Living in a student house can be intimidating - suddenly you're faced with scary adult things like bills and landlords. But it can also be very rewarding - if you stick to a few basic rules. Here are some of the things I've learnt from living under a (leaky) student roof...
1) Don't turn on your heating if you can help it
My house last year was freezing, and I used to sleep fully dressed in a onesie with a jumper on top. But I found that preferable to paying to keep warm - we put the heating on for a few months and when we received the bill, it was astronomical. If you have to have heating, just keep it on for a few hours a day, during times when you'll actually benefit from it.
2) Don't leave your dishes out for too long
For one thing, piles of dishes just don't look good, and I'm a firm believer in the thought that a cluttered house creates a cluttered mind. But more importantly, it could lead to serious issues, such as conflict between your housemates, which you just don't need. Plus, last year I ended up leaving my dishes out for so long that some of them grew mould. Lovely.
3) Don't avoid emptying the bin
Even if it's cold outside or you did it the other day, if the bin is full or close to overflowing, I would recommend taking it out, because stubbornly piling your rubbish on top of all the mess will just lead to an awful smell and a messy kitchen. But, more importantly, leaving rotting food out for too long will lead to flies. And a possible infestation. I speak from experience. (If you ignore my advice and get to this stage, place a load of cups of vinegar around the kitchen. Works a treat.)
4) Don't leave cleaning the house for special occasions
I'm sure many students have been in the situation where their parents have announced they're coming to visit at the weekend and, while this means a free meal, it also means they're going to visit your house. Cue rushing around for all the cleaning products you can find and desperately trying to scrub away months of dirt. Why not set up a rota where the bathroom and kitchen are cleaned regularly? It's a lot easier to give a room a quick wipe-down than to try and give it a complete makeover in the 30 minutes before your parents are due to be knocking on the door. Don't expect anyone to tackle your bedroom, though. That's your problem.
5) Don't spend all of your time in your room
It's true that you're at University to study, and you can get buried so deep in books and articles that you can emerge a few hours later completely unaware of the time and the last time you ate. But houses are meant to be sociable; you've chosen to live with your friends, so you may as well spend your study breaks with other people, instead of browsing cat gifs on Tumblr.