-Tesco kind of way. Oh no, every time you set foot outside with them you feel like you’ve bumped into the entire population and their plus ones.

However, unless you too are a wild party animal, this option should be approached with some caution. You will never get any sleep. Ever. There will always be flat parties and people in your kitchen, who you will only realise are there when you slouch in wearing your grungy pyjamas and oversized jumper, clutching all the mugs you’ve hoarded on your way to make toast at 11pm. Upon which you promptly try and slouch right back out, but can’t open the door because your hands are full of dirty mugs (this embarrassment ends only when an immaculately dressed acquaintance finally lets you through and you flee back to your lair of laundry and stolen crockery).

There is also the risk that you will constantly get woken up in the middle of the night. This might be funny a couple of times (let’s face it, drunk people are usually funny), but it gets old pretty quickly. There is also the very real risk that they might drunkenly come back in the middle of the night and pee on your floor as you sleep. You have been warned.


If you do end up with a party flatmate, never fear. Set some boundaries – but take care not to be overbearing, bossy or controlling. Ask them to respect you by trying not to make noise when they come in, informing you of parties in your kitchen, and generally trying to keep volume levels low past midnight. However, in return remember to respect them as well. It’s their house too, and both of you will have to compromise.

 2. Significant Other

This really does depend on how long you’ve been going out for, so for simplicity I’m going to aim this at new couples who have met at university. Guys – you might love each other now, but trust me, if you live together, you will most probably hate your partner and everything they stand for. You will hate the way they breathe. You’ll hate the fact they drink so much milk (seriously though). You’ll grow to hate the sight of their toothbrush and how they can never ever seem to put it inside the little mug you brought expressly for the purpose of storing toothbrushes. Also, on a practical and cynical note, things will get awkward if you break up. Very awkward. This awkwardness isn’t alleviated if you live with other people; living in the same space as someone who you are no longer romantically involved with is painful and uncomfortable for both parties, and is a situation just best avoided.


If you do decide to move in with your partner, remember to spend some time away from the flat seeing other people (with/without your partner). When you move in with someone you’re that close to there is a very real tendency to become insular, so try not to neglect your other friends. By all means go places with your partner – expanding into each other’s friend circles is always a good thing – but make sure you maintain a life of your own independent of them.

3. Best Friend

Like with your significant other, chances are you will see your best friend all the time. This is the person you go out with, the one you see in the evening, and the one you have movie nights with. Unless you love them to pieces and constantly come up with new witty banter, this person will become the only one you ever see. They may begin to irritate and annoy you, for no other reason than constant presence.


Please see above.

4. Diametric Opposite

You know that friend you love but you also kind of hate? You know the one – you’re really chilled and they’re really uptight, and it’s really funny until you’re living together and their six am workout routine wakes you up and your subsequent dreams are peppered with visions of athletes in spandex.


Set some boundaries, and make sure you know what each other’s limits are from the very start. If they transgress these limits, be understanding – they’re only human too. If it’s getting too frequent and you feel they’re being inconsiderate, just sit and have a chat. Not a guilty-passive-aggressive- everything-is-your-fault chat, but just let them know that you find X habit really annoying.

5. The Slob

It may be difficult to spot this person in catered halls. You may only realise when it’s too late and you are trapped. But you know the one. The one who never cleans their dishes (and I don’t mean leaving them for five days because you’re having a lazy week – I mean leaving them for a month until they starts growing new life forms and you feel compelled to take them to the biology department to confirm that what is growing isn’t actually lethal). The one who leaves Domino boxes all over the flat and whose stench you can never get rid of, no matter how much Febreeze you spray. That one.


Tell them that they will be expected to pull their weight and not leave communal areas in an absolute state. If they do, do not hesitate to tell them off – but again, don’t be controlling. If you can do it with a laugh that would be best – that way they know they’re being gross, but it also doesn’t create animosity and tension.

Illustration of group of friends
Illustration: Beatrice Herman

The Do’s:

1. The Organised One

That friend who has everything planned out, who knows all their deadlines a month in advance. This person will be a godsend when it comes to things like bills, rent, recycling, and shouting at the landlord over mould.

2. The Unofficial Handyman

That friend whose summer stories comprise of rebuilding an entire car from scratch and then single-handedly carving all the furniture in the house because they were bored. This friend’s favourite Christmas present was also a paint filler. As well as being a potential target for Bob the Builder jokes, this person is also great to live with because they will fix the dodgy radiator, the broken boiler and the non-existent Wi-Fi (which should exist because you’re paying for it but Sky doesn’t seem to agree).

3. The Chef

Everyone needs to be able to cook, or at least be able to boil themselves pasta. But if you can, try and nab the chef of your group. That friend who cooks really, really well. Their food always smells good, and makes your own dinner of pesto and pasta seem a bit sad in comparison. If you’re nice to them they could even cook for you, or at the very least you’ll be able to pick up on their methods and try some of their recipes.

4. The Homemaker

You don’t know how they do it, but these people manage to effortlessly make everything cozy. They will transform your student flat into something warm and welcoming, and make it feel like a home away from home.

All of this said, the most important thing is to pick people you like. Regardless of who they are and what they might do, if you like them and get on with them and they make you happy, then they are the people for you. Do not be hasty with your choice of flatmates. These are the people that going to have to deal with you at your very best as well as your very worst, just as you will be expected to deal with them at both ends of the spectrum. We at The Saint wish you good luck!




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