Housing / Saving Choices

Hi! First post here, but I’ve been thinking through budgeting and financial choices for a while now.
Some context: I’m about to graduate college, am living month-to-month in a house with a housemate and landlord, and am starting a new (better paying) job in June.
The Problem: I have no issue with the place I’m currently living, but I desperately want to live alone!! Buy furniture, have my own space, all that jazz. However, looking at 1 bedrooms and studios that are renting at twice the price I’m paying now (not including cost of utilities & the initial costs of furnishing) makes the !must save money, must be financially secure! part of my brain go haywire. My higher salary will make apartment rent a possibility, but the possibility of saving that extra income instead is also exciting? less anxiety producing?
Thoughts? Help?: My landlord has asked me what my plans are, which means I have to decide whether to stick out shared housing another year and save up money to move next year, or to move at the end of this summer. I know I’m the only person who can make this decision, but I guess I’m looking for advice on how to approach the thought process. What do you do when you have two conflicting values/narratives about spending in your brain? How do you evaluate which is a priority, when your basic pro-con list turns into a couple evenly balanced bullet points?
Thanks!

Update: I’ve decided to stay in my current place for another year in order to save, focus on getting settled at my new job, and get a cat! I’m sorry I haven’t gotten around to replying to everyone (things have been crazy lately) but I really appreciate everyone’s insights and support! Thinking through this with other voices and support has made this decision a lot easier!

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That’s a really hard one for me. I know that as I got older my need for ownership over my space increased and became a need- where an unsafe studio was better than a safe shared. So my old lady brain says stay the one more year and save!

But I’m me and you’re you. Another factor - what tenant protections and rent control options are available? Here there was about 8 months where I watched a picky friend get priced out of the rental market and a lot of people will never be able to move from their rental because have rent control in occupied units but as long as the landlord lets it sit a month between tenant they can raise it to whatever they want.

Will you be in your city long term? Are there other jobs at the same or similar pay for you there? Will you still save but not as much?

I would be looking at which choice has me on track for the life I want in 3-5 years. And doesn’t cause any short term harm

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I like Elle’s answer. Some additional things to think about:

What does the rest of your financial picture look like? Do you have student loans and/or other debts? If you stay in place, yes you can save more, but what are the savings goals for? Maybe writing out those goals will help you decide whether any of those (or all together) are worth more to you than having a place of your own.

Alternately, what does your budget picture look like with both a higher income and higher rent? Is it a stretch to afford it and you’ll be more stressed about money? Or does the income increase offset the rent increase?

These are some ways I’d think about it.

When it comes to housing, though, many/most of us here (myself included) tend to put a lot of value on housing that supports your overall well-being more than just being financially optimal. For example, my family is currently under contract to buy a house that’s significantly more expensive than our current one, but it’s big enough for our kids to all have their own bedrooms, plus the layout has more separate living spaces than our current one does, which is nice because we all need our introvert time. It’s also in a fresh and new location of our area that has a lot of pros versus our current one, which we’re tired of and has some triggery memories as well.

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I agree with all of this. If it were me, I might decide to move sooner rather than later, because rents are going up obscenely in my city and it’s extremely hard to find something. I don’t see this getting better anytime soon for reasons that might be specific to my city (AirBNBs taking over and displacing people who actually live here), so if it were me, I would move.

I have never ever regretted choosing to live without a roommate, even when I was right out of college and barely making $20k/year. But I’m a very private introvert and typically don’t want anyone in my space, ever, other than my partner (and sometimes not even him :rofl: ), YMMV.

If I’m understanding properly, you’re month to month but your landlord now wants you to sign a year lease?

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All of this too. A lot of people will say that housing decisions are purely business and should not take emotions into account, but I don’t think that’s true. Or, at least, not 100 percent true.

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I’d argue that emotions are the majority component. An analytic mindset just helps you make sure you can afford it, aren’t overpaying, are okay with crime rates, commute, etc

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I lived in a really shitty 1 bedroom apartment for a year by myself, and it’s an experience that I would do again in a heartbeat. I had an emergency fund and not a lot of disposable income, but it felt very worth it to me.

I’m now back to sharing housing due to cost, and it’s fine. I’ll have to live like this for the next couple years until I graduate and land an industry job.

Do you have an emergency fund? Any savings towards moving costs (deposits, eating out, kitchen items, cleaning supplies, furniture, etc.)? If the answer is no, I’d wait another year.

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If you are finding the decision to be balanced and not clear in one direction or the other, my instinct is to suggest picking the one that saves you $. But I don’t know your financial situation! This matters a lot - both in how it fits in your overall financial plan/budget & the differences in costs.

My experience is also - like others who commented already - that the older you get, the options and ability for shared housing decline.

I don’t believe in sacrificing quality of life in your living space, if it means that you are unhappy. And I certainly do not recommend it if you are unsafe! It sounds, though, like you would be completely fine with extending your current living situation.

I also don’t know how much you’ve been working while attending school, or if you have full-time work experience. If the job you are starting when you graduate is the first FT job in the field you’ll be working in & you have limited (or no) comparable work experience, it might be hard to predict in advance what your housing needs will be. This could skew either direction in terms of your interest and tolerance for a roommate/shared situation. (Also - how much harder is searching for housing and moving if you wait until you’re in the job for a bit?)

In terms of how to decide, when I can’t decide what to do, I often pick a decision and see how it feels. Am I ok with that? Do I want to change my mind?

My other suggestion is to be as honest with yourself as possible about wanting to live alone and have your own space. It’s easy to connect societal/cultural (often consumerist) pressure about reaching various “adulting” milestones (graduating is one of them!), and how your life/living situation should be. No one is immune from it.

