This is the second post of my BlogLines series where I share quotes that I’ve collected from other blogs or websites that resonate with me around a topic or a ‘line’. This week’s theme… “I hate having roommates”.
[My first BlogLines post: “…and I have nothing to show for it.”]
I wish I could write in more detail about my housing situation, and I have had a few longstanding requests from you guys to do so, but can’t risk it because the people involved are 1) familiar with the internet and 2) capable of doing certain things like…reading. So, I’ll have to stick to generalities for a while longer.
First, let me clarify that I don’t hate my roommates as people, at all. I just hate having to live with roommates at this point in my life. I wish I could afford my own place. The fact that I may have to wait up to 3 more years to do that is depressing.
I’ll be the first to admit that when paying off debt, renting a room instead of having your own place can do wonders for your budget, but there are downsides to living with roommates in our thirties and beyond.
There’s a stigma around living with roommates in your 30s. Interestingly, our cultural expectations have flipped, and whereas once living alone in your 30s would have been seen as a mark of personal failure now living with a roommate is the real oddity. (Fivethirtyeight article).
Note: Living “With family” in the above chart means living with a spouse and/or children or living with one’s parents.
According to this source only 2.6% of Americans my age live with roommates. For a nationwide average that seems to make sense, although in large cities, it’s obvious that the percentage would be much higher.
The raised eyebrows, furrowed eyebrows,
and crossed eyes that I get when I tell people that I live with roommates reminds me that it’s not a common practice.
Having roommates can feel like living in a fishbowl
I hate having roommates because I feel the need to perform all of the time. It’s like when I come home for the day I feel like I have to be “on”. I can’t cook in the kitchen without engaging in small talk. I open the door to use the bathroom and they’re in my face. Can’t stay in for two days because that’s “weird.” I don’t know, it just sucks living with people.
Plus, it feels like I’m living under a magnifying glass which sucks for a private introvert because you know you’re actions are being watched. Bring someone home, you’re roommates are nosy about said person. Go out, they wonder where you went. Personal space and alone time aren’t weird dammit. (Source: Reddit post)
I can relate to this. Sometimes it feels like my bedroom is the only personal space I have. I feel like I have to be “on” every time I open my door. When I leave the house I am in a sea of people walking to public transit. I sit (if I’m lucky enough to get a seat) in a crowded, smelly, loud, public transit vehicle. More walking in a sea of people. Work, meetings, presentations, co-workers. Then more rush hour public transit sensory and olfactory overload. More sea walking, then home again, drained. Imagine opening the door and having to socialize more with roommates when your battery is already on empty. Add to that knowing that you always have an audience for everything you do, whether you want to have one or not. It can be a bit much at times.
Sometimes the feeling of judgement is self-imposed, as one woman shared of her experience living with a roommate in a Salon.com article…
The problem wasn’t her. It was me. Living alone I felt perfectly happy and considered my lifestyle healthy and fulfilling, but her presence in my apartment made me see my life in a whole new way.
The amount of television I watch: too much? The shows I choose: too stupid? During the week, if it’s past 8 o’clock, I can be found in the same position on the sagging sofa, flipping between the Kardashians, Access Hollywood, and teenage moms on MTV. I was mortified she might catch me watching “The Bachelor” on Monday nights. But it was even more embarrassing when she came home from work to find me watching “Bachelor Pad,” a sub-par spinoff of a sub-par show.
So I decided to go out more. Get some culture. Get a life. Have a drink. But then I started worrying about how much I imbibe. It might be OK to live alone, stumble home and wildly scatter the contents of your purse all over the floor while digging for a lighter; it’s not OK to perform that inebriated dance in front of a roommate.
… Recently she took the week off from work and I sighed unnaturally loudly and often during the day. It didn’t help that I was plagued by an extra slow week in the freelance front, and I could just feel her thinking, “What does this chick do all day?” (Salon.com, My Roommate Ruined My Life)
Ok, I can’t relate to the television watching or drunkeness concerns of the author above, but I can relate to how having roommates can make me feel self-conscious. Do I spend too much time doing X? Should I be doing Y more? Is my diet too unhealthy? Yeah, those moments when I open the fridge and see my take out boxes next to my roommates’ big salads and organic fruit. Sigh.
