I consider myself lucky. With the ongoing housing crisis, not to mention the actual pandemic, I didn’t initially have much hope of finding a good place to live after my contract with SSH ran out. So I was beyond grateful to end up in a house with three of my friends, in a neighborhood as safe as can be, paying a rent that’s even lower than before.
Still, all things considered, there are some major differences from what I’ve known at SSH. I may not have fully moved in – I’m quite notably lacking a bed in my bedroom, and, even more notably, there’s one in my living room – but I can already feel some of them greatly.
First of all, the scope of the community at hand is so much smaller. I’m used to being able to walk by the couches or into the kitchen and almost being guaranteed to run into somebody to talk to. Similarly, whether I wanted it or not, there was a party almost every Friday, right outside my door.
I may see myself as an introvert, but the ability to so easily join something like that whenever I was in the mood was addicting. It wasn’t long before I started thinking of the days where dinner didn’t end up with a large group hangout lasting several hours, usually until it was time to go to bed, to be lacking something important.
In comparison, my new house feels almost empty. It’s the same people I can expect to meet every day – and given that two of my new housemates haven’t moved in yet, it’s really just the one person. While this is sure to improve when they also get settled, it’s still a great change from having dozens of people to talk to on a regular basis.
But that also means that I’m bound to actually like the people I meet in my house. If you’ve ever lived at a boarding school or a student housing, then you’re bound to know what it feels like to have to live with people you don’t feel comfortable around, or perhaps don’t even like.
You don’t even have to know them that personally for them to have a presence worth feeling; it can be those idiots you know have a habit of running loudly in the hallways late at night. Maybe it’s those who leave spots and pieces of old food all around the kitchen, making it an utterly disgusting mess. Or it could be those people who look at you weirdly and whisper while you’re minding your own business, studying on the ping pong table.
Alright, that last one might be justified, but the annoyance and, most importantly, the feeling that you have little to no control or say in what happens in your own home is still very prevalent. But living on your own – even with others, as long as it’s people you feel comfortable with and can talk to – changes that. It gives you a sense of freedom and peace that is almost nonexistent in a student housing such as SSH.
When moving into my new house, I’ve learned to greatly appreciate this freedom. My housemate and I have been working on how to improve our new house ever since moving in, with new furniture being bought or painted or moved almost daily. It helps create a feeling of belonging that not even a year with SSH could achieve, as homely as that felt. So while I’ll look back on that year with fondness, it’s a surprising relief to have moved out and into something of my own.