Is getting your own apartment worth the money?
May 14, 2016 2:59 PM   Subscribe

I'm really on the fence about this.

I've never had my own place, had roommates since I was 19 (i'm now 28). At times they have driven me crazy but at other times, I've loved it, depending on my state of mind and on the people.

I always thought I'd never want a roommate after the age of 27 (no idea how I came up with that number). And lately I've thought that my mental health would benefit from having my own space.

but then this thought is balanced out by the thought of never having lived alone, and how I hate even being alone in my apartment and have trouble sleeping when no one's around. I just like having another human in the place

Now I have enough money to get an okay apartment in Montreal by myself. But if I had a roommate and split that rent (like I do currently), I could get a really awesome place.

My current roomie is up for renting together, and the amount which he annoys me is balanced out by our easy, open communication and ability to express ourselves to each other with out stress (we have known each other for about 2 years). He's not GREAT with his money (buys guitars when he should be saving his paycheque for RENT and stuff), but because I feel confortable discussing any issues with him (he's super chill and will never get mad at me), I don't feel he would ever leave me hanging financially.

I am a cheap woman. I love to save my money. And I would love to be able to buy an apartment some day. Or save up and go traveling or go back to school. Or save money for my kid's college fund (when I have the kid)

Can you give me any experiences about living alone for the first time? Is it worth the money?
Is living with a roomie at my age going to start seeming weird?
posted by winterportage to Home & Garden (33 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I find living alone a little lonely (and expensive), and I'm an introvert. I'm closer to 30 now but if my boyfriend and I ever stopped living together I'd probably go back to having roommates, at least at first.
posted by stoneandstar at 3:16 PM on May 14, 2016

I hate even being alone in my apartment and have trouble sleeping when no one's around. I just like having another human in the place

If this is true, then NO, it is not worth getting your own apartment. You will be paying more money jut to be lonely. The upside, solitude, is the opposite of what you want.

Also, if you get a great apartment with your current roomie, who is not good with money, how do you know your current roomie will afford it? Might be good to look for another roomie who is good with money before you commit to a more expensive abode.
posted by Thella at 3:17 PM on May 14, 2016 [11 favorites]

For me, it is absolutely vital to my personal happiness that I live without roommates. I've been living in an apartment by myself (with a dog) for over four years.

Even though I live alone, I never really feel alone living in a densely populated part of a large city. I am surrounded by people and neighbors at all hours of the day, but I don't actually have to deal with any of them if I don't want to, and that's a great system for me.

The only downsides for me are: 1) getting lazy about keeping my apartment neat, 2) getting lazy about cooking actual meals, and 3) no one to pinch hit for the dog if I want to be out late. But those aren't career-ending things, it's more about being self-disciplined and taking responsibility for yourself when you need to.

I don't have any of the difficulties you describe about falling asleep or fears of loneliness that you do, that's just not how I'm built. With that in mind I'm not sure you'd have the same positive experience I do living alone.

Personally I wouldn't trade it for anything. No pants ever if I don't wanna, my computer is just the TV in the living room and I don't have to care about anyone else seeing my personal info, pooping with the door open, no one annoying me with their's pretty good, man.
posted by phunniemee at 3:21 PM on May 14, 2016 [17 favorites]

I got my own place when I just could not after a roommate from hell. It was lonely; I got a cat. Then I got a temp roommate (because, expensive). Then I got a boyfriend ergo perma-roommate. I think if you don't have an undying urge to live alone, you should keep living with people and save your money for now.
posted by DoubleLune at 3:22 PM on May 14, 2016 [3 favorites]

I always had roommates until I was 30, then I lived alone for a year, and then I had roommates for a few years in my early thirties. I've lived alone for the last 4 years. I always (for the most part) liked having roommates until I suddenly ... didn't. For me the tip-off that I was ready to live alone was that I started getting really irritated with the kinds of roommate things that used to only minorly bug me.

For me, living alone has been a mixed bag. Like you, I used to hate sleeping in an empty house, but that hasn't really been an issue living alone; I don't expect anyone else to be home so it's not weird that they aren't. I really enjoy the freedom to do whatever I want and not feel like I have to answer to anyone, or make conversation if I don't feel like it. On the other hand, I'm more extroverted than introverted, so unless I am proactive about getting out of the house and seeing people, I can get a bit out of sorts. Oh also, I am a big slob and that can get sort of out of hand living alone.

