When you move to a new city, almost everything is unfamiliar. You have to make new friends, figure out how to time your commute just right, and possibly deal with new weather conditions.
While you may think living alone will save you some stress, living with roommates can make your transition to your new home easier in both a financial and social sense.
Before you make the big decision of whether or not you want to live with roommates, consider the following reasons why you should consider living with housemates.
1. You'll have someone to celebrate and commiserate with.
Life is full of ups and downs. When you move to a new city, you'll inevitably miss your bus, screw something up at your internship, and miss your best friend. If you live alone, it's easy to get caught up worrying and thinking about all your problems.
However, when you live with a roommate, you have someone to talk to about your problems. I'm not saying it's a good idea to treat your housemate as your therapist, but it is a good idea to open up a little bit. The chances are good that they're dealing with some of the same things you are.
I lived in a rural town in Virginia in my early 20s. The place was beautiful and my coworkers were great, but I was struggling with the transition from a vibrant college town of over 100,000 people to a county that was home to about 7,000.
At the end of the day, my roomies and I often gathered in the dining area to eat dinner and talk. As we opened up about missing our friends and the uncertainties about the future, I felt my stress and anxieties diminish. Even if my worries were still there, it felt great to know I wasn't alone.
Another perk was that I had people to explore the area with. The nearest grocery store was twenty minutes away, but a man named Roy had made a group of sheds into a makeshift store. One day, my roommates and I loaded in the car and went to Roy's. After getting over our fears of walking up to a stranger's property, we walked into a small building lined with Amish baked goods, bags and bags of dried beans, and fresh fruit from Roy's orchard.
2. You won't have to do chores alone.
Sure, you can end up with a bad roommate who makes a mess and never cleans it up. But if you put in the work to find a compatible roommate, rather than just a random person off of Craigslist, you might find having a roommate makes it easier to take care of your living space.
In that small town in Virginia, I lived in a tiny house with five other people. Oh, and it was on a vegetable farm. That means we were constantly tracking in dirt and bringing home piles and piles of fresh vegetables. We knew if we didn't make a cleaning schedule, our living situation would get out of control.
The great thing about living with roommates was that I only had to clean up a certain area of the house each week. Sure, I picked up after myself and did my own dishes. But each week I only had to wash the kitchen floor or empty the dishwasher or vacuum the rugs in the common areas. So while you think you might have to clean less in your own place, this might not be the case.
3. You can save money.
Living in a new city, especially areas like San Francisco and New York City, is expensive. With the cost of rent plus all the new things to do and place to eat, you might be racking up a high credit card bill in no time. If you're looking to save money, consider living with roommates.
Say you want to live alone in San Francisco. Even if you live in a studio apartment, you'll pay around $2,000 in rent, at the very least. If you live in a two-bedroom apartment and split the cost with one roommate, each roommate will pay around $1,550 for your share of the rent. If you share a bedroom, the cost of rent will be even less for each renter.
Along with saving money on rent, you might also be able to save a bit of money on food and entertainment by sharing costs with your housemate. And shared meals are a great way to make your new space feel more like home.
4. Yes, you can still have your own space.
I often hear people say they don't want to live with others become they're an introvert or they want their own space. Well, you can live with a roommate and still have space that is all yours!
During my junior and senior year of college, I shared a college apartment with three others. While our apartment was sizable, I shared a very small bedroom with my roommate. We only had 10 inches of space between own beds! Despite this, I never felt like I was lacking personal space. If one of us needed a quiet space to relax, we knew all we had to do was ask the other person if we could have the bedroom to ourselves for a bit. Also, we all had different schedules, so it was rare that all four of us were home at the same time.
Remember, communication is key—even if you're sharing a space with someone who seems like the perfect roommate! And communicating is easier if you start by asking questions before you begin living together. Also, remember to address problems the first time they occur. If you wait, your roommate situation falls into a downward spiral.
If really value your alone time (or have a significant other that often spends the night) it's a good idea to have your own bedroom. But, you can still share your living room and kitchen with your flatmate! Also, you can always look for a larger apartment if you want more space.
Find the right roommate.
If I've convinced you it's a good idea to share your living space with a roommate, remember that the people you share your space with can make or break your living situation. So, make sure to start your roommate search early and thoroughly vet your roommate.
If you take the time to find a compatible roommate, moving to a new city will cause you less financial and emotional stress. If you're lucky, you may even end up with a new friend.