Posts Tagged ‘moving out’

So I’m in class the other day, and a student asks me if it’s a good idea to move in with a roommate. He’s planning on getting a place away from his family until he can effect reconciliation with his parents, and he’s pretty sure he wouldn’t be able to afford a decent place on the salary he plans on making. His choices are to get a cheaper place, which would put him in jeopardy of ruining his chances of success; making more money, which he doesn’t see as a viable option given the current job market and his particular work history; or getting a roommate.

Okay, I have to admit that I’m floored at the question. First, this kid is incarcerated. Most kids in his situation don’t have a long view of life, and would never even consider what he is contemplating. Second, he appears to have given this some real thought and has, in my opinion, nailed all the probable choices he has. Third, I got the impression that he wasn’t my biggest fan, so I was a little shocked that he would even ask my opinion.

I’ve talked about the process of moving out before, but I’ve never really covered the idea of moving in with a roommate. There’s a reason for that. Quite honestly, the only roommate I’ve had has been my wife, and there is a huge difference between a regular roommate and a spouse. There are expectations you might have for a roommate that you wouldn’t have for your spouse, or significant other, and vice-versa. That being said, let’s give it a shot.


What a roommate is:

A roommate is, in the simplest terms, another person who will share and occupy the same space as you while they take on the burden of a portion of the total expenses involved in living in a particular situation.

Notice I didn’t say they split the expenses with you? Notice I didn’t say they are in any way subservient to you? Good. There’s a reason. Let’s look at it this way: You and Bob (Bob is someone who also wants to live in the same place, but they can’t afford to do so by themselves either) move into a new house. There is a master bedroom with an attached bathroom, and two other, smaller, bedrooms that share a bathroom. You and Bob decide that the living room, kitchen, and garage are all common areas, and you decide to split the rent for those areas. You’re a nice person, so you let Bob have the master bedroom. Is it fair to you that you are paying the same amount for less house than Bob? Of course not, so you and Bob agree that Bob will pay an extra $25 a month for the extra space. Bob may be paying more than you, but this is actually more fair than if Bob didn’t, and just because Bob is paying more, doesn’t give Bob more power or control than you have.

In general, I suggest you choose as a roommate, someone you feel comfortable living with. Someone who shares many of the values you have, especially in the subjects of cleanliness, punctuality, work ethic, and appropriate volume levels for music when someone is sleeping. This doesn’t have to be someone of the same gender, but you definitely want to consider any sexual tension that might arise from a potential roommate. Sure, it sounds good to bring in the really hot chick (or dude, depending on your preference), and they might be just as into it as you are, but think ahead to when the shit hits the fan and you are no longer an item, but you still have to share a small space. Life without risk is boring, but I’m not sure that isn’t a little too much risk.

I also suggest you are careful when moving in with a friend, for many of the same reasons. If you have been friends with someone for a while, you probably know how reliable and responsible they are. Good friends are great, but many good friendships have been ruined when one friend couldn’t meet the responsibilities needed in order for both parties to keep up with the rent.


What a roommate isn’t:

A roommate isn’t your friend. Sound confused based on what I just said? Let me explain. A roommate is a contractual living arrangement. You might find a friend to be a roommate, and you might even become friends with your roommate that started off as a stranger, but don’t assume you are automatically friends with your roommate. To this end, don’t take advantages of your roommate that you would feel okay with taking of your friends. It sounds cliché, but don’t eat their food unless they tell you they are okay with it. Don’t lock them out with the tie or sock or whatever on the doorknob unless you have already worked out this system beforehand. Don’t burden your roommate with your personal problems. Make a fart policy right up front, so there are no surprises later on after your semi-monthly broccoli and cabbage binge.

A roommate isn’t your mother. Unless you work out some arrangement when it comes to housework, assume that you are going to have to clean up after yourself, and your roommate will have to clean up after themselves.


Making roommate situations work:

1. Put it in writing. The characters in CBS’Big Bang Theory” have a roommate agreement that covers everything from use of the common areas, to rules for bringing in “hook-ups”. I’m not saying you need a document that is quite so detailed, but having most of the major responsibilities for each roommate spelled out in an agreement that everybody signs off on is a great way to avoid problems later.

