Cash strapped students, feeling squeezed by rising tuition fees, are opting to cut living costs by shacking up with more housemates which is leading to rising household tensions according to new research.

Almost half (44%) of students are hoping to pay less rent this term and 17% admit they are taking on more housemates, according to O2 Home Broadband.  Other measures taken to beat rising costs include renting further from campus; seeking out better value homes and changing landlords.

According to our research, conducted by O2 Home Broadband – who’ve developed a broadband offer for students –   splitting rent or sharing bills are seen as two of the biggest upsides of living in close quarters with fellow students.  Yet the rush to cohabit with others means students are now sharing with acquaintances or strangers more often.

In scenes straight out of popular Channel 4 TV show, Fresh Meat, one in six students say they find themselves living with complete strangers when they first house-share and only three in five claim to know everybody in their house as they move in.

Unsurprisingly then, given the rise in more diverse households, nine in ten (87%) students claim they’ve had disputes with fellow housemates.  Some so serious, that one in five has either moved out or been evicted.

The biggest cause of student spats, according to the research, is never tidying or cleaning up, followed by making a racket and wrestling with the heating thermostat.  Generally, women get more vexed over issues than men.   That said, stealing food is most keenly felt by male students with food theft the second biggest cause of fights for men.  7% of students have fallen out over home broadband.

Table of top disputes

Now, our O2 Home Broadband team has joined up with behavioural psychologist, Jo Hemmings to help relieve some of the stresses and strains of student house-sharing.  Most well-known as the psychologist on cult TV show Big Brother, Jo has worked with us to develop a series of tips and advice for students looking for harmony at home.

Psychologist, Jo Hemmings, comments:

“Living away from home, often for the first time, can be really exciting and sharing with other students from all walks of life, a rich and rewarding experience. That said, you soon realise that everyone is not like you and creating a harmonious house-share isn’t necessarily straightforward.

“It might sound like common sense but just agreeing some “house rules” upfront can save a world of pain later down the line.  Rotas and rules might jar somewhat with the image of a bohemian and laid-back student existence but can prove to be essential longer term.”

We have now designed a broadband package for students that we think no-one can fall out over.   Students on O2 can sign up from now to the end of October get 3 months free broadband and line rental, plus a free upgrade to O2’s best package, The Works.   The deal saves students over £145 on broadband and line rental across a year but more importantly the “free period” comes during the Summer so no-one is landed with a hefty bill at the end of a house tenancy.

When it comes to selecting a home, our O2 Home Broadband study identified the biggest considerations for students were finding “nice” housemates, followed by access to the Internet and then proximity to the campus.

Gary Booker, GM Consumer at O2 said:

“We know that having a reliable broadband connection is important to students not just for helping them with their studies but to enable them to watch TV, download movies and keep in touch with family and friends.

“Our research also showed us that student houses aren’t always harmonious and living with others has its challenges.  We wanted to help students in two ways.  The first, by coming up with a flexible broadband package that’s specifically tailored to their term time needs to help avoid money squabbles.  The second, by offering expert advice on avoiding conflict when it does arise.”

Tips and advice on creating a happy home are available here


Further information

Our offer means students can  benefit from 3 months free broadband and line rental at the end of the year, plus a free upgrade to O2’s best package, The Works, that offers truly unlimited downloads and the fastest speeds your line can handle.

  • Ideal for students living together in big houses – stream, download and play without any buffering (line dependant).
  • As an O2 customer you’ll pay just £12.50 a month for your broadband
  • £13.00 a month for your line rental and unlimited evening and weekend calls
  • That’s just £25.50 a month for O2 customers for the first 9 months, then just £2.50 a month for the last 3 months – so if you do have to cancel your contract, the cost will be minimal!

Offer available from 11th September, until 31st October. O2 Home Broadband is subject to availability.  Standard terms and conditions apply including credit check see for more details.

The “Students Who Share” research was based on a poll of 1008 UK undergraduates and recent graduates for O2 Home Broadband by Opinium Research in September 2012.

Journalists can contact the Virgin Media O2 press office on: 01753 565656
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