The 50 / 20 / 30 diet (for your pocket)

Calculating bills and spending money renting flatshareIt sounds like 2015’s latest fad, but the 50/20/30 rule is actually a handy way of knowing how much cash you ought to be allocating to different pots each month. I know, rules like this aren’t helpful on those days when you’d prefer to simply live in the dark and spend money on pizza and wine, but trust us on this one.

The rule goes that of your take home salary, 50% should be allocated to fixed expenditure; that’s your rent, bills, food, travel costs and anything else you’d go hungry or homeless without (no, your Netflix account doesn’t count).

The next 20% is where the grown up stuff comes in – it’s money to put aside to secure yourself, financially, over the coming years. That means paying off credit card debt, starting a savings account and paying into a pension.

The final the 30% is the good bit. It’s everything else you want to spend your money on including meals out, beers, cinema tickets and so on. Of course, if you really wanted to be an A* student you don’t have to spend the entire amount on luxuries, but what fun would that be?

If you’ve taken a few minutes to consider how your salary fits into the 50/20/30 principle, you’ve probably just realised that you’re spending too much on rent, not putting anything aside for a rainy day, haven’t even thought about paying into a pension and are spending money faster than it’s coming in the rest of the time. All is not lost – a bit of time spent assessing what you’re spending on bills each month and a few minutes of admin could save you hundreds of pounds a year.

Go comparison site crazy

We know the ads drive you mad, but there’s a reason these sites exist. Gather up recent bills you’ve had from all your energy, insurance and entertainment providers and start switching. Living in a shared house can make this seem like a lot of effort (especially if you’re the ‘lazy freeloader’, not the ‘uptight parent’ of the house) but you’re almost guaranteed to save by taking the time to reassess who you’re paying for utilities.

Sign up to cashback sites

For those occasions when comparison sites don’t offer up the goods, look to cashback websites. Sites like Quidco are free to join and partner with major retailers to bring you discounts or cashback when you shop through them.

Set up Direct Debit payments

Sure it can be a bit more hassle if you’re in a house share (at least shared living means cheaper living costs), but signing up to regular Direct Debit payments for your utility bills can mean discounts. It’s unlikely they’ll be massive, but a saving is a saving and, by paying regularly, you’re less likely to be hit with a big bill at the end of the year.

Check out your company benefits

It’s an easy one to overlook, but depending on the size of your company you may find you could save money on travel expenses (through a season ticket loan or bike loan) or on gym membership (or quit the gym altogether and try these healthy options).

Flatmates who eat together, save together

Cooking a few big meals throughout the week with your housemates rather than cooking separately can save loads on your food bill. If you’re not keen on the idea – start slowly (how about making pancakes – easy and cheap!). Try it once a week and see how you get on. You may find you have more fun, eat better, save cash and get to split the washing up. Who can argue with that?

Image courtesy of Images of money, licensed under CC BY 2.0

5 Secret Santa Tips OR How to make Secret Santa less awkward

Secet santa in a house share

It’s getting to that time of year again when someone in your house says “oh! We should do Secret Santa!” And before you know it, you’re queuing up in a Pound Land to buy 15 jars of salsa because Fajitas is the only thing you’ve seen your housemate eat.

It doesn’t have to be shit. In fact, it can actually be fun. Well, as fun as buying cheap gifts for people you don’t really know can be. Here are our Top 5 Tips!

1) Use A Name Drawing Website

Very simple, very easy. Getting all the members of your house in the same room can be hard work. Getting them to all sit down for long enough to make the draw is even harder. But if you use a lovely naming drawing website, like the cleverly titled DrawNames or SecretSantaElf, then no one even needs to see each other. Just enter the names and when they accept, everyone is sent their secret Santa.

2) Make A Wish List

You don’t want someone buying you 400 earbuds or a rubber duck because you “spend ages in the bathroom.” It’s annoying, and not funny. Make everyone note down one or two reasonable things they’d like. With this, people have the option to get you something you’d actually like.

3) Set a price limit

There’s nothing more awkward than watching your housemate open the jar of pasta sauce you bought them whilst holding that super nice new jumper they just bought you in your hands. This is easily avoidable. Just set a price limit. £10 is a good limit.

4) Avoid Cheap Jokes

Look, we’re not being boring old farts (although the phrase “old fart” doesn’t really support that case), but – honestly – most people don’t find the joke presents funny. In fact, they’re kind of annoying. “Oh thanks! Haha! You bought me a penis shaped lollypop. This is much better than an actual gift…”

5) Quantity is better than quality

If you’re really, REALLY struggling to think of something decent, seriously don’t worry about it. Just buy loads of useful things for the person, at least that way they’ll be like “oh cool, I’d actually ran out of ketchup – thanks for buying me eight bottles.”

Image courtesy of Alexander Baxevanis, licensed under CC BY 2.0

The post-party clean-up

Post party clean up flatshare

As soon as you move into your own place, the first thing you want to do is throw a party. It’s natural. It’s that inner-teenager in you. All those adolescent dreams of “man, when I’m older and I live on my own, I’m going to throw a huge party every weekend” are finally coming true. Although, admittedly, you probably won’t throw one every weekend (you’re not an animal) and the “house-warming” party you’ve told everyone about will probably get postponed by eight or nine months.

BUT, eventually the time will come when the stars align and the party will happen. It’ll either be underwhelming, with most people leaving by 11, or overwhelming, with no one getting there till eleven. Whatever happens, there will be a mess in the morning. A mess that YOU need to sort out before the uptight guy who lives upstairs gets back from his weekend away in Kent. These are some easy steps to get the house spotless faster than you can say hoover.

