Jump to content
pnc95

Living by yourself vs. with Roommates

Recommended Posts

Hey everyone!

So I made my decision on where I will be going for graduate school, but now I'm trying to decide a place to live while attending. Since it's my first year away from home I didn't know if it's better to have roommates or if it doesn't matter. I've never lived away from home, so I'm not sure how I would handle living with a roommate, but I know it is usually a cheaper option and it could guarantee a friend to do some things with while I'm there. On the other hand, I am usually in my room doing my own thing and not one to want to leave the house or be really sociable so being alone would give me the privacy I want and freedom to do what I want with the place.

If anyone has any advice on what they notice is better please help me!

Thanks

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Not every roommate will be your friend. Some will want a house mate simply because of finances, but may not be looking for a new friend. Others are more social and want someone who will also hang out with them. That's a question to bring up with potential roommates and to keep in mind when you choose one. 

The finances question is separate. You'll need to ask yourself if you can afford to live alone in your prospective city, and if so, if it's worth the extra investment as opposed to having a roommate. This is a personal choice so no one can tell you what to do. If you've never lived away from home, in my opinion a roommate situation is often easier to get started because they will help with furniture and paying bills and other questions you might have (as well as things you never knew you needed to ask). I'm also suggesting this because someone who's never lived alone may also have a harder time planning their finances, so it's safer to start slower and learn to understand your own spending habits, then move out and live alone later if you so choose. That said, it's totally personal and up to each person to decide. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
10 hours ago, fuzzylogician said:

Not every roommate will be your friend. Some will want a house mate simply because of finances, but may not be looking for a new friend. Others are more social and want someone who will also hang out with them. That's a question to bring up with potential roommates and to keep in mind when you choose one.

Seconded.

I'll say though I chose to live alone because I want the privacy and quiet for studying and life in general. I'm also a person who likes to get away from things for a while and that can be difficult with a roommate, even one who is quiet and/or reserved. It all comes down to finances, though. I could barely squeak by with living alone but decided it was worth it because I could actually afford it. If it means pinching pennies or eating rice four times a week for dinner, it probably isn't worth it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I lived with two roommates for 5 years. It's good for finances, but if you're not the most social person in the world I'd recommend living alone. I myself am not the most easy going, I love working from home and sometimes I wish I had my own apartment. I suppose it only worked because I've known one of the roommates for 21 years - since kindergarten - and I knew what to expect. I'm also looking for a new place now and I want some quiet.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

Hi, this is a late reply but I'm adding it anyway in the hopes that my experience can be useful with others. I strongly recommend not living with roommates. It's billed as the financially responsible thing to do but it can actually be extremely risky. At the college-grad-school-just-starting-a-career stage of life, people live very transient lives with a lot of unexpected changes. Sharing a three-bedroom with two other people actually ended up costing me more money than having a studio to myself would have, because just after I'd signed for another year, one of my roommates broke her lease and the other one skipped out on me. So, even having the one girl on the lease with me didn't help.

Even though I was living in a very popular area, in a nice and very reasonably priced apartment, I was only able to find one replacement roommate, and then only by taking on the amount of rent my other absent roommate would have been paying. So I was paying the rent on two bedrooms. Pretty quickly it burned through all the money I saved in the first place by choosing to live with roommates, and my emergency fund. This was a year ago and my finances are still recovering.

I ended up having to break my lease too. Luckily the management agreed to overlook it (bless them) so my credit score wasn't affected, but if they hadn't had mercy on me, it would have been a huge mess for me.

(At one point I thought I would sublet, so I tried to rent the extra room out on Airbnb, and it was a CATASTROPHE (the company booked someone to stay in my room without asking or notifying me, and on a day I had blocked off on the app calendar that I wasn't available, so one day when I was not available I got a phone call from a complete stranger who I'd never met before saying that she was going to be at my apartment in three hours; airbnb had given her my address without my permission and without notifying me that she had booked the room). It took eight hours on the phone with customer service and they still didn't solve the problem.)

