Session 4

Have you ever had to look for somewhere to live? Have you ever shared a house or flat with other people? In this session you can read about some of the problems of living in this situation. You'll also have the chance to tell us your accommodation-sharing stories!

Sessions in this unit

Session 4 score

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Activity 1

House share heaven - or hell?

Have you ever had to share a house?

How easy is it to buy - or rent - your own home? In some countries it might be relatively cheap, but in the UK rising housing prices mean buying a house is too expensive for a lot of people. The cost of renting is also going up - and this means many people have no choice: they have to share a house or flat. What does this mean for the people who are almost forced to live together? Do they live in housemate heaven – or housemate hell?

Read this article and try to answer this question: Which two living situations are discussed in the article?

Read the text and complete the activity

How do people avoid picking a terrible flatmate?

Being able to afford to rent your own place is something that most people would like to do. However, skyrocketing rent prices in London and around the UK mean that this is not possible for most people. In 2011, a national census found that 1,850,137 households were made up of either more than one person or more than one family.

So what is the reality for today's house- and flat-sharers? How easy is it to find a decent flatmate?

Some people will stick with what they already know and share with people who are their friends. Others will look elsewhere to find a flatmate by placing an advert online or in a shop window. Some others may even organise a 'speedflatmating' event - a bit like speed dating but instead of trying to find a partner, many people are interviewed to decide if they are the right person to move in.

Finding a good person to fill a vacant room can be difficult. How do you know if a stranger can be trusted? Can they pay the rent? Will they nick your food?

Will they cross the line by doing something unacceptable? Imagine if your new flatmate showed up without any socks. You might feel charitable and lend them a few pairs, which would be a kind thing to do. But what if you found out later that they had gone into your room and taken more socks? What if that person was actually one of your friends? That would probably be going a step too far for most people.

Perhaps it is better to live with strangers than it is to live with friends. You might avoid falling into a false sense of security and avoid odd clothes-sharing or food-related incidents. Some people would say that living with random strangers is ok when you are younger - but not so easy to do when you get older.

The amount of house sharing is rising, for both younger and older people. And this means that the dilemma of choosing who to live with is not going away any time soon.

This article is based on an original BBC News story.

So, could you answer the question? The two living situations were with strangers or with friends.

To do

Are you an article ace? Test what you understood in this text in our quiz.

Housing questions

7 Questions

Test your knowledge of some flatsharing-dilemma vocabulary. Can you get them all right?

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Now you've read about the dilemmas of sharing a house or flat, it's over to you - have you ever had a housemate from hell? Or perhaps YOU were the housemate no-one wanted to live with! Join us in the next activity where you can tell us your stories about sharing accommodation.

Session Vocabulary

  • rising
    going up, increasing

    going up or increasing very quickly

    an official survey of a population

    groups of people who live together

    empty; unused

    a person who you have not met before

    (here) an informal way to stay 'steal'

    cross the line
    to start behaving in an unacceptable way

    (here) generous, giving

    going a step too far
    doing something that is unacceptable

    false sense of security
    when you think everything is OK, but there are really some problems

    odd or unusual

    a difficult situation or problem