Get an “on demand” cleaner

Now, this is only for extreme circumstances. If there’s more vomit than carpet in your lounge and more urine than water in your bathroom then just call in the experts. You’re hungover. You don’t need to mess about. This is an expensive solution to your problem, granted, but money doesn’t matter when you’re hanging. Just type in “Same Day Cleaning Service” into Google and you’ll be awash with options – HouseKeep is a good cleaning option in London. You can just sit there and watch Netflix.

Whoever crashed helps

Whoever passed out on your sofa or on your kitchen floor is your own personal cleaner. You were good enough to house them, now make them work for their bed. Find it too awkward to ask? Simply clean around them and keep asking them to pass you things or move. They’ll soon get the message.

Lure your neurotic housemate(s) in

Everyone has a clean-freak housemate. Can’t think who the one in your house is? It’s probably you. But if it’s NOT you, then lure them into the kitchen and just sit there. Soon they’ll snap and just start scrubbing. If they moan? Offer to make them breakfast/lunch/dinner depending on what time you rolled out of bed.

Blackbag EVERYTHING

After particularly brutal parties, everything in your house will be covered in spilt Sambuca and every service will be home to a can of Fosters. Salvage nothing. Get the blackbag, and scoop it all in. There are still some crackers in this box? Bin it. Half of this gin is still good? Bin it. If you want to get things sorted quickly, just blind binning is all you need. (be warned, environmentalist types may not like this ‘everything get’s binned’ attitude, and may prefer to recycle some stuff…)

Mop mop mop

Whatever happens, just mop. The mopping is the most important part. You can probably leave the rest of the mess till you’re feeling better, but that sticky kitchen floor cannot stay. Mop and you’ll feel better.

Image courtesy of Rin Johnson, licensed under CC BY 2.0

Where the fu** do you put a bike in a house share?

Where to put a bike in flatshare - lego

Cycling is absolutely brilliant. It’s good exercise, environmentally friendly and, obviously, loads of fun. But, when you live in a houseshare and space is an issue, a bike can really get in the way. Pop it in the hallway? Blocking your housemate’s door. In the kitchen? Someone’ll moan about hygiene. The lounge? Now nobody can see the TV. We’re exhausted just thinking about it, and that’s without having to lug a bloody bike around.

So at WDMM we’ve decided to get to the bottom of this age-old debate. We’ll rank the common and often used bike spots in a flatshare out of 10, taking practicality and effectiveness into harsh consideration.

Local garage

This is a great idea. Loads of city’s have garage’s you can rent and drop your bike in. http://www.goodgaragescheme.com is a good place to look for them. That is, however, a tad expensive. And excessive. And if a garage isn’t near your home then it’s a bit pointless. 5/10

Locked up outside

Bikes love being outside. Unless you’re on a velodrome they’re almost exclusively outside. They do, however, rust. And if you live deep in a city, leaving a bike locked up outside is just asking to be stolen. If you’ve got a garden, then this blog provides good tips on how to winterise your bike. But if don’t, maybe it’s a bad idea. 6/10

Your bedroom

Now this keeps YOUR bike out of everyone else’s space. But unless you live on the bottom floor, then you’ll have to lug it up a least one flight of stairs. Plus, bikes get muddy. You don’t want that making tracks all over your room. 2/10

Landing/Hallway

Landings and hallways are often where bikes end up. It’s vaguely out of the way and, in your regular houseshares, people don’t really care about the state of them. It can block doors, however, and trip you or your flatmates up when you come stumbling home drunk. 6/10

A shed

Do you even have a shed? If so, this is the obvious place for your bike to go. It’s literally the perfect place. But sometimes sheds can be rammed right at the back of your garden, down some steps, and then you’ll have to drag it through the house if you don’t have a side gate. Okay. Fine. 7/10

Under the stairs

Most houses have small cupboards or spaces under the stairs. This is an excellent place to keep a bike. Out of the way, hidden. Often houseshares will have dryers or freezers here, but it’s better than keeping it next to your bed. 8/10

Local bike lock ups

You can write to your council and get them to build bike lock ups in your street. You can ask, whether or not they’ll take any notice is a different story. You can also try and find a nearby lockup, but often these need permits 5/10

So, shed and under the stairs look like the perfect places. You’re welcome. If these are unavailable to you, a local garage or on your landing. But regardless of where we advise, realistically you’re just going to leave it wherever is easiest if you, so nevermind.

Image courtesy of Loozrboy, licensed under CC BY 2.0

11 housemate hates and flatmate fails in the kitchen

It seems that living with others is never plain sailing. We’ve collected some of the most common and totally random annoyances, hates, fails and general disasters that seem to happen in flatshare and shared house kitchens. Enjoy!

 

1. Your flatmate not emptying the bins

 

2. Other housemates failing to take recycling seriously

 

3. Your housemate never doing the washing up

 

4. Housemates washing up things you don’t want to know about

 

5. The flatmate stealing your food

 

6. Other housemates inability to cook without making a monumental mess

 

7. Your housemate using the kitchen sink as an aquarium

 

8. The other flatmate using up all the fridge space

 

9. Flatmates somehow setting fire to non combustible things like the toaster

 

10. Ridiculous flatmate drinking challenges ending in disaster

 

11. Housemates flooding the kitchen

How to write the perfect room advert

Flatmate wantedWhenever a housemate says those immortal words – “sorry, but I’m moving out” –your heart is always filled with dread. Sure, there’s the initial “oh no my buddy is leaving!” feeling. But those feelings are quickly masked with thoughts of “Oh God now we need to fill their room!” And, as is often the way with houseshares, the aforementioned housemate probably won’t give you much notice.

So, you need to fill that room, and quick. What’s the most efficient way? Why, to throw it up on a house sharing website of course. All you need to do is post a quick advert for the room and all your potential new housemates will form an orderly queue at your front door.

