Like any middle-income earner with multiple financial obligations, I’m always thinking of different ways to cut down on expenses. Also like any middle-income earner, one of my largest expenses is housing.
Rent has never been fun to pay, but the 1st of the month is even more unpleasant since moving to a city with a higher cost of living. My husband and I currently pay $2000 for a one-bedroom apartment, which is a far cry from the $800 a month we paid back in the Midwest.
Since this is a big adjustment, we have found ourselves toying with the idea of finding a roommate or two. Just having one person to split the cost would put a grand back in our budget, which sounds heavenly.
As nice as it would be to have that extra money for saving or debt repayment, I’m hesitant to go that route. My track record with roommates hasn’t been enjoyable to say the least. Three out of four of those experiences ended on a bad note, and after the final catastrophe, I swore I would never have a roommate again.
Here are a few reasons behind the decision to live without roommates:
Sharing Space is Tricky
One thing I remember when living with roommates was the negotiation that came with everything from refrigerator space to parking. A lot of times I felt like I got the short end of the stick.
In my previous living situations, I was always the one with the least amount of stuff, and subsequently, the least allotted space. When you live with multiple people, it doesn’t make sense to put three sets of furniture in the living room, so most times my roommates’ belongings occupied the common areas.
This often left me feeling awkward about lounging around on someone else’s loveseat, especially when they had company over. Also, when a previous roommate abruptly decided to move out and take all of her furniture with her, it left me with nothing to lounge on at all.
Everyone Has Different Values
Human beings are strange creatures, and even the coolest person can be a nightmare to live with if their values vastly differ from your own. Things that seem like common sense—like cleaning up after yourself and giving a heads up when you’re having guests—aren’t so common for everyone.
We often show our best selves when we’re out at work or with friends, but it’s harder to keep it up when we’re at home. Screening roommates prior to moving in with them is a good idea but still not foolproof if they turn out to be a bad fit.
The Risk of Financial Stability Being Compromised
One of the worst-case scenarios when dealing with roommates, is if they don’t pay rent and leave you to foot the bill. As luck would have it, this happened to me. Fortunately, I was able to cover my ex-roommate’s unpaid portion, but I wasn’t happy about it.
Reiterating the point on values, some people just don’t care about their credit taking a hit for unpaid utilities or crappy rental history. My husband and I have put a lot of work into getting in a good place with our finances. I’m not comfortable with jeopardizing that if a potential roommate were to skip out on rent.
Life has plenty of unforeseen bumps that can knock you back financially, but I prefer not to let an unreliable roommate be one of them.
Privacy is a Priority
I’ve always been a private person, and now that I’m married, it’s even more important to have alone time for myself, and with my husband. I can only imagine the awkwardness of wanting to cuddle on the sofa while another person is binge watching Netflix.
Romantic dinners at home or heart-to-heart conversations would be rare, unless we coordinated our schedules accordingly. Still, I like the flexibility we have, and the freedom to plan at-home activities as a couple.
There Are Other Ways to Cut Expenses
As mentioned earlier, rent is the largest expense in our budget. While it takes a big chunk of monthly income, the decision to opt out of roommates means being conservative in other areas.
We share a vehicle, which is paid off, so that cuts out a monthly car payment. We don’t have cable and share internet with our neighbor, and our cell phone bills cost us $100 a month combined.
This is the part of personal finance I think is most important. I often see advice that preaches cutting back on every expense possible. In my opinion, it’s fine to spend more in a few categories as long as you prioritize those and spend less in other ways. If we had expensive rent, car payments, and expensive cell phone plans, we’d probably be drowning financially. But keeping most expenses low gives us room to pay more for rent.
Peace of Mind is Worth More Than Saving a Few Dollars
The further I progress in life, the more I understand the value of things that don’t come with a set dollar amount. Having a roommate would cut rent in half, but the stress and discomfort it could cause, wouldn’t be worth it.
That’s why I advocate doing what’s best for you, rather than forcing your needs into one-size-fits-all standards. Choosing to live without roommates doesn’t mean you’re selfish or entitled, and it doesn’t mean you don’t value spending wisely.
I’ll admit; it hurts a little when the rent payment comes out every month, but the relief it gives from the uncertainty of living with roommates, is priceless.