Shared accommodation: You can make your own space, to create your own little vibe.

There are five of us in total living here. We are between the ages of 28 and 32 and we’re all working. It’s a nice mix.

Everyone comes and goes at different times  and there is always someone around.  You are never alone.. you have your own space.

It was a case of timing for me and it just made sense.

I work in Belfast and I’m also doing my yoga teacher training so there’s so much going on. Now, I can walk to work now in 20 minutes without spending over an hour commuting.

shared space with other people - living room and sofa

I’ve lived here for… not quite two months.

Before this I was at home with my family: two parents, one brother and two sisters.

I did a placement year at university in America. More recently I lived in New Zealand for a couple of years. I lived in Wanaka but worked on a boat – one week on, one week off – in Fiordland.

So, I kind of had two homes there. I spent most of my time living on a boat.

I shared a cabin with someone from the other crew. You put your stuff in a crate and it went under the bed for your week off. There was a wardrobe and a side unit with two sides, so you could leave some stuff there.

I had very little compared to what I have here and if I was travelling I mightn’t go home every week.

Being in one place took a bit of getting used to.

A big change.

I’d gone from travelling three and a half hours to get to work every week – for a week – and then spending my week off adventuring. Because essentially I was ‘off’.

But, I was very thankful to come home and have a roof over my head and be surrounded by my family

Our family home is at situated the edge of the Lough and it is as old as I am.

It was built when I was about five. So, it’s 27 years old, something like that.

When I was heading off travelling I knew I would be away at least for a year so I got rid of a lot of stuff. Even when I came back I still had so much stuff. So, you get rid of some more.

The school books in particular you look at them and think: why? I’m never going to use them again. Things you forget you studied.

Now that I’ve moved up here I have a complete wardrobe and when I go ‘Home Home’ – every other weekend or whatever – there’s still a full wardrobe there, even though I could survive with less.

view looking downstairs with red dado

This house has a lot of character.

It’s one of the only stand-alone houses and it has all the original mouldings and everything.  

I have the smallest room, but having lived in a cabin on a boat, I thought the space is big enough: I can do this, it’s just me.

I know people who live in quite small apartments, they have tiny little box rooms and don’t have the luxury of a huge living room space and our study room. So, I think space-wise this is great compared to others that I know.

I had a look round and thought: yeah! Good location and a little bit of outdoor space as well. On a nice evening you can sit outside.

If I hadn’t felt that …almost a gut instinct… I probably wouldn’t have said “yeah I will move in”.

Thankfully, there are no smokers here.

We are all pretty fit and active in this house.

spice rack in  space shared with other people

I joke that it was the spice rack that sold it for me. I love a good collection of spices.

Everyone keeps most of their things in their own rooms.

All the crockery, glasses, pots and pans is shared. We each have our own cupboard for food and a couple of shelves in each fridge – there are two fridges. That way – for five of us – it manages itself pretty well.

We all divide up the cost of wi-fi and electric. With the gas we take turns in topping it up. It’s all recorded.

We don’t really have a cleaning rota. We all just do a little bit.

Thankfully my room already had furniture: a bed, wardrobe, drawers, table and chair.

I really didn’t need very much. When I moved in I just sort of decorated it with little ornaments.

There’s not much wall space. It’s white, there’s a new carpet…. I just stuck a poster up.

Because it’s a small space it forces me to keep it tidy.

living room - fireplace and armchair - in shared space with other people

We tend to sit round with a cup of tea, or there’s certain programmes that people watch and we all pile into the living room to chat and catch up.

It’s a real open house. Everyone is super-friendly and there are people coming and going all the time.

Everyone has their own room and there is a little study room as well which is good as I am able to work from home. Or, I can do my studying for my yoga teacher-training.

When I was younger I used to be a bit more precious about where things were and how tidy things were.

But having gone travelling, and living in a hostel, you quickly become used to people being around. If you take the nice side of it: there’s always someone to talk to, someone’s story to learn – and that’s a good thing.

I’m probably the one up the earliest in the house.

I get up and do my practice either in my room or downstairs. Between meditation and practice it’s about half an hour.

It’s a very gentle start to the day and so you feel like you’ve done something more than just ‘gone to work’.

Some mornings we see each other, but I think most of us tend to have breakfast in work. It’s not like we are all hanging around trying to ‘make’ things.

I prepare my lunch the night before so it’s only a case of just lifting it out of the fridge. We have two bathrooms so there’s no real rush for showers. It’s pretty staggered.

I think I brought my ‘re-arranging dynamic’ to the house.

The micro-wave used to be over here and the table used to be turned the other way and it was all quite close.

This is one of the guy’s food cupboards and he was in and out all the time trying to get stuff. I said: “Could we just move this?”.

So we swapped it over there.

And there used to be lots of ‘stuff’ on the benches, and I am a ‘clear-bench’ person, so I swapped the shelves with a different unit to give more storage.

I haven’t done that much.

I re-arranged the cupboards. The plates were in that far corner and some of the girls aren’t that tall.

Could we just move them down here –  do a swap.”

I find it easier to review and make changes to the space rather than start with a clean slate.

edge of fridge

I think most places around here are rented.

You notice the difference when uni term time starts again….

That’s the one thing that was different for me from being ‘Home’.

Like: I don’t know any of my neighbours. I don’t have that sense of ‘community’ here. Whereas when you are growing up, especially in a rural environment, then more or less everyone that I live around has been there for my entire life.

You know them pretty well.

I know I’ve only been here a couple of months, but I don’t think any of the others know anyone.

notice board in shared space

You’ve got your own space which can be your own little sanctuary.

But, there’s always someone here and you just feel really comfortable when you come in.

For me, it’s being so close to work that makes such a difference.

But, I really like having somewhere where you can be supported by the people you live with …. and be able to make your own space to create your own little vibe.

balusters in shared house

‘Home home’ will always be home. I think, I probably want to end up there again. Now –  where I am at life at the moment –  this is home.

Nuala Rooney

I am designer, educator and researcher developing creative and holistic human-centred insights within the social/spatial sphere.

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