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  • 02.23.17

Here’s How Badly You Need A Roommate To Live In Major American Cities

Rent is expensive in major cities, so prepare to live jam-packed with a bunch of other people. But take heart, this chart explains how much you’re saving by sharing a bathroom.

Here’s How Badly You Need A Roommate To Live In Major American Cities
[Photo: Flickr user Valerie Hinojosa]

Having a roommate is not always very fun, but it can save you big bucks. According to property rental and sale site Trulia, a you can save up to $1,000 per month by renting a two-bedroom apartment and splitting the rent, over renting a one-bedroom place. Thanks to its trove of data, Trulia has put together the numbers, telling you how much you can save in various spots around the country.

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The thing you first notice is that renting is really expensive. In San Francisco, a one-bedroom apartment costs around 37% of your monthly income, and down in Miami, that figure rises to as much as 54% (for a typical millennial renter). Millennials have it worse than most, thanks to their lower incomes and their crushing debt.

By sharing, the savings can be big. That Miami millennial could save 18.2% of the “median millennial household income” by sharing a two-bedroom place. In real terms, that means they would save $640 per month. Over in San Francisco, you can save $1,027 per month by sharing. That’s the biggest saving of any city in the Trulia study, but even in Phoenix, Arizona, where a typical renter only spends 17.5% of their income on rent, you can save $302 a month by sharing (the prevailing price for a one-bedroom rental in Phoenix in 2016 was $800).

Those are huge savings. Trulia (which is doing this to promote some new rental tools) also looked at the savings for renting a three-bedroom apartment and splitting the rent three ways, but the reductions start to drop. Finding a suitable person to share your space will always be a risky process, but what if, say, apartments were designed to be shared by roommates rather than by families? If all the rooms had their own bathroom, and bedroom doors were sealed up well enough to keep noise out (and in)? Moreover, what if rental contracts allowed for people to come and go, taking a more modular approach, thus giving room-renters the security of a regular tenant, while protecting the leaseholder, because they won’t be illegally subletting?

Perhaps we need to rethink how we live. House prices continue to climb ever further out of reach, as do rents. But living in a shared apartment can be hell if you end up with incompatible people. Somewhere in there is an opportunity to solve shared housing, and for somebody to make a lot of money doing it.

About the author

Previously found writing at Wired.com, Cult of Mac and Straight No filter.

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