Moving in with strangers opens the (small) possibility of ending up in a true crime version of Single White Female. While I’ve never had a roommate threaten physical violence or psychological torture, it is possible. I’ve seen many, many horror stories.
Then she started to weird me out. She always seemed to pop up wherever I was. She complimented me. A lot. It was starting to feel less like “What a nice shirt” and more like “I’m going to make a suit out of you.”
Then things escalated: Our apartment had a long balcony that extended along one side of my bedroom. One Saturday morning, I pulled back the curtain and was greeted by the angry face of my roommate. She’d dragged a chair right in front of my bedroom window and was just sitting there.
She made no move to explain herself, and I awkwardly retreated into my room until I could think of somewhere else to spend the night.
When I came back the next day, she was sitting on the living room sofa, dressed head to toe in my clothes.
Shocked, I blurted something like, “Oh, is that mine?”
And here comes the really scary part: She said no. (NY Post article)
Oookaay. I have absolutely NO experience with something like this, so for that I’m very grateful. I have had, however, situations where someone I was renting from was oblivious to the concept of risk. She would hold different types of open-to-the-public events in the house, knowing that we tenants didn’t like it, and sometimes leave these rando people in the house unsupervised with easy access to our (tenant rooms), while she got in her car and left to do who knows what, for who knows how long. With situations like this, you grit your teeth and deal with it, because…cheap rent. Being in debt sucks…
Yeah, I really can’t wait to get my own place.
Will I do so any time soon? Not if I can help it!
Yeah, alright! I know already! Sigh…
“Debtor’s prison is real, and opportunity cost is a bitch.” (DDSW) [All posts on one page]
Related DDSW Housing Posts
Living Alone vs Having Roommates: Health vs Money?
In Extreme Debt? Rent a Room to Save Money on Your Living Expenses
Where is my CTRL+ALT+DELETE button? Craigslist season opens again (Finding a place to live on Craigslist is a frustrating job)
The Hidden Costs of Cheap Rent: More Housing Problems (Some rents are cheap for a reason. Beware.)
The Wrath of the Landlord and Father Time (The time when I thought my rent was going up $250+/month!)
I’m Not Moving Anywhere (The conclusion to the rent drama)
All of this is the reason I now live alone! Yes, I pay around $100 a week more than my boyfriend. Yes, my bills are all much higher because there’s no-one to split them with. But the wave of peace that washes over me every time I put my key in the front door, even two years later? Priceless. I call the extra rent my ‘solitude tax’, and I pay it without a second thought.
I so understand the feeling. Unfortunately for me, being in a HCOL, getting my own place would literally add YEARS to my debt payoff. I can endure it for another 2-3 years if I have to so that I NEVER have to do it again. I look forward to paying my ‘solitude tax’.
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Ugh, I feel you! I only had roommates in college and I HATED it. Sometimes you just need your own damn space. I don’t know how you’ve survived this long! I surely would have thrown someone off a cliff by now, lol. But stay strong. 🙂 Don’t let society or your own internal pressures tell you that it’s “weird.” I don’t think it’s odd at all. You’re making a positive choice to save money, so go you. 🙂
Thank you. Yeah, some people have a great experience living with roommates; others…not so much. Oh, I don’t let other people’s reaction to my living arrangement bother me at all. I know that this is helping my financial situation a lot and that there is an end point in sight.
Maybe, you don’t have to wait until you get to zero to get your own place. It might be fun to start running numbers to see when you can comfortably pay for a small place of your own and still keep up a good schedule on the debt. You deserve peace in your life.
Hey Cynthia. Yeah, as I get close to debt zero, I’ll start looking around for my own place. I expect that it may take months to find a good place as the housing market is always tight here.
