Rethinking My Living Arrangement

Image credit: The Atlantic

Roommate #1’s room has remained empty since she left. Last month, Landlord told me that one guy was interested in renting it, but I said no. I didn’t want to share a bathroom with a guy. I’ve done that before (see my old posts about my roommate when I first moved to this area) and I’m not interested in doing that again. However, as the weeks have gone by, Landlord has been getting increasingly desperate to rent out the room. I was getting concerned that he would rent it out to anyone just to get the money.

One afternoon, Landlord, without letting me know ahead of time, invited a woman into the house to look at the room. Afterward, he asked me to come meet her after they spent some time talking. He informed me that she is interested in the room and will start moving in her things tomorrow. Wait, what? This is just dropped on me in front of the woman. I was not consulted for my opinion and felt ambushed. I wouldn’t be surprised if that was by design.     

So I made some small talk with the woman, I’ll call her “Tina”, and that was that. Landlord had already decided. Tina herself, was pleasant enough and seemed professional and responsible, however, there were a few things that bothered me about her fit for this house. Although significant, one of them I won’t get into here (long story), but the other things were that 1) she has two jobs and 2) she has a pet cat.

Me meeting “Tina”

Tina has not one, but two jobs, that take her outside the house. Ordinarily, that would not be an issue at all, but during a viral pandemic that’s two public touchpoints that she has, on a nearly daily basis. I already have one roommate who works outside the house, but I do my best to keep my distance, etc. when he is home. But with Tina, this will not be possible as the two of us will share a bathroom.  (Another roommate here in the house works from home.)

Tina also has a cat. Now I like furballs, but this house cannot handle any pets. “No pets” was listed in the ad. When Tina is out working her two jobs, what is she going to do with her cat? She said she’d keep the cat in her room. What?? You can’t keep an animal locked inside a tiny bedroom all day. So yeah, that’s another wrinkle, but a small one.

All of this just put me in a bad space the whole night. I felt increasingly frustrated as the evening went on. I felt like I didn’t have any control in my life. I was liking the idea of having another roommate less and less. This was mainly because of my COVID concerns. I decided that this must be a sign. Maybe it was time for me to move out and get my own place.

I stayed up late into the night looking at apartments. I found some really, really, really cute places. I oooh’ed and aaahh’ed over the cute little kitchen, the sunny balcony, adorable little office nook, etc. They came with a sky-high rent though (which is rather standard for this area, sadly). The less expensive places I looked at were too sketchy in various ways. I decided to sleep on it.

The next morning, I still felt the same. I wasn’t crazy about spending so much on rent as it would significantly slow down my savings, as well as bind me to a lease. Apartment buildings also have their own challenges when it comes to potentially airborne viruses, but with proper precautions, it should be manageable. On the other hand, my standard of living would go up substantially. Finally, my own place! Sweet freedom!

Giddily, I decided to apply for two of the apartments that I liked the most. While I was filling out the online application, I got an email from Landlord saying that Tina canceled her move-in. What??  I couldn’t believe it.

Seconds later, I immediately pivoted and proposed renting the empty room myself. Landlord was surprised, but quickly agreed. This arrangement kills two birds with one stone. Landlord gets someone in the room, and I don’t have to deal with the issues I brought up earlier.  I can keep my risk level the same as it is now. I can’t deal with any more potential exposure. And I don’t have to pack up and move.

I won’t get my own place, unfortunately, but even renting both rooms, the cost isn’t bad at all. Instead of $550 per month (including utilities), I’ll now be paying $1100. Yes, that’s a big jump. But $1100 is only a fraction of what I’d be paying for an entire apartment in this area. So financially, I still come out ahead.

I’ll use the small bedroom as a home office for work from home and a work out room. I’m hoping having some dedicated space to exercise and meditate may get me to actually do it. I really need it as my stressful job has my muscles in knots.

All in all, I’m relieved to stay. This is not because I enjoy living here. I do not, at all. It is because it will allow me to keep saving more money for a little longer, until I can finally quit this job and gtfo.

Oh yeah. I hate COVID-19.

If you are currently living with roommates during this pandemic, check out this how-to article from The Atlantic.

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“When you don’t have options, you’re in prison.” (DDSW Archives)

 

 

 

 

23 comments

  1. Paul, London · July 27

    At least now you have peace of mind which is very important. I’m always more relaxed in a place of my own paying more than I am with the stress of sharing a living space with others, especially when I once experienced a flat mate effectively moving in their partner as a free lodger.
    Best of luck for the rest of this tricky year.

    Like

  2. AfroPenny · July 27

    Wow! For whatever reason, in my mind, you had three roommates but they were all women and the landlord was one of them. I have even more respect for you and your commitment to save money following being out of debt. And I am even more ashamed of my own thoughts and behavior lately… (there will be a post). I was reading one of your old posts about “The Cost of Cheap Rent” and was planning to write one anyway as my lease renewal is four (4) days from now, but this is the kick in the pants I need.

