Adults With Roommates At Highest Level In Decades

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Above Photo: With rents jumping in many major cities, the number of single adults in America living “doubled-up” with roommates is at its highest since at least 1990.

SEATTLE — Having a roommate as an adult may be fairly common in the first years out of college, but more older, single Americans are opting against living alone. In fact, one-third of adults now live with roommates, a byproduct of rising rents, a new study finds.

Researchers at Zillow, an online real estate database, analyzed figures from a 2016 U.S. Census Bureau survey and recently interviewed more than 13,000 Americans, asking them about their experiences with renting and homeownership.

One component of their inquiry looked at doubled-up households, which are those in which two or more working-aged adults — none of whom are romantically involved — live together.

Since the late 1990s, the share of doubled-up residences across the U.S. has increased by nearly 10 percent, their analysis showed — from 23 percent of households to today’s figure.

The researchers were able to clearly link the increase in shared homes with ballooning rental rates.

As a rule of thumb, those making the national median income should save about 30 percent of their earnings for rent, but this ratio is hard to achieve in some major markets, they explain.

In Los Angeles, for instance, the average renter needs to contribute nearly half of their income toward their lease, with San Francisco not far behind (42 percent).

“As rents have outpaced incomes, living alone is no longer an option for many working-aged adults,” says Aaron Terrazas, a senior economist at Zillow, in a press release. “By sharing a room with roommates— or in some cases, with adult parents— working adults are able to afford to live in more desirable neighborhoods without shouldering the full cost alone.”

“This phenomenon is not limited to expensive cities,” he adds. “The share of adults living with roommates has been on the rise in historically more affordable rental markets as well. Unless current dynamics shift and income growth exceeds rent growth for a sustained period of time, this trend is unlikely to change.”

Still, the more expensive an area’s rent, the more likely multiple individuals will live together, the researchers note.

Additional data from the survey showed that rent increases were the largest catalyst for changing addresses, with movers’ biggest priority being that their new place fit their budget.

The share of adults having roommates was at its highest since the company began reviewing figures dating back to 1990.

Zillow’s data was collected from adults, aged 23 to 65, living in the nation’s largest metropolitan areas in October.

  • rgaura

    This could be a positive trend for mental and social health. The historic devaluation of family, the broken homes and overvaluation of individuality have led to alienation and mental health issues. Many are re weaving the social fabric and creating `family´ from peer groups and friendship. It is not only unhealthy, but wasteful for every adult to maintain a home, with all of the associated machines and conveniences.

  • Defen Estrange

    Do you have any actual experience living with others in cooperative house-sharing? The theory is great–two or more people live together sharing expenses and responsibilities without violating contractual agreements, without leaving candles burning in their locked rooms, without providing house keys to their thieving, dope-dealing friends–without killing each other in their sleep, etc. It doesn’t always work out. “Family”–?–you’re likely to find you have to contend intimately with all of your housemate’s actual relatives, exes, creditors, anyone they might bring home. Your liabilities, exposure, and insecurity will be multiplied–you’ll need to buy insurance. After a couple of experiences that ended up costing me thousands of dollars, physical injury, and other cascading losses that nearly cost me my home and life, I currently live alone in a large three-bedroom house. Rent and utilities take 100 percent of my cash income, leaving me food stamps and whatever I can find in dumpsters to live on, but this is far cheaper, much less wasteful, infinitely more secure, and entirely without toxic relationship stress and its attendant “alienation and mental (and physical)l health issues.” I have no chance of saving the thousands of dollars that would be required to move elsewhere–nothing would be cheaper and no one would rent to me. When I lose this I’ll have a storage space and live on the street–I’m just putting it off as long as possible.

  • rgaura

    You have had some horrific experiences, and I am so sorry. I´v had a few weirdos but nothing like that. I currently live in a small Mexican town in Jalisco in order to keep a roof over the heads of myself and my son with Down´s Syndrome. Lots of 3 generation households here. It works in so well in so many ways to fill real human needs. I probably would not share a household with anyone without a spiritual practice, and serious sense of ethics. Keep the faith, keep putting out love and respect, and it will come back to you. My sincere best wishes, Defen.