NYC guide: how to find roommates and a place to live with them

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July 3, 2020

Is it better to live alone or with roommates in NYC? We’re here to help you decide if you’re better off solo living or sharing the burden of rent with others.

As of 2018, there were 8,398,748 people living in New York City. Of this population, the median age is 36.9 and a high percentage of the population, 32%, are between the ages of 20-39. NYC’s population is a bit younger compared to the overall median age of the United States population which is 38.2 years. Many New Yorkers are relatively young and live in the city when they are either attending college or even moving there right after they graduate. This means that renting in New York City on their own may not be financially possible.

Even young professionals just starting out in their industry may not be able to afford housing costs depending on which neighborhoods they want to live in. Due to this, it is not uncommon for New Yorkers to have roommates.

In fact, around 40% of adult renters in NYC had roommates in 2017, which is higher than the national average of 30%. This is not a new trend as the amount of adult living with roommates have increased every year in all age brackets. Especially adults between the ages of 23-29 have increased year-over-year faster than any other age bracket and went from 39% in 2005 to 54% in 2017.

Find College Roommates in New York
Find spacious places like that for you and your future roommate

Should you find a roommate?

Is cohabitating right for you and would renting with roommates be a good option for your situation? With rent in NYC being notoriously high, especially in certain sought after neighborhoods like Tribeca, Manhattan, it can be difficult to afford that cost of living on your own. So is it cheaper to live alone or with roommates?

While living with roommates means finding a space with more bedrooms if you don’t want to share one, this could ultimately be cheaper than renting out a studio or one bedroom space on your own. This is because as the number of bedrooms in an apartment goes up, the cost per room generally goes down. Due to this, a two bedroom space can be cheaper than a one bedroom.

For instance, the average rent in 2019 for a one bedroom apartment in the East Village was about $3,473 and for a two bedroom space was $4,590. This means you’ll could save $1,178 a month with the two bedroom apartment. Another example would be in SoHo where the average two bedroom rent was $10,964 and $17,636 for three bedrooms. This equals a savings of $2,146 per month for the three bedroom space.

While this may not be true in every single neighborhood in NYC, it is something you should factor in while looking at prices of neighborhoods you’re interested in. Additionally, another advantage of living with roommates is being able to have company and someone to talk to on a regular basis. If you’re the type of person who enjoys socializing and doesn’t like coming home to an empty apartment, then having a roommate can be great for you.

New York Roommates: Apartment Shares and Rooms for Rent
432 West 52 Street, #4D Hell’s Kitchen, New York

How to find roommates in NYC?

If you’ve determined that you’ll need a roommate in NYC, then there are a few ways you can look for one. The easiest option is to find someone you already know. By living with a friend or someone you’re familiar with, it can make the transition into cohabitation a lot easier. This is because you have already established a level of trust and comfort with one another. While living with a friend can have its cons as you discover each other’s annoying quirks and habits, it is the best first option you have. 

The second option would be to look to your different social networks to see who is also looking for a roommate in NYC. These people can include friends of friends, family, acquaintances, and colleagues. The easiest way to tap into these networks and expand your roommate search would be to either message some friends privately to see if they have any mutuals that could be your future roommate or even post on social media to see if there’s anyone looking to move in NYC.

You can also reach out to specific social groups such as your college alumni groups, associations you’re a part of, or other hobby groups you have in your network.

The last option is to look for a roommate in the unknown such as through Craigslist or roommate matching apps such as Roommatchers and Roomi. While this can be a bit scarier and riskier, it also opens up your roommate options by a lot. If you have no luck finding potential roommates within your friends and social groups, this could be a good option to try. 

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575 West End Avenue, #7D Upper West Side, New York

Determining if a roommate is right for you

Sometimes finding the perfect roommate can be hard to accomplish. While common interests can be an important factor in who you choose to live with, the hard questions and conversations need to be had so you can fully determine if a roommate is right for you. Here are just a few topics you should bring up when talking to potential roommates and see if they meet your minimum roommate expectations:

1. Budget

As uncomfortable as the topic of money and salary is, it is important you make sure both you and your future roommate are able to afford the neighborhood and apartment you’re interested in. It’s a conversation that should come up early on and not an afterthought once you realize your roommate is unable to make that month’s rent. This could mean talking about you and your potential roommate’s job and how much you both make.

2. House rules

Living with another person means there are certain spaces that will be shared, such as the living room, kitchen, and maybe even bathroom. This means discussing your lifestyle habits and how you plan to use those spaces. For instance, maybe your roommate is a musician and prefers to practice in the open space of the living room. That should be something you should be aware of before you move in so it doesn’t cause potential conflict.

3. Cleanliness

What is your definition of clean compared to your future roommate’s definition? Do they match up or will there be an issue of one person not keeping things as clean as the other would life? Additionally, how are you going to be cleaning the common areas? Are you going to utilize a cleaning service or will one of you go out to buy cleaning products and switch off cleaning weeks?

4. Lifestyle

How is your lifestyle compared to your future roommates and do they conflict with each other? For instance, if you have to get up early every day for work but your roommate is a night owl who likes to have people over, then that might cause an issue.

5. Guest policy

Who is allowed over and are there people in your or your roommate’s life that will be a constant guest in the apartment? Or maybe a rule needs to be in place where one person will ask another if it’s okay to have people come over on a certain day.

6. Substance policy

What are both your views on alcohol, drugs, and cigarettes? If they’re a deal breaker for you or your future roommate, then it is important you both talk about the things you are comfortable with and the things you aren’t. This is especially important as the habits if your roommate can affect you and your overall living situation.

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1474 3 Avenue, #15S Upper East Side, New York

How to negotiate with roommates

Once you’ve talked about all the harder questions we just talked about and found the right roommate for you, the negotiations are not quite over yet. There are still a few things you both need to establish before signing the lease and moving in together.

First, talk about who will be on the lease and how the rent and other housing costs should be split between the two of you. Second, who will set up the utility accounts such as the internet, electricity, and gas. Then how will the other pay their share of the utility bills each month?

A few other things you and your roommate should touch upon are rules for the common spaces such as whether groceries and food should be shared or if you purchase your own. Also other responsibilities like cleaning and throwing out the trash should be talked about and a schedule can even be created where the two of you switch off weekly.

Have these types of conversation early on and establishing rules of living can make the transition of living together that much easier. You both can spend time getting to know each other once expectations for each other are clear and open communication is established.

The type of apartment you’ll need when living with roommates

The purpose of having roommates is to maximize cost efficiency, but not to the point of being stressed about your living situation and small spaces. This means splitting the burden of rent and utilities while still being able to live comfortably. So it wouldn’t be wise to rent a space with three bedrooms and only one bathroom. If you’re looking for the perfect apartment for you and your roommates, there are plenty of 2,3 and even 4 bedroom spaces in popular neighborhoods that can be great options:

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Want to live with roommates but in style? Check out the most luxury apartments in NYC

So is it better to live with roommates? With the high demand for housing and increasing housing costs in NYC, it may be a good idea to find roommates to split the financial burden. It can even be a good idea to have roommates so you are able to save up for the future and your ultimate dream neighborhood and apartment.

If you and your roommates are apartment hunting for the perfect space, Localize has many listings available in all five boroughs. Our search filters and insights will help you find the perfect space with all the needed amenities for you and your roommates!

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