    I am glad that you were able to find a solution that worked out for you and your landlord. And I hope that the additional space and, this was key for me in your story, NO LONGER HAVING TO SHARE A BATHROOM (lower case and whispered: with a dude) help you feel more comfortable in your space and allow you to stay for a short or long a time as you want.Take care.

    Like

    • Hey, AfroPenny!

      I did have three women roommates when I first moved into this house. However, over the years, we’ve had some roommate rotations. Someone moves out, someone else moves in. I now have two male roommates since the last other woman just moved out.

      I hope I’ve made the right decision. We’ll see.

      Like

  3. Michelle · July 27

    It’s wonderful how paying off all that debt gave you the freedom to make a choice!

    Like

  4. Maria · July 27

    Glad you found a solution that will work for now. While far from ideal, I’m sure the extra room will be nice! And, like Afropenny says, not sharing a bathroom!

    When you finally get your own space though, that will be a glorious day indeed.

    Like

  5. czanclus · July 27

    It’s been soo long since I last wrote anything. I literally vowed when I opened my email that if you posted another blog, I would put some words to your comments wall. First of all, a long belated congratulations on the debt payoff (November 2019? how long that seems from this vantage). In the subsequent two month, I two e-deposited my last payment to the evil Navient corp. and closed the chapter of indebtedness to any institution. Oh, any except my condo mortgage financing company. It felt great, and like you, I was gearing up to saving enough money to have to coast through 3-6 months while I figure out my ultimate career path and get extra classes if needed to be better qualified. And then, a minor in comparison set-back due to a leaky pipe down into the commercial below my condo – to the tune of $2700. I didn’t even get to celebrate the non-mortgage debt dropping to zero when in the same week that bill hit me. And then, as I set up an interest free payment plan with my condo association with the intent of paying it off within 10-12 months, COVID overtook the world. My gig-dependent income of about $600/mo went to zero. My second job, where I made about $1600/mo dwindled to barely above $250. My ‘day’ part-time job kept us at the same rate, but with the axe hanging over our heads due to atrition rates and low enrollment rates any month coming. Couple that with a grunting, eye-rolling teenager who felt stuck with me at home all day. I love her to pieces, it goes without saying, but my heart also goes out to her life being thrown out of wack, and just as she finally adapted to the new school and made two very good friends with whom she started hanging out at coffee shops and the park, everything went to virtual overnight.

    I have to go now, but will continue…

    Like

    • Hey, czanclus! Good to hear from you. That’s so awesome that you’re out of student loan debt!! I hope you rewarded yourself after that last payment.

      Sorry to hear about the unexpected expenses and loss of income. Ugh. At least you don’t have to deal with this on top of your old loan payments. This virus sucks. 😦

      Liked by 1 person

  6. jadisglad@gmail.com · July 27

    This update has made me so happy for you! What an incredible stepping stone that you earned – I really do think having a separate work space (office/gym) and living space (bedroom) plus now your own bathroom will be game changer. It would be so easy to jump up and pay more for your own place but this is such a good lesson to all of that a middle ground can be just as powerful and protect funds.

    Like

  7. Cathy Edwards · July 27

    Wow! Talk about being proactive! Congrats taking action to take care of you!

    Like

  8. Cathy Edwards · July 27

    P.S. Can you afford to rent the whole house? 🙂

    Like

    • Lol. I don’t think that would be possible as my roommates aren’t going anywhere and I wouldn’t want to live in this house by myself. Too much space for me.

      Like

  9. Avery · July 29

    Happy to see an update from you! I’m sure the delayed gratification to getting your own place will pay off in the near future. In the meantime, good for you for being innovative and finding a solution to the roommate problem. I’m sure you shocked Landlord with your suggestion of renting out the 2nd room.

    Like

  10. C@thesingledollar · July 31

    I also definitely did not think there were men in your house! I was picturing four 40ish-50ish ladies. Now granted I do live with a man (and another woman) but he’s a lot better than most about keeping things clean and buying food and so on. I’d be very reluctant to just have a random dude move in. Anyway, I’m so glad (a) that you’re in a financial place to rent the second room and (b) that you’re finding a way to keep this situation livable for yourself while you continue to stabilize yourself! So much better to save up and move to a cheaper area, as long as the situation *is* livable. I feel like having a separate space for work will really ramp up the livability of the place (and so will having one fewer roommate to share the kitchen, let alone the bathroom.)

    Like

    • Hey, C! 🙂
      It’s good to hear from you. It was four women in the beginning, but there have been some roommate changes over the years.
      I feel like I’m between a rock and hard place with housing right now for various reasons. I hate this virus. 😦

      Like

  11. Jane · August 1

    Hi, what a brilliant idea to rent the bedroom. It can be your office, sitting room, exercise area. It’s almost like you have a flat (apartment) to yourself. Having people in the same house is probably a good thing in a pandemic should you get sick they can call the doctor. I’m wfh full time, started a new job in April, I’ve never been 8n the office or met my colleagues in person. Really recommend getting out for a walk daily if you can. Reduces your stress and has a positive impact on your mental health.

    Like

  12. Pingback: That time I almost signed a $1300.00 apartment lease but got another job instead – Ms. Afro Penny

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