After tearful talks with several friends last night, I have decided to bite the bullet and ask my friend that I've been staying with for the past few months if she would be willing to let me stay longer if I start paying rent to her, now that I'm employed.
Short refresher on backstory: I'm in college, I was living with a family member who turned out to have a severe drug and alcohol problem. I left there in the middle of the semester for safety reasons. It was scary as hell, but my friend's older sister stepped up and offered me an empty room in her duplex, since she's rarely home anyway. She works long hours and has a boyfriend she stays with several nights a week. She has never accepted money from me, despite me offering on a number of occasions. So, I try to keep the place clean, watch the house while she's out, and take care of her cat in return.
Right after I finished school last semester, I had oral surgery, then jumped on my job hunt once i healed. I got a job at Starbucks about three weeks ago, my first full paycheck arrives the week after next. Since becoming employed I've been house hunting like crazy, but everywhere I have been is either 1. Setting off alarm bells as far as being a shady/unstable situation 2. Way out of my price range or 3. Something I don't qualify for financially with my low income. I've met two people in the past week, uploaded my room wanted ad four times, posted stuff on Facebook on my work group page as well as my personal page and volunteer group page, and looked at 5 or 6 apartments, and nothing seems like such a good idea so far.
I've honestly been giving myself fits just worrying about this. I've had so many crappy housing arrangements in the past because I just jumped into things before really knowing the people well, and I don't want to do that again. I'm also scared of financially screwing myself by trying to stretch my funds for a one bedroom place. That and, as I've said before, my credit is in rough shape. No money + poor credit = doesn't look great on any rental application.
Anyway, I'm piss in my pants terrified to bring this up, because I absolutely loathe rejection and I'm horrified that I'm already in her way, but I feel like I owe it to myself to at least ask. I feel safe where I am now, and after all the trauma I dealt with last year, that's a huge deal. I don't want to uproot my life again. I don't want to take another crap shoot by living with a stranger. If I can make this mutually beneficial and offer to pay rent, split utilities, and clean the house on the weeks the house cleaner doesn't come....maybe there's a good chance this will work out. I don't know. I really hope so. :/