Personally, I think it’s easy to get caught up in having your own stuff/decor & justify spending more $. Our brains are very good at calling things quality of life improvements/self-care, when we don’t want to admit that we want things because society tells us we should want them when we reach certain life stages.

My framing device for making these decisions is to ask: Is someone trying to “sell” me on something? Who is it? What is the marketing/consumerist narrative I’m being fed here? What are the other cultural scripts and narratives I’m relying on here?

It’s 100% ok to spend money on things that improve your quality of life! It’s 100% ok to want to spend more to live alone. Or to save more and live in shared housing.

The question I pose is: Do you feel like your pro-con list is honest? Does it represent what YOU want and YOU value? Do you see places on it where it’s echoing what someone else wants you to do? Or where you feel like it’s creating some narrative/story that doesn’t really reflect YOU (but reflects what you’ll want to share with other people)?

Sometimes when we can’t decide, it’s because there are two good options (or no good options). Sometimes, it’s because there is a part of us that still knows deep down that we haven’t really gotten to the heart of the matter, lists be damned.

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My story: I have had lots of roommates I didn’t like and two separate houses legitimately bordering on not zero chance of physically unsafe, but we can laugh about that now.

I believe you, but I’d also challenge the assumption that living alone HAS to be more expensive. In my major urban area, I’ve paid $100 more per month on a room share than my current studio apartment.

I have a lot of issues with never feeling like having a home from my f.o.o. so housing is a (mild) trigger for me, I’ve never faced houselessness, but the paranoia and hang ups are there about the space I sleep in and wake up in. If you are currently in therapy or have access to the counseling center at school I would actually suggest going in there on a mission to solve this question so you have a foil.

I spent money too quickly on fine enough furnishings for my solo apartment after move in, but now I don’t even like some of them and they’re in the storage closet! I am also a person who never thought too hard about what home decor I actually like though, so I had to figure that out. side note from Right now: Someone PLEASE buy these rugs from me off Facebook :melting_face: I’d highly suggest trying to go to a store to look at all the shower curtains in person instead of buying online, etc etc.

If the new job is your career or an excellent launch into your desired career, I 100% vote for living alone. I personally do not have enough social skills to navigate living with other people and then also working with another set of other people and also having a cohesive internal narrative and close interpersonal relationships. Like it was impossible for me to date seriously until I lived alone.

I think I’ve tried to delete most of the posts, but most of my journal “oui oui baguette” is me having a meltdown about how to find a place to live and pay rent after college. I am 4 years post college now and living alone for 1.5 years. I have also moved 3 apartments within one calendar year before.

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I would stick out roommates a little bit longer until you have a better plan, especially since the situation you’re in isn’t bad just not your ideal. I would add living alone to your major financial goals, though, and approach it accordingly. Just like you wouldn’t randomly go buy a new car I don’t think it’s wise to spur of the moment decide to up your monthly spend by double to live alone. Maybe a side hustle or negotiating for a higher job or something can get you there- if you’re positive you want to stay where you are forever it might turn out to be cheaper to buy a small place, but either way something needs to change financially first IMO.

I feel you tho, after college I was so tired of roommates and a lot of people I knew immediately go their own places. I ended up with roommates until I was like 27, but now (I’m 35) I am so so so happy I did that for so long. I saved a ton of money, plus I’m in a wayyyyy better financial situation now and I can easily afford where I’m living. I was also in a very expensive city and didn’t make a lot of money-- if the numbers had been different I might have made a different choice, or at least not had roommates for quite so long.

And as for evaluating decisions with pros and cons, you’ve gotten a lot of good advice already but I would add this semi-related quotation- which I think about all the time and applies to pretty much everything: “only take advice from people who you admire, and who are where you want to be.” I really doubt any decision you make will be catastrophic in either direction because the fact that you’re thinking through it so seriously shows how much you consider your choices. Renting with roommates for a long time made sense for me because I lived in a very expensive city and didn’t make a lot of money, there were tradeoffs but it was so worth it.

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I think if you are happy with your current living situation (you are getting good sleep, feel like you have space and quiet when you need) it might be worthwhile to stay there even a year longer, maybe more. I have saved so much money over the years by renting a room in a house, or living with roommates. I wouldn’t be where I am financially without that choice. I don’t know what the housing market is like in your area (for purchasing) but you could potentially save up and purchase your own house with the savings from living with roommates for a few more years.

However, once you start to find that your health and well being are being sacrificed for the financial savings, it’s not worth it IMO. I finally made that choice at 31 and ended up buying a house, and I didn’t realize how much of my own health/sanity I had sacrificed for really…too long, by always living with people who did not respect space/quiet/boundaries. Having my own space is the best thing ever, and I can choose if I want someone to move in for a short period of time for a little extra money, OR I can never ever live with anyone again ever, which is the best feeling. I personally couldn’t afford to do this any sooner, but if it’s comfortable for you and you are still hitting all of your other savings goals, then I think it’s perfectly reasonable.

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My landlord doesn’t want me to sign a year lease (I’d still continue doing month to month), but he does want to find someone interested in staying longer-term (at least not leave partway through the school year, since it’s harder to fill a room mid-year). He’s expressed to me that he would prefer I stay as long as I want to, but he wants to know if I’m leaving in the fall so he can make arrangements for someone to take my room.

I’m coming to this thread quite late so I’m pleased to see you’ve made a decision! You’ve received a lot of good advice. I hope it works out for you!

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