Tuesday, April 30, 2013 12:32 PM jstone

The Price of Solitude ... the cost of living with or without a roommate

 I know that this is the time of the year when our new admits are scrambling to find housing and put deposits down before someone else snatches up a good apartment.   Lots of pressure to insure that you have a place to actually “land” when you get here in August. 

And not wanting to add any additional pressure onto those tough, timely choices but…. thought it would be worth just throwing out a few numbers which show why we advocate that students give serious cost consideration to finding roommates.   Yes, I know that the thought of sharing space with someone you barely know at this stage of your life probably just makes you groan.    Are they going to “mistakenly” eat your peanut butter… probably yes?  Are they going to play some unbearable (you fill in the genre) music night and day … most likely.  And are they going to have a whole warren of dust bunnies living under their bad?  Absolutely.    They will invariably do things to annoy you and impede your independence.

But what they will also do is save you considerable money in your student budget.  Here’s why we know that… as some of you may have read on the blog post "The Means to Live Within Your Means"  we do an annual costs of living survey among current students to assess if the number we use for “living expenses” in the student budget is  accurate (which it is).  What that survey also shows us is the overall cost differential between living alone, living with one roommate and living with two or more roommates. 

Monthly Cost Comparative

Using  the example of the cost differential of single to one roommate..  that’s  $203 per month or $1,827 per academic year or $5,481 over a 3 year JD degree.   So let’s say that you chose to live alone and let’s suppose that you then have to borrow ( in a Grad Plus loan)  the additional funds of the cost differential in loans in order to make up for that extra expense of living alone.   That $5,481 extra  you borrowed over your 3 year enrollment translates to $7,946 on a 10 year loan  repayment and $12,582 on a 25 year loan repayment.   (And that is not factoring in the interest that is building on the borrowed amount while you are enrolled). So you just spent at a minimum $7,946 to live without a roommate.   Is it worth it? 

You are going to hear two things ad nauseum from me during your enrollment. First, you have a limited amount of money to live on in your student budget. Basically you are on a fixed income (and you didn’t even have to wait till social security).  You can live adequately on our student budget provided you make some fiscally sound life choices.     Second, any opportunities that you have to mimimize your borrowing saves you considerable funds in the future. Sacrifice a little now for long term financial gain.  And choosing whether to live alone or with a roommate is one of the first choices you make that will impact both budgeting and borrowing.

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