In the past few weeks, we’ve spent a lot of time talking about selecting roommates. So now let’s shift to another scenario: you’ve had a roommate for a while, and now you’re ready to live on your own.
How do you know if you’re ready to take this particular plunge? There are three areas you need to be sure about, each of them quite different but equally important to consider. Let’s break them down one by one.
There is indeed a price for independence. That price comes, first, in the form of rent. One of the main reasons people have roommates is to save on cost, so if you’re thinking of living alone, particularly if you want a one-bedroom to yourself, plan on paying at least 50% more a month in rent. (Though, depending on your area, the amount can vary greatly – you need to check your local listings to determine exactly how much more.)
If you want a studio, there’s a little bit more wiggle-room. Most likely you’ll still be paying somewhat more a month, but you might, in fact, be able to find a studio for the same price or a touch less than what you had been paying for your share with roommates. (Again, check your local listings for the exact amounts.) That said, even if you end up paying less to live in a studio, you also get a lot less: your bedroom will be in the same room as your kitchen and living room, making it awkward to have guests over, and generally, you’ll be in one small room … some people don’t mind it, others do.
So, a higher rent is extra expense number one. Extra expense number two? Utilities. Unfortunately, when you live by yourself, splitting utilities is not an option. The overall bill will be little lower since your new space is (presumably) smaller, but since you’ll be splitting it exactly zero ways, expect to pay, again, about 50% more per month. And then there’s also cable and internet. Which are the same price, no matter how many people use them – so, if you’d previously had three roommates and you shared these expenses, expect to pay 300% more a month to watch Game of Thrones on HBO, or browse Facebook from home. In other words, internet went from $10 a month to $40 a month, just like that.
But, surely, these are all the extra expenses? Well, no, not necessarily. Also consider furniture. When you share a place, usually the furniture in the bedroom is yours, and the stuff in the living room is a mixture of everyone’s. If you’re moving into a one-bedroom by yourself, your living room might look awfully bare without a couch, television, bookshelf, coffee table, etc. And, unless you already owned all those things in your share, who’s going to have to go out and buy them? … I’m looking in one direction: right at you. So factor that in, too.
Mercifully, we’re done with calculating the extra money you’ll need – and, as you can see it’s quite a lot. It certainly can be worth it – you just need to make sure you have it before you take the plunge.
However, having a roommate is more than just saving money. There’s also the issue of safety. With a roommate, you have someone looking out for you – any half-way decent roommate will notice and worry if you’re missing for no apparent reason. They’ll try to find out where you are.