To Live Alone, Or To Live With Roommates – What’s Best For You?

The pros and cons of students living on their own, or swinging it in shared accommodation living with roommates or flatmates. Everyone is different!

Cooking with roommate or housemate

Ah, the age-old debate: is it better to live alone, or to live with roommates? To share a place with 2 or 3 other students, or to have a go at the adult world with your own place? We’ll go over the pros and cons of each so you can decide which one will better suit you, because, spoiler alert: everyone is different. to know:

Studio: Flying Solo

Ahh, a studio. You have your own place, all to yourself. When you’re a student and you’ve lived at home all your life, the kind of freedom this affords you can be downright intoxicating. It’s your place, your rules – you’re responsible for no one, have to share nothing. You can blast your music, never have to put on pants, and you can do all the weird and whacky midnight cooking you want.

The Good:

  • This is your pad, and you can add your own style and personal touch. Want a disco ball and a dance floor? It’s your prerogative, baby. Want to hang all your Pulp Fiction and Fight Club posters, or bedazzle your bathroom mirror? Go for it.
  • There’s no parents or roommates you have to check in with whenever you want to host a movie night with your friends or your study group for the latest assignment. This is your space, and you can entertain whenever you want, beholden to no one.
  • If you like your space tidy, there’s nobody’s mess you have to clean up. Your studio will be as sparkling clean as you are.
  • You get to set your own routine. Everything will be quiet when you want to study and loud when you want to have a karaoke concert at home. There’ll be no weird shenanigans waking you up at odd hours of the morning or keeping you up through the night. This is life how you want it, at your pace and your schedule.
  • Honestly, the silence can be beautiful. The calmness, being alone, and especially if you’re an introvert who needs that me-time to recharge, having your own place is so freeing.
  • No need to prepare yourself for socialisation – there’s no pesky roommates right outside your door that you need to prep yourself to talk to when you’re honestly in the worst mood or look a mess.
  • Privacy! Privacy! Privacy!
Girl in a room with plants

The Bad:

  • No matter how introverted you are, sometimes the silence can get boring. Time alone is something everyone enjoys and oftentimes need, but not all the time. The boredom and loneliness can lead to feelings of isolation and depression. Having said this, there’s always the common areas and events in your building to throw yourself into. And if that’s not your scene, you can rent a double studio, meaning you’re only sharing everything with one other person. 
  • Being able to set your routine also means that it can be very tempting to not set any routine. When nobody’s expecting you home and there’s no one around you bustling about their own life, it can be really easy to slip into a toxic cycle of wake up -> go to class -> come back home and sleep. There’s no one there to call you out if your good habits are slipping or if the routine you’re living by isn’t necessarily a healthy one.
  • There’s no one to help! When you’re stuck on the toilet with no toilet paper, when there’s a huge spider in the room and you’re too scared to kill it, when you have to move the couch but you honestly can’t do it by yourself – there’s no roommate right there to help you do these everyday life tasks, and that extra pair of hands is just honestly super underrated, especially with mess. Just because there’s no one else around doesn’t mean there aren’t any dishes in the sink. They’re just your dishes.
  • Your life can become a bubble. When there are no other people around and it’s just you, stewing in your own thoughts at all hours of the day, there’s no one to introduce you to weird movies late at night or share their home cuisine with you. All this comes with living with roommates. You become exposed to very little and trap yourself into a bubble of ignorance, population: you.
  • The rent is higher! Living alone often means paying for the room, utilities, and groceries all by yourself.

Final Thoughts:

Living alone is really not for everyone. Better suited for introverts (aka people who like their own space), the freedom and independence it affords you can come at the cost of loneliness. There’s little to no mess, no rules you have to abide by but your own, and no rude interruptions – but there’s also no real live-in support, or anyone to check up on you.

If you are an international student, or away from home for the first time, living by yourself might be a really big jump to make. Often, living with roommates can mean a second family, and when you’re on your own, there is no family, (except for when your real one calls on WeChat or comes to visit!). This can be freeing, but it can also be challenging.

If you decide to live alone, you should be someone who has a deeply innate will power to succeed in life that will drive your routine forward and keep you busy. Additionally, we would advise you to make an active effort to keep a social life in your school and work spaces so you don’t experience feelings of isolation when you come home at night.  

Face half hidden by curtain

Shared Apartment: The More the Merrier

Living with roommates or flatmates in shared accommodation is the more common route for most students in on-campus and off-campus housing options all over Australia. As there are all kinds of shared accommodation, there are all kinds of degrees of privacy and set-ups – you could have your own room or bathroom, or you might have to share everything – yikes. As this is the more common set up, it means there are many amazing roommate stories, but there are also several absolute horror stories. You could be living with your new best friends, or you could be locked in with people you really don’t get along with or share anything in common.

