Whether living alone or with roommates, there are always trade-offs. Your living space is central to your quality of life. If you’re on a budget, carefully weigh the options of privacy versus cost savings to select the best living arrangement for you.
Your budget, and how you spend your money, are key to determining whether you need roommates in order to afford an apartment. Based on your take-home pay, determine how much rent you can afford. Keep in mind that most landlords won’t rent to you if the monthly rent is too high a percentage of your pay.
Factor in utilities and daily living expenses, as well as entertainment. Compare these numbers to the average rent in the areas where you’re looking for an apartment. If you can afford the rent and living expenses, then you have the option of living alone.
Your priorities determine which is more important to you, privacy or cost savings. Set your priorities by evaluating factors such as location, space requirements and amenities. Splitting costs with a roommate allows you to opt for a larger apartment or a building with amenities such as a fitness room or pool. It may also help you to afford an apartment closer to work or school, thereby shortening your commute.
Living with others provides company, if you prefer not to be alone. And, having roommates can increase your security by providing someone who knows your schedule and who can assist you in an emergency.
Evaluating How Roommates Affect You
Your personality and lifestyle are important considerations when deciding whether to live alone or with roommates. If you’re shy or just prefer to keep to yourself, privacy may be of primary importance to you.
Realistically assess your personality and how other people affect you. If you have trouble getting along with others, or a need for peace and quiet, you may have difficulty living with roommates. On the other hand, if you enjoy interacting with people and tend to feel lonely, roommates may enhance your sense of well-being, even if you don’t always get along.
Your interests and occupation should also be considered. As an artist or writer, you may find it difficult to concentrate on your work when having to accommodate the lifestyles and activities of your roommates. As a student, having noisy roommates may affect your ability to study.
Weighing the Pros and Cons
Unlike a family unit, your roommates have their own life and you have yours. Try to imagine how living with people, unrelated to you, will affect your ability to live your own life comfortably. Estimate which trade-off, privacy or loss of other factors, will have a greater impact on your quality of life.
Either choice, privacy or cost savings, has pros and cons, but thinking them out ahead of time will save you lots of grief down the road.
Lisa Bernstein: As a long-time apartment dweller and seasoned condominium trustee, I have dealt with numerous landlord-tenant, property management, and day-to-day apartment complex issues. My extensive, direct experience has led to invaluable insights into apartment life from both the tenant and management perspectives.