It’s never that simple. If you don’t advertise your room, and in turn yourself, properly, then you’ll get a load of nutters turning up and asking if it’s “cool” for their mates to stay and querying whether or not you lock your door at night. Follow these 6 very simple steps, and avoid the lunatics.

1. Keep It Brief

Look, we’re all young professionals. Amongst trying to get a partner, work beers, and recovering from work beers, searching for a house is a real pain in the arse. By the time you’ve scrolled through the hundreds of options that Gumtree spits up and managed to actually find a house a 1) fits your budget, and 2) is in an area that appeals, the last thing you want to do is read a 2000 word essay about the local community and the high quality curtains in the lounge. Get to the point.

2. Have an up-to-date photo

People aren’t stupid. When you’re looking for a flat that costs £200 a month in the city centre, no one is expecting a palace. Don’t try and con your potential new homie with a photo that was taken at the last refurb in 1996. Just take a quick snap on your iphone and attach that. We’re not saying “don’t make the room look nice”, but just be honest, otherwise people won’t take it.

3. Be clear

This is by far the simplest tip on this list and easily the one that most people neglect. You’re not writing your GCSE history essay, no introduction in needed. The first line should state EVERYTHING you’re looking for. An example – Looking for a guy – 25 to 30 – £600 a month – Clapham Common. Easy. Simple.

4. Avoid clichés

If you’ve seen one houseshare advert, you’ve seen them all. “We enjoy spending time together but like our own space.” “We don’t have a cleaning rota but all pull our own weight.” “It’s a nice cosy room.” “There’s a great nightlife near by!” No one, NO ONE, believes any of this rubbish. Just be honest and to the point.

5. Don’t include a photo of yourself

Just don’t. It makes you look like a bunch of weirdos. “Hey look at us all having fun hahaha you can have fun with us too PLEASE TAKE OUR ROOM!” Your new flatmate will know what you look like when they meet you. By attaching a photo you’re just going to attract loners in desperate need of friends or perverts.

6. DON’T LIE

Just don’t.

How to write a killer flatmate profile in reply to a wanted ad

Writing killer flatmate profile ad

Getting accepted into a desirable flatshare has now become more competitive than even snagging your dream job. Speaking from experience, it’s not uncommon these days to be up against 100 + fellow flat hunters when it comes to applying to a flatshare ad. This is why it’s critical that you spend time writing a flatmate profile that makes you stand out from the crowd (in a good way), otherwise you might just end up having to settle for living on the street!

We’re here to hold your hand and get you through to the flatmate interview stage. All you need to do is follow our tips below, when writing your reply to a flatshare ad:

not truthful flatmate truth

1. Tell the truth

There’s little point in filling your profile full of porky pies. It might get you through to the interview round, but when it comes to meeting the other flatmates there’s a high chance of you getting found out. Also just remember, you’ll also be lying to yourself so if you do end up moving in – it may turn out to be a flatshare that really isn’t suited to you.

 

research wanted flatmate ads

2. Do your research

The actual ad may give a lot away about existing flatmates, if you’re willing to put a bit of effort in! Look at photos of the flat, are there any posters up for football teams you support or bands you’re into? If so, perhaps consider dropping in some subtle hints. Also, if an ad goes on and on about the need to be clean and tidy, things which you’re not – maybe consider skipping it…

 

funny flatmate ad

3. Be funny

Everyone appreciates a little light heartedness now and again. Don’t be afraid to let your comical side come through a little in your profile, although don’t overdo it – people will rarely want to live with someone who’s a joker 100% of the time. Use comedy to help make your flatmate profile stand out from the rest.

 

sell yourself in your flatmate profile ad

4. Sell yourself

Remember, this is your chance to shine – make sure to include as much about you as you can possible get in (without making it too long, see point 7). What are your hobbies, what kind of films and music are you into, where have you recently been on holiday? Don’t expect to get far by stating the obvious: “I’m a 20 year old male looking for a nice flat”, you’ll come across as bland and boring.

 

specific details flatmate ad

5. Be specific

When listening your hobbies and interests, include a little detail in what you’re saying. For example stating that you like to cook or bake is good (who doesn’t like yummy homemade food?), but is even better if you add you’re a dab hand at lasagne or ice cream.

 

bad flatmate ad spelling

6. Read it through

Nobody likes to read things full of spelling and grammar mistakes, be it a website, newspaper or reply to a flatmate ad! Mistakes in your response may come across as signs that you put in little effort and are therefore lazy (not a good trait to disclose, nobody wants a flatmate that’ll fail to do his / her share of the chores).

 

concise flatmate ad

7. Keep it concise

It’s very likely that the existing flatmates will have a lot of other responses to sift through, before drawing up a shortlist for interviews and flat viewings. If your reply isn’t short and sweet, it’s likely you’ll lose their attention and any chance of moving in.

 

flatmate ad leave them wanting more

8. Leave them wanting more

It goes without saying, by giving everything away straight off may leave nothing more to add in the interview stage. So see if you can keep some things cryptic / mysterious about yourself – that way they’ll be hard pushed not to invite you in to view the flat and meet with the existing flatmates!

Good luck! Stay tuned for our post about how to handle yourself in the actual flat interview stage, coming soon…

Image courtesy of Zgrredek.

Hilarious flatshare passive-aggressive notes

passive aggressive

No matter how often you see your housemates / flatmates / roommates, sometimes it’s impossible to avoid the temptation of leaving fellow renters a note, instead of speaking to them face to face. It’s easy to tell yourself this is the better option to avoid confrontation, but truthfully you know it’s because you’re looking for attention or are scared of getting your head bitten off!

We’ve seen loads of humorous and ‘passive-aggressive’ notes being left around by roommates, these are our favourites (be warned, some are a little rude!):

Image courtesy of Kristina Alexanderson.

