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Just How Many CPA Roommates Can You Fit In a Single Apartment?

Ed. note: alert the sharks, there's new blood in the water! Awhile back, we put out a call for writers. Leona answered the call, was loved in Open Items and ambitious to get started on ruining her professional reputation by associating with us. Please give her a warm GC welcome, we'll have a proper bio up for her once we complete the requisite tax forms and blood oath ritual to which all contributors must submit.

How many CPAs live with roommates? This happens a lot, even in a place like Detroit, where the cost of living is relatively cheap and affordable. If the city weren’t completely bankrupt, I’d suggest that the city of Detroit pay me to live here, but eh, I know it has other bills to pay first.

People at the senior level and below, and sometimes even managers, bunk together – even sharing rooms – to save a couple of bucks on rent. I know that everyone starts together and that they’re all usually around the same age, so public accounting serves in some cases as an extended frat party (as anyone who’s ever received an Outlook calendar invite to an office-wide keg race can attest) but still, I always find it a little jarring when my thirty-something manager mentions how he and his roommate are going out for drinks after work. This is not college. This is not NYC or DC where one must bunk with at least 4 other individuals lest you be forced to take the green line from the "affordable" part of town. People in the more expensive cities get a pass on this topic, as the monthly rent on some of those one bedroom apartments costs more than my bi-weekly paycheck. However, it's different when you live in Metro Detroit where rent costs less than a dollar per square foot and you’re shacking up in a house with four of your college buddies doing case races in the basement.

Well, I guess we can just be thankful that it’s not your mother’s basement. We had a new hire at the office proudly proclaim that she was going to live with her parents for “as long as possible.”  Maybe it’s just me, but I have very real nightmares about moving back in with my mother. Just the thought gives me cold chills. 

One coworker lives with three different girls from three different CPA firms. I imagine it’d be hard to escape the shop talk, not to mention insider trading opportunities. I hate talking about work when I’m at work – let alone from the privacy of my own couch.  A home should be an escape from other CPAs – not a nest for them.

I guess I don’t understand this whole “I have a great job with health insurance in a high demand profession in a city where rent is dirt cheap yet I share a house with six other girls” thing – maybe it’s because I’m haunted by the memory of the nocturnal saxophonist roommate that I found on Craigslist three weeks before the start of grad school (protip: never do this). She slept passed out on my couch most nights, slept through multiple alarms (that she set for 11am), and woke up at 4:30pm just in time to roll through the KFC drive thru for a giant bag of crispy wings and a bucket of Mountain Dew. Was listening to repeated saxophone scales at 3am the night before taking AUD really worth saving $350 a month?

But really – why? Are CPAs so buried in student loan debt that we really can’t afford to live independently, or are we just a bunch of cheap fucks? It seems so prevalent in this area – clients and auditors and tax professionals and advisory people – they’re all sharing kitchens and bathrooms and living space with other human beings. For the love of Martha Stewart, why is this happening? I don’t see it among other professions – lawyers don’t generally live with roommates, even the unemployed ones.

Does anyone have any thoughts on why this is a thing? While we're on the subject I just have to ask: if you do live with other CPAs, how do you survive living in a hive of accounting professionals?