When I think of roommates, the first thought that goes through my head is $$$. Definitely a pro, but how much is my safety, happiness, a fulfilling sleep, un-clogged showers, and just plain old privacy worth to me?
I’ve had a handful of roommates over the past few years. I’ve lived with 2 boyfriends, my “little sister”, a random girl from Craigslist, a best guy friend, and now one of my close girlfriends. I feel with this wide variety I can definitely share the pros and cons of cohabitation with others. Maybe you can learn from my mistakes or experiences.
MY FIRST ROOMMATE EXPERIENCE:
I was 18 years old. My family had to move due to money issues during my senior year of high school. I had 3 months left before graduation, so my parents gave the greenlight for me to move in with my boyfriend (temporarily) until school was over. School ended and me being my persuasive, stubborn, and know-it-all self at that age (oh, wait, that hasn’t changed. ha!), I got my way and stayed with him. I was young and in love, so at first this living situation was awesome. He’d make me breakfast in bed, I’d get massages at bedtime. I liked “playing house”. I see now that’s all it was; me trying to act like an adult, to prove I could do it on my own. This was my first experience in intimacy, and it was intoxicating, until I realized that my boyfriend was crazy (literally–I may share in a later post) and for my own sanity and safety I had to move out.
MY SECOND ROOMMATE EXPERIENCE:
I was 19 years old. I received a call from my unit asking if I would like to come out on orders to work for 6 months to a year. They would pay for my housing and I would get almost $1,500/month in per diem. I said, “HELL YEA”, and quickly sold, trashed, and transferred all my stuff out of that cramped apartment and moved to a beautiful luxury apartment in the “City of Bridges”; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
I’d been dating this guy, TJ–who eventually turned into my boyfriend of 3 years AND my next roommate–from the base who was on orders too. We got closer and he started staying over more and more. Eventually my orders ran out and I was offered an AGR (Active Guard-Reserve) position, which meant I had to find my own place to live (I couldn’t afford to stay where they had put me up).
So we moved in together.. AND I became his sugar mama. He did not pay for A. THING. in our first apartment. I began to resent him. I was working full time, going to school, paying all the bills, taking care of the dog, and I was only 19, while he was 26 years old. PATHETIC.
But, I was lonely so I stayed with him. It was a new city, which meant I didn’t really know anyone, and I was too young to do things with people I worked with; to even go in to a bar in Pittsburgh you have to be 21.
I never was “in love” with him, but grew to love him and care about him. Eventually we moved to a bigger place, got a second dog, he got a big boy job and started chipping in with the bills, and things started looking up. Until I realized 2 things:
1) His OCD was driving me crazy. The blankets in the living room always had to be folded if they weren’t being used. The mail had to be put in a specific drawer to be out of the way. To this day I feel “brainwashed” because I still do some things the way he HAD to have them and now if certain things aren’t done certain ways I feel myself get irritated with others. For example: Dishes have to go in the dishwasher in a specific order. Toilet paper needs to be put on with the first sheet over not under. Groceries have to be placed in the cart and on the belt in a specific order; freezer stuff with freezer stuff, etc.. I know it’s a little much, but after 3 years of dealing with this, I’ve been “trained”.
2) He was a lying, cheating scum bag. When you live with someone you get used to routine. When the routine starts to break (ie. Starts going out with “friends” more and more, his phone is locked, he begins to “fall asleep” on the couch more often than not) you get a little more suspicious. Not good for any living situation if you can’t trust your partner. But it got to the point where I stopped caring and told him to just move all his things into the second bedroom and to begin looking for his own place, which he did about 4 months later.
MY THIRD ROOMMATE EXPERIENCE:
I was 22 years old. My ‘little sister” Krystle was 19 years old. She’s not really my sister, but I’ve always felt like she was part of my family. I asked if she would like to move in with me. She was living with her mom in a smaller one bedroom apartment, and felt like she wanted to try things on her own. She’s a very independent chicky too! So I told her she would have to pay $300/month, which was only a 1/4 of what all my house bills were. She didn’t have a license, so she had to find a job that she could get to by walking or by bus and that she couldn’t rely on me for rides. She found a job at Blockbuster about 1.5 mile away.
