As a current senior in college, I’m more worried about my housing situation post-graduation more than anything else, which may seem weird given the current status of the economy and job market. What seems like/was the best option for you: going back home, getting roommates, or living alone? And what would you suggest to others? I suppose geographical location could come into play too.
-Degree’d & Homeless
My Dearest Degree’d,
As my final semester at Loyola rounded out, I feared for my life. I know exactly how you feel. I’ll be glad to help. Since I just graduated this May, no better time to tell you of the path I’ve taken & why. But first, I will say that every person is their own person. And what works for me might not work for you. You say you’re more worried about housing than employment, so maybe (luckily) you’ve got something lined up. With this assumption, you’re already ahead of most, myself included. Still, I’ll let you know what I did for the sake of the majority. Because the job market blows (for most), my main objective after school was to find a job –any job. Since I went to school in Baltimore, but am originally from Rhode Island, I decided I’d do my best where I was (to avoid moving costs/migraines). If you can’t find a job in your field from the beginning, take a part time internship. If you’re anything like me, you don’t believe in (or don’t have parental, financial backing, and too much self-respect to live off your parents after college) unpaid, full-time internships. Still, you’ll have to make some sacrifice. Work part-time for cash & part-time for your resume.
Meanwhile, I planned to live with a group of friends I graduated with. I mean, you have to be realistic. Ideally, I’d have liked to buy a home, with a backyard and in-ground pool. Or maybe a penthouse apartment over-looking Central Park. Take into consideration how much money you actually don’t have. Second to living at home, living with a roommate ( or roommates) is going to be your cheapest option. It’s also the option that’s going to maintain the freedom you gained while in college. Honestly, if you lived college at all, you can’t go back home. I don’t recommend it. If you do go back home, it should be with every intention on leaving. When I graduated, I packed up everything I owned except for 2 weeks worth of clothes. See, I thought I was getting a job in New York. I had interviewed for the position and everything. Partially, I thought I had it. But mostly, I just didn’t want to go home. If you come from a place like I come from (no disrespect) you have to realize eventually that going back will only hurt you. Well, it would have hurt me. But I didn’t have a job in Baltimore anymore.. so I couldn’t go back there with no fanacial backing. The last thing you want to be is be a burden on your friends. If you can’t pay rent, don’t pretend to be able to. It’s unfair and irresponsible.
So I went home and got a job at the mall. I worked shoes. & nothing against the job, I LOVE shoes. And I had fun doing it. I looked forward to going to work everyday. Even though I had no benefits or anything, I enjoyed myself. & I was making my own money. But here are the parallel thoughts: I was still applying to other jobs. Every weekend I went to the library (cuz my computer at home sucked) and searched for jobs. Filled out applications. Printed out resumes. I tried to find and apply to at least 5 jobs every time I sat down. I contacted Loyola’s Alumni Office and tried every option and suggestion they offered. Point is, you can’t be satisfied with a position lower than what you deserve. You aren’t going to start as high as college pretends you will, but I wasn’t even Assistant Manager at ALDO. I was key holder. All that means is that I do everything the assistant manager does except I get paid less. & The only difference between assistant manager and manager is that the manager takes the blame for anything that goes wrong. Anyways, I wasn’t trying to be manager anywhere. The back-up plan was to work hard enough to apply to a corporate position with ALDO’s PR department. I mean… you gotta try right?
Meanwhile though, I was getting comfortable, and it was dangerous. I wasn’t searching as much. I was partying more. I was losing sight. The scary thing about being back home for me, was that I actually have friends. & friends who aren’t necessarily on the same path as I am. Nothing against their choices, but Rhode Island is smaller. Which means the rations of types of people are smaller. If Rhode Island were 10x bigger, I’d have 10x the amount of friends like me. Which means I’d have at least one friend who went away to college like I did. Then, it gets hard. People start to ask you how long you’re staying around and all you can say is “I don’t know”. Family and friends start wondering why you don’t have a job yet since you have this degree. Did you do badly in school? Is the market that bad? Or maybe college is just a waste of time like they all said it would be. I mean, look at [Ella], working in the mall. I was embarrassed every single time I saw someone I knew walk into my job. Every time. Because it was me who had to go into the back and find them shoes in their size, all the while trying to avoid talking about how I went to college and couldn’t get a job when I graduated.
But I had the time of my life. I hadn’t really seen my mother in four years… maybe longer. I spent most of my summers at school, taking summer classes and working. & Rhode Island is too far to travel to for the weekend. (8 hour drive; a plane ticket for $150 I’d have rather spent on liquor, clothes and a pack of 12-inch Yaki.) Part of me recommends going home for a little bit. Your parents will be glad to have you home. I met my mother for the first time this summer. Like, really met her. We hung out. Watched movies. Shopped. It was my first time home in a while and I’ll never regret it. You see, parents rarely get their kids back. &… my mother had been left alone abruptly since my brother passed away 2 weeks before I left to Baltimore. As youths, there are no words to express the tangled lines of communication between us and our parents. This transitional period between college and real-life might be the perfect time for that. So, go home if you have to. But you need to leave eventually. You can’t always be a little kid. Home with your parents. You have to be an adult someday. And I know we’d all like to go back to when we were 15 and carefree with our friends, but growing up is imperative. If your friends aren’t growing up with you… it might be that time to open your eyes and see for yourself.
