Singletude: A Positive Blog for Singles

Singletude is a positive, supportive singles blog about life choices for the new single majority. It's about dating and relationships, yes, but it's also about the other 90% of your life--family, friends, career, hobbies--and flying solo and sane in this crazy, coupled world. Singletude isn't about denying loneliness. It's about realizing that whether you're single by choice or by circumstance, this single life is your life to live.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Singles and Roommates: Should You Get a Roommate?

Sometimes you can't live with them, but you can't live without them. They're a staple of home life for many singles--roommates.

Perhaps you thought you'd seen the last of them when you boxed your bean bag chair and mini fridge for the ride home from college. At last, you thought with a sigh of relief. Never again will the tender pads of my sockless feet encounter the remains of Bernice's egg salad sandwich on the kitchenette floor! No more will I wake to the grinding of Edmund's incisors in the middle of the night!

But you didn't count on the rising cost of housing and the modest starting wages that haven't kept pace with inflation. And, somehow, you find yourself with a broker in a duplex with a private garden, a whirlpool tub, and a rent that's through the roof, and suddenly you're considering getting a roommate to share your digs.

It's been a long time, though, since you had to cross your legs in the hallway while your oblivious roommie in the shower belted the soundtrack of Rent from start to finish, and maybe you're not sure you can go through that again without resorting to Valium, a gun, or both. But that private garden...that whirlpool tub....

In the interest of making your decision less complicated, here's a rundown of the pros and cons:

Your bank account will benefit. This is the most obvious pro of sharing your pad. When you split rent, utilities, and maybe cable and Internet, you'll save a bundle.

Your roommate may not agree with your definition of "financial responsibility." If that's the case, his or her late payments may suck your wallet dry.

You'll have a built-in buddy, someone to order a pizza with, borrow staples or tape from, check your back for cat fur before you go out, and notice if you don't stumble in drunk at the usual hour.

Not all roomies get along, and even those that do can drive each other to the point of physical violence in the forced intimacy of close quarters. Everyone has his or her own living habits, and some of them won't mesh with yours. Especially if you're used to living alone and running your own show, accommodating someone else's quirks can be a disconcerting stretch outside your comfort zone.

A roommie is an extra pair of hands around the house for scrubbing the tub, sweeping the floor, dusting the bookshelves, and all those other chores that can make a tired single person want to kick everything under the bed and resign it to the dust mites.

A certain percentage of the population can be described as "slobs." Slobs may lurk in your office, in your neighbor's house, even in your own family. Often, they only let loose the full extent of their slovenliness behind closed doors, so you may not know you've encountered one until you're living with her. By the time you find her hairballs in your drain or smell his dirty socks wafting from the bedroom, it'll be too late.

If the above list of pros and cons doesn't clarify your choice, cross-check by asking yourself these questions:

1. Am I out of the house a lot so that my roommate and I won't be stuck in cramped quarters too often?
2. Am I a sociable person who likes to be around others and doesn't have an excessive need for private time or space?
3. Am I an easygoing person who can take the unexpected in stride?
4. Am I flexible enough to adjust my daily routine to accommodate someone else?
5. Can I handle ambient noise like music or TV from another room or the sound of someone shuffling around in the bathroom after I've gone to bed?
6. Can I tolerate someone else's stuff lying around in communal spaces like the living room, kitchen, and bathroom?
7. Can I deal with the possibility that a roommate may invite people I don't know well into our home?
8. Do I have good conflict resolution skills so I can address differences with my roommate without alienating him or her?
9. If my roommate falls behind on the rent or moves out suddenly, will it break the bank if I have to cover it myself for a month or two?
10. If necessary, do I have legal recourse to evict a roommate if the situation becomes untenable?

If you answered "yes" to most of these questions, chances are you're the kind of person who would thrive with a roommate, and you're ready to take the plunge!

So, if you're still feeling brave enough to open your door, it's time to begin the hunt for the perfect candidate. Tomorrow, we'll discuss how to find the most suitable resident for your home, and the next day, we'll talk about how to adjust to living with him or her. In the meantime, if you can think of other pros and cons to sharing your home turf, please add them to the list.

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bobbyboy said...

Oscar worthy post!

Imagine living with a mother and son, an adult, paying all the bills because neither can find a job to be self sufficient?

Nightmare on elm street might give a clue.

But, we do what we have to do to get by I guess. I just stopped watching scary movies.

Clever Elsie said...

I'm assuming this mother and son were your relatives and not just a charity case? Even still, that's beyond the call of duty. And, yes, it's enough to send chills up this single spine.