Living Alone vs. Having Roommates: Health vs. Money?

credit - crashdwell dot com blog

Apartment Fever and Taking My Own Advice

For the past week I’ve had a fever — apartment fever. I experienced some irritations caused by my roommate that led me to start thinking about getting my own place again.

I needed to re-read my own past blog posts to remember my motivation for staying out of debt. I was slipping back into my old mindset, wanting a posh apartment even with a ton of debt and not enough money to furnish the place.

For now, the fever has passed. I’d like to have all my credit card debt gone and be under six figures of student loan debt before I even consider this again, but life has a way of throwing curveballs.

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microapt

My Reasons for Living Alone

I would LOVE to live in a tiny, clean, modern, micro-apartment like the one shown above. They don’t exist where I live yet, but here is to dreaming.

1. Health – As I discussed in one of my early posts, I’m a very introverted and private person, so I was very unhappy to say the least when my debt forced me to give up the one thing that cherished above all material possessions – my privacy.  My old apartment was my oasis to recharge from a world that was stressful, and at times, overwhelming. I could come home, shut the door and truly relax. Not living alone makes relaxation difficult, and is a source of low-level chronic stress. I’m tense pretty much all the time.

AP-STRESSING-OVER-DEBTcredit: nbcnews.com

It’s hard to completely relax when you don’t know who/what you’ll find when you open the door to your place or when you don’t have control over who comes through your door. I’ve noticed that I don’t cook much at all when I live with others. I start to rely on restaurants and prepared food. People with anxiety will understand what I’m talking about. I’ve noticed that my health has deteriorated over the past year, in part because of my poor diet. My recent physical shows borderline high blood pressure for the first time ever and a sky high cholesterol along with a few other conditions that I won’t get into here. For my mental and physical health, I need to have my own place.

2. Minimalist aesthetics  – As an aspirant of minimalism, I like clean lines and clear surfaces. My current roommate, although a nice guy, is messy, OCD, and a hoarder in training. I’m not being mean. It’s a fact. He will admit this to you himself. He admitted it to me AFTER I signed a lease and moved in. So yeah, every square inch of every counter in this place has to be covered in crap. He can’t have one of something; he has to have five of them. For example, on his side of the bathroom sink he has five crusty bottles of handsoap, two big bottles of mouthwash, 3 tubes of toothpaste… you get the idea. Every square inch, covered. His room is so full of crap that it has spilled out into the common area. I’ll spare you all the other details, but let’s just say that as a minimalist, it is irritating and mildly stressful to say the least, that I have to be surrounded by this all the time. 

3. Privacy  – I live an an apartment building that is poorly designed. One example of this is that all the meters, circuit breaker, etc. are all located inside MY BEDROOM. Why?! Who designed that?! So whenever some fuse blows or they need to check the water meter, I have men clomping around inside my bedroom  while my roommate sleeps through everything in his room with privacy. That may not bother you, but my bedroom is a private space to me. Just this past week we had a water meter inspection in our building. At first I didn’t even know it was happening because, again, my roommate is such a junky OCD packrat, that I didn’t see the notice among all the other crap piled all over the counters. I happened to look at the notice right before they showed up.

I started working at my computer, when the doorbell rang. It was a the monitor guys. I let the first one in and he announces to the other one who is still in the hallway, that the monitor is ‘in here’ and proceeds to go straight into my bedroom! I follow the second guy back to my room and sit at my computer while they access the water monitor which turns out to be in my closet! The first guy asks if he can remove a couple of things, and I say sure. Next thing I know, he is grabbing armfuls of clothes off the bar and tossing them on my bed. He continues to  pull out half the contents of my closet – laundry bag included. Sigh. It’s a good thing my closet was tidy.

After a while of going into our kitchen and bathroom to turn the water on and off, they finish and leave, but it was just awkward. They didn’t put any of my stuff back.  I should have made them. I guess what really bothered me about it is that my apartment is junky and messy because of my roommate,  but they were only seeing my face so I felt embarrassed that they were judging me for the apartment being like this.  Yes, I tried keeping the place neat and clean when I first moved in, but quickly learned that it was a losing battle. I’m not his mother and will not clean up after another adult. It is one reason of several that I will be moving out when my lease is up.

