The pros and cons of living with a roommate

Roommates can save money and help each other, but there are other considerations. Here's what to think about before you commit to living with roommates.

By MSN Real Estate partner Dec 16, 2013 1:20PM

© Image Source/Getty ImagesBy AJ Smith, Credit.com

 

Credit.comHousing is a huge financial and personal decision at any age. Most people imagine graduating from college and moving into our own space. But with a struggling economy accompanying a higher cost of living in many major cities, that’s not always possible.

 

More and more people are moving back in with mom and dad or choosing to live with roommates. This living situation can last for a few months, years or even decades. Before deciding what is right for you, consider the pros and cons of sharing your space with another person.

 

Pro: Building valuable friendships
Living with someone new expands your social network considerably. It can introduce you to new connections for your personal and possibly even professional life. Your roommate can be a boost to your social life immediately or in the long run. Even if you have no plans, they are always there to grab dinner with or even just watch a movie and talk in the apartment.

 

Having another individual around also keeps you from living in a depressive manner (binge-watching Netflix and not showering for an entire weekend perhaps?).

Con: Ruining valuable friendships
It is important to keep in mind that not everyone is in a mood to socialize at the same time. Roommates should have a semblance of understanding and respect for each other’s desires.

 

If your roommate has a big presentation tomorrow and needs to be well-rested and less stressed, it is not the night to have a 20-guest dinner party. Furthermore, not every pair or group of friends are compatible as roommates. Think hard about not just whether you get along with your friends but also whether you have similar living styles (night owl vs. early riser, etc.). Not being considerate or taking your friend-turned-roommate for granted can ruin a relationship.

 

Pro: Cheaper rent
The financial advantage of living with someone is probably the main force behind having a roommate. Shared living space means shared expenses — with rent as well as utility bills. Splitting costs usually translates to bigger or nicer living conditions as well.

Con: Less privacy
Having a roommate means that you cannot always go about your day in peace or make up the rules as you go along. There is another person there, and you need to be considerate of their needs and timetable just as you expect them to be of yours.

 

Just because you want to have a romantic evening with your significant other, it doesn’t mean you can take up the living room with a candlelit dinner. A roommate also brings new security risks — such as through the invitation of unknown guests when you are not home. Consider having a lock for your bedroom door or hiding your valuables.

 

Pro: Shared responsibilities
With a roommate, pesky chores and maintenance are not your sole responsibility. There is a shared responsibility for keeping up cleanliness. Cleaning supplies, food and other expenses are often shared in a living situation because this further helps cut back on costs and storage. You don’t both need to buy milk if you can each use only half of a carton in one week — sharing is caring (and a way to save money!).

 

Con: Deciding how to share those responsibilities
Responsibility and finances can become a huge source of contention. Someone may fight you on the purchase of household necessities or even utility costs by claiming that the usage was not shared equally so the financial burden shouldn’t be either. Roommates also tend to exaggerate their contributions which can lead to arguments  because while one person believes he or she is the only one who takes out the trash, the other is thinking no one else ever unloads the dishwasher. You also end up sharing things you don’t think about, like common space, televisions and bathrooms. This may mean you need to get up earlier to take a shower or miss out on your favorite show because your roommate beat you to the couch.

 

While there are many items to consider, it is important to be honest about your own style of living when contemplating getting a roommate. It is also important to choose the right roommate — this cannot be overstated. Whom you live with and how you behave as a roommate make the situation either a positive or negative one. Remember to be polite, while demanding respect from a roommate. And set basic rules and financial understandings before the big move.

