So You’ve Decided To Get A Roommate

Brief update from last week: I did manage to scramble and set up my Phase II applications, and I have gotten some responses from sites (both positive and negative). Right now I do not want to jinx the process and so I will be focusing on other aspects of the Graduate Experience for this blog. Hopefully I will soon have some good news, and at that time I will be more than happy to exhaust all of you with Tales of Internship.

For my fourth year of graduate school, I took the plunge and got a roommate. I realized I could afford a much nicer apartment if I were splitting the rent. (Right now I pay about the same rent for my half of an enormous two-bedroom, two-bathroom with study, fireplace, walk-in closet, and vaulted ceilings for what I was paying for what can only be described as a glorified closet. Possibly more on that at a later date.) However, I had been tolerating tiny, sub-par apartments because they seemed like the better alternative than having to share my space with another person. (I have had some less than ideal roommate experiences. There will not be more on that later for the sake of privacy.)

I met Katelyn at the start of my second year. She was about to enter the program and relocate to the area, and I was looking for someone to sublet my apartment because I had taken a job in Residential Life and had to move to campus. She ended up not subletting from me. Frankly my first grad school apartment was not in the most savory neighborhood. We stayed in touch and bonded over our mutual love of cats the fact that we have both lived in Minnesota. At the end of my third year, I wanted to stay in the same area for a job but did not want to stay in my closet of an apartment that reeked of the last tenant’s cigarettes and where management never fixed anything. Down the road was an infinitely nicer building – recently renovated, responsive, on-site maintenance, et cetera. The problem was, it was twice my current rent and only had two bedroom units. Katelyn had accepted a practicum in the neighborhood and was considering moving to my area (in our second and third years, we do practicum 3 days per week and class 2 days per week, so you can save a bundle on gas if you live closer to externship).


Neither of us couldĀ afford the apartment we wanted individually, so we bit the bullet and moved in together. We have our differences – I tend to get up early, she tends to sleep in, I’m a neat freak, Katelyn isn’t – but we get along really well. I think it is largely because of our ingrown Minnesota nice-ness that makes us step back and consider the other’s feelings, and think twice before bringing up a minor issue (because really, is it the end of the world that it’s your roommate’s turn to take out the garbage and they want to do it in the morning and not right this second?). We also compromise – I get the bigger closet to cope with my trauma of the Tiny Apartment, and Katelyn gets the assigned parking spot right in front of the building. But I think the biggest key to our success in not killing each other is named Debbie.

I read a statistic somewhere that said that 75% of roommate arguments stem from disagreements about cleaning. “It’s your turn to vacuum!” “Why haven’t you washed your dishes yet?” and the like. We preempted these arguments by hiring a housekeeper to come by twice a month and clean up after both of us. We split the cost in half, and it ends up being very affordable.

So if you are thinking about defraying your school costs with a roommate, choose someone whose quirks you are familiar with and know you can tolerate, and who can tolerate your quirks. Also invest in a housekeeper. Trust me, it’s the best investment I have made. Oh, and if you have cats, get a unit with a fire place.


Trust me.