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Is Your Ideal Living Situation Different at Different Points in Your Life?

Are your life stages marked by different living arrangements?

I love living alone. Not since I had the requisite roommate in college (and a wonderful one at that) have I shared a residence for more than a few months with another person. If I'm lucky - that is, if I stay physically, emotionally, and financially healthy - I will live in my own place for the rest of my life.

But I did enjoy that time I spent with my Vassar roommate. Then there was graduate school. In my first year, I lived in a dorm. I had my own room, but outside my door, in the same hallway, was a person who would become a lifelong friend and another person I'd lose track of for a while but who is now living nearby. We are friends again. Somehow, having your own space, but with important friends just down the hall, is a different sort of living arrangement than living alone in a freestanding home (my current situation).

So here's my question: Is the living arrangement that works best for you something different at different times in your life?

Today in the opinion pages of the New York Times is a "Room for Debate" discussion on the themes of Eric Klinenberg's new Going Solo book (which we've discussed here, here, and here) as well as an essay published previously in the Times, "Alone again, naturally," by Dominique Browning. I was one of the contributors to the "Room for Debate" discussion. You can read my essay, "A new American experiment," here. I'll discuss that theme in a future post.

The topic of today's post comes from Kate Bolick's essay in the "Room for Debate" discussion. (Kate Bolick is the person who wrote that Atlantic cover story, "All the single ladies," that continues to generate attention all these months later. We discussed it here, here, and here.) Here are some excerpts:

"Last winter I took up temporary residence with a married couple - friends of friends - in their two-story Tudor in Los Angeles. It was a short-term plan: I'd stay there intermittently for two months, when work wasn't keeping me in New York, just for a break, a change of scene. They lived upstairs, I lived downstairs, and we shared the kitchen and public spaces, including a backyard and pool.

"Somehow two months turned into four, and then nine - we all liked it so much we kept it up for a year. I'd been living alone in Brooklyn for a decade, and now I was paying rent for some strange version of sexless, domestic polygamy. What had come over me?

"...Each model, with all its blessings and curses, seems inexorably linked with a life stage, as if there is one best way to be at any given point in time."

So what do you think? In your own life, have you found that different ways of living seemed best at different times? Are there patterns (maybe when we are younger, we like having more people around?) or is it all a matter of individual preferences?

WHAT IS YOUR LIVING SITUATION? Share your experiences in this survey:

[NOTES: (1) If you are not a regular reader of "All Things Single (and More)" or the "Single with Attitude" site, you may have missed a cool infographic that a UK group designed for me after I sent them the relevant data. It shows the contrast between the rise of single people in the U.S. over the past half-century and the second-class status all of those single people still have with regard to benefits and protections. The infographic is here. (2) I just talked for an hour on Advice Goddess Radio with Amy Alkon; the podcast link is here. (3) This Wednesday February 15, I will be on NPR. Ellen McCarthy, who wrote the recent Washington Post Magazine cover story on singles who wanted to marry (discussed here and here), and I will be the guests of Michel Martin in a segment of her "Tell Me More" show.]