When you started your search for a compatible roommate, you likely did so for a number of reasons. Having someone to split the bills with and show you the ropes of your new neighborhood probably topped your list. But did you know that the effects of having roommates goes further than a lightening the financial burden? Research says those lovable co-conspirators can actually make you happier.We checked in with some happy roommates to see what they thought, and then we asked New York City-based psychiatrist and author Dr. Gail Saltz for her take on why this is the case.Read on to learn why having a roommate is scientifically beneficial to your happiness — and then send this to your roommate, with a string of heart emojis.
You’ll Fight the Good Fight Against Loneliness
After a long day crunching numbers, taking meeting notes and staring at screens, there’s nothing better than coming home to someone who’s happy to listen to your gripes (and share their own) — because an empty apartment can be somewhat lonely.
Brandon Cole, a firefighter from Texas, thinks his successful roommate relationship has saved him from a lonely life.
“I’m not a terribly social person,” he admits. “I don’t do the bar scene much or go out with friends. It’s nice to have someone at home that you like to hang out with, whether it’s just to lay around and watch TV or have a game night, or whatever.”
And as it turns out, loneliness is pretty detrimental to your mental well being. According to Dr. Saltz, loneliness has been linked to depression and anxiety disorders.
“Living with someone you like and get along with would make it far less likely for you to feel lonely,” says Dr. Saltz. “Being able to share your thoughts and feelings, and to get support from somebody else if you’ve had a lousy day helps your mental well being.”
In fact, Dr. Saltz says that having that someone just to talk about your day with makes you happier every day. Kind of makes you want to go home and hug your roommate right now, are we right?
You Don’t Have to Do All the Chores Yourself
When was the last time you felt happy while scrubbing a toilet bowl? Exactly. Dr. Saltz says that having someone else to share household responsibilities like cooking, cleaning and taking out the garbage alleviates the annoyance of having to do it by yourself — and it all ties back to feeling less lonely.
“Working together to make a household run makes you happier by being able to share those responsibilities, instead of having it all fall on you alone,” she says.
Sometimes it takes a minute to find that perfect fit for chore schedules, even in a very successful roommate relationship. For Cole, it’s all about finding the balance so everything gets done but one person isn’t doing it all.
“I have a much better system in place with my current roommate though!” he says. “She loves to cook, and I am more financially stable, so I keep the house stocked with groceries and she cooks all the meals.”
You’ll Feel Less Stressed About Finances
Having a roommate means having someone to split the cost of living with. Having a fatter wallet makes you less stressed. Feeling less stressed makes you happier. No brainer, right?
As Dr. Saltz puts it, “Being able to share the financial burden [of living costs] and having less stress about money has a positive impact on your happiness levels.”
We’re not just talking rent and utilities either. Costs like pizza,* which is less expensive by the pie than individual slices, becomes cheaper and more accessible when you have a roommate.
*There’s currently no science to support that pizza makes you happier (but common sense would suggest…)
It Can Help You Find Love
Okay, so it’s not a 100 percent guarantee, and we’re definitely not suggesting you delete your Tinder account and get a roommate in order to find Mr. (or Ms.) Right — but research shows that sharing a living space with someone of another racial or cultural background can help you diversify your friendships, which Dr. Saltz points out, and can expand your social circle and introduce you people you may not ever have crossed paths with.
“It could be another way of meeting potential romantic partners,” she says.
And falling in love would, obviously, make you happier.
You Might Try New Things (And Learn New Life Skills)
And with such a diverse group of friends, you’re bound to learn a thing or two, right? Living with someone is a sure-fire way to promote self-growth and happiness, and Dr. Saltz says that your roommate could even have a positive effect on the way you operate.
“Having a roommate could serve as a way of trying new things that you haven’t tried because you have a different set of interests,” says Dr. Saltz. “For example, if your roommate is a little more flexible, but you’re a little more rigid, that roommate could potentially expand your ability to be flexible, which is a valuable life skill.”