Guest Post: Why I Still Live in a Shared Apartment

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This guest post today is written by M @ Radical FIRE. She’s a 24-year-old financial consultant who’s passionate about financial independence and retiring early. She wants to take you with her on her journey to become financially. Please give a warm welcome to M!

Since I graduated in September 2017, I’ve moved out of my shared student apartment and back to my parents. Because I went travelling September – December 2017, I didn’t want to have the extra costs of paying my rent. When I came back from travelling, I searched for a job not selecting any specific area, so I still lived at my parents for a few months until I knew where I was going to work. 

When I found a job in the city I currently live in, I found out that the traffic during rush hour was dreadful. I spent 2 hours driving on over 100 kilometers, so that driving in traffic was killing me. I was leaving to work at 6:30 am and coming home at 7 pm. After a week, I was completely drained. I was too tired to do anything fun on the weekends, but also I wasn’t delivering to my fullest at my client during the day. That’s when I decided I wanted to move, ASAP. I mean living at my parents’ wasn’t too bad, they took care of me very well and they cooked my food (a huuuge time saver). But, I couldn’t take the commuting 4 hours per day any longer! 

The priority of moving was high. I gave myself 2 weeks to find something. Because I didn’t want to pay half my salary to rent, I ended up living in a shared apartment again. With 3 other housemates, that are about the same age as me. They are in the end phase of their study or also working. So this is the perfect match! 

Why I’m so Happy in my Shared Apartment 

1. My Costs are Low 

One very big upside for me is that the costs are so low. I wasn’t considering yet living together with my boyfriend since he is still studying in another city. If you want to have an apartment for yourself but you live alone, the costs are simply too high for me. The average apartment here costs around €1000 per month, so that would be almost 60% of my salary at that time. 

Currently, I pay €220 for rent and €60 for utilities including internet. So a total of €280 that I pay monthly. This means that €700 in costs that I am not making, so extra money to save and invest for my future goals. This saves me €8.400 yearly! 

I produced my first Monthly Review Report in January, resulting in me having a savings rate of over 60%! This would not be possible without me living in this shared apartment for sure. 

2. Flexibility 

Another big upside for me is that this is very flexible. I’m not sure how they handle this where you live, but in the Netherlands, you often have to sign a contract that states that you will rent the property for at least one year. If you’re not renting it for that long, you still would have to pay. 

This depends on the state of the rental market and also on the landlord, but generally, you would sign a lease for one year. That would mean that if I wanted to go and live together with my boyfriend, switching jobs to another city or wanted to go travelling again, I would have to still pay my rent (or pay a fine). 

I appreciate flexibility very much, I want to just pack my stuff and leave if I want to! 

In the contract I have now, I have to let them know one month in advance I’m leaving and then I don’t have to worry about anything. Just make sure that my stuff is out of the house, and that’s it! 

3. Sociability When Living in a Shared Apartment

This student apartment is very close to our neighbours, which is another student apartment from the same owner. They come over and sit at the terrace in our garden in the summer, we have barbecues and we celebrate our birthdays. We have good contact with them, which is nice! I was afraid that after I would start working, I wouldn’t see anyone anymore. Basically, I was thinking my life would be over. Well, that is not the case at all! 

I’m not the most extraverted person, so going to the gym a few times per week wouldn’t make me any friends. Also, my friends don’t live in the same city as me, so that’s why I’m thinking that it might be hard to get social contacts when I’m entering working life. 

The house I live in now has the most friendly people and I can get along with all on them, YAY! Of course, we have the person who is never at home and not doing any cleaning, but hey he is also not making anything dirty so it’s okay! I work out with one of my housemates 1x every week, we cook together and we chat after we come home for work. +1 for sociability. 

The nice thing is that I also really enjoy being alone, but so do my roommates. So there are always a couple of nights per week where we are all just doing our own thing and just resting from our working day. 

4. Less Space, Less Stuff 

People, in general, are tempted to fill the space they have with stuff. I know I am. That’s why living small has been a huge advantage for me. I’m not collecting a lot of stuff since there is simply no space for it. 

Even though I have little space, I still think I own too many things. That why I’m currently decluttering big time. The whole Marie Kondo thing that everyone started doing also inspired me to start getting rid of things that don’t bring me joy. 

I’m convinced that if you only have things that bring you joy, your life will be clearer and easier. Less worry, less maintenance, less spending. Don’t we all want that? 

5. Perspective 

Last but not least, my housemates have given me perspective. Perspective on life, on jobs, on how life can turn out in unexpected ways. They all have their own stories, their own lessons, and their own struggles. Since I’ve been more aware of my own behaviour and interested in people’s behaviour in general, I’ve learned so so much. 

My one housemate is obsessed with politics and economics, these are my interests as well. There have been days where we had hours and hours long discussions about certain events in world politics, I’ve really enjoyed listening to his perspective and challenging his view. These are no light topics, but I love that I can have a high-level discussion about things that interest both of us. 

My other housemate is my true mirror, she is so similar to how I was 2 years ago that it’s scary. Listening to her is like listening to myself, giving her advice is like giving advice to my younger self I wish I would have listened to. I work out with her every week, we eat together and life is good! When I see her I think about where I’ve come from in terms of confidence

Did you ever live with roommates? What is your experience? Let me know in the comments below.

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