 

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34Comments
Dec 23, 2013 7:17PM
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That seems legit. Rent will be cheaper if there is a roommate or roommates. I like my privacy though so maybe a roommate may not be on my list
Dec 23, 2013 3:39PM
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Pro:  If the roommate is hot, you can have convenient homosexual or heterosexual sex with them.  Furthermore, they may also have cute friends with which to have meaningless, quickie homosexual or heterosexual sex with.  You can't put a price tag on that...
Dec 23, 2013 12:47PM
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I've had roommates since the mid 90's, Only had 2 minor issues, they were very minor, both issues only stayed one month...saved me the hassle of booting them. I owned the homes, always bought way more space than I needed so as to purposely rent the extra space out...it helps pay for the needed repairs and upkeep. The only downside is that I believe in doing the right thing and declared all rent as income...then on the bright side I was able to write off a certain portion of the upkeep and repairs, but still paid a few dollars extra in taxes...I didn't mind and still don't. I don't usually rent to anyone I know and expectations, limitations and agreements are alwasy in writing...I also do rental and criminal back ground checks...don't want no thieves or serial criminals in my space.
Dec 23, 2013 8:45AM
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I have had several roommates. I guess I'm the lucky, for I have had great experiences with those ventures. I didn't roommate until after my divorce when I wanted to save money.
In those ventures it was with friends I knew, did the things I did, were mature, and we all knew up front what was expected and the protocol of the house. When you lay those parameters out in the very beginning, it is much easier to address and nip any bad habits right away.

I had one, and I wouldn't say bad roommate ( I lived in her house), due to the fact that she had gotten divorced and was lonely, wanted to engage in a relationship. That was my signal to pack up and leave. I had ot intention of starting a relationship with a lady I roommate with. Bad Bad Idea. She was nice and all was great until that day.

People (Humans) are a strange species. You can find some real weirdoes out there.




Dec 23, 2013 8:27AM
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My roommate, poor soul, had these 2 men who used her sexually whenever they had an itch but ignored her the rest of the time.  One night I woke up to these guys climbing in bed with ME!  I had to lock myself in the bathroom until they left.  We had a frank discussion about my near rape experience and luckily I was able to move in with my boyfriend, now husband.  I would only have another roommate experience if there was no other way to afford my housing.

Dec 23, 2013 7:50AM
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I'm 67 years old.  Had one roommate in my 20s.  No thanks.  Prefer to be alone when I'm home.  If I want company, I can invite them.  And then they leave.  Enough said
Dec 23, 2013 7:21AM
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Had a roommate in college, didn't last much past the night I came home and her boyfriend of the week had used my contacts case to store his in that night. Yuck!
Dec 23, 2013 4:50AM
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I had roommates from college through my mid twenties.  I enjoyed it and all my roomies are still friends to this day except when I moved to Maryland and moved into a two bedroom condo with my landlord.  It was cool for the first 4 months of my 6 month lease, until she came back from a trip from India.  This is when all hell broke loose.  First it was, don't use my plates and glasses, to don't use my silverware, to you left crumbs in the toaster.  Crumbs IN the toaster, I didn't even know that was an area that had to be kept clean.  Anyway, I moved out when my lease was up and after she tried to evict me when I didn't pay my rent on the first day of the month.  I had another roommate after that and we got along just fine.   After I moved back to Texas, I never had another roommate.  Sometimes I miss the company.  But I love living alone too.
Dec 19, 2013 6:36PM
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Had  a roomie for a while she always worked, was tidy, paid rent and utilities on time. for a while I dated someone but she did not, later it was the other way around, three is a crowd no matter how you slice it. When she got married several others approached me about taking her spot, some nice people but they had strange friends.... I lived alone 19 years after that and was very glad I did. I got married but was widowed 6 years later, at least I had built the confidence that I knew how to manage on my own which made the adjustment easier. Be careful with roomies, not just them but their friends and tag-alongs, most cases you are better off alone even if it means a smaller place, being alone does not equal being lonely.
Dec 19, 2013 4:50PM
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did roommate thing 3x


