Where Should I Live? A Guide to Navigating Housing Options

Where Should I Live? A Guide to Navigating Housing Options

When it comes to finding a place to live, there is a wide array of things to consider. As a tenant you have to balance cost with comfort and privacy with social interaction. Everyone and their mother has heard numerous horror stories about terrible roommates who steal your food, leave passive aggressive notes or make a mess everywhere. But, for some of us single twenty-somethings it might be worth it to sacrifice a little privacy and comfort for the ability to pay off student debt or save to eventually purchase a home of our own. So what do you do? Do you rent a room? A whole house? A studio apartment? Live with your parents?

Now right off the bat, I’ll say that living at home forever is obviously the cheapest option. Plus who doesn’t love a home cooked meal? However, not everyone has parents who they can or would want to move back in with. After tasting the freedom of moving out and being completely independent, it’s hard to go back to having someone ask where you are going when you go out at night or when you’ll be home. So if you aren’t willing or able to live with your parents forever, what do you do? How do you know what living situation is best for you?

Living alone can be tempting, especially if you’ve just spent 4 years sharing a dorm room. In some cities this is a great and affordable option while in others this might seem like a crazy pipe dream. I can’t deny the feeling of pure luxury that comes with not having to fight over the shower, share the TV or let your roommates know before having someone come over. If you’re like me, it also feels incredible to have the apartment as clean as you want ALL THE TIME. But as with everything in life, there are downsides to renting an apartment on your own.

 I’m a highly extroverted person and I genuinely miss my roommates. By living alone you sacrifice the ability to always have someone to eat, watch movies, or have dance parties in the living room at 2am with. I know I know, not everyone gets along with their roommates that well. But I think more often than not, living with other people can be a great way to make lifelong friends. This is especially true if you are moving to a new area where you don’t know anyone yet. One secret about adulthood that no one tells you: It gets 100 times harder to make new friends after you finish school. You just don’t spend as much time around as many people who are the same age as you and that means friend options are limited. Living alone is great, but finding the right roommate can help smooth your transition into a new city. Not to mention how much it reduces the cost of living. 

As I mentioned before, in some cities the cost of housing is not terrible and the price of living alone might not be a limiting factor at all. But, in some places like New York, Boston or San Francisco, having your own place means sacrificing big time. I’m talking do I eat or pay rent this month kind of decisions. Or maybe that was just how it seemed as a graduate student living in San Francisco, but I swear it does not feel like I’m exaggerating. Either way, you cannot overlook the obvious upsides to living with others. If saving some money seems like the better option for you, what is the best way to do it?

Whether is feels like it or not you have options when it comes to renting. The first option that comes to mind is finding a roommate in-person or online and searching for apartments together. At first glance this is an appealing idea. You already know the person, you can be sure they aren’t an axe murderer, you can do the necessary social media investigation and you might have known each other for long enough that all the annoying habits are out in the open. But, what you might not realize is that looking for places together means compromises. You need to discuss budgets, locations, housing style, who gets which bedroom, how will you divide groceries, utility bills, and household chores. Of course, some of these considerations will come up no matter who you live with, but others are avoidable if they seem like too big of a hassle. 

This leads us to option number two, renting a single room. Renting a single room in a house full of strangers might sound daunting at first, but hear me out. Yes, there will be other people who you don’t know, but those are just potential new friends. If you hate them, you can just be out of the house all the time exploring the city with all the money that you will be saving. You really only need a place to sleep anyway, right? Aside from the lower cost, renting a room comes with some other serious benefits. All those compromises that I mentioned earlier are almost completely gone. Yes, you will still be sharing space with other human beings which means you still have to be courteous and think about others from time to time. Yet, you will only need to think about your own needs when finding your new dwelling. Hate a long commute? Find a place near work! Have a dog and need a backyard? Guess what, houses have those. Have a specific idea of how the bedroom should look? If you don’t love the room then you don’t have to take it. If you are moving to a new city and need an affordable way to live, I truly think that renting a room is a great option to consider. 

I know that everyone is different and my preferences might not be the same as yours. A house full of people sounds like a good time to me, but it might be torture for you. There is no right way to find housing and no perfect fit for everyone. If I accomplished anything by writing this article I hope that it was just to help you explore all your options so that you can make the best decisions for your life. Good luck and enjoy your mom’s cooking while you can!

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