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ResLife’s top tips for a happy flat

By HWResLife 20 Jan 2022

Living in a shared flat can be one of the best periods of your life so far. It often comes with greater freedoms, a chance to make life-long friends, great memories and new experiences.

However, shared living is not without its challenges. Every individual has their own expectations of how their ideal shared flat should be. Some prefer to party, while others value a quieter lifestyle. Cooking and eating patterns may differ. Different cleaning standards are often a source of tension.

Heriot-Watt campus is proud to welcome many international students, and expectations around shared living can differ too depending on cultural differences.

Your flat is your home – it is a space in which you should feel comfortable, at ease and relaxed. If something is causing tension, it is best to address it quickly.

So, here are our Top Tips for a Happy flat:

  • Manage your expectations.
    Expecting to be best friends with everyone within the first week is unrealistic. Relationships take time to evolve and take effort. Don’t be disheartened if your first few weeks are difficult - this is common as you settle in. 
  • Introduce yourself.
    It can be daunting first to meet your flatmates. Try not to hide away – introduce yourself! If you notice a flatmate is anxious or shy, make them feel welcome and invite them for a hot drink or cake.
  • Communication.
    This is key!! Be aware that your own idea of what is acceptable in a shared space is likely different to your flatmates. The only way to know whether leaving the dishes until the morning is okay with everyone is to talk about it! This is just one example, but be sure to discuss anything that may affect the others in your flat. We recommend talking to your flatmates directly rather than leaving notes, which can often be misinterpreted.
  • Respect.
    You will be living among different personality types who may come from a different culture to your own. Showing respect for your flatmates will go a long way in fostering new friendships. A willingness to learn and understand cultural differences will mitigate any misunderstandings and will enrich your experience in halls.
  • Eat together.
    Making time to eat together regularly can improve flatmate dynamics and provide an opportunity for any sources of tension to be discussed informally. Teaching each other recipes can also be great to improve relationships and enhance your time staying on campus.
  • Be an ally to Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) flatmates.
    Students in the BAME continue to face racism and heal from the effects it has had on their lives. Educate yourself on white privilege and bias. Be self-aware and actively show your support by listening and learning from your BAME flatmates. Should they experience racism on campus, your support will be of huge impact.


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