That’s unfortunate. I’m lucky to have two good friends as roommates, who are both very close to me in age, so we all know how much space we all need. There are moments where someone makes too much noise or whatever, but I have to remember things like that would happen if I was married, too. Mostly I have all upsides: cheaper rent, built-in socialization, someone to feed the dog if I have a jam-packed day ahead of me, someone to say, “Hell, yes!” when I say, “Tacos?”
Yeah, having roommates is great for some people, but not so much for others. Maybe if I had that situation, things would be different… I dunno. But really, who can say no to Tacos?? 🙂
Well, I’m in my early 40’s and in a similar situation – living with a roommate while paying off student loan debt after returning to school later in life. (I’ve been reading your blog for a while now and eagerly anticipate your new posts because our situations are so similar! I usually read through your posts thinking, “mmmhmmm” the entire time.) I do get bummed out at times, but am thankful that I live in a city on the East Coast where being older and having a roommate is no big deal due to housing costs. I get the occasional weird look, but I’ve gotten over it at this point because I’ve got a bigger goal in mind. In fact, a few years ago I was living by myself – and LOVED it! – and now regret that lost time and money. I could’ve knocked a year off my repayment plan if I’d wised up sooner. Hang in there!
Hi, Angela. Thanks for reading. Way back when I started this blog, I used to have my own tiny overpriced, shoebox downtown apartment. I LOVED LOVED having my own space. When my debt caught up with me I had to move out and rent a room to live in. It was very depressing. I vowed that I would pay off all of this debt once and for all so that I never have to go through that again. Sounds like you’re doing the same thing. Let us know how your journey is going! You hang in there too. 🙂
It just makes you unique to have roommates. Just think, all those alone people are going to continue harboring their debt and possibly wracking up new debt (IDK if this is necessarily true, but hope the perspective helps). I was think the other day how debt just sucks out the ability for lifestyle design. Granted you are designing your life to get out of debt and its wonderful. But design by choice of expansion and abundance. Hopefully your debt payoff will pleasantly be quicker than planned.
as for single white female, I had a situation where my former roommate copied me in style. but it wasn’t a harmful or scary matter. i think it was her way of learning a new style and/or very codependent (which she is)? Dunno. But I didn’t fear for my life. But it could have been…. dun dun dun duuuun.
Glad you didn’t experience… dun dun duuuunnn!
Hang in there DDSW! You’ll have your own space eventually. It will be a well deserved price for your debt slaying journey. At your current rate, do you know when you’ll be done with the debt?
Thanks, Maria. 🙂
According to my account, I am on track to have it paid off in 2 years and 6 months.
My situation now is more like Katie’s — housemates about my own age who are very compatible, lifestyle-wise. The occasional awkward moment but mostly positive, in that I get company, the local equivalent of tacos (usually pizza or thai), and pet co-parenting, plus cheap rent. But in the past I’ve definitely felt that sensory overload where I just. wanted. time. alone. and couldn’t seem to get it. So I sympathize totally. For me I think it helps that I work from home two or three days a week, and fairly often am alone (well, with the pets) in the house. If I were commuting and working all day with people again (as, again, I have in the past) I’d probably be more sensitive about it.
Yeah, if you have a balance of alone time and a good match of personalities, it can work well. It’s always a roll of dice when you move in with strangers, or even friends if you haven’t spent significant amounts of time in confined spaces, heh.
And I didn’t mean to come across in my post like I’m about to implode at any moment and I hate my life. It’s not always bad. But, like you experienced, you have those times when it gets to be a bit much.
I feel parts of this. Previously, I had amazing roommates in an incredible, big house in the heart of the city. Now I have crappy roommates in a crappy house. I just want to shower in the morning at a convenient time, but one roommate occupies the shower for over an hour every morning. It’s ridiculous. I just have to remind myself that I am paying off debt.
Ugggh. Yes! I don’t know which is worse, the bathroom hog or the kitchen hog roommate. 😦
Yep. I keep telling myself that once this debt is gone, I’ll never have to live with anyone that I don’t want to ever again.
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I feel more viscerally impacted by the bathroom hog, but that’s because I stay up later than them and can use the kitchen generally when I intend.