Over the course of my life, I’ve lived with roommates and lived on my own. Friends and family have asked which I prefer – it’s really hard to say as there are distinct advantages and disadvantages to both living styles. If you’ve decided to get a new place and have thought about getting a roommate, let’s explore the pros and cons.
There are many good reasons to say, “YES!” to sharing a space. Consider:
After the last year and a half living with COVID, loneliness was a big problem for many. My mom, who lives alone, really struggled – especially at mealtime. We’re all okay with eating a meal in the company of a good book or the TV from time to time, but almost every meal cooked or ordered in, and eaten alone can be rough. Sure, you can dine with friends and family from time to time, but you will undoubtedly eat alone most of the time.
Even if you’re not close with your roommate, just having someone else around and someone else to talk to makes a body feel less isolated.
It’s so convenient to have a roommate about. For example, if you have different schedules, a roommate can feed your pet or water the plants when you’re not at home to do it. If you go out of town, your roommate will be there to keep an eye on your place and accept packages for you. My daughter was called out of town unexpectedly for weeks. Thank goodness her roomie was there to save her plant collection (and to keep up with the dusting).
A roommate will help you save money, and who doesn’t want that? You can rent a larger apartment – say a two-bedroom instead of a one-bedroom. A two-bedroom in a typical apartment community will not be double the price of a one-bedroom, so each of you will get more room and more value. For example, at Park Lane Apartments in Cincinnati, a one-bedroom/one-bath is $920 while a two-bedroom/two-bath is available for just $225 more. You and your roomie will split utility bills and can share the cost of groceries, and other apartment expenses. When it comes to cooking/eating in, it is less expensive to cook for two (or more) than cooking for just one. There will also be savings on cleaning supplies and other household items.
When I shared and apartment with a good friend, I worked a regular 9:00AM to 5:00PM schedule while she had a job that required her to attend frequent evening meetings. She loved coming home to dinner on the table, and I let her OCD keep our place tidy. Think about the possibility of half the housework, half the cooking, half the responsibility of shopping for groceries and household supplies! Or, your roommate can do the chores you dislike and vice versa. Win, win! Sharing errands and chores helps lighten the load for both of you and gives you more free time to enjoy the fun things in life.
Hmmm…that all sounds great, but what about living alone? Downsides to share a space include:
Naturally, when you live alone you’ll enjoy considerably more privacy than if you share a space. You can do what you want when you want. Have guests over, throw a party, get home late, and leave early without having to worry about disturbing a roommate. Go ahead, leave your socks on the floor! Hang out in your undies!
Living with another person isn’t always that easy. My freshman year in college, I had a difficult roommate. At first, everything was great. We’d agreed on room décor (posters and bedding), and got along great. Then she started using my perfume (instead of bathing – UGH!), and wound up using it up without ever asking permission. She also helped herself to my clothes despite having so many clothes her parents shipped her a new trunk seasonally. The final straw came the day I had a big date. My best friends had helped me pick out the perfect outfit which we laid out on my bed. Later that day I saw my roommate wearing the outfit to class. Grrrr.
Conflicts are almost inevitable when sharing a home with someone else whether that person is friend, family, or relative stranger. There’s a plethora of issues that can create tension in your home. Lifestyle conflicts (a roommate who likes to play guitar while you need quiet to work from home), financial issues (a roommate who can’t or won’t pay their share of the rent and expenses), cleaning conflicts (one person is tidy, the other is a slob), or respect issues (your roommate uses your personal things – like your perfume! – without asking permission). Living alone is the only way to guarantee that none of these problems ever arises.
So as you consider whether to room with someone, let me leave you with this parting question: are you an over or an under person? You know, with the toilet paper roll. I am typically an over (although the TP roll isn’t something I lose sleep over). When my mom recently came for a two week visit, I discovered she’s an under person. I’d put on a new roll (over) and she’d switch it. This went on daily during her stay.
Neither one of us said anything about it, but I giggled every time I noticed she’d switched it. So if you can live with the toilet roll upside down, you’re probably good roommate material (read our blog next week on things you can do to ensure a good roommate relationship). Otherwise, you might want to think hard about that one-bedroom apartment.