Flatmate stereotypes: The ‘awkward couple’

lego flatmate awkward couple

Are you living, or have you ever lived in a houseshare or flatshare? If so, you’re likely to be familiar with certain personality traits of different types of housemates. Couples are increasingly choosing to rent with other flatmates to save money.  This is why we’ve included them as 1 of 5 flatmate stereotypes we’re highlighting over the coming weeks.

The ‘awkward couple’ are in a way doubly risky to live with compared to other flatmate stereotypes, because there’s two of them! Although saying that it’s quite common to get on with one of them, whilst the other is a total nightmare – opposites as they say ‘attract’.

Pro’s

  • Couples are often fairly mature, so this type of renter may well bring stability to the flat
  • They’ll often enjoy cooking together, with leftovers being regularly available – free yummy home cooked food!

Con’s

  • If you’re having troubles with your love life, you’d rather not see them eating each others face off in the kitchen, or hear them having loud sex at night
  • Couples are never perfect so arguments are likely to occur, causing awkwardness if in the communal areas and noise when you don’t want it
  • When it comes to making house decisions between your roommates, they’ll often get their way as they have two votes over everyone elses one
  • As there’s 2 of them, they’re likely to take up the bathroom / washing machine / cooking area more often, causing general despair

Generally speaking a couple is not ideal for a flatshare based on the above, so try to avoid where possible. Couples are best living within their own apartment all together, or with another couple, so are likely to have more things in common.

Are you definitely not the ‘awkward couple’ in your house share? In that case you must be one of these other common housemate stereotypes:

Image courtesy of JonoTakesPhotos.

Flatshare notes: Cleaning the dishes

lego housemate cleaning dishes

Roommates / flatmates / housemates often prefer to leave notes around instead of approaching others face to face, attempting to avoid confrontation.  Unfortunately however, this can have the negative effect, leading to arguments or retaliation between renters instead…

Dishwashers aren’t always present in a flatshare / house share, hence why cleaning of the dishes is a common flatmate problem, leading to comical and sometimes angry note writing:

Image courtesy of Dave Ware.

Flatmate stereotypes: The ‘lazy freeloader’

lego flatmate lazy freeloader

Are you an experienced flatsharer? Chances are that you’ve lived with loads of different people over the years. Although everyone is unique, they usually fall into a specific housemate types. Below is a rundown of the traits that make up the ‘lazy freeloader’ type, 1 of 5 typical flatmate characters we’ve written about, which you’ll likely meet while living in shared accommodation.

The ‘lazy freeloader’ is the roommate that goes through life attempting to make as little effort as possible, whilst spending as little money as they can. You’ll most likely come across them lazing on the couch in the lounge, watching trash TV. Rarely, if ever will you see this type of renter doing anything active or that costs money – making a sandwich or visiting the pound shop is about as adventurous as they’ll get.

Pro’s

  • Their chilled out nature means they’ll create a sense of calmness and tranquility in any house share or flat share, no matter how manic it usually is
  • As debating and arguing both take up considerable energy, they’ll never really care about anything (unless it costs them money), making them a very easy housemate to live with
  • Feeling lonely, in need of some easy going conversation? They’ll usually be hanging around the living room open for small talk

Con’s

  • Their thrifty nature means every housemate will be at risk from food going missing or being ‘borrowed’ (usually permanently and not replaced)
  • What they perceive to be their “chilled out nature” is often seen as laziness by everyone else. This means you’ve got more chance of a mouse washing the dishes, than getting them to do any chores
  • Chances of them paying bills on time = 0 / squat / bumpkins / zilch / nadda / do pigs fly?

Living with a ‘lazy freeloader’ can be frustrating at times, but their calm and chilled out nature will often be welcome when you need a break from non-stop work and partying. Lock up / hide your food though, and where possible get bill money from them up-front!

Don’t think these characteristics match your personality? In that case, one of these other four flatmate stereotypes must fit you well:

Image courtesy of TooMuchDew.

Choosing a new flatmate: Lifestyle and personality considerations

lego flatmate clean personality and lifestyle

In a previous post we covered the important points to consider when choosing a new flatmate, in terms of age, gender what you’re both looking for in a houseshare. It’s also important and probably a given that you’re going to want to have common interests and compatible personalities with your future housemate too.

So make sure to think about the following points during your decision making, to ensure you make the right choice when choosing your new housemate:

Cleanliness

Cleaning is one of the most common causes of house share arguments, so a prospective flatmates view on cleaning and general tidiness is definitely worth considering. It’s a good sign if you’re both in agreement, whether the dishes can be done tomorrow, or that mess must always be dealt with rather than left until later.

Smokers

Whether or not they’re a smoker isn’t a deal breaker, but it’s definitely worth taking into account. If they do like the odd puff, chances are they’ll bring with them the smell of tobacco and may leave the doors / windows open if smoking isn’t allowed inside (almost a definite these days according to landlord rules).

Pets

Again this is usually a rule set initially by your landlord, so make sure you take this into account first! If pets are allowed, then you and your flatmates can decide what kind of animals you’re cool with. Is a pet python ok, or are there any known allergies amongst existing housemates?

Occupation

A person’s occupation may tell you a lot about them, and so should be discussed before choosing your new housemate / roommate, e.g. an oil engineer may not get on with environmentalists. Certain occupations can also be problematic in terms of daily routines e.g. v.early rising / v.late nights introducing noise issues. Also don’t forget that a good job means there wont be any trouble with getting bills on time.  Apparently teachers make  great flatmates

Hobbies

If you’re hoping a new housemate will provide new socialising opportunities (you’re not just looking to fill a room) then their hobbies and other interest could help you with your choice. Similar interests that compliment yours are a bonus e.g. supporting the same football team, or hobbies with benefits e.g. baking!