4. Freedom  – Freedom to do what I want, when I want, however I want.  ‘Nuff said.

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talking_to_roommates_about_money

How you want to feel living with roommates…

.vs.

angry baby

 

How you actually feel living with roommates…

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My Reasons to Have Roommate(s)

1. Saving money $$$ – Let’s get right to it to the dollar bills. I live in one of the most expensive housing markets in the country. Yes Caroline, “the rent is too damn high!” If Jimmy McMillan ran for office out here, he might actually win.   After exhaustive searches, I’ve realized that I’m priced out of the studio/1-bed rental market; at least for nice (not luxury) apartments that are also in safe neighborhoods. By moving in with roommates elsewhere in the area, I could potentially save $400-800 per month that would go to debt and/or retirement savings.  If I didn’t have any debt, I could afford to have my own place, save for retirement, and still have a little money for fun. But alas, that will not be my life for the foreseeable future.

2. Safety – Related to #1 above, in my fever induced search, the only apartments I could afford  were in not-so-safe neighborhoods. In online tenant reviews of some of these complexes, female prospective tenants are warned not to walk about these areas at night alone. Ummm, no thanks. My physical safety is too important. By pooling money with others, I can live in safer areas.

3. Companionship  – Even if my roommate(s) and I aren’t BFFs, it would prevent me from being totally isolated, as I have been slow to make friends here. I have eternal hope that I’ll find some people that I click with and have something in common with. That would be awesome and fun. Here’s to hope.

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money worry

Even though it is affecting my mental and physical health, I’ll just have to find a way to deal with my anxiety and stress for a while longer, until I can get more debt paid down.  Are any of you living with roommates not by choice? Bring it up in the comments.

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“Debtor’s prison is real, and opportunity cost is a bitch.” (DDSW)

15 comments

  1. Carlos @ TheFrugalWeds · March 5, 2014

    You are able to pay your debt down so much faster by having a roommate. Just think how rewarding that will be once you clear off the cc debt. Hang in there!

    Like

    • doubledebtsinglewoman · March 7, 2014

      Yes, I have to hold on to that when that apartment fever hits again in the future. I’m going to hang in for a while longer. Thanks for the positive words.

      Like

  2. Ashlee · March 7, 2014

    I feel your pain! I lived with roommates while I paid off my debt and there were definitely some ups and downs. I’m happy I stuck with it, but I understand your eagerness to get back on your own. Let those debt pay-off numbers bring you renewed strength each month!

    Like

  3. Amanda @ My Life, I Guess · March 10, 2014

    I was in a situation where I worked my butt off in a dead-end job, toxic work environment, etc. because I refused to live with a roommate. I had a horrible experience with roommates that involved me calling the police, so there was no way I was putting myself in that position again. It was good for my health to live alone at first, but as money because more and more of a stressor, I worked more and more hours and thus undid any progress to my health.

    It’s a really tough situation to be in, and I feel for you!

    I know it sounds like staying with this roommate is your best option, but have you looked into finding another roommate at all? Or what the difference in price would be if you moved into a small place on your own?

    Again, for me, a lot of people were telling me that I was paying a premium to live alone, but when I actually started looking at roommate listings, etc. it turned out that I was only paying like $100 more a month to live solo. (Well worth it to me!)

    Like

  4. jkmaroni · March 14, 2014

    This post is exactly why I love being married, you get to live with a roommate you wanted to live with in the first place. I was fortunate enough before I was married to get to be part of a great living community. It helped me have health and security in all aspects of my life, including my living situation.

    Like

    • doubledebtsinglewoman · March 14, 2014

      Yes, I agree. If I were fortunate enough to be in a relationship, I would much prefer to live with someone I care about and could share expenses with. Congratulations on your marriage.

      Like

  5. girlseule · April 6, 2014

    There are four of us in my house, two guys two girls most of the time it’s a lot of fun, but hopefully in 12 to 24 months I’m going to buy a little flat of my own.

    Like

    • doubledebtsinglewoman · April 7, 2014

      I wish I could have that in a roommate situation, but frankly, I’m too private of a person. I’m glad its working out for you. I want to pay down more debt so that I can afford my own apartment in the future. I can’t wait for that day!

