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5 Tips For Living with Subletters

Exchanges are one of the greatest experiences university has to offer. Being able to travel to a foreign country while also getting an education is a privilege that many students at Western get to have. But while your friend is off in Hong Kong or Australia, that might leave you here in snowy, cold London living with someone you don’t know. As much as you want to be mad at your roommate(s) for leaving you, you want to be happy for the adventure they’re on. But living with a total strange is no easy experience, so take these suggestions into consideration if you ever find yourself living with a sublet.

1. Make rules

Telling someone you don’t know what to do might feel awkward, but it’s better to explain how the house works than run into problems later on. You might need to explain how the washing machine works, or remind them to do their own dishes. Maybe your house takes turns taking out the garbage, so add them into your cycle and explain where everything goes. If you have a rule to be quiet after 1am, let them know. They are probably just as uncomfortable living with a stranger as you are, and it will make them feel better to understand how your house functions as a group.

2. Compromise

Although you’re used to things the way they are, living with a new person means you might have to compromise. They’re paying rent just as you are, so your subletter has the right to live comfortably in their own house as well. If you run into an issue, try to talk about the problem rather than immediately tell them what to do. Maybe your subletter has all their friends over and you want them to be quiet. Simply talk to them and ask that they quiet down soon. It’s better to avoid conflict than have to live in an awkward household, constantly walking on eggshells.

3. Be Nice

Along with compromising and avoiding conflict, be nice to your subletters. Likely, they have come from another country to be at Western and get an education. Things may be very foreign to them and although you didn’t ask to be put in this situation, you are. So make the best of it by being a friendly roommate. Kindness can go a long way, and you will make the other person feel more comfortable around you.

4. Stay in contact with your friend on exchange

If you do run into problems and you can’t seem to fix it yourself, it’s ultimately up to your roommate and your landlord to deal with the problem. Although your roommate may be far away, it remains their responsibility to ensure that their subletter is being a good roommate. Moreover, you can always talk to your landlord about a serious issue and they have the duty to help you figure that out. It might be annoying, but it’s important to resolve conflict right away.

5. Be a friend

This one goes along with being a nice person and compromising—try to be their friend. If they’re not from around here, or not from Canada at all, your subletter will appreciate some tips and guidance to living in this community. Take them to the bar with you, introduce them to your friends, go to the gym or bring them to your favourite restaurant. If you don’t end up getting along, that’s fine! But you never know, you might just end up really liking your subletter.

Take it from me: having lived with four different subletters, it’s not easy. Following the guidelines set above really helped me make the best out of my experience. By explaining how the house functions, understanding their rights as a subletter, and understanding my rights as well allowed for a fairly bump-free semester. Of course I ran into some issues, but at the end of the day, it was an adventure living with someone new. I even made a few new friends who taught me things about their countries that I would never have known. So, if you find yourself in the scary situation of living with a stranger, follow these tips and try to make the best out of a difficult situation.  

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Third year university student with a passion for reading, writing, and chicken fingers
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