Pros and Cons of Roommates
A huge part of the college experience is having roommates. Good roommates, bad roommates, college students experience them all. We have all heard a college roommate horror story or met someone who became best friends with a college roommate. There are many reasons why college students choose (or do not choose) to live with roommates during those crucial four years at university. Each person, each situation, and each roommate is different. You have to weigh out the pros and cons of each situation as it arises before you make a decision—that way you can be sure that you are making the right, and best, decision possible. Read on to learn some of the pros and cons of having roommates!
There are several benefits to living with a roommate while at college. Not sure what that might entail? Check out the detailed list of pros below!
One of the major reasons that students choose to have roommates while at college is simply because it is cheaper. College is one of the most expensive undertakings a person can undergo—and that is just tuition! The cost of living is higher when you are on your own and no longer living with your family. Sharing a living space makes costs go way down. If you live alone, you have to pay for the entire rent, the entire utility bill, all the cable and internet bills, renters insurance, and more. There is no one to share it with.
Fortunately, the bills do not increase proportionally for every roommate you add to an equation. Say a studio apartment costs $650 a month to rent. If you wanted a place with two bedrooms, it would not necessarily cost you $650 x 2. It would more likely cost you $850. $850 split in two ($425) is a lot more reasonable an amount to pay per month for rent. The same with utilities and the rest of the bills you need to pay. The amounts do not go up in proportion to the number of people living there. It is having the initial set up and maintenance of a utility or service that keeps it at a base price each month. And each roommate that you add without the prices going up too much just helps you to keep your costs down low.
Being able to split all of those fees will really help you to save money in the long run and make sure all of your bills and expenses are covered. You can even split grocery bills to make sure that you do not buy too much food, that it all gets eaten, and that nothing goes to waste. Being able to stay financially secure will make your college experience a lot less stressful, so if a roommate can provide you with that financial stability, why not try it out?
Larger Living Space
Often when you have an apartment, dorm room, or house that is meant to house more than one person, the shared living spaces are larger to reflect it. A studio apartment does not offer much space, and the living room and kitchen for a one bedroom apartment will also be pretty tight. But the space you will find in shared living spaces in a two or three bedroom domicile? Much less snug of a fit. It is not only your living room that will be bigger but most likely your kitchen too! The larger living space might even be reflected in your bathroom or bedroom size, especially if the bathroom is intended to be shared. Even if you have to share a space like a bathroom, having a bigger one usually makes the experience more pleasant.
Living by yourself is not always the safest. Without another person in your daily, and I mean daily, life, there are more ways for you to fall through the cracks. If you get sick, who will know? Who will be able to help you, even to a minute degree? If you experience a home invasion or some other tragedy, who else will notice that something has gone wrong, that you are off schedule, that you are not where you are supposed to be? Yes, you have family and friends, but do you see each of them every day while you are at college? Probably not. A roommate knows your schedule and habits. They will be the first to notice if something is wrong and may be able to do so quickly enough that you can actually be helped.
Burglars and other invaders are also much less likely to target homes that have multiple people living in it, especially if they have different schedules. If one person lives in a place, it is much easier to track their schedules. And if they do come home in the middle, one person is much more easily dispatched than multiple. Having a roommate can often keep you and your household a lot more secure.
Have a Built-In Friend/Support System
Going hand in hand with the idea of safety, having roommates really can provide you with a support system you otherwise would not have. Your family and friends can only do so much from wherever they are living. Roommates are up close and personal, in your face, in your space, and in your life.
Sometimes, it is nice to just come home to someone at the end of the day. You go home after a long day of work and school and someone is there, a friendly and familiar face. Maybe you are not close enough for you to vent about your day; maybe you are. But living with another person gives you a more intimate relationship—through little details, you come to know each other better than most people ever will, even if you are not exactly friends.
Even if you do not know your roommate very well or are even complete strangers when you first move in, you will end up with a bond by the end. A sense of camaraderie, a sense of respect—these things can very easily be developed. And if you already know or are friends with your roommate before you move in together, your relationship will deepen as well.
And sometimes, a roommate can end up being your very best friends. As American Filmmaker, Richard Linklater once said, “The people you live with at college, those first roommates often are people you're still friends with the rest of your life.”
Just as there are many pros to having a roommate, there are also many cons. These should also be weighed very carefully before you sign any lease or contract. You do not want to get stuck in a situation that makes you uncomfortable. Check out the list of why a roommate might not be the best option for you.
Having a roommate definitely means that you will have less privacy. If you have shared spaces, like a shared bedroom or bathroom, you will very much be in each other’s personal space. Especially when you share a bedroom, it can be hard to give each other any personal or alone time because you simply have no other place to go, like in a dorm room. Even if you do not share a bedroom, it can be hard not to feel watched or judged as you make excursions into the living room and other shared spaces. It can feel like they know, watch, and keep track of your every move. It is not a great feeling to feel judged by your roommate. And sometimes, you can’t just pick up and go to the library or sit in a dorm study room to give or get your own space—these are not always options.
For some people, personal time and being able to retreat away from the world and other people is incredibly vital. When you never have any space or distance from other people to recharge or unwind, it can be detrimental to your health, emotional well-being, and can put your relationships at risk because it becomes such a frustrating experience. No one wants a roommate situation to become a war zone or to let frustrations boil over to that point. However, if you are not used to handling a roommate and know how important privacy is to you, having a roommate might not be the best option for you. You need to feel very comfortable in your dorm, apartment, or house because while you are at college, it really is your home. And home is supposed to be a safe place.
Another con to having roommates while in college is that you will often have clashing expectations. This is to be expected to a certain extent. No one comes from the same backgrounds or situations—you are setting up camp with a person who was raised and who lives in a manner that is probably very different from you. What you take to be blatant might not be so clear to you and vice versa. Maybe your family was more relaxed about cleaning and housework—it did not have to be done right away as long as it was completed in the end. But maybe your roommate expects you to clean up after yourself, immediately, right away, and without delay—after all, that is how they were raised and expected to behave. It is not as if you were not going to clean it up—but it can start an argument that you did not clean it up fast enough.
Or maybe it is the other way around. If you wanted to bring guests into your home, you would run it by your roommate first to make sure it was okay—that they felt comfortable having people in the space you guys share, especially if you are bringing over people they do not know. But your roommate is the opposite—they never think to ask you if it is okay to bring people over and they bring lots of people into your home, people you have never met before and might not feel that comfortable around. This can cause friction between you – you have different expectations, and it can be hard for you guys to get back on the same page about these kinds of issues.
It can be hard to clearly lay out your expectations without someone feeling like they are having their toes stepped on or that the other party is being unreasonable. If you feel like you cannot follow rules or cannot abide by someone who might break your own rules or ever dash your expectations, roommates might not be the best fit for you.
Connecting back to the idea of clashing expectations, if you do not have a lot of patience, then having roommates may still not be a good fit for you. Even when you set up expectations, it can be difficult to change the way you have always lived or what you presumed to be acceptable behavior. There will always be mix-ups, accidental violations of the expectations, and times when the expectations are too untenable and do not work out or are unachievable. It happens to the best of us. But if you cannot learn to roll with the punches and every minor or accidental violation of a rule sets your teeth so much on edge that you cannot bear to live or be around a person, living on your own, on your own terms, might be more comfortable for you.
Roommates can be the best and roommate can also be the worst. You have a lot of pros and cons to weigh when making such a decision, which should not be made lightly. You need to make the decision that will best enable you to get the most out of your college experience. You want to do well, feel well, and be well. Think out your options carefully before you commit so you know whether or not having a roommate will work for you.
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