Roommate sits on the couch while her friends do all the work

The Roommate Decision: Privacy vs. Frugality

Having one or more roommates makes independent living a lot easier. There are obvious financial advantages to sharing your home with someone, but are the savings worth it? Think about the pros and cons to having a roommate before rushing into a new living situation.


  • Roommates help with the bills.
    Splitting the cost of rent and utilities is the strongest advantage, folks. Unless you’re an extrovert and can’t stand living alone, the financial benefits are the whole reason you’re considering having roomies in the first place.

  • There’s safety in numbers.
    Aside from the financial benefits, there’s the personal benefit of having company in a new neighborhood. So you can’t afford martial arts lessons. Have you considered a karate-chopping roommate?

  • You can afford a nicer place.
    Your budget alone restricts you to only so many square feet. Add a roommate or two to the mix, and you can broaden your horizons. Instead of a tiny studio, you can look into spacious places or even rental houses.

  • You don’t have to completely furnish your kitchen or living room.
    This is a massive perk for college kids and other people living independently for the first time. When it comes to furnishing your new digs, your roommate will inevitably have what you need and vice versa. Let’s face it: furniture isn’t cheap, and neither are appliances. Hold out on buying a new couch or vacuum cleaner. Your potential roommate might come with some baggage—and I mean that in a good way.

  • Roommates (sometimes) have cool stuff.
    Practical items aside, your roommate might have some pretty sweet stuff. An agreeable personality and similar living habits are the most important criteria for a roommate…but a big screen TV and Xbox for the living room wouldn’t hurt, either.

  • You can have a pet without owning a pet.
    All the fun of a dog with none of the responsibilities! Yay!

  • You can make lifelong friends.
    It’s so nice having a constant drinking buddy, a shoulder to cry on, or simply someone to hang out with. Living with someone you already know can bring you two closer, and a random roommate can become a new best friend.

Sounds pretty sweet, right? There are even more advantages to having roommates that I can’t begin to list. Unfortunately, like everything else in life, sharing your apartment or house has its drawbacks…

  • Roommates can run up the bills.
    Imagine having a roommate who takes hour-long hot showers. Twice a day. An inconsiderate, water-wasting roomie can make an impact on your utility bill. Some landlords cover those expenses, but if you aren’t so lucky, then you may end up spending more than you’d be saving.

  • You’d kill for some alone time.
    Here’s the reason many people decide to live alone. While roommates help you save money, you’re kinda stuck with them for a year (or until your lease runs out). Depending on how big your apartment is, you might be strapped for privacy. If you’re a people person, this won’t bother you too much. If you’re one of four living in a house with only one bathroom, you’ll be irked no matter how extroverted you are.

  • The boundaries of ownership are blurred.
    Sharing everything from furniture and kitchenware to video games is convenient. While there are boundaries in place, such as keeping personal items off limits, you might be annoyed by how your roommate treats your belongings—especially if he damages your stuff. There’s always the possibility of ending up with a jerk of a roommate who breaks your belongings without paying for repairs.

  • You’re stuck with a pet without owning a pet.
    All the mess of a dog with none of the responsibilities. Yay?

  • You can make lifelong enemies.
    Okay, maybe “enemies” is a strong word. However, leaving an apartment after a sour living situation can irreparably damage a preexisting friendship. Living with your friend allows you to see their true selves uncensored. Your BFF may be the embodiment of fun, but there’s nothing less fun than having a roommate who refuses to pull her weight around the house.

Are you convinced that living alone is the way to go, or you look forward to having a roommate? The answer largely depends on your personal preferences: what matters more, privacy or savings?

Last Updated: September 11, 2015