Personal Finance

The roommate dilemma – should we or shouldn’t we?

Should we get a roommate?We’re no strangers to roommates – in fact, we’ve had multiple since we first got our house back in 2012. It’s been a tremendous help with the mortgage while we had other financial priorities (e.g. the wedding, our condo which we’ve since sold, me going back to school full time, etc.) Most of the time, we’ve had 2 roommates, and while the money is always nice, sharing your house with someone has its cons.

Last spring, we asked our 2nd roommate to move out. It just wasn’t working. My sleeping schedule was so thrown off by my irregular school schedule and assignments, and without my own room to sleep, it was always unintentionally disrupted by my husband. I had incredibly bad bouts of insomnia, and the sleep deprivation made everything worse. I was exhausted, irritable, stressed and I felt trapped. I had nowhere of my own to go. Our house quickly deteriorated as my husband struggled to keep up with the housework without me being able to pitch in much – if at all.

Eventually, we gave our 2nd roomie 2 months’ notice that we needed the room back. I needed a space to call my own, a study, and if I’m being honest, we needed a little more privacy. This roommate was very sociable, but at times, a bit too sociable. Even Valentine’s dinners were not off limits for a long conversation. He also had a way of unintentionally provoking our pup into aggression which troubled us deeply – we had spent hundreds on private intense training courses, but it seemed to all be undone when we got home.

Months passed and I finished school last August. I started working a regular job and I got back into a regular sleep pattern. Without the stress of school, I was now able to pull more than my half of the weight around the house and get things back into order. No longer were we just struggling to keep our heads above water; things were finally starting to look and feel really really good.

Except, of course, this huge looming debt above our heads.

So on Saturday evening, when we invited ex-roomie over to watch the All-Star game, when he mentioned he had to find a new place next month, the wheels started turning. We are in debt – his rent money could really help accelerate this debt elimination process. And with me working full time, I no longer need my own bedroom to crash sometimes, nor do I need my own study to work (although I do enjoy blogging from here!) Not being sleep deprived means not having such a short fuse either, and I am confident I will be able to tolerate – and even enjoy – having his company again. After all, he did help out quite a bit around the house, sometimes randomly vacuuming or mopping the floors, helping with the dishes.

I resisted the urge to offer him to move back in on the spot without first running it by my husband. Eventually, when he left, I brought it up. He said the thought had crossed his mind too, but initially, he wasn’t too keen.

“It feels like we’re taking a step backwards,” he said. I agreed, and I felt it too, but I also felt that paying off the debt by the end of the year was the biggest priority. This debt is in the way of so much else, like starting to save for our future, or starting a family. This short term discomfort could mean a better future sooner.

We discussed it, but I didn’t want to pressure my husband either way. After all, he never had an issue with the roomie – it was only because of me that we had to ask him to leave. However, after a few hours, he agreed that it was the best option financially if he were to move back in. He sent him a message, saying he was more than welcome to have his old room back now that I was done school and no longer needed my study and spare room.

We weren’t sure how to feel when he thanked us for the offer but that he would think about it, since he would prefer to be closer downtown. Were we relieved that we might not have to give up our space again? Or disappointed that we didn’t have that extra cash inflow?

Of course, nothing’s set in stone yet. He could decide that it would be the best option for him and we’ll lose our space (and our privacy) again next month, but gain that extra cash flow. Or he could decide he’d rather pay more and live closer downtown, and we’ll keep our space, but lose out on $600/month in rent.

What would you do? Have you had roommates before? Could/would you live with roommates if it was the right thing to do for your financial situation? What if the roommate spent all his/her time in the common areas?


One thought on “The roommate dilemma – should we or shouldn’t we?

  1. tough choices. but then again, that’s life I guess. I can see why you feel like you are stepping backwards instead of moving forward with this roomate situation, but i think you may feel this way because you are seeing your immediate present situation and not the future. I don’t know the full in’s and outs of your situation and it can be more complicated then that but i can give you an example of my own life. my husband and I live simply and are fairly frugal (although there are a few things we “splurge” on), but we save lots and are catching up on our retirement and investing. we want our nest egg to generate enough passive income that we don’t “need” to work, but want to. Many of our friends our age have alot more nicer stuff, homes and take fancier vacations then we do, and we are ok with that. Everyone has the right to make their own choices. Its a trade off between the now and the later (finding balance between the two). so i guess the decision you may need to make is whether or not you want the privacy & freedom now or later. more than likely, you can have but not at the same time. ok. I am done my rant….great post!!!


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