Living Alone vs. Having Roommates: Health vs. Money?
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.
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.
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.
How you want to feel living with roommates…
How you actually feel living with roommates…
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.
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.
“Debtor’s prison is real, and opportunity cost is a bitch.” (DDSW)