2. Spell out consequences. What do you do if your roommate is $50 short on rent one month? Are you willing to piss off your landlord by withholding rent altogether? Are you going to cover the difference? Whichever you do, spell out the process for you to be remedied before it becomes an issue. You agree to cover your roommate, but they will have to make payments to you every week, or you might have to look for a new roommate.

3. Use common sense. If you are living on your own (even with a roommate), presumably you are smart enough to know that some things are common sense. Don’t go rifling through your roommate’s stuff. Don’t deliberately try to piss them off so they leave and you can keep the place all to yourself or with a new roommate. Don’t bring your significant other to stay for 20 out of 30 days and still expect your roommate to want to pay for half the rent even though he is only one-third of the occupants.

4. Be respectful of your roommate. They might have rituals they do that don’t make sense to you. I personally, before I leave the house, still have to go through a ritual to make sure I’m not forgetting anything. My wife laughs, but other roommates might start looking at me like I’m a little off-balanced.

5. Be flexible. I guarantee you that shit is going to go wrong eventually. It happens. How you react is more important than the event itself. Don’t take out on your roommate your frustrations about something unrelated. Also, don’t flip out about every little thing they do that annoys you that day. Maybe you are having a bad day and are hyper-sensitive to what would normally be a non-issue.

Nothing says roommates to me like this song, enjoy!

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This one goes out to all those who are testing the waters of living on your own.  More information on this topic can be found in FINANCE FOR YOUTH: THE BOOK from AMAZON or LULU.COM.

One of the best and probably scariest times in a young adult’s life must be that first time they get a new address that is different from the home they grew up in.  I remember it.  Of course, I had the extra fear of a new wife to take care of as well as a new place to live, but either one is scary enough.

One thing I clearly remember was that before we moved in, my wife and I way over thought what stuff we needed.  Nobody told us that we wouldn’t need certain things, and nobody told us the things we really did need.  It worked out all right for us:  Both of us are good at planning and follow the belief that too much is better than not enough.

But if I were to do it all over again, would I do it the same?  What stuff would I not bring that I did and what would I bring that I didn’t before?  In short, what stuff do you need to live on your own?  Today, I’m giving you the first ten items on my list.  Want the rest?  Well, you know where this is going.



You need someplace to sleep at night.  I’m going to go out on a limb and say that you probably will work and or possibly go to school during times when you aren’t sleeping.  If you plan on being productive at work or school, you need to be well-rested.  In order to be well-rested, you need a place to sleep. 

It doesn’t have to be a bed, necessarily.  It could be wherever you can sleep comfortably.  Maybe you would do better with a futon that converts to a sofa or chair.  Maybe you can get your hands on one of those pull-out beds.  Whatever it is, keep in mind the space you have for the bed and everything else you will have in your new home.



Having a comfortable bed is great, but you still need to be able to get to school or work on time or you run a risk of being fired or otherwise kicked out.  Sure, we’ve all taken a quick snooze in a car or quiet room, using a cell-phone as an alarm clock.  Sure, we’ve gotten creative in order to be where you needed to be, awake and alert.  But those times should be the exceptions, and not the rule.

If you, like me, are a sound sleeper who doesn’t always wake up when you plan to wake up, I strongly suggest that you invest in an alarm clock of some sort.  Okay, maybe it doesn’t need to be as big as this one, but it has to be something that will be bothersome enough to bring you out of your crashed state.

I might even suggest that you something that you can dock your i-Pod to or something with a radio so you can listen to music while on about your business during the day.



Don’t skimp on this.  Get something that has the basics; rubbing alcohol, antiseptic spray, bandages, wraps, cotton swabs, tweezers, tape (of the medical variety), gauze pads, and scissors.  Additionally, if you have allergies or special medical conditions, you want to make sure you have anything you need to take care of that.

This kit doesn’t have to be expensive or special.  I think we use an old make-up case for ours. 

Finally, get a list of emergency contacts together.  Doctors, other medical people, parents, your work, anybody you feel is important to be called if needed.  This is a list that if you were passed out on the floor of your apartment, someone could call and make sure you were well taken care of.





