What are the pros and cons of house sharing? House sharing is a popular living method for students to save money on rent. However, due to expensive house prices, many people also consider staying in a house share post-graduation or without having gone to university.
And there is more to house sharing than meets the eye. After having lived in seven different house shares in the UK, with plenty of ups and downs, I want to share what I have learned.
The Pros and Cons of House Sharing
House sharing has several pros and cons to it. It is a great way to save money and get to know new people. But on the other hand, you also have all the disadvantages of sharing a space.
8 Pros of Living in a House Share
1. Saving Money on Rent and Bills
One of the most important pros and cons of house sharing is the ability to save money. For many people, this is the key reason for house sharing. Instead of paying rent and bills for the whole flat or house yourself, you can share it with your housemates.
Generally, this works out cheaper than living alone because you are only paying the full rent for your room and other private spaces. Rent for shared spaces is split evenly between all occupants. This also reduces the bills you pay because you only need to use electricity in and heat one living room, etc.
Equally, you do not have to worry about saving for a deposit, mortgages, and other legal arrangements compared to buying.
2. Bills May Be Included in the Rent
If you are living in a house share, you are more likely to have your bills included in your rent compared to when you live alone. Landlords of house shares often include bills in the rent to avoid housemates arguing over it.
As a consequence, this also reduces the hassle for renters and is one of the pros and cons of house sharing. Rather than worrying about getting each bill paid on time, finding the best provider, and finding out how these things work in the UK (if you are from abroad), you conveniently pay for everything in one go.
3. Finding Friends Easily
If you are moving into a house share, you may easily make a bunch of new friends all at once without effort. This is because you are likely to meet your housemates in shared spaces and start a conversation with them.
Of course, not everyone can be friends with everyone. It is unlikely that everyone will become your best friend, but chances are you find one or two people you like. You may even find a romantic partner this way (although I have always developed a dislike towards my male housemates…).
Either way, your chances of finding new friends are increased. This is great especially when you are new in the country, or even just the city. There will likely be people in your house share who can help you settle in or even show you around.
4. Not Living Alone
When you are living in a house share, you are almost never alone. Depending on how many housemates you live with, it may be rare to find the house empty. This is one of the pros and cons of house sharing that comes with multiple advantages:
- If you are scared of being alone, you almost never have to worry.
- There is almost always someone there to help you in case of an emergency.
- When you need to talk to someone, you are likely to find a housemate available.
- Your housemates can take your deliveries when you are out (do not underestimate the value of this benefit!)
5. No Need to Buy Furniture
When you are moving into your own place, you are more likely to have to buy furniture yourself. The amount you have to buy varies from place to place. The place could be fully furnished, unfurnished but including kitchen/bathroom appliances and furniture, or completely empty.
House shares are almost always fully furnished which is one of the pros and cons of house sharing. This is because renters change more frequently compared to other accommodation types and most renters in house shares do not possess furniture. They are often people that do not have much money, for example, students or people that just entered the country.
6. You Do Not Have to Deal with Problems Alone
Another of the pros and cons of house sharing is that all problems regarding the house or flat are shared between tenants. For example, I once ended up living in a place that was let illegally with the agency letting the flat without the knowledge of the landlord.
As a result, the landlord did not have a licence for an HMO and essential safety work had not been carried out. Once the council found out about this the landlord and the agency blamed each other for the unsatisfactory safety standard of the flat.
Rather than being left by myself, I could sit down with my housemates and discuss the best course of action. I ended up moving out soon afterwards but the whole situation would have been a lot more difficult by myself.
7. Easy Borrowing of Stuff
I bet everyone has been in a situation where they just needed a kitchen scale just once, or ran out of salt and found out in the middle of cooking. One of the pros and cons of house sharing is that you always have a few people around that you can borrow from.
If you are living by yourself, you would have to go outside and travel to your friend’s or family’s place to borrow what you need. In this case, it would likely be cheaper to go to the shops and buy what you need. If this situation would occur on a Sunday evening, you would have to wait until the next day.
8. Shared or No Cleaning Responsibilities
Another of the pros and cons of house sharing is that you will have less cleaning to do compared to living alone. Provided everyone is responsible and respectful, you can establish a cleaning rota. Thus, you may end up having to only hoover the living room once during your assigned week.
Many places also come with a cleaner included in the rent which is one of the pros and cons of house sharing. Because the cleaning cost is split by all housemates, the cleaner is much more affordable compared to living alone.
7 Cons of Living in a House Share
1. Lifestyle Differences
The biggest flaw of house sharing is the differences in lifestyles between tenants. This is one of the most important pros and cons of house sharing and can make or break your house-sharing arrangement.
If everyone is on the same page, or at least respectful towards others, living in a house share can be a great experience. If not, it can be hell in extreme cases.
For example, you may find yourself with a housemate who likes to party. If you are lucky, this will be limited to them coming back drunk at random times during the night. More likely, they will want to throw house parties that will keep you up all night.
If you like your good night’s sleep, then such behaviour may pose a problem for you. Equally, they will find it disturbing if you are up and noisy early in the morning.
Other lifestyle differences can also be annoying but are usually less extreme pros and cons of house sharing. For example, some people leave the kitchen dirty after cooking knowing there will be a cleaner cleaning up after them eventually.
This may be a problem for housemates who like to keep the kitchen in a clean state. Their only choice would be to clean up after their messy housemates or wait for the cleaner to come which may not be for a few days.
