ROOM FOR MORE ROOMIES?
I've rented big houses for decades. Unless you have sleep dysfunction, roomies is the way to afford them. Two people renting an old cottage, spending $500 each works. Three in a family ranch house, 3 bdrms, 500$ Share utilities unless one of you has a PRIUS getting battery loaded nitely.
The trick is to find the roomie who's right for you. A single mother with children should pair with another mother with children. A bachelor male with another bachelor --as there are too many problems with attempting to let a single mother with children into a male space!
"Kate Duyn spent her freshman year of college living with six roommates
in a tumbledown house, with dishes in the sink and pot growing in the
attic*. "It was totally new and totally crazy," she recalls. "Definitely a lot
of fun." (*only way six people can be laid back enough to tolerate that
After graduation, she moved to San Francisco, where she spent the next
three years sharing various apartments, lofts and houses with her
boyfriend and a collection of other roommates. She tended bar, waited
tables and booked bands at a club, but never made quite enough to afford
a place of her own.
In her mid-20s, after spending four months traveling through Europe, she
landed in New York. For six months, she sublet an apartment from a
friend, a cheap studio in Spanish Harlem.
"It was awesome," she recalls. "Of course, at that point I had no idea
how good I had it. I only wish I could get those six months back again."
Then it was back to a tiny apartment, this time shared with her
boyfriend and another roommate. When they broke up she moved out,
heading downtown to hook up with yet another roomie, a friend of a
friend, who was thankfully easygoing and out of the house a good portion
of the time.
When Duyn's boyfriend moved from Chicago, the three of them lived
together for a few months. Then it was something reasonably adult, just
the couple together in their own apartment, until they broke up but
continued living together until he arranged to move into his brother's
Now, 11 years after graduating college, Duyn is back in San Francisco
with another roommate, another friend of friend who she met days before
he moved in and who periodically doesn't come up with the rent.
"It's not so fun anymore," says Duyn, 33. "I'm ready to be an adult now.
I'm at the age where I should be taking care of a partner or a child,
not some stranger I just met a few months ago."
For young college graduates who go into lower-paying fields like
education, nonprofits or the arts, an existence like Duyn's has become a
fact of life. They finish school, move to big cities, hook up with
roommates and eight, 10, 15 years later, nothing's changed.
For many urban professionals -- despite having a good job and a college
education -- the American dream has been seriously downsized. Instead of
hungering for the house with the white picket fence, they fantasize of
one day renting an apartment with no one else's milk in their fridge.
"It's hard not to ask the question," says Duyn, who now works as a yoga
teacher with hopes of one day opening her own studio, "will I have
roommates for the rest of my life?"
For those in Duyn's position -- working in lower-paying fields and
living in urban centers -- the answer is a qualified yes. Buying a home
of one's own remains a distant dream. The housing market may have
softened with the economic crisis, but so have paychecks and employment
rates, never mind the fact that it's now as hard to get a mortgage as it
was easy this time last year.
And although rents may no longer be skyrocketing, in many cities, the
downward adjustment in rentals hasn't been nearly as dramatic as the
housing side. As of the third quarter of 2008, though the nationwide
trend was a 6.1 percent increase in apartment vacancies, the market
remained tight in major cities, including New York, San Francisco,
Denver, Minneapolis and San Diego.
Marketwide for Manhattan, the average rent for a studio was $1,814; a
one-bedroom, $2,513; a two-bedroom, $3,531; and three-bedroom, $4,692.
In San Francisco, experts predict that "effective" rents -- which take
landlord concessions, such as a free month's rent, into consideration --
will rise 3.3 percent to $1,897 a month by year's end, with asking rents
rising 3.5 percent to $2,002 a month.
Such steep prices coupled with stagnating salaries means roommate-dom is
hardly confined to the fresh-out-of-college set. A quick scan of
Craigslist in major cities reveals numerous roommate seekers --
homeowners hoping to ease the mortgage, or renters needing someone to
split costs -- who are well into their 30s and 40s.