 Stuff catches on fire.  The difference between a funny story about that time you almost accidentally set the place on fire with nothing more than a match and a marshmallow, and a horror story that costs you a lot of money and possibly costs someone their health or even their life can be as simple as owning a fire extinguisher.

I don’t think you need a giant, mega, puts out everything short of nuclear type fire extinguisher.  I think you need something small that can handle most common fires.  You can get these almost everywhere.

Finally, make sure to keep these charged or replace as recommended.  Having a dead fire extinguisher does as much good as having no extinguisher.


Someplace where you can eat, pay bills, plan your budget, or do any number of things that you can’t really do that well standing up without a flat surface.  You’d be surprised at all the times a table will come in handy.

Much like everything else on this list, if you can get ahold of something that folds up for easy storage is better.  Let’s face it:  you probably don’t have a whole lot of space in your first home, and you will probably spend (way more time than you should) a lot of time entertaining (Party!!!), and less time living like you did when you were still living at home.  Make your life easier by getting stuff that won’t be in the way.


True story.  In my home, we have 1 (one) outlet in each room.  This means I get to plug in two devices in each room, right?


I know it probably isn’t the safest or smartest solution (thank God for that fire extinguisher above), but we get a lot of use out of extension cords.  After a power outage in the neighborhood that wound up costing us a phone, microwave, and TV, we also swear by our surge protectors.  Having had to do so once already, I’d rather pay $30 for a surge protector than $200 for another microwave.

I’ve found that you don’t need the super heavy-duty, expensive kind, but you may want those for where you have your TV and computer plugged in.  What harm could come from it?



Can you survive with paper plates, cups and whatnot?  Sure.  It’s expensive, but yeah, you could do it.  Plates, cups, bowls, and stuff like that can be found almost anywhere.  Go to a yard sale or Goodwill.

Of course, it means you have to do some dishes once in a while (I know, that was part of the reason you wanted to live on your own in the first place), but at least you can eat and even have a friend or two over to eat like humans.




Let’s make this simple:  Some cans, like cat food and soda, are easy to open.  Some soups as well.  Others are harder and require a can opener.  You don’t have to get the fancy ones.  Almost any can opener does the job.

Look, if you feel that you need the electric one for whatever reason, get one.  In my experience, cans aren’t tough.  Get one of the basic ones and you’ll save money.


If you are renting and something small gets broken, you could call the landlord, property manager, or super.  Of course, by the time they come around, things could have gotten much worse or you might even forget about whatever you called them for in the first place.

So, what do you need?  Not much really, but a few things come to mind:

Hammer, some screwdrivers in different sizes (both Phillips and Flat-head), a metal tape measure, some Allen’s wrenches of different sizes, some duct tape (which is the most awesome stuff you will every buy), and maybe some electrical tape for other stuff.  There are some other items that will come in handy, but these are the basics.  You can get inexpensive kits almost anywhere that will have most of these things.  You’ll get stuff you probably don’t need as well, but you will definitely get the stuff you do need!

This last thing is an absolute must, especially if you ever plan on having anybody else in your new place.  I cannot stress how important this is.


There is no polite way to say this.  Nobody wants to smell your stank.  You probably don’t want to smell someone else’s stank.  You can use candles or whatever works, but if you are going to use candles be careful and make sure you have that fire extinguisher handy.

Keep some in the bathroom, but also keep some elsewhere around the house wherever odor can be a problem.  Around trash cans, in closets, near the sink even. 

Again, there are other things on my list, and there might even be some things that I missed, although I’m pretty sure I didn’t.  There are also a bunch of things that you might want but not need.  Hey, if you can afford more luxuries, and that is what you want, go for it.  If not, don’t sweat it.  With the things on this list and the rest of the items from the book, you’ll be able to handle almost every situation, and the ones you aren’t prepared for are so rare it isn’t worth worrying over.

Whatever stuff you get or wind up needing later on, this is going to be an exciting time for you.  Don’t gloss over the importance of this step in your journey to adulthood.  In Joe Biden’s words, this really is a big deal.

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