For a good deal of our young adult lives, most of us love having roommates.
It usually starts in college—the people we live with during these formative years often become our best friends for life. And when it’s good, it’s really good. These are the people that are there to vent to after a hard day, it’s cheaper to split the bills, and it’s nice to have someone to hang out with during rare free time.
But there comes a time when this roommate love-fest ends and the fantasies about living solo begin. This usually happens around the time that “stability” doesn’t sound like a boring, adult concept anymore. Our priorities shift to 401Ks, finding a serious partner and making home feel like a sanctuary. These can be difficult goals to pursue when dealing with things like roommate squabbles and having unwanted guests around at inconvenient times.
So, when is it time to go it alone? Here are a few signs.
1. A Place Of Our Own
I can remember when I hated that my roommates went out of town—it felt weird coming home to an empty place. I’d find myself alone on a Saturday night, without my live-in social crew. At some point, though, that sad feeling starts to shift into happiness.
All of a sudden, we’re elated by the idea of the roomie going on a week-long trip. We look forward to walking around half-naked (or fully naked) and watching all of the shows we’re ashamed to watch in their presence.
When we start to enjoy having the apartment to ourselves when they’re gone, we know it’s time to start seriously thinking about parting ways. This doesn’t mean that we don’t still enjoy our roommates’ company, just that we’d rather see them when we choose to instead of all the time.
2. All The Small Things
It’s pretty much impossible to avoid some conflict when living with another human being. When we share space with someone, there are bound to be little problems that pop up regardless of how good the friendship is. Ask yourself this: Do you fly into a murderous rage when you notice that your roommate ate your yogurt? Does the sound of their blow dryer or morning music make your head explode?
If the answer to these questions is “Yes,” head to Craigslist right now. Having all of this stress and conflict in our lives just isn’t good for our mental state and general wellbeing. The fact is that the problem probably isn’t actually their behavior but the simple fact that we’re just done sharing our home with someone. It’s best to move out before the living issues begin to threaten a perfectly good friendship and turn our home into a hostile place where we don’t want to be.
After college, one of the reasons a lot of people continue living with roommates is sheer financial necessity. With most entry-level job salaries, it’s impossible to shoulder rent and all the utility bills alone. Sharing the burden with another person makes it possible to have a bit of extra cash for the fun stuff. As we progress in our careers, though, our paychecks aren’t quite so laughable and the idea of footing the whole bill becomes do-able.
As a rule of thumb, total housing costs (including rent and bills) shouldn’t be much over 30 percent of monthly take-home earnings. Do the math and see if you can swing it. If you can, go for it! Now, we may not save as much as we did when we lived with a roommate, but we’ll be moving in the right direction when it comes to adult self-sufficiency and financial independence.
4. Alone Time
An unfortunate fact of life is that as we get older, life becomes more stressful. And as life gets more stressful, many of us require more and more alone time to feel balanced and happy. In days gone by, heading to a crowded bar with our 10 closest friends was the perfect way to unwind on a Friday night. But in your 20s or 30s, after a long week at the office, that somehow doesn’t sound as fun. In fact, all many of us can think about is pajamas, pizza and Netflix…an activity that’s best enjoyed solo.
After packed commutes, work meetings and get-togethers with friends, it’s normal to want to be alone. It doesn’t mean we’re becoming hermits, it just means we’re becoming grownups who need space and time to decompress from life’s stresses on our own.
5. All Grow’ed Up
It depends on each person, but at a certain age most of us start feeling like it’s a bit silly to still be living with a roommate. Like when we offer to cook a romantic dinner for the new girl or guy we’re dating and we have to beg our roommate to get the heck out for the night. At some point, we just know that we need our own space to develop into the people we want to be, and we don’t want to compromise our desires based on considerations for a roommate.
Going from living with roommates to living alone is a pretty big transition in adult life, but it’s also pretty great. And, in a way, it’s a symbolic change akin to when we first moved out of our parents’ home. For a lot of us, solo living is an important rite of passage in the long journey of “growing up.”
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Author: Noah Tennant
Apprentice Editor: Megan Ridge Morris/ Editor: Catherine Monkman