3rd time  horror...now I have  tiny apartment but its mine

so much happier


1st one I m still friends with her

2nd one im not but it ws ok


3rd one was nasty and crazy had to block her number

Dec 19, 2013 1:29PM
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Easy to move them in, harder to move them out.  Enough said.
Dec 19, 2013 12:50PM
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I moved into a beautiful, huge mobile home as a roommate when I first moved to Portland.  The lady seemed really great but turned out to have some pretty severe hidden emotional issues.  I am a trained counselor so I picked up on the signals.  She told me weird stories like the other roommate's ex-husband put a hit out on her and she needed a heater in her room because she was cold.  The roommate said the ex-husband had never put a hit out on her and she was actually hot in her room. The roommate before her moved out because the lady accused of her of stealing two diamond rings which mysteriously turned up the next day.  My unused bottle of Tide began to empty out on its own and I couldn't trust her to give me an accurate figure for the utilities.  Even though I paid my share of utilities the power was turned off twice.  She didn't pay for garbage pickup so the garbage began to pile up.  I finally began to fear for my safety so I moved out over her protests that I had signed a fictitious lease agreement.  The neighbors and park manager suddenly began acting funny around me because she was evidently spreading stories about me.  Cured me in a hurry.  Last I heard she had quit going to work.  Her trick was to put on a broken wing act and delighted in having people try to rescue her.  I saw through that first thing so didn't play.  I rented a house after that and have lived happily ever since.
Dec 19, 2013 9:46AM
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Five months ago, I moved away to college and I was adamant with everyone that I did not want a roommate.   It's one of the best decisions I have ever made in my life.  I feel I dodged a bullet because two weeks into the semester, I was already hearing horror stories, big and small, from friends and other classmates who had roommates.  Nope, my cat is enough good company.
Dec 19, 2013 7:15AM
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I lived with my best friend n we both worked n I paid rent, then her cousin moved in didn't pay rent then her friend from childhood moved in n didn't pay rent.They both were on welfare n stole my clothes when I was at work .About $200 dollars worth of clothes n I didn't have much. I moved out n rented a room from an old couple who used to lock up their kitchen so I ate a lot of bananas n sardines. Saved up money to get an apt. No more roommates.
Dec 19, 2013 3:42AM
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Check out your state laws too. In some states you have to legally evict any one you let

stay with you. You being the lease holder doesn't matter. Stick with a smaller place you

can afford. Your piece of mind is worth not having roommates. I speak from a bad experience

Dec 19, 2013 12:32AM
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I am a single mom and I have kids, after they move out I was thinking about renting out room in my house but after reading this article, I think I rather live alone.....
Dec 18, 2013 9:17PM
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I've had 48 roommates since I moved out of my parents house when I was 18.  While some of them have been awful to live with most of the really awful ones either happened when I was young, or they were young.  In the house I live in now, I've lived here for four years, and 17 of those 48 roommates have been while living here, most of us in our mid to late 20s.  I think I've been in one fight with a roommate in the time I've been here.  
 There comes a time when you start to just clean it if it needs cleaning.  We're good at respecting each other's privacy.  If you need the living room or kitchen we generally clear out for each other.    We also have certain rules that you have to abide by if you want to live in our house, that are told before you move in.  Simple, but it keeps the peace.  
Roommates aren't all bad.  Some of  my best friends I've ever had I met when we were roommates.
Dec 18, 2013 5:11PM
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Roommates can be compared to the invention of chemical warfare. It's a  bad idea. don't do it. it always ends badly. friendships and good relations will always end up a smoking pile of ruin. living with roommates taught me to give people just enough rope to hang themselves with. they always do. it sounds terrible, but there it is. think very hard about getting a roommate. you will not like the experience. always better to be king of the castle, and not worry about having to tip toe around some one else. and never ever ever become roommates with a family member.   
Dec 18, 2013 2:03PM
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I have had roomates since my divorce and did not like to share with anyone. none of them were bad , I just don't like to have to share my home. I like my privacy too much. don't even want to get married again. I guess I am a scrooge. so what?
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