It doesn't sound like you are really driven to live alone yet, and you seem to have a pretty good set-up with your current roommate, so I'd just keep doing that as long as it's feasible. If you are feeling like you want more of your own space, maybe you guys could get a place where you could have a master bedroom or something like that? I once lived in a house where I had enough space in my bedroom for a little living area and that was really nice - I could hang out there when I wanted alone time, but I still had roommates around.
posted by lunasol at 3:23 PM on May 14, 2016 [2 favorites]

I've lived alone and with a variety of roommates; it's definitely more expensive to live alone between rent and bills. I LOVE living alone; even with my current great housemates I've got a keen eye on moving out as soon as I can afford my own place. It sounds like you really need someone else around, though -- my advice, bottom line, is save your money and keep a housemate. Although maybe keep an eye out for one that doesn't spend their rent money.
posted by kalimac at 3:25 PM on May 14, 2016 [1 favorite]

Oh, and don't worry too much about how it seems to other people. 1. Lots of people in their thirties in big cities have roommates because, well, it's expensive! 2. You can go broke (or at least compromise your future financial health) trying to keep up the appearances of what a person your age is "supposed" to be doing.
posted by lunasol at 3:27 PM on May 14, 2016 [4 favorites]

I LOVE living alone. I love going to sleep knowing there's nobody else in the house, or hanging out on the couch all day knowing that there's no chance I'll see another person unless I actively leave the house, etc. It doesn't sound like you'd get the same benefits, and in fact these might even be drawbacks for you. I'm in my early 30's and most of my friends are either living with a partner or live with roommates - living alone is definitely just one among a range of normal choices.
posted by the agents of KAOS at 3:31 PM on May 14, 2016 [5 favorites]

I am a person who was made to live alone. But I knew that about myself after about the first month of having roommates. I never liked having people around even when they were my close friends, I was giddy and euphoric any rare time I was actually alone in the apartment at the relief of not having people in the same space, and my god, if a roommate were away overnight? That was heavenly. If that all sounds unrelatable and unfamiliar to you, then maybe you are not a person who would benefit as much as some people do from living alone.

I bet there are some things you would like about it. Probably others you would not. Which is to say I think you could go either way happily based on what you're saying here, and it sounds like your ability to save money for things like travel that are a more clearcut win for you is a very good reason to keep living with roommates for now.
posted by Stacey at 3:36 PM on May 14, 2016 [6 favorites]

Having roommates in your late twenties / thirties becomes more normalized when you consider that many people of ALL ages live with a 'roommate' - their romantic partner. I think a lot of people don't actually like living alone, but by that stage in life a lot of people have shacked up, which is pretty damn similar to still having a roommate.

If you want a nicer and more expensive place though, you may have to trade up your roommate as well to someone more responsible.
posted by permiechickie at 3:49 PM on May 14, 2016 [2 favorites]

I don't understand what appeals to you about living alone, when you know that you dislike being alone? And you already have a roommate you do ok with?

I'm someone who LOVES being alone, and even I found living on my own to be kind of lonely after two years of being with a fairly decent roommate. If you like having another creature around then I don't know why you'd even consider it. (The age thing is totally irrelevant. It doesn't matter what anyone else thinks, and in any case, nobody is paying attention: people have their own stuff to worry about.)

Particularly since you want to save up to buy someday, I'd say yeah, stay with your roommate in a modest place that's safe and which you can both afford without trouble.
posted by fingersandtoes at 3:59 PM on May 14, 2016 [1 favorite]

It's a trade off for sure. I've lived alone for the past two years and I am thinking about going back to a roommate situation. Roommates can be annoying but like you described they provide some casual socialization during the day. The downsides are loss of privacy and independence. I like walking around in my underpants in my 1 bedroom and leaving the kitchen a mess when I don't feel like cleaning and knowing I'm not hurting anyone but myself. I think everyone should live solo at least once as an adult. It teaches you how to manage a household.
posted by deathpanels at 4:06 PM on May 14, 2016

I find sleeping alone less scary when I'm in a larger apartment building. I may be alone in my apartment, but there are people all around.

