WORK-LIFE BALANCE / OCT. 14, 2015
version 15, draft 15

Should You Live with a Roommate as a Young Professional?

It does not sound like a real issue at first, but believe it or not, it is a question that requires closer scrutiny. Clearly, living with a roommate is something that is acceptable, and during our college years it is widely encouraged. Additionally, many popular TV shows portray a young professional as someone who lives with a roommate/friend. But, can such a living arrangement have an impact on your career? It would be reasonable to assume that this aspect of your life is completely separate from your work, unless your roommate is also your co-worker. When you think about it, the odd truth is that living with a friend as a roommate is somewhat immature, yet living with another co-worker is a form of ongoing team building exercise, despite the fact that your co-workers are your friends at the same time.

See Also: How to Treat the Place you Work at Home like a Real Office

Honestly, there is no absolute answer to this question, since it is “Yes” and “No” at the same time. Now, let us examine this matter further, and maybe you will be able to reach a conclusion of your own regarding this matter.   

Possible Prejudice

Whether we want to admit it or not, we do profile people based on what we know and what we see. Again, having a living arrangement with a friend/roommate is not something that is generally frowned upon, but look at it from the perspective of an employer. If you are to be a reliable asset to your boss, he or she needs to be certain you are there to stay. Living with a roommate does not help that picture. Your boss may assume that you are a rolling stone, still not ready to settle and start a more serious living arrangement.

A person who is engaged or married, is under more pressure to take work seriously, and does not have many options to explore, because it would be too risky. As a result, that type of worker is more devoted and has a well-defined goal. You might have ambition, and are motivated to seek advancement, but the higher ups may assume you view the job as something temporary due to your living arrangement. On the other hand, if you live with a co-worker or co-workers, you can appear more reliable, since you are all available in one place in case of an emergency or if some extra work needs to be done outside work hours.

Another issue is the image of a “professional” that is embedded in our minds. When you hear the word professional, do you assume that person is living with a roommate? Probably not. You would imagine someone who lives alone and is fully devoted to his or her work, or a serious family man or woman. As mentioned, the so-called roommate phase is usually associated with students, so even if you try to present yourself as a professional, you can end up appearing like a trainee with his/her head in the clouds. This maybe a reason why modern media uses roommate relationships in popular TV shows, in order to break the stereotypes and misconceptions based on such a living arrangement.          

It is a Budget-Friendly Option

The worst possible living arrangement for someone who tries to establish a professional image is living with your parents. However, this is the most budget-friendly option, since there is a good chance you won’t even have to pay for your food. However, as someone who is still young and struggling to make it, you may lack the necessary resources to afford a place of your own. The most probable option you’ll settle for is to live as a tenant some place close to where you work. If you are to live alone, you’ll look for an apartment that is small and affordable. Sure, you won’t need much space, but living in a cramped apartment can be suffocating, which is why we would always go for something a bit more spacious.

In order to afford a comfortable living space, the roommate option is a great choice, simply because you can split the rent. No matter how you look at it, a professional is not someone who merely makes ends meet. You need to have enough savings in order to buy your own house or apartment, and living with a roommate might be your only viable option in this case. Even though it does not do your professional image much justice, living with a roommate for a particular period of time will help you appear more professional in the future.         

Apartment/House Maintenance is Significantly Easier

If you are to be productive at work, you need to be well-rested. Imagine if you had to prepare your food, clean everything afterwards, and spend your weekends cleaning the home, just so it can look decent. Living with a roommate can cut these obligations in half, giving you more time to rest, and as a result, you’ll be more productive at work. This can be extremely handy if you live with a co-worker, since you are, more or less, completely aware of each other’s responsibilities and can easily come to an agreement when distributing chores. Furthermore, you will feel far safer if you have to go on a business trip, and you know that there is someone keeping an eye on everything at home. Once again, if you want to become a true professional one day, having a roommate is not such a bad choice.      

Company and Distraction at the Same Time  

It can be somewhat depressing to live on you own, and to have no one to talk to after a tiring day at work. Roommates can fill that void, hear you out if needed and even brighten the mood if you are exhausted. From that perspective, having a roommate is good for your psyche, although this can be a double edged sword. When you live with someone else that person is free to make arrangements and invite friends over. So, unless you have a roommate agreement that you both sign like in The Big Bang Theory, you might get into disputes, and if your roommate is a “party person”, you might have a hard time getting enough rest. Basically, it all comes down to what kind of roommate you end up with.     

Again, it would be more convenient to live with someone from work, as you might be able to reach a better agreement. Some potential issues may arise if you do not agree with your co-worker/roommate, so your work relationship can be jeopardized. However, if you are both young professionals and mature enough, you will be able to reach an agreement on these things.

See Also: How to Stop Sucking at Being an Adult

As you can see, it is kind of hard to define exactly whether having a roommate is good for your career or not. It is certainly a better alternative than living with your parents or living alone in a place you can hardly afford. Personally, I think it won’t harm your prospects in any way, as long as you both agree upon some ground rules. Besides, if a great deal of young workers opts for such an approach, there is no reason to feel bad or embraced for any reason.   

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