Attractiveness

Living with somebody you find attractive sounds like a bonus, but this could introduce complications and is usually a bad idea. Think about the consequences of getting together with a housemate, then splitting up and still having to live with them. As they say: ‘don’t sh** on your own doorstep’! So best not even let the temptation arise in the first place… Ask em’ for a drink maybe ;-) but not to move in.

Image courtesy of Pascal.

Funny flatmate kitchen notes

lego housemate kitchen notes

The act of writing and leaving notes is common within a flatshare.  Although these may be to aid communications when you haven’t seen other flatmates or roommates in a while (differing schedules), more often than not, these are passive-aggressive in nature, along the lines of “Stop using my milk!”.

Check out these hilarious (and a little rude) house share notes we’ve seen left by housemate renters around the kitchen:

Image courtesy of Kenny Louie.

Flatmate stereotypes: The ‘antisocial hermit’

lego flatmate anti social hermit

Ever lived in a house or flatshare? You’re most likely familiar with a variety of typical roommate types. We’ve mashed together the traits that make up the ‘antisocial hermit’ type below, 1 of 5 common flatmate stereotypes we’re covering in the next few weeks.

The ‘antisocial hermit’ is the social recluse of the flat, the one who you’re least likely to see going about. Instead this type of renter will likely be hiding in their room doing who knows what, on their own. No matter how friendly you are, inviting them to house parties or pub outings – they’ll always find an excuse not to socialise with everyone else.

Pro’s

  • They’ll never make any noise or cause any agro, instead keeping themselves to themselves
  • Having them in the house is similar to having a ghost as a housemate, they’ll pay their share of the bills but it’ll be like they’re not even there
  • Looking for easy small talk with your roommates? Discussing the mystery of what the ‘anti-social hermit’ gets up to in their bedroom makes for interesting conversation

Con’s

  • If you want to live in a social share house, they’re letting you down big time by always hiding away like Golem from Lord of the Rings
  • They won’t want to contribute to communal shopping, instead choosing to have their own personal supply of loo roll etc

If you live in a small flatshare with only 2 or 3 bedrooms, this is not the flatmate you want. But in a larger house of 4 + rooms, they may well be appreciated – by contributing to the bills whilst keeping the house from feeling like chaotic student halls.

If you aren’t the anti-social hermit housemate in your flatshare, perhaps you’re one of these other classic flatmate stereotypes:

  • The ‘uptight parent’ flatmate stereotype
  • The ‘popular party animal‘ flatmate stereotype
  • The ‘awkward couple‘ flatmate stereotype (coming soon)
  • The ‘lazy freeloader‘ flatmate stereotype
  • Image courtesy of Jose Betancur.

    Epic roommate movies and flatshare films

    lego roommate movies cinema

    Roommates and housemates sharing a room, house, apartment or flat is a brilliant plot or sub-plot for a movie. Check out these famous (and not so famous) films that involve shared living:

    Stepbrothers

    One of Will Ferrell’s best movies. Two middle aged, socially awkward ‘losers’ who still live at home, must become roommates when their parents get married. A great film to watch with your housemates on a hungover Sunday…

    Shallow Grave

    A Danny Boyle film starring Ewan McGregor that is sadly unknown by many outside of the UK. Three friends must choose a new flatmate to move in. Things start to go a little out of control when some startling surprises are uncovered. A fantastic black comedy that made the way for the infamous ‘Trainspotting’…

    The Night We Never Met

    A humorous movie that tells the tale of disgusting roommates who don’t get along, the search for love and affairs. Three individuals agree to a ‘time sharing partnership’, allowing them each to use 1 apartment on preset days for their own ends… Showing it’s age but still a great watch.

    Notting Hill

    An absolute classic from the late 90’s, starring many a girls crush: Hugh Grant. A couple of chance encounters between a bookshop owner (who’s forced to live with an annoying flatmate) and an international superstar, leads to a flowering (but challenging) relationship. A perfect choice for a girls night in.

    Shaun of the Dead

    An awesome british comedy horror, starring Simon Pegg. Three housemates must survive a zombie outbreak in London, providing a perfect opportunity for Shaun (the lead character) to prove himself to his mates and ex girlfriend.

    Image courtesy of Hamid.

    Flatmate stereotypes: The ‘popular party animal’

    lego flatmate party animal

    If you’ve ever lived in a flat share or house share, you’ll most likely recognise a bunch of common housemate personalities. Here’s an outline of the ‘popular party animal’ type, 1 of 5 flatmate stereotypes we’re writing about in the coming weeks.

    The ‘popular party animal’ is the young’un roommate of the house, the one who acts like a big kid who’s eaten too much birthday cake. Very rarely if ever will you see them on their own, instead they’ll be surrounded by a bunch of mates, either on the way to or from a social event. Sometimes you’ll wonder how they’re so popular, and never seem to stop – are they an undercover celebrity on coke?

    Pro’s

    • If you’re terrified that it’s Friday afternoon and you still don’t have any social plans for the weekend – don’t fret, this type of renter will sort you out with a party invite
    • Lacking friends after moving to a new city? No worries, they’ll get you introduced to loads of new people in a flash
    • They alone will have the contacts to turn any house party into the social event of the year

    Con’s

    • Front door slamming at 5am in the morning, followed by a loud rauckus in the lounge? They never stop, and keeping noise down will be near impossible
    • Even when they do crash for a few hours, their friends won’t be far away, often choosing to sleep in your living room, meaning you or other housemates can’t relax on the couch until they’re gone
    • Constantly having randoms round means extra mess and food going missing

    Despite their non-stop socialising and random buddies causing many restless nights, it’s hard pushed not to appreciate their out-going nature when in need of some great banter.

    Not the ‘popular party animal‘ housemate in your flatshare? Maybe you’re one of these other classic housemate stereotypes:

    Image courtesy of Rooners Toy Photography.

