In 2015, when I moved to my current city, I was excited to live alone.
I hadn’t yet started aggressively attacking my debt, and getting a place of my own seemed to signify that I was “adulting” or that I had “made it”. Living with other people almost seemed like a regression and like others might think I didn’t make enough money to live by myself.
I did a decent job of finding an affordable place to live, but I was still hiding behind the “necessity” of a high cost of living that came with living alone.
A few months ago, that all changed.
I was assessing my budget and decided that my current housing costs were way too high. While I was already living in a place that was below the average rent in my area, I still wanted to do more.
Long story short, I made a specific choice to move into a new housing situation with roommates. It was a calculated choice that I’m confident has already positively affected both my personal and financial well being in the following ways:
- Housing Costs:
Too often, people don’t understand how important housing is when it comes to paying down debt and increasing net worth. A rent or mortgage payment typically makes up the single largest percentage of one’s expenses every month.
Most “financial experts” suggest that you spend a maximum of 35% of your take home pay on housing costs. I’d argue that, if possible you should try to get that percentage to below 20%.
By moving in with roommates, I’ve been able to decrease my housing costs by 25%, and now my total housing costs only account for around 17% of my monthly expenses. I’m able to use the money that I’ve saved from these costs to destroy more debt and speed up my debt payoff projections.
- Built-In Community:
Most people would agree that one of the most important parts of being alive is developing relationships or community. When you move in with roommates, you are able to have built in community at your fingertips.
While there can definitely be drawbacks to roommates, there’s something special about those random late night conversations that go on for hours. You can “catch up” with people over lunch or while doing an activity, but it’s those simple, mundane times of just being with people that provide great opportunities for connection.
I have the good fortune of having great roommates. We get along well, support each other, and have similar lifestyles. We were friends before we moved in together, but being roommates has heightened our friendship and created a special bond that we didn’t have before.
- Associated Financial Benefits:
When choosing my new location, I specifically chose to live close to where I work. I wanted to be within a mile or two so that I could have a short walk or bike commute and be in a better position to go car free.
Due to the fact that there are now three of us, we were able to secure a nicer living situation closer to downtown than my previous place. There’s not really a tangible benefit of living in a newer unit, but it is cool that I’m spending a lot less money to live in a unit that is a lot nicer than my previous one.
Also, because I chose the location well, I was able to sell my car and save a large amount of money associated with the cost of car ownership. The money I received from selling my car freed up a large chunk of money to pay toward my student loan debt and freed up an additional couple hundred dollars per month that I can now throw towards my debt.
Overall, moving in with roommates has been a great decision for me, and it’s something that has been integral in my continued path to getting out of debt and financial independence.
What about you? How has living with roommates helped you on your financial journey? What things have kept you from moving in with roommates if you’ve yet to take the plunge?