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7 reasons why living with the right roommates beats living alone

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30 something and married, I assumed (like many do) that my apartment sharing days were over. Then, in the summer of 2013, my wife and I separated and I decided to use my own site for the first time in nearly 10 years.

I posted a listing on SpareRoom to find two roommates.

What started as the ultimate market research turned into an unexpected, life changing journey. Meeting new friends and having new experiences (and a lot of fun) got me through a very tough few months in my personal life. I came out the other side almost feeling like a different person.

I realised that living with the right people beats living alone hands down.

Here’s my take on why.

1. We're not designed to spend lots of time alone

Us human beings are social, pack animals, not hermits.There's even been a study showing that living alone can increase risk of depression by up to 80%.

2. The desire to live alone is a new thing, not the historic norm

Living alone is a relatively recent phenomenon, growing from the 2nd half of last century. Before that people tended to live as family units for the most part. Now, as most people have much greater personal freedom (and often live somewhere other than where they grew up), we've developed a notion that living alone until you find someone to settle down with is the ideal situation. I couldn't disagree more.

Because you can...

3. Gain a surrogate family

If you get it right, roommates can occupy a space between family and friends and indeed many become life long friends, or in some cases even family. We know of quite a few people who married after meeting through SpareRoom! If you move to a different city or country from your family, like I recently have, roommates can be a real grounding influence in your life (as well as being a huge influence in the early days on how your life develops there). I’ve heard lots of people describe their roommates as their surrogate family, especially when they’re living in a different country.


4. Keep some spontaneity in your life

We’re all creatures of habit to some extent. If you live on your own there’s nothing to break you out of your routines (good and bad), so life can get pretty predictable. When you share you add spontaneity and randomness into the mix.

It starts with the small stuff - like coming home to find your roommate has cooked enough for you too, or the impromptu decision to nip out for a midweek drink in a local bar. But it’s much, much more than that - it’s the new people you meet, new experiences and influences, and the new things you learn. It keeps you connected and curious. And of course it can simply be a lot of fun.

5. New friends (or lovers?!)

When you get a roommate you don't just get one new friend, you inherit their social circles too. And if you're single, that's lots more opportunities to meet someone you click with - if you're tired of finding weirdos on dating sites, there's no better recommendation than a friend of a friend.

6. Live in a soap opera rather than watch one

At its heart it’s the trivial things that make sharing great - just as it’s the trivial things (such as different attitudes to cleanliness/tidiness) that can make it awful. It’s sharing your ups and downs with someone at the end of the day that can make both the bad stuff and the good stuff better.

Rather than coming home to an empty place and 'unwinding’ passively in front of the TV, I often liken it to living in your own little real life drama. With your regular friends you only get a summary of the highlights and lowlights of what’s happened in their lives since the last time you saw them - which could be weeks or months ago. With roommates you get to see their stories unfold day by day, and of course you influence the outcomes and are part of those stories.

7. Feel smug that you're helping save the planet

Two people living together have a 40% lower carbon footprint (per person) than they would living separately; this rises to 59% for people sharing a 5 bed house!

So, if you have to share, embrace it (and change your roommates if you’re not loving it). If you don’t have to, join us anyway, you’re missing out!

The desire for isolation is so last century. I see a day where people even pity their friends who live alone (I know I do). Sorry, I can get a bit evangelical about it!

I recently moved to New York to roll SpareRoom out across the US. I’m renting an apartment in Manhattan and am looking for two roommates to share it with for just $1 a month each. Check out my listing - maybe you could be my next roommate!


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