You should really go live with some strangers.
Not in a stranger-danger way, but I mean you should try living in student housing. While it might be tempting to say you’re going to save money and just live at home throughout college, there are some important reasons to wave goodbye to mom and dad.
There’s nothing like having to pay your own bills to get you better at managing your money. Going from having parents pay for nearly everything to footing the bills on your own can be intimidating. However, it’s best to learn this while living in student housing.
One reason why you should try student housing is because your rent will be substantially lower while living with other students. Depending on the privacy you’re looking for, a shared room will be significantly cheaper than a private room. Many of the housing contracts for students in St. George are paid on a semester basis, so a one-time payment will have you set for rent for the entire semester, so that’s one less monetary concern.
Rent aside, living in student housing can make you more aware of how you spend your money. For quite a while, I would make sure my rent and other bills were paid, but I didn’t pay much attention what else I spent my money on. However, while registering my car, I ended up needing nearly $1,000 of repairs. I managed to fix my car, but an uncomfortable amount was put on my credit card. So I started to watch where all my “extra” money was going, only to see I was spending a ridiculous amount on eating out and random things I ordered on Amazon.
I did pay off my card a few months later, and I became better about my spending. But I was glad I learned this lesson while I lived rather inexpensively in student housing.
Before I left home, I enjoyed cooking but had a somewhat limited palate. Hamburger Helper was a mainstay in my home growing up. I learned a lot of interesting ways to cook foods I’d never tried or hadn’t thought of preparing in a certain way over the years I spend living with roommates.
A favorite of mine was a breakfast dish made by one of my first roommates. Breakfast scramble, as she called it, took one potato chopped into small pieces, fried up in a pan, and then add an egg or two. It is a delicious and incredibly cheap dish to make, and it’s pretty filling. When we felt fancy, we’d top the dish with some avocado or cheese.
However, a problem that can arise with food is the lack of food. The starving student joke is a lot less funny when you’re on the other end of the joke.
But when you live in student housing, you’re living with people who are in the same situation as you are. With several sets of roommates over the years, we would have a few days a week where we would pool our food resources and cook dinner together. Sometimes the dish was very strange, like our “hobo casserole” which had ground beef, rice, a random assortment of vegetables and topped with stale saltine crackers. But it was always fun to work together to produce something that could help all of us.
My communication skills underwent a massive overhaul once I started living in student housing. While family may put up with a snarky and sarcastic attitude, let me tell you, roommates really don’t have the knowledge of who you are to understand whether or not you’re kidding or just a jerk.
And the defense, “That’s just who I am,” isn’t a very good one. I mean, yeah, that may be who you are, but eventually the thought drove home for me that I wasn’t a pleasant person to live with.
In addition to biting my tongue on my so-called witty remarks, I had to learn to talk through problems with my roommates. I generally got shared rooms (because it’s cheaper and can be fun), and it was great as long as we were getting along. When we weren’t, I learned to get through our issues sooner rather than later as there are few things as uncomfortable as having someone just across the room from you feeling really angry.
Learning to understand where my roommates coming from, trying to make peace when we fought, was excellent practice in my romantic relationships. And, frankly, if I hadn’t lived with a variety of people before I lived with my partner, our relationship wouldn’t be nearly as harmonious as it is now.
I have loved my time in student housing because fights and bills aside, I’ve made my closest friends from my roommates. The shared experiences of living together, going on adventures together, and struggling together forges deep bonds. I’ve stood as bridesmaid and maid of honor for several roommates, watched as they had kids, and we’re still there for each other even though we live far apart.
And it all started when I signed my first housing contract.