One of the things that’s annoying about living with others is hearing everyone else’s opinions about who you should live with and why. When I first got to college, the rule was, “Don’t live with your friends, because by the end of the first semester you’ll want to kill each other.” But as I wrote in a previous column, that line of thinking proved to be totally wrong; my former roommate and I are still friends to this day.
While I did give a lot of thought to the various pieces of advice that came my way, it seemed I never wanted—or cared—to listen to them. And as I grew older, the rules list just got longer. “Don’t live with a co-worker.” “Don’t move in with your boyfriend unless you plan to marry him.” “Don’t live with a musician.” Everyone could back up their rule with a personal anecdote (or five) and thought I was crazy when I didn’t listen, but in my experience there’s only one type of person to avoid living with: Someone who you hate spending time with.
I’m not saying it’s a bad idea to live with someone who’s totally different from you—someone who keeps different hours, runs with a different social circle, or holds different beliefs—but what I am saying is that you should try to have something in common. This isn’t just because it makes life easier or, more accurately, because it makes living with roommates tolerable. It’s because one of the most important things I’ve learned in the years I spent living with roommates is that at some point, you need to have a little fun together.
That sounds really cheesy, not to mention obvious, but one of the most popular pieces of advice I’ve heard is to pick a roommate based on things like how much the person travels for work (the more, the better!), whether the person has a boyfriend or girlfriend (hello, third roommate!), or whether the person makes a decent living and holds down a steady job (because paying the rent late every month sucks). But the truth is, even if you have a boyfriend-less, often out-of-town and excellent moneymaking roommate, your life at home will be far from perfect if any of those aspects ever changes. And more times than not, they do.
If the only reason living with your roommate is awesome is because she’s never, ever there, you’re not doing yourself any favors. The chances of that person losing her job increase considerably if your whole relationship equilibrium is based on that one defining factor. Same thing goes with finally finding a roommate who doesn’t have a significant other always at her side. If you chose to live with someone based on that criterion alone, what will happen when she does start dating someone? Your whole world will be thrown off-kilter, especially if you’re both homebodies. When you’re only living with someone because of some superficial aspect of who they are, you’re setting yourself up for major disappointment.