I Think We're Alone Now
We moved! I achieved my dream of renting. My wife and I have talked about going back to buying in the future - I think a lot of my desire to not-own was really desire to not own that particular condo - but for now, we really like our new apartment. It's slightly smaller than our old place, but it feels much bigger. Part of that is the layout, but mainly it's because we no longer have a roommate. Our roommate was fabulous as roommates go - quiet, clean, friendly, always on time with rent - but I have to admit that it's been really nice to live alone together, something we've never done before as a couple.
Surprising Advantages of Living Alone Together
- We use alllll the space. Obviously before we could use common spaces, and often did, but there was a certain restraint, a desire to be considerate and not hog things, that led to all of us probably not taking full advantage of having access to common areas. Croissant kept her work desk in the bedroom because she wanted to be able to close the door and focus, and the two of us watched a lot of TV on the computer in our bedroom because we didn't want to inflict the dumb thing we were watching on our roommate. Now, we use alllll the rooms. Sometimes we are even in different ones!
- We use our bedroom primarily for sleep, whereas before it was our "all purpose room" where we worked, did projects, played video games, watched TV, exercised, and just about everything else. We now do most of that stuff in the office, and just retire to our bedroom at the end of the day. There's nothing in there except our bed and clothes. It's pretty amazing. I think my quality of sleep has improved since my body is learning that bed time is sleep time, not work time or play time.
- We're free to be a little weird. When you have a roommate, there is a need to adhere to certain societal norms, like owning a TV and not belting out "Anything Goes" while making popcorn at midnight.
- We can use the left side of the fridge! It's a smaller fridge, but it feels bigger.
- Pants are now optional.
- The bathroom is almost always free. Two people vying for the same bathroom is way easier to manage than three.
- There's no "no man's land" of items that each of us assumes belongs to the other. If I'm going through a closet and I discover some strange-looking garden implement, or a jar of huckleberry pie filling, I'm forced to accept that it's ours. Maybe it's something we bought for a project we never did, or we received it as a gift and forgot. My default assumption before would be that it was something of my roommate's. As we discovered in the move, there were a lot of items that we were all making that assumption about! Especially in the fridge, ew.
- We are now a pet-free household. While it was nice having our roommate's cute kitty around the house, overall, to me, petlessness is an advantage since it reduces my low-level allergies and simplifies housecleaning.
- We can be slobby. We don't feel guilty to taking a little extra time to get to the dishes. There's nobody but ourselves to inconvenience if we leave a drying rack of clothes in the middle of the living room. If we start a project, we don't necessarily have to clean it up by the end of the day - we can get back to it tomorrow. We're more tolerant of each other's mess than an outside person would be, since generally we're making the mess together.
Predictable Disadvantages of Living Alone Together
- It's more expensive. Whatever the calculation of renting vs. owning, it's undeniably more expensive to live without a roommate vs. having a roommate.
- We own more things. Some of the things we used each day actually belonged to our roommate (Wi-Fi router, some kitchen gear), so we had to replace them. We also have more space to furnish now. Our new place is about a room larger than our old if you take into account the square footage that used to be the sole province of our roommate.
- We can be slobby. It is its own punishment.
Overall, this can hardly be considered a frugal move. Though we technically, on paper, have downsized into a smaller apartment, in reality we have upsized by shrinking our household. We have increased our monthly expenses, decreased our monthly income, and expanded into more space, including adding some new furniture and possessions. At the same time, I don't feel like it's objectively unreasonable for a couple to live alone in an 800 square foot apartment. It's a frugal win that we were able to maintain a roommated existence for so long! But I do worry that our minimum requirements for contentment are going up.
What do you think? Am I justifying lifestyle inflation? Or belatedly beginning to live like a normal person now?