If I had it to do over again I would live by myself from the get-go - less stress, less financial strain, and the added benefit of getting to pick where I live for myself instead of having to negotiate with people. And I'm finally getting a cat! :))

Hope this can be of help to some people.

Best wishes!

Edited by Crescenza

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Living along can cost almost twice as much as living with a roommate. Whether it's worth that cost is up to you.

Unlike Crescenza, I lived well with roommates throughout college. If you decide to live with them, I would look for an apartment complex that offers independent leases (i.e. they lease the bedrooms to each of you separately, as opposed to leasing the whole place to all of you collectively). That way, if someone skips out, you're not on the hook for the rent. And if worse comes to worst and you need to sublet, do NOT use AirBNB. Find someone in a local sublet Facebook group or on Craigslist. It's still risky, but I've done it multiple times with success.

Anyway, I'd recommend roommates. Yes, they can be pesky, but learning to live with people outside my family was good for my personal growth. Meet your roommates before move-in (ideally pick them yourself, even if you're picking someone online), set clear boundaries, and be willing to communicate.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm also in the anti-roommate camp due to an absurd amount of drama over the years. No offense to those in their twenties, but seriously, people in their early twenties sometimes have a ridiculous amount of petty, childish reactions to very minor problems.

If you do go the roommate route, I recommend making a list of necessary compatible features and agreeing on them ahead of time. For instance, if you're not super-neat, don't end up with a super-neat roommate or they'll be nagging you because you left like three toast crumbs on the cutting board (personal experience). If you're not into partying, don't get a roommate who hosts a loud party every freaking weekend even though you have to be at work at 7 am (personal experience: same roommate also threw a fellow drunk person off a balcony and had ridiculous, stupid arguments with our equally childish landlord). And even if you partake in some mild substances, for the love of God make sure you don't live with anyone who gets high on cough syrup and repeatedly smashes his vacuum cleaner, or someone who panhandles so he can buy heroin instead of looking for a job (more personal experiences). Getting my own apartment was one of the best things that ever happened to me and is worth every extra penny.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm pro roommate, but it's also because I'm bad at living alone. Although I do extensive 'interviews' on similar lifestyles or at least similar values and have been pretty OK on finding people similar to me. I do live with other PhDs though, preferably other incoming people in a cohort can be a good option/and or people already in the department/ or maybe through someone you know like that.


DO get an individual lease if possible though and do make some sort of agreements/rules in general. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 3/30/2019 at 12:25 PM, Psygeek said:

Although I do extensive 'interviews' on similar lifestyles or at least similar values and have been pretty OK on finding people similar to me.

This. You may still have issues, but you're unlikely to deal with drugs, heavy partiers, and other drama if you meet someone beforehand.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

And don't be afraid to google people lol. You'd be surprised what you may dig up that you wish you'd had none beforehand. People don't seem to be that good at making their facebook profiles private

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
14 hours ago, Psygeek said:

And don't be afraid to google people lol. You'd be surprised what you may dig up that you wish you'd had none beforehand. People don't seem to be that good at making their facebook profiles private

Very true!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I will be living with a roommate next year. It'll also my first appartement (I still live with my family). At first, I was thinking of moving out on my own, but one of my friends introduced me to this girl who will also be starting her PhD in the same university as me (but in another program). I also googled her and found that that she wrote op-eds for newspaper, did humanitarian work in Africa, considers herself to be a feminist, anti-racist researcher. I met her a few weeks ago at a café, and she also doesn't drink, doesn't smoke, doesn't party much (just like me). I think my friend did a good job in thinking we would be a good fit. Plus, we're going to support each other during the first year of PhD studies.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)
On 3/30/2019 at 9:50 AM, bibliophile222 said:

I'm also in the anti-roommate camp due to an absurd amount of drama over the years. No offense to those in their twenties, but seriously, people in their early twenties sometimes have a ridiculous amount of petty, childish reactions to very minor problems.

