In my case, I have to answer “both.”
It was April 2020. I had been relegated to my parents’ couch since the notorious spring break that turned into a remote semester occurred. I was on track to graduate at the end of that summer, and in the face of looming uncertainty… I decided to go to law school.
Obviously, one of the first things I needed to figure out was housing. I searched forums and blogs, trying to determine if it was recommended that I live alone or save money with roommates.
While opinions were mixed on the roommate debate, I decided that it would probably be best not to live alone due to the inherent isolation of the peak pandemic times. I considered reaching out to other incoming law students, but I decided against it. According to a lot of my research, keeping your home life separate from law school can be invaluable.
First, I did a bit of research to find an apartment complex that fit my price point and needs.
After that, I regularly visited some FSU Student Facebook pages until I found some undergrad upperclassmen who were looking for a fourth roommate at the complex I liked. I messaged back and forth with them for a while, making sure we were on the same page about crucial things like noise level, housework expectations, pets, guests, and drinking/smoking. Once that was in place, I could focus on getting ready for 1L year.
1L year was unlike anything I could have expected. It was mentally exhausting and exciting at the same time. An extremely competitive environment like law school has its own natural challenges when finding supportive and like-minded friends.
It was very nice to have roommates and friends who were completely separate from law school life during that adjustment period. They provided great perspective to me and kept me from feeling that the sun rose and set upon the day’s cold call or upcoming extracurricular tryouts.
But, by the end of that year, I was ready to try living on my own. At that point, I had some friends and classes were back to being in-person, so I knew I wouldn’t be too isolated. It would be nice to have a full fridge to myself and my own space. I was excited to bake cookies in the middle of a late-night study session without bothering anyone.
So, I began hunting for a 1×1. At my father’s advice, I decided on a place that was 15 minutes from school, solidly in the middle of the suburbs, for safety. The price was certainly higher than having roommates, but it was within my budget. I consulted the FSU Budget Worksheet, which provided the expected housing costs for incoming graduate students. Since the price was within the expected housing costs, I knew I was getting a reasonable deal.
While it has certainly been quieter (and at times, lonelier) living alone, it has been nice to decorate a place to my own taste and host nights with my friends whenever I like. I know that if I leave a huge pile of law textbooks and notes on the dining room table, the only person I’ll be annoying is myself.
Ultimately, I would recommend following my example if you’re an independent person who doesn’t want to be too isolated in law school. Choosing to live with people I didn’t know before, as a 1L, was a calculated risk that really paid off. As a 2L, I enjoy having my own space since my social life is more established and being too lonely isn’t as much of a risk.
Law school is a very stressful undertaking and it’s certainly not meant to be done on an island! It’s so important to know yourself and balance your social needs with your desire for privacy. There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to this, but I can guarantee that law school will never be what you expect. One thing I’ve had to learn in law school is that even if you weigh every pro and con beforehand, you can’t actually control what your experience will be like. All you can do is try your best and learn to embrace the challenges that will come your way. Reach out to people when you’re down or feel isolated and lift your classmates up when they seem like something is wrong.