Living Alone vs Living With Roommates

Living Alone vs Living With Roommates


From the age of 17 to 29, I lived with roommates in dorm rooms and apartments. I’ve had 26 roommates in that time.

Only one of them was unpleasant to live with. All but three were strangers I found from Craigslist or a college message board. All but the one was respectful, paid bills on time, and was rarely home.

Even within this nirvana of roommates that I’ve had, there are general disadvantages and annoyances to sharing a space with 1+ other people. Privacy & comfort are big ones. Depending on who you live with, you might get away with walking around in your underwear but sometimes you can’t. Or when you want to have a quiet night but your roommate invites people over. Sharing spaces means things are out of your control.

Outside of simple sharing issues, I know there are a lot of bad roommate experiences. My one sour rooommate was disrespectful to us as people, never cleaned, brought home random people (which we had agreed ahead of time was not okay), and paid the bills late. There are certainly worse stories and in that case, moving out to live on your own is a necessity.

There are lots of advantages to living by yourself but the one major factor that keeps people living with roommates, especially in NYC, is cost! Being able to split the cost of an apartment and utilities is often well worth the sacrifice of privacy and other hassles roommates bring to the table.

A 1br in Brooklyn starts around $1,500. A share can be as low as $700/mo. That’s an $800 savings plus splitting utilities, sharing some food costs, etc.

Two years ago, I made the switch from roommates to my own 1br. Every day I think about the money I could be saving by living with others. Yet, all the advantages to living alone make it worth every penny.

Living Alone Means…

You can stay up as late as you want and make noise (within reason, neighbors and all).

You can walk around your apartment at all times without pants.

You can leave the door open when you shower or use the bathroom.

The a/c is only on when you’re home. You control the utilities.

No one is there to complain when you don’t clean enough.

You can play music loudly while getting ready.

You can have guests over without it being awkward. Both kinds of guests.

No one is having a party at your apartment unless you are.

If you’re feeling sick or tired, you don’t have to pretend to be presentable.

You don’t have to talk to anyone if you don’t want to.

No one is there to ask questions when you’re upset and don’t want to talk about it.

The Downsides of Living Alone

You have to do all the cleaning. You have to do the dishes and sweep the floor and vacuum the couch.
(The plus side is that you’re the only one getting it dirty.)

You have to buy all the garbage bags, toilet paper, condiments, paper towels.
(The plus side is you’re the only one using them.)

You have to pay all the bills in full.
(The plus side is you know the bills are being paid and no one owes you.)

You have to buy all furniture, appliances, cook/bake ware, dishes, and cutlery.
(The plus side is you’re the only one using them.)

You may get lonely.
(The plus side is you still can talk to people, when you want to.)

You may wish someone was there so you could talk about it.
(The plus side is you learn how to reach out to others and ask for help.)

You are the only contact for the landlord, super, utility companies, etc.
(The plus side is you always know exactly what’s going on.)

Worth Every Penny

I absolutely love living on my own. Even though I never minded living with roommates, I found the cramped spaces of NYC very difficult for me in a shared situation. Finding a cheap 1br is difficult but I persevered and found a large, cheap, 1br in “you’ve never heard of that neighborhood” Brooklyn. I knooow I could be saving money but I made the decision to prioritize my well-being over being able to save extra money. I can still make ends meet.

However, it is a big decision. Living on my own also means I am responsible for everything! I have to call the super when something breaks, the landlord calls me when there are problems. Things like locking myself out are much more difficult to deal with.

Yet, everything here is mine. This is my space. And that is something I gladly spend the extra money for.


13 Replies to “Living Alone vs Living With Roommates”

  1. I agree with you 100%. I love living alone, and did for the last 5 years. I wouldn’t have changed it for anything, even paying down debt faster or saving more! Recently I moved in with my boyfriend, which is awesome too, but I’ll probably always feel nostalgic for the time I spent on my own.

    1. I’m also grateful that I’m able to spend time living on my own before living with a SO. I know some people go right from roommates to live-in SO, without any time by themselves in between. It’s good to hear from someone else that living alone is worth it!

  2. I have actually never lived alone. Started out life living with my family for 18 years – then always had a roommate in college. After college I finally had a ROOM all to myself for a few years in an apartment I shared with others. And now I am back to sharing a room with my girlfriend.

    My girlfriend and I are actually considering moving in with additional roommates to keep costs down. In NYC especially, the amount you can save is unbelievable. I look at it from the other side. If I was living with roommates and could pay $800 a month, every month to have them be away on business or traveling, I don’t think I would ever do it. I’m fine dealing with the inconveniences for that amount of money.

    1. When I was looking for a 1br I actually did look at it that way! I was paying $1000/mo at the time with roommates, so the difference was only $300. I definitely asked myself if I would pay $300 each month to get rid of my roommates and I still agree that I would! I have toyed with the idea of subletting my apt out then living somewhere cheaper for a month but it never comes out to being worth it.

  3. I loved living alone and I miss it. I decided to move home to pay off debt and save a deposit but there’s so many other hassles that come with living at home again. I’m sticking it out for as long as possible but I’m not holding my breath.

    1. That makes sense! If I had more debt or was in a bad situation I definitely wouldn’t be living alone. It is a luxury! But one that is well worth it if you can afford it. Good luck on sticking it out at home, take advantage of the rent-free life while you can!

  4. After having flat mates that consistently stole my food, filled the freezer up so there was no space for others, refused to clean, brought random people home I LOVED living alone. The extra expense was worth it for not having to be pissed off when I got home to find all my cereal had been eaten or someone had used all the hot water etc. The only problem I found living alone was that I sometimes got lonely.

    I live with my boyfriend now so I still have someone to share the bills with, and I can still use the bathroom without locking the door and walk around naked, I have the best of both worlds. However, I secretley love it when he works away and I have the flat to myself!

    1. I get that feeling of loneliness when sometimes you wish there was someone there to talk to without having to make plans and leave the apartment. Sometimes I wish I had friends in my building or at least my neighborhood. But really, I know I can text a friend (or even hop on the Internet) if I really want to chat with someone.

  5. After having a horrible experience with my last roommates, I opted to live alone. It did cost me a little more than having a roommate, but by less than $100/month. Well worth it to me! Now that the rental market where I live has gone crazy, I’m paying about the same to live with my fiance that I was living alone. We could have done it for cheaper, but paying the little bit extra to have the extra space has also been well worth it!

  6. For me it’s more a question of other non-money things. I don’t know how I came up with it, but there’s an amount over which I’ve decided I’m not going to spend — or at least I’m very elastic after a certain point — so I look at it as more of a trade-off. In practice, I effectively exchanged a shorter commute for having roommates

  7. I had roommates from age 17 to 32, though I did live with a boyfriend for a few years in my mid-twenties. My college roommate experiences were wonderful. Some of my roommates became great friends and we had a lot of fun. The older I got the harder it was to live with a roommate. Especially when you came home tired and hungry from work and she is cooking dinner for her boyfriend in your kitchen. She also was terrible about turning down the heat when she left the apartment and our heating bills were atrocious. I had paid off my credit cards and car by the time she got married and moved out. I decided I was down with roommates and moved to a one bedroom apartment ’til I got married. I never missed a roommate.

    1. I agree that my feelings on living with roommates definitely changed as I got older. By the time I was almost 30, I was really getting antsy to live on my own. And you make a good point, that it isn’t always because of atrocious behavior. But something as little as not being able to cook when you want to, can get annoying after a while.

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