If you do go the roommate route, I recommend making a list of necessary compatible features and agreeing on them ahead of time. For instance, if you're not super-neat, don't end up with a super-neat roommate or they'll be nagging you because you left like three toast crumbs on the cutting board (personal experience). If you're not into partying, don't get a roommate who hosts a loud party every freaking weekend even though you have to be at work at 7 am (personal experience: same roommate also threw a fellow drunk person off a balcony and had ridiculous, stupid arguments with our equally childish landlord). And even if you partake in some mild substances, for the love of God make sure you don't live with anyone who gets high on cough syrup and repeatedly smashes his vacuum cleaner, or someone who panhandles so he can buy heroin instead of looking for a job (more personal experiences). Getting my own apartment was one of the best things that ever happened to me and is worth every extra penny.

I feel this on a spiritual level. I've had my fair share of roommate drama from a low-key drug dealer (who was the son of the landlord) to a friend who ended up stealing over 400$ from me. I've had roommates from off of craigslist and ones that I've known well before, and it never has worked out well. Even when I didn't have crazy roommates, I've definitely experienced passive aggression from "leaving bread crumbs on the counter" per se. I've also had the opposite side of spectrum where I've found myself scrubbing slime off of my roommate's george foreman to mitigate the foul stench of the kitchen. 

Even if you screen your roommate there are plenty of other things that can go wrong. From my own experience, I notice that landlords who rent multiple rooms to college kids tend to be sketchier than those renting apartments (obviously there are exceptions). For example, I had a landlord who didn't screen potential tenants prior to visiting the house, so it ended up getting burglarized by criminals who scoped it out and used fake emails and names. I've also had landlords who have refused to fix things or deal with pests. I've had a much better experience with renting my own apartment from a reputable company. 

TL;DR screen screen screen the roommate if you can't afford to live alone 

If you can't live alone for financial reasons, living with a significant other is a good option if you're at that point in the relationship. 

Edited by crackademik

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I had 1 apartment with roommates and that turned me off to them forever. That being said, most roommate horror stories I've heard of were undergraduate situations. Take this as you will, but everyone I've known who was a grad student and roomed with another grad student got along fine. Some issues, but that will always happen when you live with other people (family or significant others included). Typically, 2 doctoral students will be more mature than the average undergrad roommate. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 @pnc95Boy howdy, this quite the question! During my entire undergrad, I lived with roommates. I stayed with some of the same people for a long time, but drama can definitely happen for sure. Sometimes having your roommates as friends can be wonderful but also just as equally bad. I lived with three of my friends for about a year or so until drama happened. Two of my friends/roommates started to argue all the time and things got so bad that one person left. Because of this, the apartment complex we were in found someone else to take over her room. It was definitely hard to get used to having someone else living in that room. However, we were very friendly to her, but it took her some time to open up to us. Over time, we became acquaintances, but never close. Things eventually went downhill after living with the new roommate for a year. She started smoking various things in her room, stinking up the whole apartment. The apartment was non-smoking. We tried telling her that we didn't like the smell. Long story short, things got so tense to the point that she snapped and started yelling at us and talking about punching us. We tried to get her evicted because we didn't feel comfortable sharing a space with her, but the apartment had a policy where she couldn't be evicted on the first strike or something. So, she still lived there, but we definitely didn't talk to her ever again. However, the other two roommates I had for what felt forever were great. We went grocery shopping together. Cooked and baked together. Ate meals together. Went out together. I am still very close to them now.

Soooo, my advice is that having roommates can be unpredictable, even if they are your friends. Also, not all roommates that start out as strangers are bad too. Conflict between people who live together is just inevitable sometimes. If you do end up finding a place with roommates, make sure that you have individual leases so you don't get penalized when one of the them ends up leaving. Also, be prepared for drama. Even if you find someone similar to you to live with, you are going to butt heads on something, such dishes in the sink, who can do laundry on Wednesdays, and asking for room in the freezer.

I honestly want to live by myself when I move for grad school because I have never had a place to myself, but it definitely seems cheaper to live with roommates. You just might have to make that sacrifice until you can afford to live by yourself. Just make sure that your living situation isn't stressful, or else you will dread going home and sleeping in your own bed.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.