I don’t think I’ll ever completely understand the deep complications that come with rooming. My sister roomed with the same girl all four years in college. I have had two roommates, one for three years, and another for two. Had the first one stayed in college for as long as I did, he would most likely have been my roommate for all five years. In this post, I’ll attempt to break down the issues I see most often.
- Roommates – I hear this one most often. “Who do I room with?” Is your roommate that bad that you need to find a new one to replace him or her? I often see many best friends wanting to live together and be roommates. It’s simplest to decide when it’s only two people. It gets more complicated when other mutual friends decide they want to live together with them. To make sure no one get’s left out, the whole party tries to organize the living situation together so they can all live in the same place. There’s this grand idea that you’re all going to get along and live happy lives as roommates and be best friends all together. What’s important to remember is that you always end up leaving someone out when you decide to live together. Maybe your apartment fits 4 people (or dorm fits 2) and there’s that 5th or 6th person that isn’t invited and feels neglected. So your quick fix is to put the 5th and 6th persons together, but sadly, they don’t know each other well. At that point, you rearrange your living situation, and you end up not being able to room with your roommate because you want to make everyone happy and allow all six of you to live together. Here’s another roommate scenario: Lets say you do get to room with your perfect roommate. Have you ever heard that saying, “Don’t room with your best friend.”? (Well, personally, it worked for me two times, so I’m not exactly an advocate of that saying.) I’ve seen it fail for plenty of people; you get tired of your bf, see each other too much, learn a lot more about each other than you’d expect, etc. What do you do then? In the end, roommates are roommates. It’s not that big of a deal. Alas, this is only one of the factors when it comes to rooming.
- On Campus vs. Off Campus – Man oh man, roomming off campus. I’ll hav e to break this single issue in five more sub-issues just for simplicty. Particularly in College Station, living off campus is the norm, but after spending three years on campus and two years off campus, I can say with confidence that it would have been better to stay on campus. Let’s break it down.
- Sophisticated Lifestyle – There’s this ideal image of living in an apartment. You’re on your own; you have your own space, living room, and key. You have a keurig to make coffee for yourself in the morning. You have nice furniture and a kitchen table to sit each morning while you eat your breakfast and read your newspaper/magazine. You can watch your favorite sitcoms every night from the comfort of your couch, and when you’re tired, you can return to your own room and sleep on your own bed in privacy. Then, since you still have roommates (but have your own space), you can gather together every night and cook together and just have a “grand ole time”. You’ll have fun baking at night and spending weekends hosting movie nights for your friends. If your friends want to come over for a party, you can be proud and welcome them into your place. Hosting is always an honor. Everything about your off campus apartment or house just shouts home. I like to call this the yuppie lifestyle – young upperclass professionals. This is the yuppie syndrome, or sophisticated lifestyle syndrome. Living off campus comes with this dreamy ideal of what life will be like if you get to live with your friends off campus. The truth is, you will rarely cook with your roommates. You’ll probably barely see your roommates at the apartment because you’re spending so much time on campus anyway. You won’t wake up every morning and enjoy your breakfast; you’ll wake up 10 minutes class and miss living on campus because you could have actually gotten to class on time those days. You’ll eat grab and go breakfast bars and throw together some coffee in your tumblr and rush out the door. Your apartment will look nice but you’ll barely spend any time watching tv live, and end up streaming it on youtube. No doubt, your bed will be a full size and very comfy. But you’ll normally get back late and just collapse on the bed (and that’s assuming you were productive all day). Then, some weekends you’ll have people over for a party. They’ll eat your food, use your toilet paper, dirty up your carpet, and you’ll spend most of your time cleaning up for them before they come/cleaning up while they’re there to maintain a good impression/cleaning up after to make it tidy and neat again. No one will see your nice room except for you because you’ll feel uncomfortable letting them in. And to be completely honest, the only place you’ll be satisfied living the yuppie lifestyle is at the lofts. Any student paying their way through college will not live at the lofts. I’m willing to bet those people living at the lofts have their parents paying for the living expenses and no sense of money value because it’s one of the most expensive places to live. But, in any case, more on money later.