The Good:

  • You have friends right outside your door. If you’re homesick or missing family, there’s a newfound family right on your doorstep, there to chat to you about your problems whenever you’re feeling low. We really emphasise on the word family – there’s something vulnerable about living with someone, with them seeing you when you’re not always at your best, and while scary, it’s that vulnerability that allows us to really become close to someone and transcend the friendship bond to something deeper.
  • Living with others can be cheaper! You’re not only splitting the cost of the apartment, but splitting costs of items like toilet paper, cleaning supplies, maintenance repairs, the works.
  • There’s always someone there to help check out the scary thing that went bump in the night or a spider (look, I really don’t like spiders, okay?)
  • There’s always something happening, should you choose to partake or not. Whether one of your roommates is cooking, or one is about to go out, or they want to have a roommate board game night – you can choose to have your alone time or to spend time with others, affording you the freedom to extend both your introvert and extrovert tendencies. The option is always there.
  • Living with roommates makes moving to a new city a lot easier. It’s a bunch of instant friends that you have to make little to no effort to get to know because your relationship develops naturally. You will likely become introduced to their own friends, and they can even take you under their wing and show you all the cool spots in town. You’ll always have a buddy to go to that concert with or take on O-Week with, and you may end up getting introduced to some really amazing things from their world.
  • There’s a safety element to living with other people. If you’re ever sick, or depressed, or down in the dumps – there are people who are there to check in on you, people your parents can call if they haven’t heard from you. It may feel like it’s unnecessary, but having a group of people that are looking out for you and know it’s unlike you to not come home after a night out is really, really important, especially if you’re a long way from home.

The Bad

  • If your roommates are messy… hooooo, boy. They don’t ever mean to be (usually) but there are different strokes for different folks and some people think it’s ok to leave their dumplings on the ceiling fan. Or, they meant to get the dumplings off the ceiling fan, but they just got busy and forgot about it, and now there’s three month old dumplings on the ceiling fan. You get my point.
  • Messy roommates are frustrating, and leaving their food, clothes and belongings about in common spaces is enough to make anyone want to live alone based on just that.
  • Sometimes, you honestly just want to go to your room and not deal with anyone. You had a bad day. You got a bad grade. But now your roommate wants to talk your ear off about their relationship struggles and you feel like you have to sit and listen because they helped you mop the floor last night even though it wasn’t their turn. It’s annoying.
  • With a new family comes new people you become accountable to. You can’t blast your music, you can’t do your home workouts anytime you like, you have to check before you can have people over, and you have to move your schedule around to fit everyone else’s. The freedom of adulthood is suddenly not all it’s really that cracked up to be, and you might be independent from your parents but you still have obligations to the people who share your kitchen.  
  • Living with roommates who’s lifestyles that don’t match up to yours. Maybe you’re a studious type, and you live with a ‘it’s-always-5-o’clock-somewhere’ party animal. Maybe you’re a staunch vegan, and your roommate literally works at a butcher and always makes the apartment smell. If you’re not choosing your roommates, you never know who you’re going to get. Being civil and maintaining a polite relationship with roommates you don’t necessarily get along with is always possible, but dealing with fundamental lifestyle differences can be rough, because you may both have to make certain sacrifices in order to co-exist.
Three sets of legs up in the air

Final Thoughts

Living with roommates can be one of the best experiences of your life… if you land with the right people, which is never really guaranteed. One way to ease the process would be making sure you don’t have to sacrifice your privacy, so making sure you at least have your own room and maybe even your own bathroom so you don’t have to sacrifice your privacy, which a lot of the time is a concern for people looking into shared accommodation. This way, you get your own space, so even if you don’t really get along with your roomies, they’ll be pretty easy to avoid.

If it’s your first time living away from home, maybe ease into independent living by starting with a couple of roommates, unless you’re really firm on wanting your own space. Having a network of your peers your first year away can make the transition a little bit easier, and hey, you can always move over to a studio if you’re really not into it!

Something to keep in mind – you must be willing to have patience, and be able to communicate your desires and boundaries within the living space. People who have issues setting down rules or making their voices heard may struggle having roommates, especially when you need to remind them to load the dishwasher. And if you decide to go with the roommate track, see if you can move in with anybody you already know, or put out feelers to see if any of your friends know people looking for roommates. Living with someone you know you get along with already is a really great shortcut to a great roommate dynamic.

So, what do you think? What living option is best for you? Living on your own, living with roommates… chances are high you’ll get to experience both in your university career.