Are Roommates Right For You? How To Determine If Living Solo Or With Others Is Better

Moving out into your own place for the first time is one of those important adult milestones — it's a day that many of us look forward to! But before you rush out to rent an expensive studio or one-bedroom apartment, it's important to consider the pros and cons of living alone compared to living with roommates. After all, while living alone has major perks, there are still a lot of benefits (and usually a lot of savings) in living with housemates.


Living alone is presented as an inevitable stepping stone into adult life, but rising costs of living mean it's not possible for everyone, especially if you have your heart set on living in an expensive city. On the other hand, there are many benefits of living alone — like not having to share any of your space, ever — that should be considered before any decisions are made.

Choosing whether to live solo or in a shared house is a deeply personal decision that should be made based on your financial situation and personal needs, not by the influence of others around you. The right answer will differ from person to person, depending on your current circumstances. If you're wondering if it's better to live alone or to live with roommates, here's a checklist of points you can consider.


Look at your financial situation

Your finances are the first factor to consider when choosing to fly solo or live with roommates — and for some of us, it might quickly rule out living alone. NerdWallet recommends following the popular "30% rule," which outlines that renters should aim to spend around 30% of their pre-tax income on rent. Since living with roommates is usually cheaper than renting alone, following this rule might prompt you to stick with a shared house.


Of course, spending even less than 30% on rent gives you more wiggle room to put money in savings or towards other living costs and debts, which is always a good thing. On the other hand, in high-cost-of-living cities like New York or San Francisco, it isn't always possible to stay under this benchmark. You'll want to determine your financial goals and take a thorough look at your finances — and if you don't have one already, now is a good time to create a budget. You'll want to add up all your other necessary expenses to make sure you can afford your chosen home.

Consider your ideal location

If you want to live in a more expensive city or neighborhood, you're more likely to need to split the rent. In many cities and towns, desirable areas tend to be pricier, which means you might need to make a tough decision: pay more to be in the action (and maybe share with roommates) or pay less to live farther away (and possibly live alone). The good news is, in high-cost-of-living areas, there are likely plenty of other adults eager to split a home and living costs, so you can truly decide which option is better for you without shame or pressure.


When choosing your ideal location, consider its proximity to where you spend most of your time, like work or school, as well as other important places like grocery stores or the gym. You might be willing to make sacrifices to cut down on your commute or for better privacy. For example, if you hate commuting, you might want to consider living in a more affordable shared home with roommates in an area where you can walk to work. Or vice versa — living further from your workplace or the city center but having a place that's within budget all to yourself.

How important is your privacy and personal space?

One of the biggest perks of living alone is that you have the privilege of total privacy and total control over your personal space. You can do whatever you want, whenever you want to (without disrupting your landlord or neighbors, of course). If you've never lived alone before, one way to determine if you might prefer living solo is to think about if you're an introvert or extrovert.


If you're introverted and really like (or need) your alone time, you might prefer an entire place to yourself where you don't need to worry about kitchen anxiety and carrying on a conversation in your own home. If you're extroverted, you might feel more energized by always having people around, and a big shared home might be perfect for you.

Besides your personal preferences, there are other factors to consider when thinking about how much personal space you need. For example, if you work from home, you might need a quiet space for an office set-up, which might not be possible in some shared homes. You also might prefer to have your own personal space for guests, hobbies, or storage — consider all aspects of your lifestyle when thinking about your personal space needs.


Do you prefer to share and split, or go at everything alone?

When you live with roommates, sharing can feel like a blessing or a curse, depending on the situation. One way that it's a benefit is the chance to share and split chores and bills. Depending on how many roommates you have, this can mean a lot less time spent doing the chores you hate. For example, if you have a weekly cleaning schedule and three roommates, the time you spend cleaning on your own decreases significantly! 


Overall, bills also tend to be less expensive when splitting with roommates. While some bills are usage-dependent, others, like your internet bill, might not differ greatly between a shared house and a solo apartment. More roommates mean you pay a smaller chunk of each bill, which can mean more money in your wallet.

Of course, all the sharing and splitting also brings up more opportunities for conflict, such as if someone doesn't pay their share or pull their weight with chores. Living alone means all the bills and chores are your responsibility, which also means you have total control, which offers a certain peace of mind.

How well do you deal with conflict?