- Food – “I want a kitchen so I can cook.” Does that sound familiar? It does to me at least. At this current point, I cook (I define this as using the stovetop or oven) about one third of my meals right now. I used to think that having a kitchen would be great, and it is to be honest. I love having it. But before I moved into the apartment, I thought it’d be awesome to have my own kitchen because I’d cook all the time. That obviously didn’t happen. I ended up eating off campus a lot because I’d meet up with people and that person would always say they want to eat out. I’d go to campus, and nice friends would swipe me (so I’d eat on campus… what I was trying to get away from). The food I ended up buying would be food I could prepare quickly, so sandwiches, cereal, fruit, microwavable stuff… It was all about the same quality as the food on campus. So, why did I move off again? It actually made life harder. Cooking takes a long time for those of you who don’t cook. And it takes a lot of practice to get better and faster. You can complain about pasta on campus being low quality, but I’m sure your pasta won’t taste much better. You’ll just be more proud of it because you made it yourself. Ironically, you want to save some money because cooking is cheaper than buying a meal plan. Very true, but you’ll want to cook sophisticated dishes and eat healthier. High ingredient foods and organic foods cost more money than the meal plan you paid for. And don’t forget the likeliehood that you’re eating out more too. It all adds up, moneywise. Timewise, cooking is not as convenient. But hey, you have a kitchen now.
- Privacy or Isolation – This is a major plus. You do get away. until you realize you’re lonely and you want people around. So you go to campus, and you realize you’re on campus more than you’re at home enjoying your privacy. What’s more is you end up inviting people over and spending time to convince them (or driving them) so they come over. However, lets assume you have 4 roommates. You all share the same fridge, food, living room, tv, internet, bathrooms etc (hypothetical of course). You’re each at each other’s necks sometimes about chores or responsibilities. One person isn’t responsible and leaves the AC on or something. How do you handle that? Your privacy and isolation just turned into confrontation and pointing fingers. When did that happen? And when you cook together, and use each other’s ingredients, how do you handle expenses? What if your roommates invite people over and you don’t want anyone over? What if you have parties and your roommates don’t want them over? Are you ready for that situation? Traditionally off campus apartments host more parties than dorms (lol). Are you ready for noisy neighbors? This privacy and isolation thing isn’t really working out.
- Cost – This one is self explanatory. Here’s my breakdown. The lofts charges 700 a month per person for a 2 bedroom 2 bath on a 12 month lease. Meadow point apartments charges 550 per person for a 9 month lease. Campus charges 600 a month for a modular hall. And then Hart hall charges 333 a month. You tell me what’s cheapest. All of these include utilities, furnishings, and apartment rent. They don’t include parking passes, gas money, car insurance, and food expenses. You do the math. I think I’m spoiled living in an apartment. Do you really need that much as a college student?
- Transportation – This is the last one. Transport to and from campus is a pain. I’m sure the idea of living off campus includes the understanding that you’ll “need” a car. You can go to the store and drive to campus for class. Here’s the reality. You can’t park anywhere until after 5 other than your assigned lot. There’s a crazy amount of traffic at 7:30 -9 am and 4 -7pm. If you park at a garage, you’re not getting a spot unless you’re on the 5th floor of the garage. Your gas money will pile up for sure. And finding parking spots with a night pass is just ridiculous if you don’t know where to look. People will ask you to drive them places. Then at the end of the day, you still have to return home, on the bus or in your car. still have to drive home.
If you find yourself with any of the dilemma described above, don’t worry; many people are struggling with these same questions. But maybe you’re reading this post, and you relate really well with the topics discussed. And as you’re reading these thoughts, it’s almost like you’re thinking out loud and it sounds ridiculous in a written form. If that’s the case, I guess you can always consider why each of these issues is deemed important enough to stress over.
I didn’t even get to the best part; I didn’t talk at all about the importance of ministry. Being a campus minister is much more difficult when you live off campus. Trust me, it’s hard. If you haven’t learned the basic maturity of being an adult while living in the dorms, how will you manage your time will when you have to commute as well. How can you earnestly build relationships when you’re already choosing to move off campus because this choice you’re making is more selfish than selfless? If I could make one change in the past 2 years, it would have been to stay on campus.
Rooming is important, but not that important.