There are benefits and disadvantages to living alone vs living with a flatmate, the trick is to find out which option best suits you, and your budget.
The answer to the question of whether you should be living alone vs living with a flatmate will vary depending on who you ask. There is no final answer and there are vast pros and cons to each option. If you’re struggling to decide what the best option would be for you, take some time to consider some of the common reasons that people choose one route over the other.
Living with a Flat Mate
Do a quick search online and you’ll find many reasons why choosing to live with another person can be the best or the worst decision ever. The truth is, living with a flat mate is more than just about having someone to water your plants when you’re away. Living with a flat mate can be a great financial and emotional decision, but it can also lead to conflict and financial problems.
Shared Rent. One of the most important reasons you should consider living with another person (or persons) is that your rent is often split in half. This makes financial sense for students who are looking to save money on rental (and you often have the option of shared utility costs and groceries).
Shared Chores. Living with a flat mate allows you to split the household chores and come up with a schedule. Assigning fair tasks are important skills to learn as you grow older. Living with a flat mate also affords you with the opportunity to learn how to navigate situations of conflict (which will inevitably arise). Students who live with others need to learn how to be heard in a reasonable and understandable manner.
Shared Experience. Your flat mate can become your best friend (or enemy!). Living with another person can be a challenge (those of us with siblings can attest to this) but it can also be an extremely fulfilling experience. From merely having someone to offload to at the end of the day, to having someone who is mindful of your comings and goings, having a flat mate often means making a best friend who looks out for you. I know of many students who have made lifelong friends with their flat mates!
Privacy. If you are an introverted, private person, having a flat mate (or mates) might not be the best choice for you, especially when you need to share bathrooms and kitchen spaces. One of the biggest challenges to living with another person is navigating private spaces and this means you may have to accept your flat mate inviting guests to the house on a weekend when you might have wanted to work peacefully. Thus, it is important to know how to handle conflict and outline visiting times that are appropriate to be noisy and times which are not.
Expenses. Living with a flat mate is not always plain sailing financially. Various conflicts can arise, from disagreements about what groceries are necessary, to a flat mate who consistently uses up more water than you do. It is important to realise that by living with a flat mate you are potentially signing up to another person’s financial difficulties if they have trouble paying their share.[/su_service]
Conflict. This is obviously the biggest concern when living and working with others. However, when you live with a flat mate (or mates) you will inevitably have to deal with conflict. If you find you are someone who is easily frustrated by dishes left undone, mess in the kitchen or bathroom or noisy neighbours, it is important to be aware that these are the kinds of situations you will most likely encounter when living with a flat mate (even if your flat mate is a best friend!).
Living alone can be a daunting decision for any student. You are fully responsible for yourself and your house (or flat). Thus, living alone can be an incredible experience that teaches you more about yourself than ever before, or it can be a lonely and difficult journey. These are some of the pros and cons to living alone.
Privacy. Most people who live alone will tell you that they love their privacy. Living alone affords you the opportunity to keep your own hours, make as much noise in your vicinity as you please and eat whatever you like! People who live alone learn about themselves, their habits and needs because they have the opportunity to do what they want rather than live around other people’s needs. This time for self-discovery is not always available to everyone so enjoy it!
Less Mess. Unless you’re a messy person yourself (in which case not having a flat mate is also a bonus) you may appreciate not having to clean up anybody else’s mess, except your own. Living alone means that you can leave your dishes for as long as you want and spend hours in the bathroom without having to worry about offending your flat mates.[/su_service]
Budgeting. Living alone means you can budget accordingly. While it can be tricky to cook for one person only, you can also start planning ahead to cooking one meal for dinner and saving the leftover for the next day, rather than always needing to cook one massive meal for you, your flat mate (and his three friends). Living alone allows you to save money where you need to and splurge on those things that you want, without the fear of judgement from your flat mate.
Isolation. At university it is always important to build relationships with those around you and it can feel very isolating to live alone, when many of your friends or classmates live with others and seem to have built relationships with people. So living alone can feel like a lonely task when you’re ill, homesick or having a hard time.
Overwhelming. Living alone can feel overwhelming when you need to wash all the dishes, clean the bathroom and still write up an assignment due for the next day. It can also become overwhelming dealing with utility bills and a land-lord. When you live alone, these tasks are your responsibility and cannot be expected of your flat mate.
No support structureLiving with a flat mate affords a kind of support structure which is not always available to someone living alone (unless you have amazing landlords and neighbours). This means that if you lock yourself out the house, you have to sort it out alone and can’t simply phone your roommate for help. This applies to various other aspects too. Run out of toilet paper- you’re on your own kid! Be mindful of how much you rely on others, if this doesn’t sound like something you would enjoy, living alone is probably not for you.
There are endless pros and cons to each and every aspect listed in this article and there is certainly no right or wrong answer to the question of whether you should live alone or with a flat mate. It is important to consider your financial situation and to be intuitive enough to know whether you would enjoy living with people or not. Why not try both? Life is all about experiences and learning more about ourselves and others. Emmerson said it best:
“Life is a succession of lessons which must be lived to be understood.”
So don’t be afraid to get out there and make mistakes!
If you still aren’t sure about where you want to live, take a look at living in a residence for a year. You will get an introduction into sharing living space with someone else and you’ll get the opportunity to meet a very diverse group of people. If you don’t like it, you can opt out and try flat share or living alone.