AUSTIN, TEXAS — Austin is the ninth best place in the country to have a roommate, according to a recent study.
To live in a thriving city like Austin, it sometimes helps to have a roommate. It can drive down one’s cost of living while making recurring bills — monthly car payments and the like — easier to manage. There are drawbacks too, such as potential conflicts and loss of privacy in sharing one’s intimate living spaces with others.
Either way, MagnifyMoney took a look at the city’s biggest cities in analyzing the best cities in which to have a roommate, and Austin made it to the top ten. The study looked at the nation’s 50 largest metro areas, examining the percentage of housing units with two or more bedrooms and the percentage of adults who have roommates. The website also looked at the economic impact of sharing a home, such as the percentage of median earnings saved by roommates living in a roommate in a two-bedroom apartment.
Overall, here’s how Austin fared:
Final score: 59.Number of adults who have roommates: 8.3 percent.Percentage of housing units with two or more bedrooms: 81.9 percent.Percentage of median earnings saved by living with a roommate: 13.8 percent.Monthly dollar difference between one person in a studio/ 1 bedroom and two people sharing two bedrooms: $458.Percentage of median earnings saved for each additional occupied bedroom: 2.5 percent.Monthly cost savings for each additional occupied bedroom: $82.
Here are other key takeaways from elsewhere in the country:
San Jose, Calif. (better known as the heart of Silicon Valley) earns the no. 1 spot on our list of best places to live with roommates with a final score of 73.4, on a scale of 0 to 100. Rents are high enough to offset the metro’s higher than average incomes and living with roommates is a popular choice. San Jose also topped our list of the biggest millennial boomtowns. Orlando, Fla. comes in second with a final score of 63.6, thanks mostly to low incomes relative to rental prices and a dearth of one-bedroom and studio apartments. The combination of those factors drives renters to seek out home-sharing situations. Washington, D.C. comes in third with a final score of 62.7. Interestingly, the economics of home sharing in The District were better than in Orlando, despite its lower ranking. The monthly cost difference between a single renter in a studio or a one-bedroom unit and two people paying for a two-bedroom unit was $748 in Washington, D.C., compared with $470 in Orlando, according to the findings. That means roommates in D.C. saved 2.4% of their median earnings for each additional occupied bedroom, more than the 1.9% savings that Orlando residents achieved, the study reveals. San Francisco makes the list of better roommate markets, with a score of 56.2. Don’t let its 11th-place finish fool you, however. The returns of roommate living are competitive with top-finisher San Jose. San Francisco roommate renters can save 3.2% of median earnings for every additional occupied bedroom, just behind San Jose. But roommates there save $136 a month for each additional occupied bedroom, the second highest in the study, after San Jose.
In compiling the study, researchers took various factors into account:
The percentage of adults who live with roommates. More people having roommates means that residents think there’s an advantage to it. It also suggests that the market does not present major hurdles to finding future roommates, as life shifts.The percentage of housing units that have at least 2 bedrooms. In some metros, people looking for one-bedroom or studio apartments may have a hard time finding them. Think of Houston, with such a high percentage of housing units that have more than two bedrooms! This housing setup often means that renters face having to pay more for space than they need. The flip side is that more homes with two or more bedrooms make it easier to find shareable living space.The percentage of median earnings that locals can save by evenly splitting the costs of a 2-bedroom instead of renting a 1-bedroom or studio. This is an important metric in the study, because sharing the burden of housing costs is a major motivation for some renters to look for roommates. Rents vary across metros, but so do median earnings; $1,000 rent in one market could be easier to manage in some places than $800 rent is in others. To account for that, we compared the dollar savings of splitting median two-bedroom rent to median earnings.The percentage of median earnings that locals can save by renting more bedrooms to bring in more roommates. This is similar to the metric above, but for this we calculated the average differences between three, four,and five bedroom apartments split between three, four and five roommates. Then we compared that with the cost of a two-bedroom apartment split by two roommates.
The skinny of our findings? Coastal cities, such as Los Angeles, Orlando, Portland and San Diego found themselves at the top of the charts, the study’s authors noted. Perhaps coincidentally, Washington, D.C., and Seattle also topped their list of the best cities for working women.
Read the full study: https://www.magnifymoney.com/blog/strategies-to-save/the-best-and-worst-metros-to-have-roommates/. For those still in their salad years trying before making it big, you may also be interested in MagnifyMoney’s other study on the best places to live when you’re young and broke. Spoiler alert: Austin did not crack the top ten on that list.
>>> Photo by Tony Cantú/Patch staff