Other than that, it's really a matter of personal preference. If you like living with roommates, you get so much more home for your money. There's no reason you can't do it forever.
posted by Metroid Baby at 4:24 PM on May 14, 2016

Can you give me any experiences about living alone for the first time?

I started living alone in January of this year. I'm 30. I have always lived with roommates or family or some combination before this. I am a very solitary person and when asked to describe myself or my social life I usually say things like, "I like to keep tp myself," "I'm a loner," "I'm not very sociable." I thought I would looooooove living alone and while there are a lot of good points, I was really surprised to find it a little lonely. I often go over to auntie's house to pet her dogs and visit, just to be around people, or to a bookstore or coffeeshop for the same reason- just for the proximity and to feel less less like a hermit. I never thought I would feel that way.

It's nice to not make any compromises about roommate stuff like how clean to keep the place, when to use common spaces, what kind of household things to buy or how to use them ( likeexpensive organic cleaning products vs. cheap smelly industrial). But it also means I never come home and find that someone else has cleaned up, made dinner, or replaced the toilet paper roll.

It sounds like you value the social interaction and comfort of having someone else in the house and that for you it outweighs the roommate compromises, plus you already find being alone lonesome (I always found it delicious, desirable, my totally preferred state), plus you are financially responsible. Having a roommate sounds like a perfect set-up for you.

I don't know what you can afford or what the Montreal market is like, but in some places there are apartments where one bedroom has a "sitting room" or a porch, or part of the apartment is a separate guest cottage if you are renting a whole house...if that is possible for you, that could be a good way to have your own space, plus get the benefits of having a roommate.

I would trade up your roommate, though. One of the advantages of being a responsible late-20s professional roommate is that you can now room comfortably with other responsible late-20s professional roommates who never have to be reminded to put the rent aside. And you might feel more like you have space and room if whether your roommate will pay the rent on time isn't a worry.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 5:13 PM on May 14, 2016 [4 favorites]

I've had roommates into my 20s and 30s as well as lived alone. There are nice things about both setups. In my opinion, there is one reason to keep having a roommate which can't be equalled by the benefits of living on your own:

If you have a great roommate, HOLD ONTO THEM!!!!!!!!

I went from great roommates in New York to my own place in Los Angeles. I later ended up needing to move temporarily into a place that came with a roommate for complicated reasons, and that roommate was the worst. Which reminded me of all the reasons roommates suck.

Because you already have a roommate you like, though, you're not really comparing "roommate" to "no roommate", you're comparing "great roommate" to "no roommate". And, to me, it's an even match.

When I had a roommate, I always had someone to order takeout and watch movies with. I had an additional opinion on whether I should wear this outfit on my date or what. I could open a bottle of wine on a weeknight and not feel like a weirdo alkie. Not to mention being able to afford a nicer place, saving money, and all the things you mention.

When I lived on my own, though, I did spend a lot more time in my underwear.
posted by Sara C. at 5:20 PM on May 14, 2016 [6 favorites]

the only way i will ever live with another human being ever again is if we're cellmates on death row.
posted by poffin boffin at 5:23 PM on May 14, 2016 [32 favorites]

I had different roommates for several years. While living with roommates I definitely had trouble sleeping when they were gone.

When I eventually got my own place I was worried about feeling lonely or not being able to sleep, but it was fine. I acclimated quickly and became more social to compensate for living alone. Now I would be very hesitant to go back into a roommate situation.

Long and short: you are probably more capable of happily living alone than you realize, though it might take some getting used to. However it sounds like you enjoy saving money and having a roommate, so ... why not keep saving money?
posted by bunderful at 5:34 PM on May 14, 2016 [1 favorite]

I had roommates in my twenties; there were a variety of them, and I'll never EVER have another.

The first one, a part-time free-lance office temp whose rent was paid by her mommy (she was 28!), actually tricked me into going to an employment agency, because she felt I (who paid my own bills since I was 18) didn't earn enough. The second "moved out" when she was jailed for felony theft; the third disappeared after he was charged with assault & battery on his girlfriend. The fourth was the best of the lot: all she did was steal some of my shoes. The fifth moved out in the middle of the day without any warning: I came home to find he'd swiped a lot of my furniture, my cast-iron piggy bank filled with coins (it must have weighed a good 50-60 pounds, I hope he hurt himself picking it up!) and assorted other stuff, as well as leaving me to deal with his having passed bad checks to the utility companies. Fun!

