Housing and apartment trends in the neighborhoods around the University of Nevada, Reno
The Joys and Pains of Sharing a House
When going to a university, we can all admit the joys and pains of having roommates for our housing. While you can avoid roommates altogether my renting your own private house or apartment, it can be quite expensive. If you are an international student, the exchange rate alone makes renting a private home in the USA incredibly costly. Some students have no choice but to share some part of their home to save money.
Cost Savings of Shared Student Housing
The biggest benefit of having roommates, is the ability to have a lower cost of living. Whether you are sharing a single family house, sharing a bedroom (super cheap, but yikes!), or simply renting a private room with shared living room in a student housing apartment complex, you can enjoy considerable savings by being willing to share. For example, the average cost to rent a 1-bedroom apartment in our city, could be over $1,200 a month. Yet, if you’re willing to rent a 2-bedroom apartment at $1,400 a month, and have a roommate in the other bedroom, you could cut your cost of living down to $700, a savings of over $500 a month. That is a big savings.
And renting a $900 a month bedroom in a new luxury student housing community is still less expensive than renting your own private $1,200 a month apartment.
Common Roommate Problems
Yet, having roommates comes with its problems. For starters, you lose a large amount of privacy. And, if the roommates are new, or not relationally close to you, it can be a long and difficult journey to develop friendships and agree to ground rules. Here are some common issues:
Noise, especially late night noise, is a big issue. Whether you have a roommate that likes to party, or plays video games late at night, or simply talks on the phone to friends, sound travels. Sound can go through walls, floors and echo throughout the home.
Boyfriends and Girlfriends
Some roommates make the bad choice of having their romantic partner come over for time together. And while it may not be even sexual, just the romantic gestures and constant presence and talking can be uncomfortable and awkward for other roommates. A simple activity like a boyfriend and girlfriend cooking together, can take up the whole kitchen and make it difficult for others to use it. No one wants to be in the way of two lovers.
Other roommates can bring guests and friends over; . . . too often. How often is too often? This becomes a grey area to decide. And how long do they stay over? Perhaps it is a roommate’s friend who comes over nearly every day, and stays until 11:00 watching movies. What if they are using the laundry, taking showers, or cooking food? Guests can become unwelcome very easily.
That big pile of dirty dishes in the sink, or that messy plate laying on the kitchen counter can become annoying really quick. Dirty dishes are one of the most basic and most common roommate issues. Because everyone has different cleaning habits. And unfortunately, for college students, many students are fresh out on their own, many of whom had their mom do all their dishes.
Whether it is shampoo bottles in the shower, or hair rollers, hair follicles, and dried up toothpaste stuck to the sink counter, there are many gross bathroom messes we won’t mention any further. If you happen to share a bathroom, you know the difficulties of trying to develop a way to keep it clean.
Finally, there can frequently be money problems. For example, do you rent a large home together, with one person in charge of paying the rent? Do you share any utilities? How about repairs, decor or common house items like cleaning supplies. Trying to hunt down other roommates shares to expenses can be a big headache, especially if they are financially irresponsible.
Bringing Up Roommate Issues
One of the most difficult experiences with having roommates is having difficult conversations with them. If problems arise, and they are not dealt with early, it only becomes more awkward to address it. This is where the need for early intervention, and early discussions (within the first week of living) are so essential. But if you have to have a hard conversation, you’ll need to plan.
How to Start the Conversation
There are a couple of tactics that work with addressing difficult issues with roommates. But they are not a sure fire technique to removing awkwardness, only ensuring that the conversation happens. Here are some tips:
What Happens If It Doesn’t Go Well?
Sometimes, conversations with roommates do not go well. People in general are prideful and selfish, even if they don’t think they are. It is hard for them to take criticism. But just remember, your maturity grows when you take on the willingness to properly have difficult conversations. This is called tact.
You may need to ask them to work on a plan to fix it. Or a plan to move out. Or, wose yet, you may have to move. There are many factors to consider, but often, problem roommates do find ways of correcting themselves, or self-eliminating (moving out).
How to Have Better Roommate Experiences In The Future
In the years of helping international student address their roommate issues in apartment complexes they live in, the single biggest piece of advice we can give, is the importance of setting clear agreements from the beginning. A simple “roommate agreement” that lets all roommates agree on certain standards can be a big help. It should address:
About the Author
Mike Cutler lives and works in Reno. His family enjoys meeting international students and families and immigrants, along with exploring hiking and outdoors in Lake Tahoe. He is a native to the area, and works in business along with teaching at the University of Nevada, Reno - UNR. LinkedIn
A blog critiquing and reporting on student housing in Reno Nevada
Mike Cutler is a volunteer with the Reno International House and blogger of the local real estate housing development market in Reno. He likes to give advice for newly arriving students and immigrants, and report on the latest construction and housing needs around the University of Nevada, Reno.