If you live with roommates long enough, conflict is pretty much inevitable. It can be as simple as a roommate with a habit of playing their music too loud or something more serious, like a roommate disrespecting your belongings. Home should be where you feel safe and comfortable, and that's not really possible if you're living with people that have seriously conflicting standards, habits, and lifestyles. That being said, a lot of common roommate conflicts can be resolved. There's a lot you can work out with an honest conversation and a bit of compromise!


If you're not great with conflict, that doesn't mean you can't live with roommates. You can see possible conflicts as a learning experience and an opportunity to practice advocating for yourself. But for anyone, conflict-avoidant or not, it's important to choose your roommates wisely for a more harmonious home. For those who just want to avoid possible housemate conflicts altogether, living alone is the best choice — it will give you the most say over your surroundings.

How often do you have houseguests?

Openness to houseguests can differ from home to home. Some people prefer to be notified when guests are over, while others love having family and friends come and go as they please. Consider how often you plan to have houseguests and how much privacy and space both you and your guests will need. If you're deciding to live with roommates, consider the opposite situation as well, and consider your level of comfort with your roommates inviting others to your shared home.


There are a few key situations to think about when deciding between living alone or with roommates. If you're big on hosting parties or events, you might want your own space to open up to friends whenever you wish. If you have a partner who stays over multiple nights a week, some roommates might not be okay with that. Overnight guests are another factor to consider. If you have a lot of parents or friends that visit from out of town, it's easier to park them on the couch or extra room of your solo apartment rather than in shared spaces with roommates.

Total freedom or little compromises

One of the biggest draws toward living alone is the freedom it affords. There's no one to answer to when you're in your own place. You have the freedom to decorate how you wish, play whatever music you want, host parties and guests when your heart pleases, and more. Whether you want to walk around naked or cook a three-course meal at 3 a.m. — it's your prerogative, and there's no one around to judge!


When you live with roommates, it's best to be conscientious about keeping the peace. There are a lot of little daily compromises that come with living with others, whether it's dialing down the volume of your music when your roommate is studying or choosing to keep your cool about the three-day-old dirty dishes in the sink. Just like conflict is pretty much inevitable when living with others, so is compromise. If you're at a place in your life where you feel like you've done enough compromising, living solo might feel best for you.

Consider the benefits of companionship

Having roommates means there are often people around. As long as you get along with your fellow home-sharers, roommates can mean built-in friends and someone to hang out with without even needing to walk out your door. A shared home can have a community feel, which can help combat loneliness.


When daily life feels so structured between work and other responsibilities, there's beauty in spontaneous downtime spent with others. Many people have fond memories with roommates because of the unstructured time spent together, laughing, playing board games, watching a movie, or otherwise enjoying each other's company in a relaxed setting. There's magic in doing the little things with good company, like cooking weeknight dinners or taking out the trash together.

If you're friends with your roommates, living together can bring you to a unique level of friendship, where you get to see each other's quirks and living habits. Of course, for those who have had their fair share of roommate experiences or are just ready for the independent lifestyle, living alone can be just as fun if you're in the right headspace. Living solo means you may need to put more effort into socializing, but you'll also have your space all to yourself.


Roommates can provide some convenient perks

When you live with roommates, a helping hand is usually near. There are a lot of small tasks that are so easy to get done when you have a roommate but a total pain if you live alone. For example, if you go away for a week, your roommates can help water your plants. If you lock yourself out? Don't fret; your roommate has another key.


If you're scared of spiders, your roommates might be able to relocate them (or at least share your misery). When you live alone, it can be frustrating to come across simple two-person tasks, like moving a piece of heavy furniture to clean behind it. Problem solved if you have a roommate!

For many people, there's also a sense of safety that comes with living with roommates. It's as simple as knowing that you're not alone at night and that help is just a shout away. However, it's only as convenient as your roommate is helpful. Taking on your tasks shouldn't be a requirement (and vice versa). Some roommates might not want to walk your dog or feed your fish while you're away, so discussing expectations is important. If you prefer total independence and don't mind outsourcing these little tasks, then living alone is a good choice.


Living with friends or living with strangers

Do you have someone you already want to move in with, or are you looking for new roommates? There are pros and cons to either option. Moving in with friends can seem fun and exciting, but some friends are better off as just pals and not roommates — if you and your friend don't handle conflict with each other well, it might not be a good idea to live together.


