Is it worth it to live with a roommate? - Roost
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Is it worth it to live with a roommate?

Pros and cons of having a roommate

There are milestones that we look forward to in our lives: graduating high school, getting a good job, and living on our own.  However, rent is expensive and as most of us are working towards paying student loan debts, saving towards a bigger goal (like a house), or just trying to make ends meet.  So inevitably, we ask ourselves… “Do I need a roommate? Is it worth it to live with a roommate?”

There are a lot of other factors that should go into determining whether or not you need a roommate than just financial ones. It can be a complicated calculation, but we’re here to help. Read on to see the pros and cons of having a roommate.

The pros of getting a roommate

Share the rent

Rent can be expensive, especially if you want to live in a city, a great neighborhood, or if you want a large place, or maybe all three!

Money can be especially tight if you are working minimum wage jobs or just starting out in your career. Having a roommate to split your rent with goes a long way toward easing financial stress and can help you do other things with your money like:

  • Save for retirement
  • Save for a house
  • Keep yourself from being reliant on credit cards
  • Pay down student loans or other debt
  • Or being able to afford stuff that want like the new I-phone that just came out!

You should strive to pay no more than 30% of your total income towards rent.

Share the bills

Utility bills are expensive and only getting more expensive. Average utility bills include:

  • Electricity
  • Heat
  • Internet bills
  • Water
  • Garbage
  • Cable

According to move.org the average renter should plan to spend a whopping $240 a month in utility bills.

Although having a roommate will mean you use more of things like electricity the overall savings should be much greater. Read up on how to share expenses with roommates.

Roommates are practically a must in unaffordable cities

If you want to live in a major metropolitan city, then a roommate (or two) may be a requirement just to get by.  Here’s a list of seven top cities comparing — living by yourself in a one bedroom — to living with a roommate in a two bedroom and splitting the rent 50-50. 

1 bedroom median rent no roommate2 – bedroom median rent no roommate2 bedroom w/Roomate (Assume 50% savings)Monthly rent savings compared: Renting a 1 bedroom by yourself vs. a 2 bedroom w/a roommate
San Francisco$3,384$4,417$2,209-$1,176
San Jose$2,613$3,229$1,615-$999
Seattle$1,985$2,749$1,375-$611
Los Angeles$2,408$3,127$1,564-$845
Chicago$1,748$2,303$1,152-$597
New York$4,284$4,265$2,133-$2,152
Washington DC $2,126$2,837$1,419-$708

Source: Rent Jungle, Zillow, Zumper and Apartments.com

Share the house work (ahem, apartment work)

The joy of sharing chores cannot be undervalued. Take the humdrum out cleaning by splitting stuff like:

  • Scrubbing the bathroom
  • Mopping the floors
  • Vacuuming the rugs
  • Taking out the garbage and recycling
  • Dusting
  • Cleaning the oven

However, how you choose to split up chores should definitely be outlined in a roommate agreement before you even move in together to avoid friction.

Roost Tip! Don’t make dish washing a shared chore because inevitably one person will do the dishes and one will be very lazy about it. Each person should be responsible for their own kitchen messes as they happen, not days afterwards.

And remember, double the people, double the mess so really do a deep dive on yourself. How much of a neat freak are you? If you follow people from room to room and steal their half finished drinks so you can wash the glass – roommates not be your bag o’ stuff. (This is a true story by the way, this happened to one of us here at Team Roost!)

Share the fun?

Ok, we’ll be honest. In this case, your mileage may vary. Sometimes, getting a roommate is like having a business partner: you agree on the finances, help each other where required, and then stay out of each other’s way. But in some cases, having a roommate can be like having a friend right there in your own home.

Note: for the purpose of this article, we’ll be talking about roommates who aren’t romantic partners. Living with your partner is certainly an option for many people, but that arrangement comes with a whole different set of pros and cons, and we won’t going there.

Suffice it to say, having a roommate can be fun, given the right circumstances. A study in the journal Developmental Psychology found that loneliness rises throughout our 20s, peaking just before we reach age 30.

Living alone can compound this feeling of isolation, so having a roommate to watch TV and eat meals with, throw parties, celebrate holidays and just generally pal around with can be a whole lot of fun.

Cons to living with a roommate

While having a roommate can save you money (and sometimes be fun. Sometimes.), we know that it’s not all rosy. Having someone else living in your apartment can cramp your space — and your style. Here are some of the biggest drawbacks of having a roommate:

Chores

Sharing chores can be a pro or a con with roommates because if either of you don’t actually help do the chores then it’s going to be a friction point. Especially if things build up into the “if you aren’t doing it I won’t do it” war – it can escalate to a whole lot of dirtiness and clutter that will a take a week to clean before mom comes to visit.

Different sleep schedules

If you go to bed early because you have to get up early for work and your roommate likes to stay up all night partying with friends you’re going to have problems. Or, if your roommate works all night and sleeps all day and expects total quiet during the day you’re gonna have problems.

Different life styles

If you’re a drummer living the rock and roll dream life and your roommate is the conservative, non-drinking, quiet type you aren’t going to get along very well. Noise, frequent guests, live-in significant others, etc. are all things to consider before agreeing to move in with someone.

Privacy concerns

You may like your roommate but maybe you like your me time too. Make sure you have an understanding with your roomie that just because your home means that you want to socialize. When your bedroom door is closed so is the store!

Common space issues

Common spaces like bathrooms, living rooms, and kitchens can be sources of tension for a variety of reasons. Here are some of the common ones:

  • Trying to cook meals at the same time (unless you are sharing a meal of course)
  • Similar schedules that cause clashes with bathroom time when trying to get ready for work or bed
  • Fighting over what to watch on the big TV in the main room
  • Who gets prime real estate use of precious shower shelves?
  • Is one of you constantly taking up more room in the fridge or freezer than they should?

Financial reliability

One of the biggest reasons to have a roommate is to share the rent so if your roommate is not being reliable in this sense they are lacking in the biggest reason they are there anyways. Clues your roommate is causing you financial stress:

  • Often having to cover the rent or utility payments for them
  • Making you be responsible for making sure all the shared payments are being paid on time
  • Forcing you to constantly bug them to reimburse you for shared payments
  • They try to borrow money from you regularly

This type of behavior, aside from not doing their dang dishes can be some of the biggest sources of friction in the roomie relationship.

Communication is the key to a good roommate relationship

Communicate about expectations about money, bills, chores, friends, significant others, food sharing, you get the point. Put it in a roommate agreement and stick to it. And if something bothers you, do yourself and your roommate a favor and communicate the issue as respectfully as you can because passive aggressive behavior (like slamming doors to show that the plugged sink drain is really making you so angry! grrrrr) is not communication at all, it’s just unhappiness.

You can never be 100% certain how any roommate will work out until you try them on. But there is one thing we know for sure, excellent communication with your roommate is essential for a successful living situation.

And who knows, maybe you’ll end up meeting the Chandler Bing to your Joey Tribbiani!

A quick note! Our goal is to gather and share info that’s up-to-date and helps you make great decisions as a renter. That said, the information you get directly from a provider could be a little different. Make sure to review their terms and conditions directly; and, if you see anything here that needs to be updated, please let us know! Advertising disclosure
Last Updated: May 17th, 2022