    Choosing a new housemate: Who do you want to live with?

    lego choosing housemate gender age

    Choosing a new housemate is understandably an important issue. After all all you’re inviting them into your home, trusting them not to break or steal any of your stuff. You’ll want to make sure you make the right choice, based on what you and the rest of your flatmates are looking for:

    Friends vs strangers

    Initially it can seem like a dream come true: living with your best mates / favourite work colleagues. But think about what the transition from friends to housemates means. Just because grabbing a coffee or beer with them is always a laugh, doesn’t mean you’ll necessarily get on living together as flatmates 24/7.

    Inviting random strangers to move in may seem daunting, but if you make the right choice you’ll have the opportunity to make new friend groups.  A compromise could be friends of friends – this way you’re not risking existing friendships, but they’ve been vetted already by people you trust.

    Age

    Are you looking for somebody of a similar age, younger (to add more energy to the houseshare) or older (to bring more responsibility to the house dynamics)? Often having a mix can work well, although too large an age gap may sometimes lead to differences.

    Younger people are usually more forgiving over late night noise and mess compared with older housemates who are often (but not always) more mature.

    Gender

    Do you want to keep your flatshare an all lads / all girls affair, or live with guys and girls to mix things up? From our experience a balanced house is best, so sticking to an equal number of male and female flatmates / roommates is definitely worth considering. This way you’re more likely to avoid catty arguments or too much male machoness from taking over.

    Girls will usually make the flat feel more homely, whilst guys will be there to help with heavy lifting / DIY tasks, this may sound a bit sexist, but it’s often very true.  This also means you’ll be able to avoid specifying a gender in your flat advert, which could be illegal!

    What are you / they looking for?

    Make sure you’re on the same page when it comes to the type of flatmate you’re looking for / flat they’re searching for. For example: are you / they looking for opportunities to socialise, e.g. a pint at the local pub from time to time, or are you / they simply wanting to keep themselves to themselves, contributing to bills and rent only.

    Image courtesy of Neil Crosby.

    Flatmate stereotypes: The ‘uptight parent’

    uptight parent flatmate lego man cleaning

    If you’ve ever been lucky enough to live in a house share or flat share, you’ll probably recognise a common pattern of housemate types. Below is a summary of the uptight parent type, 1 of 5 flatmate stereotypes we’ll be outlining in the coming weeks:

    The ‘uptight parent’ housemate is the grown-up of the flat, the one who is most mature (mentally). They’re hardly ever wrong when it comes to decision making or arguments (sometimes annoyingly so). Often you’ll ask yourself if they’re your mum or dad in disguise, come to keep tabs on you…

    Pro’s

    • This type of roommate is great for advice and a shoulder to cry on, they always seem to know what the best thing to do is
    • They’ll usually take responsibility for the house share chores that nobody else wants to do, e.g. emptying the bin
    • If you’re ever short of food, their well stocked cupboard (just like your parents) will provide you with a feast in your time of need

    Con’s

    • Knowing they’re rarely wrong will give them a patronising, even arrogant persona making them less enjoyable to hang out with compared to other housemates
    • Just like your parents, this type of flatmate will frequently nag, moan and leave sticky notes around e.g. “don’t slam the door”
    • Tidiness and cleanliness is extremely important to them, making it difficult to ever relax unless the flat is immaculate

    Despite the God complex this type of housemate will often demonstrate, their worldly wisdom makes them great to have as part of a flat, if even just to assist in the pub quiz from time to time!

    Not the uptight parent in your flatshare? Maybe one of these other classic flatmate stereotypes describes you better:

    Image courtesy of Stavos.

    Housemate bathroom notes

    Lego bathroom housemate on toilet

    It’s quite common in a house share not to see other housemates for days or often weeks at a time, due to differing schedules, holidays or intentional avoidance.

    This often leads to the act of note writing: leaving messages, instructions, advice or abuse for other flatmates to read.

    Below are a few bathroom notes that made us chuckle:

    Header image courtesy of Loozrboy.

    Top 10 tips to keeping your flatshare warm this winter

    flat share heating tips lego

    “Who left the !#*@ing heating on”?

    Heating is one of the most common topics of house and flat share feuds, especially in the colder months of winter. Forget trying to keep all your flatmates happy, It’s difficult enough getting heating timings to meet a single person’s daily routine, without letting your heating bills rocket out of control.

    Below are our top 10 tips to harmonious social living, in the darkest, coldest months of winter:

    1. Sort out your heating gadgets

    Get your landlord to sort you out a thermostat and timer, these will help you regulate your heating rather than needing to have it either on or off.

    2. Bleed your radiators

    Is your radiator warm at the bottom but cold at the top? You need to bleed your radiators, getting rid of trapped air to improve efficiency and reduce bills.

    3. Discover your lowest ambient temperature

    Set your thermostat on a low setting such as 18 degrees, then each day turn it up until all flatmates are happy and warm.

    4. Create an all encompassing heating programme

    Gather all your housemates routine times e.g. getting up, get home and go to bed, then set the heating to coincide with these.

    5. Custom radiator thermostat settings for different rooms

    It’s likely that if you cook with gas the kitchen will likely get hot even without the radiator cranked right up, so turn that radiator down.

    6. Monitor your downstairs neighbours heating

    If you’re lucky enough to have a downstairs neighbour their heating alone may be enough to heat your house share at times!

    7. Put more clothes on

    If you’re the only housemate in, be a team player and put another jumper on rather than heating the whole house, thus maxing the bills for everyone else.

    8. Get your compass out

    South facing rooms with windows will warm up a lot more (when the sun is out) compared to North facing rooms, so adjust your radiators accordingly.

    9. Open those curtains

    If the sun is out and you have decent size (ideally double glazed windows, open those curtains to let the sunshine naturally heat up the room!