Sometimes, it feels easier to set ground rules and expectations with strangers. This can start your roommate relationship on the right foot rather than bringing the baggage from a friendship into the home. If you don't have friends to move in with and you don't feel comfortable living with strangers, getting your own place is the right call.

If you're moving to a new city or country altogether, living with roommates is a great opportunity to make friends. Living alone can be isolating, especially when you're finding your footing in a new place. If you have social roommates or live in a shared house that likes to host parties, this will also give you the opportunity to meet other people that live in your city as well!


Consider the effort and cost of furnishing an apartment

Renting an apartment is just the first step. You'll need to furnish the place as well! If you're on a tight budget, it can be welcome news to find out your roommates might already come with furniture for shared spaces, like a couch or dining room table. While this is a big pro for your savings, you might consider it a con if it doesn't match your decorating style. With roommates, you have the chance to split both the costs and responsibilities of furniture.


If you're living alone, furnishing is your responsibility, which means you need to cover the cost of furniture, deal with getting it to your home and moving it around, and build any pieces. Of course, living alone gives you the freedom to make your own design choices. If expressing your style through your home is a priority, then you might prefer to have your own space that you can decorate without consulting a roommate on their opinion.

Cleanliness is a virtue

Whether you live alone or with others, cleanliness is a good habit. But how clean a home is can be the source of many roommate conflicts, so you need to be on the same page about cleanliness if you live with others. Living in a shared house doesn't mean you always need to be super neat; it's more about setting expectations than anything else.


If you're on the messy side, you'll probably get along fine with equally messy roommates who won't get upset at your habits, whereas if you love a clean home, you'll want to room with fellow tidy housemates. While there are ways for messy and neat people to cohabitate happily, it may be easier to just avoid the potential conflict altogether.

When you're living alone, all messes are your own, which just feels less frustrating. It's always easier to justify your own dirty dishes and scattered clothes. If you're in a hurry, you can leave the house a disaster, and you don't need to worry about it affecting other people — and vice versa; you don't need to practice empathy with a roommate who leaves the house a mess. Plus, when you live solo and do a deep clean, you'll get to revel in the tidiness without someone else coming along and dirtying your space.


The possibility of financial conflict

Another possible source of conflict with roommates is finances. Usually, sharing a home with others will come with some level of shared finances. This can be as simple as contributing to a household kitty, helping purchase cleaning supplies, and splitting all your household groceries bills. If you plan on living with roommates, you'll need to have this type of discussion about splitting bills when you move in. Money can be a touchy subject, so it will help you to avoid conflict down the line.


Of course, splitting costs means putting a level of trust in your roommates to contribute and pay any household bills that they're responsible for. If you want to avoid financial conflict altogether (if you've had a financial conflict with roommates in the past, you know how stressful it can be), then living alone is the best call. You'll be responsible for all your bills, but that also means you don't need to rely on anyone else.

Noise level expectations

Everyone has their own noise level preferences — some people like a quiet home, while others like music playing all day. Consider your ideal home environment. Will it bother you to have a roommate that always slams the cabinet doors shut or plays music while they're in the shower? If you're picky about noise, it might be better to live alone. When you have your own place, you control the noise level, whether that's the volume on the TV or when you do noisy chores like vacuuming.


Living with roommates takes this control out of your hands. If you have quiet or conscientious roommates, that's not usually a problem. But some people just live loudly, so if rooming with a loud talker or walker will bother you, either find a quiet roommate or choose to live alone. Also, think about your personal noise level and how that might affect others. For example, if you play an instrument or are into woodworking, it might be best to live alone or let roommates know about any loud hobbies before you make the decision to move in.

Sharing common spaces

Living with roommates comes with lots of shared spaces, which can include a shared kitchen, living room, bathroom, and storage space. If you want all that space to yourself, then living solo is the only way. Otherwise, you'll need to consider how well you share common spaces and how many roommates you will be living with. The more people in a household, the more often you'll need to share spaces like the kitchen. There are some options to live with roommates but have more space to yourself, such as renting a bedroom with an ensuite bathroom or a walk-in closet.


When thinking about sharing common spaces with roommates, consider your schedule and if it lines up or conflicts with your roommates. For example, does everyone need the bathroom at the same time in the morning? Are you an early riser or a night owl? Consider the amount of physical space as well, such as if there is enough storage space for everyone's stuff or enough space in the kitchen for two to cook at a time. Considering all of these elements should help you narrow down whether solo living or roommates are right for you.