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For many of us who move to a new city following college, the decision of roommates-versus-living-alone can be a difficult one. Financial reasons, along with wanting to have an easier way to meet people, can drive a lot of us towards the group living choice. Wanting to sit on the couch naked watching another Office rerun can lead us towards the living alone choice (or group if you swing that way). Lucky for me, my experience has turned out to be an incredibly fun, drunken, spontaneous ride. It’s also taught me that living with people who are laid back and non-dramatic allows you to be the weirdest version of yourself possible.
Last August, I was coming up on the end of my lease at my one-bedroom apartment. It had been a great year surrounded by college friends, family, and a new job beginning. I had been thinking for a while that moving closer to work, and subsequently farther away from my friends, might be a worthy risk. I wanted to try out a new area where I didn’t know anyone, and could get a fresh outlook. This has the makings of a shitty Lifetime movie, but I promise it’s not that boring.
I had heard about NOVA being a hub for tons of “young 20s professionals” (read: Hawaiian shirt-wearing yuppies) and dove headfirst into apartment hunting. I saw everything from overpriced studios, to postgrad frat houses, to weird non-drinking female roommates. I found my sanctuary in September in a slightly older house by a busy metro stop. Free parking out back, screened in porch, and a sizable bedroom sold it. Five girls lived in the house, so I was frankly a bit nervous, since I’d been living on my own for a year, and hadn’t experienced roommates since undergrad. What sold me on the house was when I first came to check it out, the current roommates were fairly inebriated and asked if I wanted to go out drinking with them that night. Yahtzee. So I took a gamble, and it slowly began panning out.
By December, I’d become fairly close with the roommates, going out to bars weekly, and binging on football and The Bachelor – staples in any female postgrad house. We threw our first joint party for New Years and it was a big hit — kegs, debauchery, an inappropriately shaped ice luge (hindsight, not the best of ideas, it took three weeks on the front porch to melt). By February we had a roommate switch up due to new jobs, and the house kept increasingly getting better.
I may be biased, but I think it’s a bit tougher for girls to find a good balance of personalities. I tend to be extremely laid back, and like to socialize equally as much as having my alone time to do my own thing. So it was great to find that in four other girls. One works for an art gallery, rides horses, and joins me in binging shitty MTV reality shows. Another is in sales, and while she travels a lot, always is the one pushing everyone to have a great time and drink more. Another is my fellow sports groupie, and has come with me to the pub down the street for every Euro Cup game so far. We’ve all noticed how rare it is to find this kind of good juju in a house full of girls who didn’t know each other mere months before. It really was love at first Craigslist post.
Recently, for Memorial Day, we all decided to do a lake trip together down to North Carolina. We combined our groups of friends along with beer, rafts, and jet skis for a kickass weekend and bonding experience. Another time we did a bar crawl that ended in us having to Uber the four blocks home because we couldn’t manage to make the walk without falling over.
I think part of the reason we all vibe so well is that we didn’t know each other prior to living together. There was no bad history to build on, so we had to start from scratch. Those first awkward small talk conversations turned into tipsy heart-to-hearts and drunken wing-manning at the bars. Furthermore, it has pushed myself and the others to get out of our comfort zones. I always had the habit of leaning back on my college friends when I was in a new situation, so while learning to lean on myself, I grew a great group of friends in my new town.
We all equally wanted to meet new people and have as many crazy experiences as possible (while also holding as little judgment as possible). It’s different from a normal friendship because we see each other constantly. If someone’s having a bad day, we address it right away – there’s no room for passive texts because it’s all in person. This fact actually grows the friendships because we know all sides of each other. I know their pet peeves, grocery store lists, guy types, and their fears. When you live with people in a close environment like ours, there’s not much you can hide. It might be also due to the fact that everyone in the house is at least a few years out of college, and are slightly more mature than the average 21-year-old who is still ready to party 5 nights of the week.
People have asked us if we grew up together because when we go out, we get along so well. I know how many shots my roommate can have before she’s a goner, and she knows that I have to have a few days a week to just do my own thing, and recoup after work.
I want to encourage anyone nervous of the Craigslist roommate situation to at least consider it. By all means, visit the house, meet all the roommates, think over your decision hard before committing. But for people moving to new cities, it’s the best way to get out there and meet new people, and put yourself in new situations. You never know — you could be meeting lifelong friends, and create some memorable stories.
“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. — Wayne Gretzky” — Michael Scott. .