In just five years since college, I have experienced every living situation imaginable (read on for the list). Based upon my rental resume, one would think that once I found myself living alone, in a modest one bedroom, I would stay put. I didn’t.
Recently I made the difficult – but financially wise – decision to give up an apartment all by myself to move to a shared condo with a roommate. For the forfeited privacy, I will save $400 a month.
Sharing living space is never easy, but I think it is often most difficult when you are friends with (or in love with) your housemate(s). In fact, sometimes rooming with strangers makes a lot of sense. How do I know? Chalk it up to experience. Here’s a breakdown of where I’ve lived since college:
- I rented a 10×12 room in New York City, across the street from a Harlem housing project, sharing the apartment with an immigrant single mother and her teenage son.
- I lived back at home with my parents.
- I lived with my girlfriend.
- I rented a room in a home owned by a couple of guys my age.
- I lived alone in a one bedroom apartment.
Now, I am back to living in a condo with a roommate (sometimes two, on the few days a month the owner is not traveling internationally).
When I was living with roommates previously, I couldn’t wait to have “a place of my own”.
Once I got that place, it was everything I had hoped for: peace and quiet 24 hours a day, and the freedom to cook, play the guitar, or have friends over whenever I pleased.
But, boy, did it cost me. It cost $1,000 a month, to be exact. Now, that rent included utilities – even cable and internet – and was a great deal for Eastern Massachusetts. But at the end of a year in that apartment, I realized I was paying for space I didn’t use, and didn’t need. Though I had achieved one goal of living alone, I was also deferring my other goal of owning a home, because every month of expensive rent was less I could put into the bank.
Between visiting friends, visiting my parents just fifteen minutes away, and traveling for business, I was hardly home. When I was home, I was usually sleeping. So I sucked up my pride, hit Craigslist, and amazingly found a perfect shared living situation just a mile from my old apartment (and my job – I got to keep my super-easy commute!)
In addition to having a bedroom and private bath on the 3rd floor of the condo, I had a great first impression of my roommate, which always helps. Two weeks in and we have hardly seen each other, which seems typical for busy professionals our age.
So far, I don’t miss living alone. I know sooner or later I will, but then I’ll just look at the $400 going into my bank account each month and all will be well.
Have you ever lived in a strange situation to save money? Or gone out on your own despite the expense? I’d love to know!