According to Ron Goeken, a historical demographer with the Minnesota
Population Center, the rise of the roommate in America is a relatively
new phenomenon. Look back 150 years, and people had far more limited
choices when it came to living with anyone other than relatives.
You found boardinghouses and employees -- such as farm workers and
domestic servants -- who resided with their employers. Cooking was a
major impediment to living on one's own, since preparing meals in those
days of wood-fired stoves tended to be an all-day affair. If you worked
full time, you needed to pay someone to take care of you.
According to census data, roommates were almost nonexistent before the
1960s. But, with the post-World War II boom in apartment building, and
the advent of the frozen dinner, that "other" census category that
encompassed roommates began to swell.
By 1980, the Census Bureau had separate categories for
roommates/housemates and unmarried partners. Such living situations
brought added autonomy. No longer were single people subject to the
house rules often attached to hotels and boardinghouses. And we can all
appreciate the perks of not living with your boss.
In addition, in the past, the majority of people living independently
were men with few possessions, busily saving toward marriage and a home.
But in the past 20 to 30 years, with the surge of women entering the
workplace, the rising age of marriage and the shortage of affordable
housing, the advent of the roommate has filled an essential niche, not
just for those right out of school, but for urban professionals of all
So is a long life with roomie a positive or negative development? Goeken
is reluctant to commit either way.
"I think that people preferred not to have the restrictions and privacy
issues attached to living in others' houses," he offers. "Sure, it would
be nice if we could all live according to our desires, but the fact is
economics will never not be a concern."
Given the historical context, living with a roommate can begin to feel
like a pretty decent option. It certainly beats being a domestic
servant. Having a roommate can teach valuable lessons about sharing
space. Plus a roommate can provide companionship for those of us who are
still single in the lonely big city.
But at what point does having a roommate contribute to the fact that
we're still single and lonely? It's all too easy to get stuck in that
twentysomething, no plans, no worries, no furniture kind of lifestyle.
The one where you go out for beers with your buddies every Friday night,
crash on your futon and never get around to saving for retirement or
contemplating a more permanent relationship.
It can be hard to cultivate intimacy with someone when there's a third
party on the couch watching Jon Stewart. By our 30s and 40s, many of us
are looking for either independence or intimacy instead of some limbo
between the two. Our minds may be telling us it's time to move out of
the dorm and contemplate taking on broader social and economic
responsibilities, but our bank accounts have other ideas.
"There are certainly benefits to having roommates," says Joy Delp, 37, a
New Yorker who has lived with roommates -- including friends, strangers,
coworkers and an ex-boyfriend -- since graduating from college. "It's
nice knowing you won't have to go home to an empty space. But at the
same time, I find the prospect that I could be 40 and still living with
roommates incredibly depressing. It feels like failure not to be in the
kind of relationship that you can move forward and not to be able afford
to live on my own."
Although living with roommates into adulthood may clash with our sense
of financial entitlement, particularly for members of the educated,
professional, middle class, it's become a reality of urban life that
doesn't seem destined to disappear any time soon. We're living in a time
of extremely strained resources, economic and otherwise.
The American dream is undergoing a seismic shift and our expectations
about how we can and should occupy space will have to change right along
WHEN BAD ROOMIES HAPPEN TO GOOD PEOPLE
"I moved in with my good friend (I THOUGHT!) Christine, about a year ago, not realizing quite what kind of a person she is. Since she goes to a different school and had to move in before my lease was up, she offered to pay the entire first month's rent, because I had REPEATEDLY told her this situation wasn't going to work out if I was going to have to pay rent on both my current place and my new place. We agreed that she would have the bigger room, because she told me she was bringing a king size bed...she brought the double. We also agreed that she could supply all the living room furniture-despite my offering to bring mine-she wanted hers because it was "nicer." She also filled up the entire kitchen with her supplies so if I had wanted to bring some of my own, I had nowhere to put them. (This landlord gal didn't realize she had put her own back against a wall in more ways than one. She had picked a dominant girl, not a cooperator. And by letting Christine set standards, she had tilted the playing field in the other girl's favor. The other girl was already dominant but the landlady had handed her the dominant role especially in respect to possesion of all the furniture, so that Christine's abrupt leaving would leave the landlady in an empty home, but worse things happened in that respect. Read on.)
