As you’re thinking about moving out, one of the first questions that probably come to mind is: should I live with roommates or by myself? Whether you’re a social butterfly or an introvert, it’s pretty common knowledge that living with roommates can be significantly cheaper than living by yourself. Although this will largely depend on your personal preferences, there are some drawbacks to either option that should be taken into consideration. Here are some pros and cons of each option that will help guide your decision.
Living with roommates
If you’ve ever lived in dorms on-campus, or in a sorority/fraternity, or even off-campus during your undergraduate years, chances are, you’ve had to live with at least one roommate. But, entering the real world as a brand-new adult gives you more options in terms of housing – do you want to continue living with roommates? Or are you ready to start living by yourself? Living with roommates as a college student may be very different from living with roommates as a young, working professional.
Pros of living with roommates
- Save on Rent and Bills. The biggest perk of sharing a space with roommate(s) is that it’s significantly cheaper than living alone. Sharing a space can save hundreds of dollars for the same bedroom square footage. Utility costs can get expensive and be up to 10% of your total expenditure on rent, so having at least one person to split that with makes it easier on your wallet.
- Accountability. Having a roommate means practicing more self-awareness, and they help tremendously to keep you accountable. It’s so much easier to eat an entire pizza or waste an entire day binge-watching Netflix when you live alone. Having a roommate and keeping each other accountable is great not only for your physical well-being, but mental and emotional health as well.
- Save on Furniture. It’s likely that you won’t have everything you need moving into a new apartment when it comes to furniture and household items – and if you were to live by yourself, you would have to front all of these costs. Living with roommates allows you to split costs on expensive items such as a couch, and a TV – where one roommate buys one item, and you buy the other. Or alternatively, your roommate may already have furniture to contribute that you didn’t have! Win-win for everyone.
- Built-In Company. You have guaranteed company. Of course, it’s a matter of good (or bad) company depending on how compatible you and your roommate(s) are, but it’s likely that you at least get along well with your roommates enough so that you have a friendly roommate relationship. You may not always have roommates that become your best friend, but they will at least be good company when you need it. They’re like a guaranteed friend, or someone to talk to when you’re feeling lonely.
Drawbacks of living with roommates
- Bad Habits. You learn a lot about your friends (if you decide to live with friends) and/or strangers as roommates that you wouldn’t have known. For example, you may learn that your childhood best friend tends to leave dishes out for days at a time, that they are an early morning riser, or that they like to fall asleep with the TV on. These living habits can quickly make living situations tense if you and your roommate(s) don’t have very similar living habits, or the same expectations for cleanliness.
- Space Constraints. You can’t just do whatever you please – living with roommates mean you have to be considerate of the shared spaces, which means you probably shouldn’t dance around in your underwear at 3am. It also means you have much less space to yourself. Yes, you have your bedroom that is all yours, but now you have to be mindful of the living room/kitchen space (especially in an already cramped apartment) and not take up more than half of your share.
- Consumption. While sharing the cost of utilities and/or household items is nice in terms of cost savings, some expenses are out of your control. This can become problematic when you’re an energy-conscious person that always turns off the lights, doesn’t use excessive water, etc. and your roommate isn’t quite as energy-friendly as you.
- Noise Pollution. Living with roommates can be noisier. This can come in many different forms, such as: they have a different sleep schedule than you, likes having people over frequently, studies with music/TV in the background, or they have a significant other.
- Sharing. Sharing is caring in most cases for living with roommates, but humans are inherently selfish at times. This could become problematic if you and/or your roommate like having your own stuff – so are you cool with sharing a little bit of mayonnaise and mustard here and there? What do you want for yourself, and what are you okay with sharing?
Living by yourself
Have you been living with roommates and ready for a change of pace? Making the leap to living on your own comes a lot of responsibility, but a lot of newfound freedom that you wouldn’t have living with roommates.
Living independently is often thought of a sign of real #adulthood because it typically meant that you are financially stable enough in your career to afford your own adult apartment, and it’s when a lot of self-discovery happens about who you are as an independent adult, doing adult things. Besides the obvious additional cost of living by yourself, there are some pros and cons to living independently.
Pros of living by yourself
- Pure freedom. You can do literally anything you want! Do you want to lay around in your underwear all day? You can do that. Do you want to leave out dishes for a few hours (okay… days) at a time and not have anyone nag you about it? You can absolutely do that. Do you want to blast music at 2am? You can do that too… within reason, if you have neighbors. That’s the best part about living by yourself – you are not bounded by anyone’s rules or decorating preferences.
- Me time. So much personal time and privacy. This is especially ideal for those of you that are more introverted or just really enjoy doing your own thing. You no longer feel obligated to hang out with a roommate, and you can waste away the day watching Netflix as much as you want. And the complete privacy is especially great if you have a significant other, if you know what I mean…
- You pay for what you do. You can control exactly how much you use of what utility. Like mentioned above, utility expenses are out of your control when it comes to your roommate’s usage. If you’re living alone, you can pretty much expect what your utility bill will be because you can control how much water, electricity, or heat you use.
- Stress free. You don’t have to worry about any roommate conflict arising. There are so many different ways issues can come up between roommates; no two people are a perfect roommate match and it’s almost guaranteed there will be some tension, small or large. Obviously, if you don’t have a roommate, you won’t need to worry about passive-aggressive notes popping up about not washing your dishes or them not paying rent on time.
Drawbacks of living by yourself
- Spendy The most obvious and biggest con of living alone is the extra cost. You could spend up to hundreds of dollars more for a (much) smaller apartment, and it likely won’t even be in your ideal city that you want to live in. Because who wants to pay $2,000+ to live in a 400 square feet apartment in New York City big enough for just your bed? I don’t.
- Loneliness It gets lonely. You’re probably used to being surrounded and living with people your whole life – as a member of your family, and probably when you were living in the dorms at college. Moving out into your own apartment will feel… unfamiliarly different. You won’t have someone to talk about your day with when you come home, or anyone that will kill the big scary spider for you.
- More responsibility There’s no one to share chores with you. When you live on your own, you suddenly realize how much more housework you have to do when you don’t have other people helping you! There’s no more rotating who takes the trash out, who empties the dishwasher, or who is scrubbing down the toilet. Granted, there’s less to do overall, but they are still entirely your responsibility as opposed to half of your responsibility.
But ultimately it comes down to…
Your take-home pay and how you spend your money determines what your budget is, and how your city’s average rent for a one-bedroom apartment fits into your budget. Sharing a space with a roommate or two allows you to live in a location you may not otherwise be able to afford with a one-bedroom. Some landlords may not even rent to you if the monthly rent is too high of a percentage of your monthly salary. To figure out whether or not you can afford the rent (regardless if you’re living with roommates or not), here’s a simple rent calculator.
While you may be able to adjust some of your expenses (maybe not get a $5 coffee from Starbucks 5 days a week) and compromise on some features for a one-bed apartment, sometimes it may be more financially sound to live with roommates and not have to make so many sacrifices to be able to afford living by yourself. Living alone isn’t objectively better or worse than living with roommates, it really is all about your personal preference and your financial situation. It’s more important to weigh the pros and cons of both and really take into consideration what’s most important to you: privacy or saving money?
If you do decide to live with roommates to save extra costs, the best way to have a pleasant living situation is to be fully prepared for any situations to arise and have some guidelines and rules to follow by. That way, there are no surprises and both parties are happy.
For more tips and tricks to finding the right roommate (that may even become your best friend!), check out this guide to choosing the perfect roommate for you.