2. Safety Issues
Living with strangers can also come with potential safety risks which belong to the pros and cons of house sharing. Usually, your bedroom door will come with a lock but this is not sufficient to fully protect you if one of your housemates has malicious intentions. Some of this is relatively minor such as stolen food from the fridge or toilet paper going missing.
However, your housemate could also sneak into your room while you are in the shower and take your possessions. As there would be no sign of someone breaking in, getting the police involved may be difficult. You would also have no idea which of your housemate is the culprit, you can only make assumptions.
Your housemates also obviously all have a key to the property. And it is not under your control who they decide to let in. Some of your housemates may associate with potentially dangerous people. Albeit unlikely, you could find yourself in a house with drug dealers or violent people.
3. Losing Friends More Easily
It can be great to live with friends. However, being housemates means you get to know your friends much better than you would if you were living in different places. And sometimes, this can ruin friendships.
Your friend may be the one to leave their dirty dishes in the sink, clog the shower drain with their hair, never bring out the bin, etc. Then, you may have to remind them of their shores and responsibilities which in turn, leads to annoyance (or the roles may be reversed).
You do not need to be a genius to see how this of all pros and cons of house sharing can put a strain on any friendship. In the end, you may not be able to make up with your friend or decide that the friendship is not worth pursuing further after you truly got to know your friend.
4. Ever-changing Housemates
Another of the pros and cons of house sharing is that housemates can change frequently. As a student, you are typically only looking for a place to live for one to three years so this may not be that much of an issue.
However, if you want to live in a house share long term, you may find yourself making friends with someone only to find out that they are moving out soon. Of course, you can still stay in touch with them.
But the issue is that you will also have someone new moving in. Then, you may need to get to know them again and completely start over. Over time, it can be annoying to have to re-introduce yourself several times and a major one of the pros and cons of house sharing.
There can also be a psychological strain because you never know what your new housemate will be like. They could be better or worse than the person who is leaving. If you find that you cannot live with your new housemate, you may be the one who has to move out. This is one of the pros and cons of house sharing that should not be underestimated.
5. Reduced Privacy
One of the pros and cons of house sharing is that you will have less privacy compared to living alone. Your housemates will likely be able to hear when you come and go, what time you like to shower, eat breakfast, etc. Thus, they can deduce your habits easily (though they may not care).
Walls and doors in houses or flats also are not completely soundproof which is one of the pros and cons of house sharing. This means that your housemates will likely be able to hear when you are talking and can eavesdrop (if they wanted) on personal conversations you may have in your room.
Some houses have thin walls and the person living in the room next to you can hear what you are saying in your room without actually wanting to.
Thin walls also have the disadvantage that you can hear other sounds while you are in your room. Doors opening and closing, footsteps, someone preparing a meal or showering, all these sounds may be audible in your room and are one of the pros and cons of house sharing.
You may not care about a little noise during the day. However, this can become one of the major pros and cons of house sharing when you are trying to sleep or study, especially when your sleeping cycle is vastly different from the other housemates.
Noisiness, even if unintentional, can lead to sleep loss, frustration, and arguments which are not to be underestimated.
7. No Redecorating
Compared to living alone, it is more difficult to redecorate when you are living in a house share. This is because rooms are almost always fully furnished and landlords do not want to take on the extra risk and hassle of allowing a tenant to redecorate. This is because they know the tenant turnover is higher in shared houses and you are not likely to stay long.
And if the landlord does allow you to redecorate, you are likely limited to your own bedroom. If you want to make a change to communal areas, you would have to discuss this with your housemates first. Everyone has their own tastes which will probably be different from yours. Therefore, reaching an agreement is difficult.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is a House Share?
House shares refer to people who live together in the same house or flat. Generally, people in a house share are not related and often are strangers or friends. Most commonly, each occupant has their own bedroom and other spaces including the kitchen, bathroom, living room, etc. are shared.
There are some variations of this, for example, sometimes two people can share one bedroom (oftentimes couples), or bedrooms can have private bathrooms (ensuite rooms).
If the house share includes three or more unrelated people and is privately owned, it is a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO). An HMO must fulfil higher standards than other house shares, including adequate safety features, sanitation, and maintenance of communal areas.
Is House Sharing a Good Idea?
As there are many pros and cons to house sharing you may be wondering if it is a good idea for you to share your home with other people. Whether you will enjoy house sharing largely depends on your personality.
If you like quiet living and having privacy, you will probably prefer living by yourself. If you enjoy having other people around you, you will likely be happy in a house share.
However, another important factor is money. Even if you would prefer to live by yourself, you might be forced to share a house or flat due to financial constraints. You will have to put in some effort but you can still make house sharing work for you.
Try to get to know your housemates before you move in or ask the landlord/landlady what they are like. This increases the chances that you will get along with them should you move in.
How Can You Move Into a House Share?
You can find house share adverts online. Places to look for include Spareroom and Facebook groups. Once you have find a room of interest, you can arrange a viewing. Most rooms are let quickly so if you like a room, let the landlord know immediately.
Finally, on the day of the move, remember to tip the removal men.
The Pros and Cons of House Sharing Summary
House sharing can not only help you save money but also be a great experience. However, it can also be a nightmare. There are many pros and cons of house sharing, including:
- Saving money on rent and bills
- Having bills included in the rent
- Finding friends easily
- Not living alone
- No need to buy furniture
- Not having to deal with problems alone
- Easy borrowing of stuff
- Shared or no cleaning responsibilities
- Lifestyle differences
- Safety issues
- Losing friends
- Ever-changing housemates
- Reduced privacy
- No decorating