    10. Inspect your insulation

    Without decent insulation you’ll find it hard to keep your house or flat warm, speak to your landlord and have a look in your loft to see if you have any or if it needs replacing.

    (Image courtesy of Santiago S.V.)

    Celeb flatmates: Famous celebrities who used to live together

    famous celebrity flatmates legoIt may seem strange to think that many A-list Hollywood celebrities had humble beginnings, living together as roommates / flatmates in shared accommodation. In fact it was often these shared living experiences that led to their fame and fortune…

    Matt Damon and Ben Affleck

    Matt and Ben were good friends at school, living fairly close to one another in Boston. After school in the 90’s they moved into a house together, but they weren’t your typical housemate bums… Instead they got working on a movie script for a well known film: “Good Will Hunting”. The rest as they say, is history…

    Ewan McGregor and Jude Law

    Probably many a girls dream combo, Ewan and Jude Law were once offered $30 by a director to get drunk, to see how they got on together. All that free booze ($30 was a lot in the 90’s) seemed to work a treat, as they soon moved in together!

    The Spice Girls

    Believe it or not, but many of the Spice Girls (remember them?) used to live together before hitting the big time. When Touch (their original group name) were just starting out in Berkshire – Mel B and Mel C shared a room, Victoria shared with Michelle (who was later replaced by Emma) and Geri was the only one with her own room (no surprise there).

    (Image courtesy of Alex Eylar)

    Top 10 Roommate Christmas Holiday Arguments in House Shares and Tips to Avoid

    esolving christmas house share roommate arguments legoChristmas is supposed to be the season of goodwill to all men (and women). Tragically however, with the extra time spent together indoors (often as days are shorter / Christmas parties are organised) arguments occur. See below for a run down of the most common Christmas holiday arguments we’ve experienced along with some simple suggestions to avoid them…

    1. Buying a rubbish secret santa gift and making it obvious it was you

    For some, the idea of Secret Santa brings excitement, but for others (more frequently guys as opposed to girls) it brings thoughts of dread: “another chore” when our calendars are already jam packed. Despite the tempting option of grabbing a box of Celebrations on the way home at the corner-shop, try to put at least a little effort in, so not to disappoint those that are looking forward to their surprise gift.

    Put together a quick housemate profile in your head, to help you work out the most suitable gift:

    • Gender
    • Age
    • Hobbies
    • Pet hates

    Based on this, you’ll now be able to find something a little more personal in the shops. Using the information above, these website have a present finder that should help you:

    If all this fails and your gift still disappoints, fear not – it’s SECRET Santa after all! Keep cool and don’t give it away by following the tips below to avoid being accused:

    • Share sympathy “Oh that’s a bit rubbish”, but don’t overdo it
    • Make eye contact but again avoid exaggerated hypnotic stares
    • Suggest ways the gift is good / useful “oh you could use it for…”

    2. Not paying for your share of the Christmas dinner bill

    This is an easy one to do, what with all the other Christmas stuff you’ve got to think about! Fortunately it’s easy to get out of:

    • A simple apology along with swift payment thereafter should keep your flatmates happy
    • If your roommates like to hold a grudge, try rounding up the bill total to the nearest £5 / £10
    • If they still seem a little annoyed, maybe shout them a beer or glass of wine too

    3. Getting with another housemate at the Christmas party

    If you’re lucky enough to live in a house share with attractive housemates of the opposite sex, all the Christmas parties and free flowing booze can often introduce temptation: a quick snog or more… This is a classic conundrum that often seems like a great idea at the time, but usually becomes a massive headache the next morning (even worse than the one brought on from your hangover).

    Obvious methods of avoiding this are to stay t-total (boring) and just being more strict on yourself (easier said than done).  If it’s already too late follow the steps below for damage control:

    • Ask yourself, do I want this to be more than a one off thing?
    • Ask the housemate in question: do you want this to be a one off or more?
    • If others already know about it, be honest, laugh it off, letting it get to you will only drive them on

    4. Forgetting a vegetarian / vegan Christmas dinner option

    Is one of your flatmates a Vegetarian or a Vegan? If so, this can be a nightmare. It may seem easy to just make them eat more Brussels sprouts, but this is likely to get their backs up. Consider these points to keep everyone happy, including the hipster hippies in your flat:

    • Replace the meat with a suitable replacement: goats cheese tart, or a nut roast perhaps
    • Roast potatoes are often cooked in Goose fat, so replace this with olive / vegetable oil. 
    • Gravy is usually made from chicken / beef stock, so make sure you use vegetable stock

    5. Eating the last mince pie / nice tasting chocolate

    So you’re sitting on the couch, watching all the annual repeats of the usual Christmas movies – Die Hard, Home Alone etc. It’s all too common for this to go hand in hand with a subconscious feasting of the communal chocolates / mince pies, before realising you’ve finished them all! Aw shucks, it wasn’t intentional, but your roommates are unlikely to believe this. Some solutions to this predicament:

    • Make sure to have a back up supply hidden in your room to replace what you’ve eaten
    • Keep your head down, perhaps the other roomies won’t realise you ate them all
    • Nip down to the shops and grab some more before anyone notices

    6. Letting it slip that “Santa isn’t real’ to the younger housemates

    This one isn’t likely to ever occur, unless your housemates are either worryingly young or have have had an extremely sheltered upbringing. For whatever reason if you put your foot in it, just back track and come out with one of these little gems:

    • Say that you mean Santa isn’t real (that’s the media’s version) but St Nicholas is totally real
    • Start crying and explain that he is real, you’re just pissed off from receiving nothing the previous year after being a bad boy / girl
    • State that you’re just joking, then quickly go away and write up a fake note to show as proof that you still believe in him

    7. Not letting other housemates have a say on the Christmas music

    It’s nearly Christmas so you’d think it makes sense to slap on some Christmas tunes, however this isn’t always the case… By December time people are often sick of the sound of Cliff Richard banging on about mistletoe and wine, thanks to the premature playing of these festive classics by work colleagues, pubs and department stores.

