Making your student house a home

Tips for creating a positive home

Image by: Herbert Wang
There are things you can do to adjust to living on your own.

The anticipated, but dreaded, day has arrived. You’re waking up at the crack of crazy to avoid Toronto traffic, your parents are having an existential crisis in the car, and you’re “helping” them lift heavy furniture up the stairs by carrying one blanket while your dad carries an entire couch. 

You’ve waited an eternity for this moment. Your whole childhood, you’ve dreamt of getting the freedom to live your life without your parents providing their two cents on everything you do. No more rules, no more nagging to eat your vegetables, no more parents turning your Wi-Fi off at 10 p.m. every single night.

Yet, an hour later, once reality sets in, you’re lying on the floor, wondering what on Earth you got yourself into. You can’t trick your siblings into doing your chores anymore, you have to kill millipedes all by yourself, and you’re going ballistic.

Despite the quarter-life crisis everyone experiences after moving in, the experience is a vital one.

With time, there are things you can do to make the transition as seamless as possible, prevent killing your roommates, and ensure your house does not grow a weird species of mould.

Here’s my best advice for making a house a home.

To make the transition between your hometown and the student ghetto easier, be sure to bring some of your home with you. Whether this is a sentimental item, family staple recipe, or pictures of old friends, it’s an amazing way to start your new chapter while reminding yourself of all the people who helped you get to this point.

Make plans with friends and family back home for when you come to visit. This will help ease homesickness by giving you something to look forward to. Don’t dwell too much on the past, though; make sure you are making new memories.

Once you move in, figure out some easy meals. I’m lucky enough to have a mother who taught me to cook as a young child, but for those who didn’t, I know how daunting cooking can be. I have a friend who lived on bread the first week she moved in because she never learned how to cook.

Don’t let that be you. Ask your family members for their favourite recipes, follow food pages on Instagram, and look some up online if you’re unsure. Roommates can be scary water to navigate, especially if you’ve heard horror stories. However, there are ways to avoid the types of situations which seem to happen all so often.

It’s important you get to know your roommates’ preferences and personalities right from the start. This helps everyone learn what compromises they’re going to have to make to ensure everyone gets along and is comfortable.

You can do this through playing games like “Girls Night Out,” or simply by sitting down and having a conversation about what everyone’s expectations are for the house. Discuss expectations and boundaries early on—for quiet hours, having guests over, contributing to the cost of items, sharing spaces, cleaning, etc. If nobody is aware of the things that bother each other, chaos ensues—chaos that could have been avoided had everyone communicated their needs.

If a problem does arise, address it respectfully; do not immediately lash out. Most issues can be resolved with a gentle reminder or short conversation that lets the other person know their behaviour doesn’t line up with previously established boundaries.

With the stresses of school, making new friends, and getting enough sleep, having conversations are imperative to make sure you’re all on the same page. Otherwise, you could face mental health struggles and exhaustion, and feel overall frustration with your housemates.

Finally, establish your own traditions! Have baking nights, movie marathons, or nights out at the bar as ways to bond with each other and strengthen your relationships. University is a much better experience when you enjoy the people you are living with!

It’s incredibly important you make the house a positive environment not only for yourself but for your housemates. You all made a big step, and an even larger commitment to live on your own and with each other. The last thing you want is for your schoolwork to be impeded by avoidable personal and mental struggles.

With these tips, hopefully your only struggle this year will be working up the courage to kill the house centipedes.


friends, roommates, Student Housing

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