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It’s no secret that housing costs have reached astronomical levels. If you’re unsure how to pay rent or want to save for a home of your own, you might consider sharing the space. Are roommates worth it? Only you can decide.
Everyone has different tolerance levels in terms of noise and dirt. Additionally, your home should be a refuge — not a source of ongoing tension and battles. Are roommates worth the hassle? Here are eight considerations before taking the plunge and placing an ad on a finder app.
Arguments in Favor of Roommates
Many people consider roommates worth it because of the benefits they bring. These extend beyond mere financial matters. People are inherently social, and living alone can leave many feeling isolated — as the pandemic illustrated. This isolation contributes to mental health challenges and increases all-cause mortality, making you more likely to get sick and suffer more severe symptoms when you do.
Many people consider camaraderie alone sufficient reason to make roommates worth it. Here are four other factors that tip the scales in favor of rooming with a buddy.
1. Save Money
Money is probably the number one reason why people take on roommates. Splitting the bills in half or three ways can make an unmanageable budget possible.
However, part of your challenge is ensuring your potential roommate is financially reliable. Don’t be shy about asking tough money questions when you interview possible matches. For example, you might inquire about the following:
- What is your typical monthly income? Does it vary by job or by season?
- How stable is your employment? What is your job history?
- What is your credit score? Are you willing to undergo a credit check as part of the application?
- Have you ever paid rent late, and why?
You might also inquire if they ever work from home, especially if you telecommute. While some people have no problem sharing working and living space, others find the extra togetherness too much. Additionally, either of you might have requirements, like frequent conference calls, that will alter the living conditions of the other.
2. Safety in Numbers
Living alone can be scary, especially if you’re uncertain about your ability to defend yourself or have a trauma history. There’s safety in numbers, and you might consider roommates worth it for the security they provide.
For example, nearly one in three women become a victim of stalking during their lifetime. Having a roommate makes it harder for criminals to pinpoint when you might be alone — they must follow at least two schedules, not just one. Additionally, thieves aren’t likely to burgle a house when they suspect someone is home, and you’re less likely to walk in on an intruder with more than one car in your driveway.
3. Learn and Grow From One Another
You know there’s a simple formula to fix your Excel spreadsheet — but you can’t remember it. If only you could ask Barb in Accounting, but she’s now living and working in Karachi, where it’s 1:00 a.m.
Another reason roommates are worth it is because two heads are better than one. Whether you’re troubleshooting your internet connection or figuring out the best time to run to the store to beat the crowd, you have someone else with whom to volley ideas.
4. Increased Networking Opportunities
An oft-quoted statistic is that more than 80% of new jobs fill through networking, not want ads. You get bonus points if your roommate works in your industry. However, you never know — the most chance, unrelated meetings can evolve into opportunities. Having a roommate is worth it for all the new people you can meet, doubling your network.
Arguments Against Getting Roommates
Although roommates are worth it for many reasons, there are also arguments against them. What should give you pause? Consider the following.
1. Privacy — or Lack Thereof
Your bedroom is your sanctuary. You thought it went without saying that your private room was your business — but you can tell someone’s been rifling through your closet and makeup collection in your absence. Worse, your roommate barges in to borrow hairspray while you’re in the bathroom getting ready in the morning.
Privacy issues lie at the heart of many roommate conflicts. It helps to set aside time to talk about boundaries upon moving in and periodically touch base to avoid flared tempers. Different families have widely varying lifestyles, with some thinking little of borrowing each other’s clothes and hairbrushes and others following a strict hands-off policy. You must communicate your desires to your roommate and agree upon standards you both feel comfortable with.
Even though there’s safety in numbers, your roommate could unwittingly endanger you. For example, your roommate brings home a friend or romantic partner who begins spending an inordinate amount of time at your apartment. What can you do if they give you the creeps?
Ensure you and your roommate agree on the following:
- Locking doors: You should do so even when at home.
- Setting the alarm: The best security system won’t protect you if one of you routinely forgets to set it.
- Open windows: if you share a ground-floor apartment, ensure you and your roommate agree to close and lock all windows before leaving to prevent an easy ingress and egress point.
Just once, you’d like to spend a quiet Friday evening at home sipping tea and watching reruns of “Downtown Abbey.” However, that’s your roommate’s game night, and even the best noise-canceling headphones won’t drown out the din of them shouting at their PC in the next room.
Here, too, communication is key. While devices such as bed tents can create privacy in dorm situations, you must also use consideration and empathy. For example, would it kill you to save the reheated salmon for a night when your roommate is away or to cook it outside instead of in the communal kitchen if you know the odor triggers their migraines?
4. Lack of Stability
Even the best roommate situations often involve friends coming together for a common cause, such as saving money to buy a home. What happens when one of you reaches your goal or experiences a life change before the other(s)?
For example, it creates quite an issue for the remaining roommate if neither of you can afford rent solo and one of you moves out. Discuss such possibilities in advance and agree on what you will do in writing. For example, you might require the departing roommate to locate a suitable replacement —- but remember that you may have to accept their alternative or find your own if you disagree.
Are Roommates Worth It?
The housing market is tough, making more people wonder if roommates are worth it. In the right circumstances, they can increase your sense of security and help you save money while easing loneliness.
However, sharing your home isn’t easy. Factor in these eight considerations before deciding if roommates are worth it for you and placing an ad on a finder.