    Therefore remember it won’t necessarily be a unanimous decision in favour of Christmas music, so instead mix things up a bit with more universal music. If you’re looking for some alternative Christmas themed tunes, check out James Brown’s “Funky Christmas” album and Bob Dylan’s “Christmas in the heart” album.

    8. Knocking down the Christmas tree in a drunken stupor

    After hours of intense effort (usually by the girls) to spruce up the house / flat / apartment in time for Christmas, it’s not too difficult to understand how coming home late from a work party then falling into the Christmas tree can cause a few housemate tifs.

    To avoid, try to stay clear of these delicate decorations when drunk and also make sure to place these well out of the way e.g. in corners of the room.

    9. Causing the flat bills to rocket by leaving the heating on

    Bills are often the number one topic of arguments within a shared living environment, most notably the larger ones for gas and/or electricity. Avoid these becoming an issue during the cold season (if you’re in the northern hemisphere) by keeping the heating and hot water on an agreed time schedule. DO NOT be tempted to turn on at other times unless consent is given by the majority of others, in case you forget, leave it on and somebody notices…

    10. Generally not being full of festive cheer

    With the shorter, colder days it’s fairly common for people to suffer from the winter blues. Symptoms include general depression, doom and gloom chat and inability to smile. Try to look out for these amongst your housemates and when diagnosed give them a tickle / hug / glass of wine / pep talk to cheer them up.

    So there you have it, a rundown of the likely arguments you’ll come across in your house / flat / apartment this year. Hope you manage to avoid / resolve them – drop a comment below if you’ve come across any others or have any suggested solutions!

    (Image courtesy of Brian Neudorff)

    Flatmate / Roommate / Housemate – What’s the Difference?

    Houseshare flatmate roommate definition lego dictionaryWhilst planning this blog, we came across a variety of different terminology to define people living within shared accommodation. Arrgghh, so which do we use in our blog posts to engage with the most people!?

    First we thought it was a fashion thing, and your chosen term defined just how ‘hip’ you are. After checking dictionary definitions and researching further, we’ve now finally come to realise it’s a mixture between cultural / regional differences and the actual setup of the shared accommodation in question.

    Check out our findings below, to get your head round it all:

    Flatmates living in a flatshare

    Use of the term ‘flat’ is predominantly a British thing, as a flat in American English is in fact an ‘apartment’. And before you ask, the terms ‘apprtmentmate’ or ‘apartment share’ are not in the USA vocabulary (although apparently ‘suitemate’ is sometimes used – a bit snobby if you ask me)!

    Roommates or roomies

    In America, whether a bedroom is shared or simply a residence with separate rooms – the people you share with are referred to as your roommates. The term ‘roomies’ is popular amongst the younger generation and originates from student dorms (student halls for us Brits). In the UK, the term roommate would normally be associated with those you share a bedroom with.

    Housemates living in a house share / share house

    The term ‘housemate’ is used throughout the world to describe the people you share residence with. Share housing is Australian in origin, whereas ‘house share’ is a widely used term for shared accommodation used throughout America, Canada, Australia and Europe.

    So, in summary it seems we’re best to use ‘housemates’ and ’house share’, or perhaps a mixture of all the above in our blog writing…

    (Image courtesy of Kyle Tsui)

    5 Awesome Reasons to Live in a Flatshare

    benefits of house share living with roommates and flatmates legoLiving within shared accommodation could certainly be described as a roller coaster ride. Fair enough there are plenty of nightmare scenarios, but there are also plenty of upsides! Check out some of the benefits below:

    1. Cheaper living costs

    First is the obvious one – living with others is certainly a hell of a lot cheaper. Not only is rent split multiple ways, but so are all the other bills: gas, electricity, council tax, water, (tv license if in the UK), broadband and even subscription tv if you fancy it. Stuck trying to find the cheapest deal for your bills? Easily compare the major suppliers to find the best deals, using the links below:

    2. Making new friends

    Living with others is almost guaranteed to improve your social life. Not only will you be able to hang out with those you live with, but their mates and maybe even family will likely make appearances. This means far more social gatherings, party invites and opportunities to add another notch on your bed post… In case your housemates are social fails, check out Meet Up – a website to help you find and meet up with people nearby who share your interests.

    3. Fewer lonely times

    If you’ve had a crap day at work and you need a bit of cheering up, gone is the need to try and arrange a few drinks with a mate last minute. Instead you can simply head home, knowing the chances are a flatmate or two may well be about to provide you with a shoulder to cry on. Failing that, perhaps getting yourself a voodoo doll of your boss to stick pins in is a good alternative.

    4. Opportunities to borrow stuff

    Cooking up a storm in the kitchen only to realise you’re missing one vital ingredient? If you live with others, they might have it, removing the need for a less tasty meal / frantic run down to the supermarket. But borrowing can go even further – Thinking of going camping but don’t have a tent? Heading out and your straighteners have packed in? Think of all the opportunities you’ll get to share your stuff with others in return for borrowing theirs – saving even more money! If you lend a housemate something of value, take a photo of them with it so you don’t forget to retrieve it later on. Clever idea huh!? Check out some more awesome life hacks here.

    5. Learning new things

    Along with meeting new people, you’ll likely find yourself learning loads of new things too (useful and probably not so useful). From simple facts in passing (a goldfish’s attention span is 1 second longer than a human) to the tastiest recipes on earth (easy chocolate cake) or even full on hobbies and sports (extreme ironing). Very useful for later life e.g. the pub quiz or business networking situations…

    (Image courtesy of Kate Mccarthy)