      Like

  6. CB · January 17, 2015

    I have an idea- what about posting an ad now to find a roommate who has a lease ending at a similar time as yours so that you can have time to thoroughly interview and get to know the prospective roommates, and choose one that drastically reduces the stress. It sounds like your roommate knew he had issues but locked you into the lease before you knew about them. That is really crappy. I live alone for all the same reasons you mentioned. And even if I had a roommate who doesn’t have all of the obnoxious and gross traits your roommate does, it still causes stress for me. Living situations are so tough. I live alone but I have a neighbor who never leaves his house, watches my every move, and saves his comments for when he spots me getting out of my car. Then he comes out and wants to talk about the upkeep of my yard, my relationship status, or tell me about grievances from 20 years ago that he’s already told me about. On the other hand, if anyone every tried to break into my house, the police would be on their way in minutes.

    I have really enjoyed reading your blog. The entry about 5 reasons why people lean toward minimalism REALLY hit home. There were things I identified with that I hadn’t actually given conscious thought to. The 5th reason sounds like the healthiest, however I’m finding my way through some of the others as I learn about frugality and begin to put it into practice.

    Keep at it, you are inspiring to all of your readers!

    Like

    • doubledebtsinglewoman · January 17, 2015

      Yeah, most of my current roommates would prefer to have our own places, but this is where we are in life right now. I am learning my financial lesson the hard way. I’m glad that you enjoy the blog. It’s good to know that I’m not alone in what I’m going through.

      Like

  7. Marlena · May 17, 2016

    Hi. I’m glad I discovered your blog. Many things that you write sound familiar to me.
    For example, the inner conflict between having a room mate because of money problems and not feeling happy about sharing the place with strangers. It’s not easy.. I also made bad financial decisions (getting into debt) so unfortunately I had to leave with room mates for a while.

    However, the universe has a way to throw things at you so you can learn. My last room mates were so bad that I had to call the police. I have to deal with the stress that I gathered in my body for being around them. Going home and not knowing what you find there or expecting not-so-pleasant situations to come your way is terrible, even more terrible than living alone and struggling to pay rent.
    When you’re alone at home, you have time to reflect and recharge your batteries, you can take better decisions and even increase your chances of getting a romantic partner (who wouldn’t be happy to visit a place that isn’t filled with noisy room mates?).
    Thanks for your post. I’ll be reading other stuff.

    Like

    • doubledebtsinglewoman · May 17, 2016

      Hi Marlena,
      Welcome! Thanks for stopping by. Yes! You understand what it’s like to deal with roommates.
      Yikes. I’ve never had to call the police on mine though; at least, not yet. What keeps me going is thinking that every month that I stay with roommates is more money to throw at my debt. Once my financial situation improves I’ll never have to have roommates again, EVERRR! No more putting up with crazy landlords for the sake of cheap rent. It sounds like you have your own place now. Enjoy it! 🙂

      Like

  8. Clariza · July 22

    I once lived in the dorms of another school to save money while I was studying at my own grad school, to save money. I’ve also done the roommate or having someone stay with you thing. I swore to myself that I would never do that to myself again. There is something really tough about not being comfortable at home, given what you already face outside. I also know what’s it’s like to stay in a job that you hate and is messing up your health.

    I’m in your same industry and same debt issues. I really enjoy your blog.

    The one thing that has helped me through the above is to set a time limit/goal and keep my eye on that goal. YOUR SITUATION IS NOT FOREVER! And, at the end, your situation will be greatly improved! Your own apartment will feel 10 times better with your debt down or even gone, than it will with your debt where it is now. Clearly, when you had your own place, the stress and burden of your high debt prevented you from enjoying your own place so much so that you started your debt pay-off journey. Remember that feeling and it will help you keep on with the roommate plan.

    Like

    • Yeah, as soon as I am debt free I am going to start looking for my own place. I cannot wait!!! I had my own apartment before my debt grabbed me by the throat. I had to move out. That’s why I want my debt gone first. I NEVER EVER want to have to do that again. The next roommate I plan to ever have will be a spouse (sigh, I can dream) or nursing home suitemate. Thank you!

      Like

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