Obviously I had a massive run of losers, but they convinced me living alone is more expensive but less stressful, at least for me --- no more wondering if my bed will still be there when I get home from work, for example. But if you're happy and lucky in your roommates, then by all means continue to have them!
posted by easily confused at 5:38 PM on May 14, 2016 [2 favorites]

Mostly I liked having roommates although sometimes they drove me nuts. Eventually I decided it was time to live alone, for the experience. But I worried about being lonely when I transitioned from having roommates to having my own place- so I made sure to find a small-ish building with decent common space (like a shared backyard, rooftop, pool, etc, in the building). That was great, because I made an effort to spend unstructured, slow, casual time with the neighbours (like inviting one or two other tenants to share a beer on the terrace and hang out for a couple hours). That way I felt like I got the best of both worlds- had friends in the building but my own private zone, too.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 5:39 PM on May 14, 2016 [2 favorites]

I've gone back and forth over the years and found it is better for me to live on my own. However, it sounds like it works ok for you but as someone suggested, maybe find a more compatible roommate?

Saving money is a great reason to have a roommate no matter what the age. Arbitrary "you must be this age to do/not do this" isn't really helpful in most situations. Toss that right out and do what's best for you.
posted by lunastellasol at 6:00 PM on May 14, 2016

If you have a good solid roommate relationship and are not an extreme introvert, there's no reason to rush into your own place--especially if it would make a significant financial difference. Even as an extreme introvert, I recognize that there are benefits to having roommates: someone to share the labor, someone to socialize casually with, someone to prevent you from holing up in your apartment and going insane...

In my city, it's not at all unusual for people to have roommates even through their 30s. Rent is expensive, and privacy even more so. The idea of a single adult living entirely on her own or else being a loser is pretty much a modern American/Western European one.
posted by praemunire at 6:16 PM on May 14, 2016

I don't see why this should be complicated. If you enjoy having roommates and have no burning desire to live alone, then keep having roommates!! There is no "should" here! Personally I LOVE living alone, so if I didn't have kids I would definitely be renting my own crappy little studio before sharing a "nice" house with a bunch of near-strangers. I won't voluntarily live with anyone except my children, and possibly a serious long-term significant other if I find one who doesn't drive me batshit. But if you're happy with your current roommate? I don't see the problem.
posted by celtalitha at 6:35 PM on May 14, 2016 [2 favorites]

Sometimes, people write to Metafilter asking for permission to do something.

I am telepathic and am telling you right now. You Like Your Roomie. You Are Hereby Allowed Your Roomie.
posted by feral_goldfish at 6:43 PM on May 14, 2016 [8 favorites]

How much do you value your privacy? I really loved living alone. But you're a different person.

I might think twice about living with someone who would stick me with the rent. Or that I have to worry about. I would not upgrade my living quarters with this person.

Do what you want. Blow anyone who judges you.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:48 PM on May 14, 2016 [1 favorite]

I loved living alone. I lived in all kinds of situations well into my late 30's, then met my true love and now we live together, and not always but sometimes I crave alone time other than when I'm at work. I'm a loner at heart so that works for me, and all the other upside is too good to be true. There is a difference between dwelling and home, and I think you are trying to get the best of both. So: lunasol has a great wisdom there upthread, to hell with what the norm claims to be. Do what makes you happy and don't live alone if you don't want to, but living alone can be pretty great, so don't balk at that if a great place or situation opens up for you.
posted by vrakatar at 6:54 PM on May 14, 2016

I think the important question to ask yourself is, do you feel ready to live alone? Not ready as in "adult enough"--because you obviously are--but ready in the sense that you know your mental health will be better on your own than with roommates.

I was in this position last year, and chose to renew my lease with my current roommate because I didn't feel quite ready to strike out on my own. The rent on our place was a great deal and I felt safer and less lonely with another person around the apartment. Now, as the end of our lease term nears and my roommate is relocating to a different city, I know for sure that I just can't live with roommates anymore. That's not a knock against my roommate, who is pretty decent (if not perfect); rather, I just know that I now need my own space for optimal mental health.

