The Benefits of Having a Roommate (Besides Saving on Rent)
Since leaving home 12 years ago, when I was 18, I’ve always lived with someone else.
Most people my age have, in fact. Either they’re cohabitating with a lover, or they want to cut down on expenses by sharing space with others. And who doesn’t? We all want to save wherever we can.
For me, I enjoyed the rent savings that comes with sharing a house or apartment, but also I prefer to have someone around so I’m not lonely (and because I’m afraid of the dark — I feel better knowing someone else is there; go ahead and make fun of me in the comments below).
But besides those few reasons just mentioned, there are several other benefits to having a roommate. Take a look at what I’ve come up with, and tell me if you agree. (See also: When You Should and Shouldn't Rent)
1. To Share the Cost of Household Essentials
If you’re living with other people, it’s everyone’s responsibility to clean the house and share the cost of the cleaning supplies. If that’s not happening, it can create an awkward living situation. True story — I once lived with a closet crackhead who contributed zilch to the house, barely paid his rent, and invited friends over and let them tear into food that I had just purchased. You want to avoid confrontations with roommates at all costs to keep the peace, and pitching in equally in terms of household duties and supplies is critical.
2. For Carpooling
I doubt you and your roommate work together, but if you do, you’ve hit the jackpot on saving on gas and allowing your car to last longer by not using it as often. Even if you don’t work together, however, you can still carpool to other places, such as the grocery store or the mall if you both need or want to go at the same time. When I lived with roommates, I would always let them know when I was going someplace that they might be interested in. I was happy to give them a lift — plus, I had company. One of them (not the crackhead) would return the favor whenever he was going someplace that he thought I might need to go.
3. To Split Entertainment Fees
It’s common for roommates to split utilities and cable, but there are other items that can be shared as well. For instance, a Netflix account. If you live in the same house, there’s no reason to have more than one Netflix account. You’ll have to work out a way to make it work for all parties involved. The one-DVD-at-a-time plan probably isn’t a good idea — nobody will ever agree on a movie — but the three-DVDs-at-a-time plan could work for two or more roommates, and everyone saves more money than if they had their own separate subscriptions. Same goes for magazines. If you both like a particular magazine, why not go in half on the subscription?
4. To Sit Your Pet
Anybody with a pet knows that dog-sitting and boarding expenses can take a large chunk of change out of your pocket at the most inopportune time — you could use that extra money while you’re on vacation. If you have a roommate, he or she will likely be more than happy to take care of your pet while you’re away. Politely ask them if it’s possible, and offer to show your appreciation by taking them out to dinner, which, unless they’re a glutton, will cost much less than you’d pay for professional pet services. If you want to save even more money, suggest repaying them by doing something around the house, like cleaning the bathroom or another activity that your roommate might normally do.
5. To Become Order-In Buddies
Unless you plan to eat the whole pizza by yourself, you should ask your roommate to share the food and the cost with you. By doing this, nothing will go to waste, and you’ll both be satisfied for less. This works for any kind of order-in that has a minimum delivery threshold, really. If the item you want is $7, but there’s a $10 minimum, you’ll probably end up purchasing an additional item you don’t want to meet the minimum. Before you do that, though, ask the roommate if there’s anything he or she would like. It’ll save you a few bucks.
6. To Deter Would-Be Intruders
Some roommates have different schedules — and that can be a good thing. If someone is always home, there’s less of a chance of an intruder getting away with your stuff. I once lived with roommates, and we had a break-in in the middle of the day. No one was home at the time, but if they were, they could have stopped him. However, if I were the unfortunate one to have been home at the time, I would’ve hidden under the bed like a coward. Note to you — don’t ever live with me.
7. To Unlock the Door When You’ve Lost Your Keys
This has happened to me on several occasions, and I was thankful that my roommate was home when I called so he could unlock the door for me. Better than sitting on the stoop forever, or even worse, calling a locksmith.
8. To Have Your Back When You’ve Had Too Much
When I lived in Baltimore, I had a roommate who I would go out on the town with. And on occasion, I would have too much, but he always got me home safely. I did the same for him; we had each other’s backs. Even if you’re not going out together, it’s still great to have someone in the house to make sure you haven’t overdone it when you stumble home, and if you have, to make the right decision regarding your well-being.
What are some other benefits to having a roommate? Let me know in the comments below.