So…after 3 months of waiting, the day finally came. I received another offer from the same company who didn’t hire me to being with. Again, I packed up all of my things and left. Honestly, if an opportunity comes up that you have to take., you have to take it. I graduated from Loyola as an Advertising major. For my education to be in the least bit lucrative, I had to go where my degree was the most valuable: New York City. You asked about geographic location and personally, I feel you like you just need to be where you need to be. If I wanted to act, I’d have gone to California. Business? A big city somewhere. IDK, just where the most jobs are for you. New York was the only place that made sense for me. Luckily, my sister had an extra room for me to stay in while I “got on my feet”. But I didn’t stay to long.
I wanted to get out. I wanted to move. I wanted to be on my own. The thing is, if you can afford to pay rent, you should. Don’t leech off of people. You should want to be an adult. If you can just make money and stack and live at home… that shows how much ambition and drive you have — I’m just sayin. Not it’s not going to be easy… and you’ll have to cut down on spending, but that’s what being a working person is about. Paying bills. & I know that people look at you differently. People at work would ask me where I lived, and I’d tell them I live with my sister. Automatically, this makes me look like a child. like I’m not responsible or independent I couldn’t have that anymore. So I made moves.
Roommate or no roommate? If you know someone in your area who is reliable, responsible, EMPLOYED, and looking for a roommate, I say go ahead and do it. Initially, I wanted to get a studio by myself but the rent was kind of steep. In theory, I could afford it, but I didn’t know what it was like to pay rent. So I might have been overestimating what I can afford; which most people do. I had to take things into account like, how often will i buy shoes/make-up? Get my hair done? Go out partying? I mean, if you’re working, you should be able to enjoy you’re money I’m totally against people sacrificing the things that make them happy to pay a higher rent. I like shoes. So I allot myself one pair of shoes per paycheck… because I love myself. If I lived alone, I’d have really been stretching. You also have to take into account that a studio in NYC is $1000/month plus utilities whereas in Baltimore, a one bedroom apartment is about $700 plus utilities. Big difference. If I were in Baltimore, and had the salary I have now, I’d have def lived alone. So… roommate it was.
The beautiful thing about college is the things you don’t realize that you learn. Right now, I live with a complete stranger. I rent a room that was advertised on Craigslist. I had been meeting with people and looking at places for 3 months to learn what was out there and know what questions I should be asking. I wanted to rush into so many things, but my sister told me to take my time. So here’s the truth about how I’m livin’ (IN LIVING COLOR!! –had to do it lol.) I live in a one bedroom apartment. I have the bedroom. It’s huge (for NYC), has a big closet and lots of windows so I can look out at the flashing lights. My roommate, who is on the lease, lives in the living room. (I’m not on the lease which means I cam move out giving 30-day notice. If you’re on a lease, you have a contractual time agreement. But idk if I want to stay here. Similarly, if you get the apartment, you have to decided if you want to be the only one legally bonded or have someone else on there too.) His section is covered off so I can’t see into it. I would not live in a living room. And honestly, I’d rather he too had a bedroom. But the price is good. The room size is good. He’s clean (as a guy gets) and it’s in the same building I wanted my studio in. But I have access to the kitchen and the bathroom is next to my room. Besides, he’s a brotha (too old for me & not my type) and he occasionally smokes. Which means that if I occasionally smoke, there’s no issue. If you find yourself in a situation like mine, you just have to be sure your comfortable with the situation for yourself. Plenty people wouldn’t live like I am. They ask me all the time. Really it doesn’t matter what they would or wouldn’t do as long as I am comfortable. But I was in college. I know how to live with different types of people. Any kind of person really. So it doesn’t bother me. I keep my things to the right side of the fridge. I keep my things in the cabinets he allowed me. I don’t leave anything in the bathroom. I’ve been a roommate for 4 years. If you know how to live with people, it’s easy. Plus… I got cousins who would “come whoop his ass if they have to,” as my sister said.
Read up on finances:
My sister gave me a really hekpful book: The Money Book for the Young, Fabulous, and Broke
by Suze Orman. (This is the same lady who has a show on CNBC
where people call in to tell her the major investment their going to make -car, house, pool table. They give here their financial situation and she tells them whether or not they should make the purchase.) The book even gives you [FREE] access to online budgeting tools and a step-by-step interactive guide. You can’t read the next step until you complete the previous and supply your information to prove it 🙂 It’s pretttttyyy good. Really.
I suggest you read it too… there’s goo tips in there on spending, budgeting, credit scores and 401K (in layman’s terms for us freshman to the adult world). Thing is, you have to be hyper aware of your expenses no matter what you decide to do. And always assume things will cost more than they say.
In essence… Here’s this long-ass post summed in a sentence:
You gotta do what you gotta do if you want to get where you’ve got to go,
and be who you were destined to be.
Good Luck. I’m sure you’ll figure it out.
PS: I’ve got to decide how I want the page (aesthetically) & I’ll let you know. Good luck on exams! XOXO