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Living alone's not so great right now

Reihan Salam

TEXT OF COMMENTARY

Scott Jagow: It's a right of passage growing up -- you move away from mom and dad, then you leave the college roommates and couch potatoes behind and get your own place.

Commentator Reihan Salam is finally living alone, but he thinks maybe he moved too soon.


Reihan Salam: About a year after graduating from college, I moved back in with my parents for a few months while I pounded the pavement in search of a new job. Though I eventually moved out, I must admit, I kind of liked it -- particularly the home cooking.

Later on, when I moved down to Washington, D.C., I wound up in a group house with some close friends. Living with friends was a lot like living with my folks. We'd occasionally share meals, and we'd bond during Werner Herzog movie marathons. We also threw massive, boozy parties, which my parents would probably have frowned upon. Overall, it was pretty great. But even so, I've just moved into my own one-bedroom apartment.

So why did I move? I guess I felt it was finally time to grow up. But maybe growing up isn't all it's cracked up to be. For one thing, I'll have to shell out lots of cash to make my new apartment look remotely civilized because, apart from towering piles of books and clothes, the only furniture I own is a single chair. And who can blame me -- do you have any idea how much a bed costs? I think I'm going to sleep in a huge pillow fort instead.

Then there's the environmental impact. A pair of Michigan State scholars found that divorced families used 73 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity and 627 billion gallons of water more than they would have had they stayed together.

Now, moving to an apartment of my own isn't exactly like getting divorced, though I did have a big custody battle with my former roommate over that favorite chair of mine. But it's pretty much the same in terms of its environmental effect.

So is single urban living dead? Well, we're already seeing more adults living with their parents. Ritzy apartment buildings are offering more shared spaces for people to socialize. We're even seeing old-school communes make a comeback. And the rising cost of energy and housing in our most desirable cities doesn't help. It's enough to make even the most plucky individualist want to crawl back into the womb.

Now if only my mom and dad hadn't rented out my room.

Scott Jagow: Reihan Salam is the co-author of the book "Grand New Party: How Republicans Can Win the Working Class and Save the American Dream."

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Reihan, I sympathize with your furniture plight as a single resident. I have just one word for you: Craigslist! I sealed a deal whereby a fellow shopper paid me $100 not to buy the sofa I'd put a deposit on, threw in the 2 chairs that came with it and had everything delivered!

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