Is Living Alone Holding You Back Financially? How the Yen to Go Solo Hurts Young Adults
August 8, 2014

One of the things you may be most looking forward to post-college is getting out of the dorm and into your first apartment all on your own. If you’ve been sharing space for the four (or more) years of college and/or at home before that, you may think that solo space is your due, but you may want to slow your roll before you strike out on your own. Today we look at the trend of living alone, how it’s a recent development and how it can be holding you back financially versus sticking with family or opting for roommates.

Living alone

Is living alone the smartest choice for you?
Image Source: Flickr Creative Commons User auntjojo

A Brief History of Habitation

Since the dawn of time up until the 1940s (give or take), young adults stayed with their families until they got married and even after that depending on their setup. In the colonial era, it was actually illegal for singletons to live out on their own. This was largely because they wanted to make sure young adults were following society’s rules and that partying didn’t become a bad habit so they would grow into responsible citizens. In many areas of the world, this is still a common practice.

If young adults didn’t live directly with their parents, they may have been packed off to another relative or another family if they were in an apprenticeship-type setup. But after World War II, this began to change for the first time and single adults began living on their own more frequently. By the 1960s, this trend was on the upswing. Today, the percentage of young adults that live with their folks is at an all-time low, even given the return of some kids due to employment issues.

The Problems Caused by Living Solo

While the idea of having your own space with no one there to tell you what to do is awesome (can’t lie about that), it may come at too a high a cost, quite literally. With the prevalence of student loans (nearly $30,000 per graduate), balancing renting your own place with servicing your debts isn’t practical for many grads. And if you struggle to find a job, this financial stress can be exacerbated.

A Stanford study also showed that young adults that live on their own are more prone to loneliness, anxiety and depression. But no, we’re not recommending you move back home with mom and dad, despite the trend to do so among cash-strapped grads. You do need to learn to live out on your own and be responsible, but you don’t have to do it alone and you can do it with a more prudent eye on your finances. Instead of living with the ‘rents, roommates may be the best strategy.

The Benefits of Co-Habitating (Platonically)

You need not live with strangers if that freaks you out. Siblings close in age may want to share living space after college or a close cousin can be an option. Friends from school or work are great options. Finding a roommate online is easy peasy these days. You may want to avoid co-habbing with a romantic partner unless you’re super-serious because this can be messy (emotionally and financially) if it fails. This can fulfill your social needs and keep you out of the depression arena.

Second is the financial upside to sharing living space. Splitting rent on a two bedroom place can cut your expenses by close to half and opting for a rental house with more bedrooms and more roommates can cut your expenses even further. This can make it much easier to support yourself, service your student loans and save up for a nest egg, home or vacations. Even once you can buy a home, having roommates can help you pay your mortgage more easily.

The bottom line is that scoring your own place after college isn’t what starts your adult life – it’s the choices you make. And making wise financial choices is a huge part of adult life. If you’ve got student loans, sign up now for Tuition.io’s free student loan tool and be sure to read our blog often for news on student loan legislation, money advice and other interesting stuff.