What I Wish I Had Known About Renting in My 20s

November 03, 2023

In college, I was lucky enough to live at home for the majority of the four years. Financially lucky. My freedom, however, was somewhat lacking, and as a young 20-something, I didn’t see many available options.

Home is where … the rent is free.

I loved my family, yes – but living at home was a choice of necessity, not affection.

I just couldn’t find the affordable housing I needed that didn’t feel like a seven-day-a-week keg fest. I was tired of mornings where I’d wake up and walk into the living room to find a stranger passed out on the couch (they were always a friend of a friend of one of the roommates). 

When I graduated college, I moved to a city where I knew no one; the thought of renting a room in a house with people I didn’t know (and couldn’t run background screenings) was unnerving. 

Now a full-time employee, money wasn’t as tight as it was during college – but it was still tight enough to limit my rental options

A single studio by any other name is “a money pit.” 

My first studio was a daylight basement apartment, which meant I woke up not to random strangers asleep on my couch (a bonus) but instead to questionable men peeing outside my window on the city sidewalk. I took this as a sign of an upgrade after I had searched for single rooms for rent near me. 

Even still, I put most of my monthly earnings into that little studio apartment – and barely spent any time there. I was either hard at work making a name for myself at my new job…or out in the city with co-workers who eventually became good friends. When I was home, I never hosted dinners or get-togethers. My schedule in my 20s was much like the other 20-somethings I knew: Eat breakfast, shower, then leave for the day. Come home late, eat dinner or a snack, and go to bed. 

The bottom line? I was paying for square footage that lay dormant the majority of the day. 

The urban renter’s lesson: Don’t be like me

Looking back, I can see all the lost opportunities to build savings if I had searched for more affordable single rooms for rent. For me, single living was not worth the premium rent I paid. 

If I had access to shared living – if coliving platforms had even been a thing in my 20s – I can only imagine the money I’d have in my savings account today. Compared to the debt I racked up instead, it’s enough to send me into a retroactive FOMO state. 

Fortunately for new grads (or college students looking for some private space away from mom and dad), coliving options are becoming easier and easier to find. It’s now easier to browse more rooms for rent in Henderson NV or rooms for rent in Yonkers.

If you’re curious to see if coliving in DC or coliving Atlanta is available, check out rooms for rent on websites like PadSplit. You may be surprised how living on your own can actually be affordable.

– Contributed by Rebecca Collins

Explore our posts

10 rental property tax deductions to maximize profits
PadSplit Impact Report
The Las Vegas housing crunch: Is coliving the answer?