A Highly Sensitive Person’s Guide To Flatting


It is currently my fifth year of flatting life, and I wanted to share some of my experiences with you all as an HSP on what to be aware of. It’s important to note not all HSP’s may have a mental illness, but my experience as an HSP with anxiety has taught me a lot. If you’re interested in understanding more about HSP, feel free to read more here. We make up 15-20% of the population, and have a different way of coping with specific situations. Being an HSP means that we have a higher sensory perception, which means that we are more sensitive to the environment eg. loud noises, strong smells, crowded places.

I was four years old when I was in kindergarten, but I preferred quietly holding the rabbits and guinea pigs. Interacting with other children made me feel overwhelmed at times, and till this day, it is far more comfortable for me to interact with one person at a time or a group of people close to me. There have been experiences of living with people that are close to me, and experiences of living with people I don’t know very well. Being alone really gives one time to wind down, and to not become over stimulated. Not all HSP’s are introverts, however, introverts who are HSP may need more time to be alone.

Many HSP’s need to have deep relationships and build close interactions. The difficulty in this is if you are living with people you don’t feel close to, and it can make you feel out of place. There is a crave for meaningful interaction and understanding, as well as being surrounded by people who bring the best out of you. In the past, I’ve lived with people who really cared for me, showed compassion and understanding. It can be difficult when there are experiences where there is miscommunication and people (understandably) might not realise that you are an HSP, as it is a term that’s not widely understood.

A quiet space allows you to sleep well and be refreshed, as a loud space can cause stress, anxiety and overwhelming feelings. HSP’s have a strong inner world and feel emotions deeply, which is why the alone time is beneficial and much needed. Some HSP’s may also have a strong sense of independence and prefer doing certain things alone. Some of the things I’m very grateful from my flatting experiences is organisation, in terms of things being generally neat and organised. A few more of the things to observe when looking for a place to live is the lighting, window, temperature and the location. A few more things you’ll realise when living with people are the different habits we have.

The difficulty I have found in terms of living with people I am not close to, is the ability to communicate smoothly. This is something I need to learn, because I am someone who wants to avoid conflict or negativity, but then this causes me to build up those feelings and bottle them up. On the flip side, it can be much easier to tell someone I am close to about how I feel about something. This is one of the struggles I have found with flatting, because I feel more comfortable in expressing myself with those who know me personally. It is a learning lesson. A HSP really soaks up their energy, and if they feel happy, they feel deeply happy, and if they feel sad, they can feel deeply sad.

Living with people who accept you as you are will make the living situation much more calm and steady, whereas, living with people where you feel they do not understand you can be tiring and wear you out. HSP crave connection with individuals where both sides can truly open up, express sensitivity and have empathy. An article I’ve found helpful with the lists of things to take note when moving out of home, include the following things: living with people who have a balanced lifestyle, who aren’t partiers, drinkers, smokers and noisy and are considerate and quiet after bed time.

Are you an HSP? What is/was your experience like living with other people? How many people did you live with? How do you wind down at the end of the day? What is something that bothers you as an HSP? What were the positive and negative experiences of your flatting experiences? I’m very curious to know, as I’ve often felt that there are certain misconceptions about HSP’s being a certain way. There are also simple ways to make living enjoyable when flatting with others, just as it is simple for it to crumble like a cookie. If you are an HSP and live alone, what have been the pros and cons?

“They are living evidence that this rich and varied world with its overflowing and intoxicating life is not purely external, but also exists within . . . Their life teaches more than their words. . . . Their lives teach the other possibility, the interior life which is so painfully wanting in our civilization.” ― Elaine N. Aron, The Highly Sensitive Person

A great video to watch for more information about HSP

8 thoughts on “A Highly Sensitive Person’s Guide To Flatting

  1. Thank you for this. I’m an INFJ, HSP and am moving to Auckland next year to study so flatting is something I may have to get used to. I once lived with a girl and there was a lot of tension so to avoid the conflict we ignored each other and it was extremely draining. I love you blog posts, makes me feel a little less lonely knowing someone thinks and feels the same as me :) xx

    1. Hi Joanna, thank you so much for your comment. All the best with your move to Auckland! I understand, I always say the people we’re surrounded by make such a difference, and I truly hope you find a lovely positive place to flat in! <3

  2. I currently live in a triple room in dorm (a small room with 2 other girls), and though I’ve gotten used to this environment – I miss privacy. I am rarely completely alone by myself for more than few hours at a time. Next year, though, I’ll be living off campus. Though I really want to live in a studio apartment/something alike by myself, I know that’s probably not a feasible financial decision. Do you currently live on your own, Katie? If so, could you share some of your experience?

    1. Completely relate with the privacy aspect. When we’re with family and close friends it’s much better because they already know us personally, but when living with people you don’t really know well, having that privacy can seem harder. Even when you’re doing simple things like just talking on the phone, when you want to have a good cry or listen to music without bothering anyone.

      That’s understandable, I’m the same here. It’s expensive to live alone, and so I’ve always lived with people. However, I know from experience that I like living with 1-2 people, and any more is difficult for me, unless I was very close to the people I was living with. I do feel that I’d be most satisfied living alone or living with people I’m close to.

  3. The part in your post about HSPs needing to have deep relationships and build close interactions and feeling out of place if you live with people that you aren’t really close to was a big sigh of relief to hear .. because it really made everything make sense. I have gone through multiple sets of roommates, at times one, at times it was couples, and I have yet to have a roommate situation that I loved. Even when living with people that I was very close to before moving in together, somehow, it just didn’t feel right. I see now that it was because of what you said. I craved a closer bond with the people I lived with, close like family, like sisters or brothers, and when I didn’t feel that reciprocated, I felt hurt. Loved you blog, I can’t wait to read more. 💋

  4. Thank you for your comment! I really feel like it’s quite different when we live with people compared to just knowing someone in our everyday life. From experience, living with people I don’t know well, means that I’m less likely to fully open up my personality. I’m sorry to hear that some people close to you did not reciprocate those feelings, and really hope you find a place that makes you feel right at home.

  5. I always wonder how I’d manage to cope living in a flat, especially a crowded, noisy one. At university, I had a pretty tough time. I didn’t really I was an HSP then, but I’m pretty sure I was over-stimulated all the time, and also struggling to fit in, which lead to periods of unhappiness and shutting myself away in my room, sometimes for days.

  6. Thank you for your comment. I relate to this, as in my first year of uni I lived at a hall and wasn’t used to it. At the time I didn’t know I was an HSP either. I think the environment we live in is so important. I’m really grateful to be living in places that I feel very comfortable in now, compared to in the past.

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