So, if you're at the point where you still prefer having a roommate, and you trust that your current roommate will be responsible and mature in the future, it may be your chance to keep that roommate and find that awesome place. And then, as the end of the next lease term approaches, you can reevaluate the situation.
posted by come_back_breathing at 7:05 PM on May 14, 2016 [2 favorites]

There are a bunch of milestone markers in the public consciousness and a lot of them are myths. Having a career, a romantic partner, a marriage, 2.1 kids, a motor vehicle, an apartment all to yourself... they're all myths. There are lots of ways to adult.

It doesn't really matter one way or the other and nobody's keeping score. Do what makes you happy.
posted by aniola at 8:21 PM on May 14, 2016 [7 favorites]

I love living alone. I like having total control of my living space. I like being able to stay up until 2AM watching bad movies with no one walking in and out of the room or making jokes about the movie. I like being able to eat whipped cream straight out of the can without thinking about it. I like always knowing that if I have to use the bathroom I don't have to wait. I like being able to have company without clearing it first.

That said, it sounds like you like having a roommate, so have a roommate! It's totally fine. Roommates are great. I think people look down on roommates for a lot of bullshit capitalist normcore reasons and who gives a shit about that. Go. Continue to roommate. Enjoy your life.
posted by Automocar at 8:22 PM on May 14, 2016

I love living alone, have been for the past three years. I used to live with housemates and... it was hit-or-miss. There were good ones, decent ones, and then you have the "goddammit wash your own dishes already" ones. By living alone, I have to pay all the bills and wash my own dishes, yes, but I'm very prompt about that. And I'd like to dirty my place the way I see fit, tyvm. And I can fart as loudly as I want. And there's no one around to bitch about the pile of hair on the bathroom floor.

But there's nothing wrong with having a roomie, no matter what age. If that means saving money, do it! You know you best.
posted by curagea at 8:47 PM on May 14, 2016

As rents increase and wages don't, more and more people are living with roomies. I don't think it sounds odd at all for a single person to have a roomie. Whether that's best for you is a judgment call.

But you know, living by yourself--it's a pretty odd milestone. It's not clear that it's better for people, and generally speaking, human beings tend to live with other human beings. It's only recently that living alone has become economically and practically feasible for a large number of people, and then, this is only true for some countries.

Personally, I prefer living alone, but mostly because roommates are such a gamble. If I had someone I knew I got along well with, and who wouldn't stick me on finances, I would probably want to live with them. It's more affordable, and it's nice to have people around.

You can keep your roomie if you want to keep your roomie. You can live alone if you want to live alone. I don't think that one or the other option is the "right" option. It really should be about what makes you happiest.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 10:59 PM on May 14, 2016 [1 favorite]

I lived alone for a couple years in my early 30s and mostly loved it.

I'm now in my late 30s and live with two roommates and they have become some of my closest friends (it was a Craigslist miracle when I came back to this country after being away for four years). We're discussing about buying a house together.

I get really hermit-y and reclusive when I live by myself, so having (these) roommates is a good thing for me mental health-wise. If I didn't like them so much, I would totally be trying to find a solo space.

I think it's down to how you like to live, how much privacy you want, and how weird you get when you're not around people by default sometimes.
posted by ananci at 1:34 AM on May 15, 2016

You have a roommate you like and get along with who pays rent on time and you like sharing a space? No brainer--keep that roomie and save some money! Revisit this when/if your circumstances change (thinking about buying a house, getting serious with a partner, etc.)
posted by helloimjennsco at 10:10 AM on May 16, 2016 [1 favorite]

I lived alone for 6 years and really liked it.

But I was VERY proactive about socializing. In fact I think it was a benefit because I couldn't just laze at my apartment...I'd feel too lonely. So I ended up with a LOT of friends.

I lived with a roommate for the past year and it was great....until it wasn't and my roommate is turning into a crazy person.

I think after this experience i'll go back to a solo pad, plus a dog this time. Unfortunately it's $$$$$ to live alone.

It's a very personal decision and one you'll only know the answer to by experiencing both.
posted by christiehawk at 12:44 AM on June 8, 2016

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