With the economy in turmoil and gas prices on the rise, many people are attempting to find alternate ways of living, that don’t involve a diet limited to Ramen Noodles, PBR, and Easy Mac. According to ApartmentRatings.com, the average cost of a 1-bedroom apartment in the Washington-Baltimore area for 2008 is $1,200…and that is for an AVERAGE apartment. No one can afford to buy a house right now, and no one wants to at the moment, so most of us are stuck throwing the majority of our paychecks into rent and utilities. One of those cost-cutting options is finding a roommate. If you are single, obviously this is the most sensible situation because you can get a decent two bedroom and split the rent and utilities in half. If you are in a relationship there is always that alternate option of moving in with your girlfriend to save some money. This seems like it would be a gold mine filled with plasma screen TVs and impromptu trips to Vegas with the boys, but is it really worth the effort?

More Money – Obviously more people in fewer bedrooms will cut down on expenses. You can afford more food and fun, and in addition to this, you can finally pay off your loans, credit card bills, etc. Maybe you can actually even start putting money into savings so you can eventually buy a house! In all actuality this is crap. If you are not living with your girlfriend you can use excuses like work or that you are tired, or you have to help a buddy out if you don’t feel like going out to dinner. If you are living with your girlfriend, she will know where you are, when you should be home, and what you are doing..this means more nights spent on the town and more money taken from your wallet. In addition to this, you will be expected to buy more gifts due to the fact that taking her out to dinner for a holiday just isn’t enough because you are now more serious. You may save a few dollars, but I guarantee they will not be spent on a trip to Vegas with the boys, unless she is coming along.

A Nice Place – If you were splitting a one-bedroom you could get a big place, close to the metro, restaurants, nightlife, and work, for less than what your single friend living at the end of the red line is shelling out. This means you can likely have nicer things, because you will be likely in a neighborhood not known for its breaking and entering skills, but more known for senile old women walking their purses with dogs inside. There is a problem with this way of thinking. Kiss your Sports Illustrated Calendars and Scarface posters goodbye. You are getting what you paid for…a nicer place. Women like to have drapes that match the light colored couch, modern art, diffusers, duvet covers…this means you can kiss Power Hours and Super Bowl Sunday parties goodbye. If you drop a hot-wing on the couch she put two paychecks towards, you are sleeping on that wing-covered couch for at least a week. Yes, your place will be beautiful and incredibly furnished, but be careful what you wish for.

A Clean Place – Whoever invented the myth that women know how to clean is just completely wrong. Maybe this was true in the past, but modern-day women are way too busy to do this. Yes, the kitchen will probably be spotless, because no one wants roaches in their cereal, but you will see the bathroom full of make-up and hair products…with remnants of those things all over the counter. Not to mention having to deal with her monthly visitor. In addition to this, because women are so busy, choosing an outfit remains difficult, but there is no time to put anything away. Get ready for clothes to be scattered all over your nice bedroom, with a trail leading out anywhere else. Somehow when others come over these will magically disappear, so no reason complaining to your buddies about it…they will never see a trace of imperfection.

You can have sex any time you want – Yes, this is true, and it is one of the benefits of having a live-in girlfriend. Not only do you have Comcast On Demand, you have Woman On Demand as well. You will constantly be having sex, especially if it is a new relationship. That is until the Honeymoon stage is over. Keep in mind that living together is pretty much like being married, minus the tax benefits, more “binding” commitment, and kick-ass bachelor party. One day you will come home and it won’t be “Wham, Bam, Thank you maam’”, it will be more along the lines of “Babe, I’m tired and I have a long day tomorrow. Let’s just read and go to sleep.”

So long lingerie and 5-course meals, hello sweats and Velveeta Shells and Cheese – Aside from the copious amount of sex you will be having, there will be many other benefits that go along with it…If you having a lot of sex, your girlfriend will feel sexy, and therefore will want to look more sexy for you. This means lingerie constant ab-workouts, etc, etc. This also means that she hasn’t gotten past the ‘he’s so perfect, I want to do everything in my power to impress him” stage (which admit, you are in as well, and you do things like remember to put the seat down and you still actually want to take her out to dinner). During this stage she will probably be whipping up steak dinners, stir-frys, and kabobs galore…or at least buying good enough frozen food to make it looked like she slaved over a hot stove. All of this is over once you get into the “comfort zone.’ Those ugly sweats she wore to help you clean up after your kegger will turn into her typical evening and weekend attire. In addition to this, once the comfort zone hits, she will care less about impressing you and more about getting her own things done. It’s sweats and shells and cheese from there on out.

You will get to know what she is really like: This could do one of two things…either you could realize that this is the woman you want to spend the rest of your life with, or this is a woman you can’t spend another hour with. The fights will be more intense, the space will be a lot smaller, but if this is someone things are supposed to work out with, then maybe it’s worth the risk.

Overall, unless you have been in a relationship for a very long period of time beforehand, there is NO REASON to move in together. Keep in mind…most leases last a full year, but relationships can end in minutes. Lose a few extra dollars and maintain your life! Cohabitation is NOT worth the break in rent.

Originally published on PureStyle Magazine