The big question that every college student faces: should you live alone or with roommates? Finding a new place to live and deciding who (if anyone) you should live with is a big decision to make. Before you sign that lease, do your research to figure out which living situation is best for you. To help you decide if you should live alone or with roommates, we've put together a list of pros and cons our residents have shared with us over the years. Weigh your options and you’ll have a positive experience no matter what choice you make.
Pros of living with roommates
Roommates can be a great experience. You have someone to share the burden of the apartment and hang out with. Even if you aren’t the best of friends, a dependable roommate is a valuable thing. Here are the key pros.
Enjoying a bigger apartment
With roommates to help you pay the rent, you'll likely be able to afford a bigger place than if you live alone. A bigger apartment doesn't just mean more bedrooms—it can mean more space all around. A larger living room, a second bathroom, a designated dining area—these perks are often included with bigger apartments. If all the roommates can agree on the monthly rent, a bigger apartment can be better than a small one you live in alone.
Sharing the bills
When you have roommates, utilities and other expenses can be equally shared. You can split the water bill, share the cable and internet bills, and divide the cost of the heating and air conditioning. Just make sure everyone agrees to pay their fair share. If you want to add HBO to your cable package and your roommates don't agree, you may need to pay for that extra yourself. Sharing the bills can put more money in everyone's pocket.
Having friends around
It's easy to form long-lasting relationships with the people you live with, and roommates can turn into lifelong friends. If you want a social atmosphere when you come home at the end of the day, living with others may be exactly what you need. If the roommate dynamic is right, it can be a great experience for everyone involved.
Cons of living with roommates
On the other hand, there are a few downsides to sharing your day-to-day life with another person. Here’s what to be aware of and willing to compromise on if you decide living with roommates is for you.
Sacrificing personal space
When you live with other people, personal space can be harder to find. You'll need to share a kitchen, a living room, and maybe even a bathroom, so your bedroom may be your only personal space. If you need everything to be on your own terms, living with roommates can be a bad idea. People who like to do what they want to do when they want to do it are usually happier living alone.
It's ideal if you and your roommates keep similar schedules—but that's not always the case. Conflicting schedules tend to cause riffs between roommates for many different reasons. Maybe you like to go to bed early, but your roommates always make noise when they come home late. Perhaps you prefer to stay up late watching TV, but your roommates have to get up early for work. When roommates have conflicting schedules, either from work or just their lifestyle, tensions can arise. If you do have different schedules, set some ground rules so you can all respect each other's needs.
Pros of living alone
If you decide to make your own way in your own space, there are a lot of awesome perks you’ll enjoy. Here are the main advantages of living on your own.
You can decorate however you want
When you live alone, you have total control over everything that goes on in your apartment. You can hang your own pictures on every wall. If you want a velvet purple couch, you can get one. Prefer natural sunlight to artificial light? No problem! The decorating decisions will be up to you, and no one will be able to tell you otherwise.
You can be alone
With roommates who come and go on their own schedules, you may never get the chance to be completely alone. But when you live by yourself, you can be alone as often as you like. In the mood to socialize? Invite people over. Feel like having a quiet night in to relax, read, or watch a movie? You can lock the door and enjoy having the place all to yourself.
You have total freedom
The best part about living alone is that you have complete control and total freedom. Everything that goes on in your apartment will be completely up to you. If you like your home to be squeaky clean, you can tidy up on a regular basis so it's always to your standards. If you prefer to make a mess all week long then clean up on the weekends, no one will be there to tell you otherwise. When it comes time to have friends over, you won't have to worry about clearing it with your roommates. If you want to get a cat or a dog, you can get one without having to worry about anyone's allergies or concerns (except the landlord’s).
Cons of living alone
And just as living with roommates can get tough, living without them also can be. Here’s a look at the situations and responsibilities you’ll need to accept if you decide to live alone.
You are responsible for every chore
Live alone and you'll have to do all the chores yourself. You'll be responsible for cleaning the bathroom, taking out the trash, and other unpleasant things. Sure, if you don’t do them, there’s no one there to yell at you for it. But lack of self-motivation can be a slippery slope to a mess of an apartment. With roommates, you can share the dirty work.
You have to pay all the bills
One of the best things about having roommates is having people to share the expenses with. When you live alone, the utilities, rent, and groceries are all on you. And even if you’re the greatest budgeter on the planet, you can’t predict emergencies and other unexpected life costs. Living alone means you should be putting away as much money as you can on top of all your other financial responsibilities.
You’ll need to get comfortable with alone time
Unless you have a close friend or partner with an open invitation to your apartment, get used to being alone. For people who aren't used it living on their own, solitude can be a challenge. There are a lot of things to consider when deciding to live alone or live with roommates. To make the most of your living situation, do what is best for your budget and lifestyle.
If you decide that living alone is too lonely at times, start looking for friends you might want to move in with. If living with roommates is too stressful, plan on making your next apartment your own. The best part about renting is that you can always change your situation when the lease is up!
If you’ve decided the roommate life is for you, check out more advice on finding the right person and getting along with the tag “roommates.”