Living With Friends vs. Strangers: 15 Things to Consider!

Last Updated on February 14, 2024 by Lifevif Team and JC Franco

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Living alone in a luxury apartment, in a prime city space, is the dream for many. Unfortunately, living the dream doesn’t come cheap, and for most people, it means paying over as much as 40% to 50% of their income. If you’re not excited about the prospect of shelling out hundreds or thousands of dollars on rent each month, you might have to get used to the idea of having a housemate. But what choice is best; living with a friend or living with a stranger? That’s the big question! 

There are, of course, pros and cons to living with a friend or a stranger. In order to ensure that you make the right choice, carefully consider the 15 points below and decide which option best suits your needs and preferences.

15 ways living with friends stacks up against living with strangers:

1. Communication with strangers can be easier than with friends.

When trying to communicate with friends on a social level, things might seem easy, but try to communicate about things that affect your private life! Trying to tell a friend you don’t like something or want something done a certain way might make you feel uncomfortable. Communicating your needs and requirements is a lot easier with acquaintances and strangers as there’s “nothing personal” to draw on.

2. Living with a stranger expands your social network.

When you live with a stranger, you don’t have to see the same group of people over and over. In fact, the new housemate will probably introduce you to a whole new network of friends. Not only does this expand your horizons, but it can work wonders for your social life (options, options, options!).

3. You might not like a stranger’s friends.

On the flip side, if you move in with a stranger and have to deal with their family and friends visiting, you might find yourself in a tricky spot if you don’t particularly like them. If you live with friends, at least you sort of know who most of their friends and family are.

4. It can be tricky laying living-arrangement ground rules with friends.

When you co-habit with someone, you need to have some basic rules or rules of engagement in place. Perhaps you want the front door locked at all times or need the windows closed so that your cat doesn’t escape and get lost. Laying down a set of rules is easy to do when looking for a stranger as a housemate. Communicating these rules and enforcing them with a friend will be far harder – awkward even. 

5. You might find your living style incompatible with a stranger.

If you live with a friend, chances are that you know what type of person they are. Living with a stranger makes things a little more difficult as you don’t really know what you are going to get. What do you do if you find that your living style is completely incompatible with the new housemate stranger? Then you’re in a pickle, aren’t you?!

6. Living with friends could turn into a “bachelor/ette pad” type of scenario.

When living with friends, it might seem like fun staying up all night, drinking booze, and listening to music while you relive memories; but that’s going to become an unsustainable way to live. You might find that having other friends constantly coming in and out of the home becomes tiring. Living with a stranger allows for a more mature lifestyle. 

7. Living with friends puts friendship at risk, whereas living with strangers could lead to possible friendships.

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If you choose to live with a friend, there is a real risk that something could happen that destroys the friendship. Living with a stranger doesn’t impose the same risk. If you choose to live with a stranger, that stranger could become your friend. Because there is no history to fall back on, there’s less chance of issues arising during the friendship.  

8. Living with a stranger could be awkward or uncomfortable.

When living with a friend, you are already comfortable with each other. There’s not much room for awkwardness or an uncomfortable feeling. When living with a stranger, things could be uncomfortable or awkward until you get to know each other or get used to each other.

9. You might find out things you don’t like about a friend when living together.

When living with a stranger, there is less personal and social exposure in not having a close connection to them. If you live with a friend, you might find out things about your friend’s current life or past that you don’t like. Because you are the company you keep, this could affect you on a moral level. 

10. Boundaries are easier to set in place with strangers than with friends.

Just want to spend the evening in the living room watching Netflix and eating take-out? That’s a lot easier when living with a stranger than when living with a friend. A friend will probably come into the living room, leap onto the couch, and want to watch movies and series with you. On the other hand, a stranger will probably give you your space and leave you to your “alone time” when you need it. 

11. With friends, the concept of “familiarity breeds contempt” comes into play.

We are friends with people because of the various things we like about them. We don’t get to see certain elements of our friends’ lives, but when you live with them, there’s a risk that you might find out things you don’t like. Perhaps your friend lives in a dirty manner, eats noisily, or consistently leaves the lights on. Spending a lot of time with that said friend could cause frustration levels to rise. 

12. When living with friends, you are always on entertainment duty. 

After a long day at work, you might want to get home, grab a glass of wine, and simply relax without having to be actively involved in entertaining or talking to your housemate. When you live with a friend, the friend might take it personally if you aren’t too keen to chat and be jovial. A stranger, however, will know that there’s a time and place and generally give you your space. 

13. You might end up paying more than your fair share (either with a stranger or a friend)

Something to keep in mind is that it doesn’t matter who you move in with; you stand to end up paying more than anticipated. A friend might take advantage or run into financial issues, just like a stranger might. You could find that the electricity bill is significantly increased because your housemate sleeps with the light on or consistently runs the AC. You might find that your housemate eats your groceries without replacing them. It’s not about whom you live with, but more about the boundaries and rules you set in place. 

14. Living with friends imposes social obligations, whereas living with strangers doesn’t.

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If you choose to live with a stranger, you aren’t obligated to go out for dinner, attend events you are invited to, or be readily available. When living with friends, there is an unspoken obligation to be available for socializing. If you turn down an invite to go out for dinner or drinks at the bar, it might not go down well with a friend. Friends tend to take that sort of “rejection” personally. 

15. Living with a stranger could end up dangerous.

You never really know what you are getting when you choose to live with a stranger. Perhaps the stranger looks good on paper, but how much can you really uncover about a person if they want to hide something from you. Your new housemate could be a criminal or might one day put your life in danger (that’s what happens in the horror movies, at least!).

All in all

Living with a stranger and living with a friend both come with pros and cons. You really need to take into account what is important to you and how you want your home life to be. Consider the above pointers and make the choice that’s right for you.

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This article was co-authored by our team of in-house and freelance writers, and reviewed by our editors, who share their experiences and knowledge about the "Seven F's of Life".

JC Franco
Editor | + posts

JC Franco is a New York-based editor for Lifevif. He covers topics like spirituality, philosophy, finance, sports, games, and food. JC earned a Bachelor’s degree in Business with a Marketing Concentration at Mercyhurst University. He is a certified USPTA professional who teaches tennis in the New York City Metropolitan area. He has passed the Level I exam of the CFA program.