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How to Live in a Commune

by Daniel Basel

Thinking of moving out of home? Here’s what you need to know about life in a student commune, and how it compares to other student housing options.

All enrolled students, along with their parents, will understand the struggle of scrambling to find a place to live before the academic year commences. Financially viable, beneficial to studies and proximity to campus are all boxes that need to be ticked off. Finding suitable accommodation with the dozens of options available can be quite daunting. These options range from university residences to private garden cottages or studio apartments. However, another option is moving into a student commune. This can often fulfill the requirements of both parent and child, as it did with me. 

What is a commune?

A commune is essentially a house where students each rent a bedroom and share the kitchen, living spaces, bathrooms etc. The number of rooms can be anything from 3 and up, so if you aren’t particularly social at the start of the year, you certainly will be by the end. This shared set-up means that communes tend to be cheaper than flats or apartments that are within a similar distance from campus. While they are generally a little bit more expensive than university residences, the rooms are larger and the living conditions make late night studying easier due to the lack of partying that is known to occur at most residences.

A few tips for commune living:

When living in a commune, you wake up and go to sleep seeing the same people every single day. Eventually, disagreements do arise. This is why setting and respecting boundaries is so important. Without them, food is, “borrowed,” dishes are broken and sleep is interrupted.

  • Beware of moving in with friends. Make sure you really know what your friends would be like to live with before blindly moving in with them. Many friendships have been ruined after moving in together.
  • Set some basic ground rules from the start. This can often be tricky to do without causing tension. Try getting everybody together at the start of the year to lay down a couple of basic rules to ensure that all of you get the most out of your time at the commune. Rules like: don’t let the dishes pile up and try keep noise levels down after 9pm, can really contribute towards a productive and successful year.   
  • Try and organize shared expenses between your house mates. Things like dishwashing liquid, rubbish bags and cloths are things that everyone in the house will share. Organize a set amount of money that everyone contributes monthly towards these expenses.
  • Look online for a few quick, healthy and cheap meals to make. The temptation to live off two-minute noodles and tuna is common amongst most students, however there are plenty of cheap and healthy alternatives. Making healthy meals helps with both studies and the dreaded, “first year spread.” Get some ideas here.
  • Try and find a commune where the existing students study similar courses. As a prospective engineer, living with students studying math-based degrees is infinitely helpful. Not only are they fairly like-minded, they can also provide academic support when needed. Ask your rental agency if they have any communes with residents studying something similar to you.

Deciding where to live is a big decision and crucial to a successful year. Choosing the right student commune can be ideal for a student looking to focus on academics and who is on a budget. Consider all your options and try not to overlook the prospect of commune living. In my experience, it is a fantastic experience where good friends have been made and studies have gone well. Happy house hunting!

EduConnect 2Cents

Bring a kettle with you to your room. There is nothing worse than a queue of 6 people in the kitchen waiting to make coffee before that 07:30am lecture. Many students can only function after their first cup of coffee. Avoid such hassles by keeping a kettle and coffee in your room.

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