Things were great for the first couple months. We went to school together (to a small community college) and spent lots of our free time together. It felt like one big giant everlasting sleepover. It was awesome.
That feeling didn’t last very long.
Our living together for only 4 months ended our relationship for almost a year. So be very careful if you decide to move in with a close friend. I’ve known her since she was 16. A little over 8 years later we’re still the best of friends and I’m now the god mother to her son, Timmy (he’s awesome!), but I think we’d both agree to never live with one another ever again, lol.
MY FOURTH ROOMMATE EXPERIENCE:
Air Head by Haggis Chick on Flickr.
I was 23 years old. Since TJ and I moved in to the bigger place and I stayed there after we broke up, I was struggling with bills, especially since Krystle and I didn’t work out. So I turned to Rent.com, Roommates.com, and even Craigslist in search of a roommate to help with the bills. I met this girl Katie from Craigslist. She was a couple of years older than me, married (Her husband was a doctor and had a job offer in North Carolina, but she was in her last semester of nursing school and couldn’t leave), and Moroccan. She was beautiful and very sweet (in the beginning)–that little girl act got old real quick. I should have realized how air headed she was from the very beginning when she called me whining her first night that she didn’t know how to start the shower, or maybe when she thought that my garage had two entrances (picture Batman’s cave). She lasted about 3 months and then we both decided it wasn’t working out and went our separate ways.
I then boycotted roommates for a while. I was in this amazing relationship (or so I thought) and we were planning on buying a house together. I figured I just needed to re-budget and really watch my spending and I would be okay.
MY FIFTH ROOMMATE EXPERIENCE:
I was 24 years old. My best guy friend, Cameron, wanted to move closer to work and since we worked together and got along so well we decided to give it a try. Things were actually pretty cool. He paid half of the bills. There was always something to do and someone to talk to. It was nice to have a “guy” to live with to do “guy” things around the house.
There were just a few instances where I had problems with things. He would shave in the guest bathroom downstairs and leave his hairs all over the sink and counter (disgusting by the way to all you guys who DON’T clean up after yourselves). I got a long with all of his friends, which was nice, until they would all go out and pick up these NASTY girls (I worked midnight shift at work during this time, so I never saw these girls–I just got to hear the horror stories) and do only God knows what with them (makes me want to puke).
I was picking up the dog poop one day when I saw a used condom in my yard! EEEW! Turns out one of his friends used our little TV room upstairs to do the dirty with some chick and was too lazy to walk to the bathroom to throw it out, so he just opened the window and tossed it. Keepin’ It Classy. When that day happened, Cam had a talk with his “boys” and things calmed down after that. I’ve yet to use that futon since though.
We would probably still live together if it hadn’t been for a few changes. 1) He ended up getting out of the military so he didn’t really need to live close to work anymore. 2) I ended up buying a house and told him if he wanted to live with me he couldn’t smoke in the house (before he could smoke in his room and in the TV room) and he couldn’t bring nasty random chicks back to the house. He didn’t like being told what to do so he decided to move back to the city where he grew up.
MY SIXTH AND CURRENT ROOMMATE EXPERIENCE:
I am now 26 years old. I had been living in solitary heaven for about a year and a half, when a good friend of mine, Olenka, started bringing up her want of moving out of her parent’s house. Her family being from Ukraine expected her to live with them until she met her husband; it’s tradition. Olenka being 27 and just having graduated from college (which is how we met) decided it was time to move out and get her own life. I offered my home.
She’s been living with me since May and although we’ve had our clashes, things are going pretty well. I only charge her 1/4 of all the bills, but in return she helps me out A LOT with my dogs.
We cook and clean together, watch TV shows together, go shopping together.. It’s a lot of fun. And when I need me time, I just go hide in my room. We respect each others needs and both try to be conscious and thoughtful of the other, which is why I think we work so well. Plus having that extra money every month doesn’t hurt.
So after having wrote this novel and looking back on all my experiences, I can say there are definitely more pros to living with someone: extra money, someone to talk to, things to do, shared chores, but you just have to find that respectful balance so your “me” time and privacy never lacks.