"Since then Christine has been a complete slob, has her boyfriend over ALL the time, and moved in her cats for 8 months when she told me they would only be there for 2-3. (HUH? Nobody makes their own babies disappear at a roomie's whim. You knew that wasn't going to happen!) Furthermore, she (and her boyfriend) would consistently leave the front door unlocked, leaving both of us and our belongings unsafe. Whenever I had an issue with her, I would simply write her a note, asking her to discontinue the behavior. She finally told me she was sick of me leaving notes, and would rather have me confront her about it. I asked her to be cleaner and to lock the door and this lasted for about a week, and then she continued to do these things.
She also left me notes during this time, even though this was the behavior she had asked me to end. Since then we had an enormous argument because I told her I wasn't resigning the lease with her, and at the time didn't have time to sit down and discuss with her. She called me up yelling because I wouldn't abandon my friends who were over to sit down and explain to her why I wasn't resigning the lease. I finally lost my temper and told her why, and we stopped speaking for about 2 weeks (nothing changed during the time that we weren't speaking. Her cats were still there as well as her boyfriend and she continued to be a slob). We finally talked about things and she brought up that she was angry I hadn't paid the first month's rent-despite the fact that I had repeatedly reminded her when we were looking for places I could not have a May lease. So we talked and made up and not 2 days later she left the door unlocked AGAIN. I was furious and wrote her a letter saying that at this point I didn't have anything else to say but that I was sick of the inconsiderateness and irresponsibility she had been continuing the entire year. There was no profanity used. She called me up and left me a message using a lot of profanity and saying that she didn't leave the door unlocked and that it was probably me because I was intoxicated all the time. While I do like to go out one or two nites a weekend, the statement that I am intoxicated ALL THE TIME, is entirely incorrect and the fact that I am completely organized with a job, a 3.3 GPA, and am in a business frat would suggest otherwise. We stopped speaking for a while, her continually slamming doors and acting snottily to my friends, while I just completely ignored her and tried to be "above" the situation. The other nite she came home and looking back was obviously trying to start a fight with me. She came in, slammed the door, and turned up her music extremely loud so that I couldn't hear the TV. About 5 minutes later I turned up the volume on the TV so that I could hear over her music, and without saying a word to me she walked over and turned it down. Finally getting sick of the situation I said excuse me I was watching that. She began to yell and use profanity saying that she had to make a phone call and when I asked why she didn't turn her music down as well she just started screaming. She told me to get off of her couch that I was disrespectful to her things, and started pushing my stuff off of the couch. I said fine and said well don't put your stuff on my trunk, and threw her books to the side. She then took all of my belongings and threw them all over the living room. She then told me to get off of her couch (which is in our communal living space) and that I couldn't watch her TV. When I asked that she move it aside so that I could move mine there, she said she would cancel the cable (which I am fine with I don't watch TV very often anyways and did not have cable last year). This argument continued on her saying I couldn't use her dishes and when I said she needed to move them aside so I could move mine in to half the space, she refused. I also asked her to move out her living room furniture so I could move mine in and she began declaring that I was poor and couldn't afford things (which is also not true). She began to attack me on personal issues that weren't relevant to the situation and her relationship with her boyfriend came up and I said some negative things about him (i.e. he's a loser, lies to you about smoking, etc). She then kept on yelling at me and I was so sick of the situation I put on my iPod and just ignored her the rest of the time. Well her boyfriend called on the phone and she told him I was badmouthing him and that he should come over and confront me. At this point I was scared because he is a good 5 inches taller than me and outweighs me by at least 40 pounds. I went and locked myself in my room and called one of my friends to come pick me up. Her boyfriend arrived as I was about to leave and so I went back in my room. They both came up and tried to push open the door that I was holding closed. They then left for a minute yelling that I was a coward and came back and continued pounding on the door. I finally opened the door and began screaming at her boyfriend that he couldn't come in my house and get in my face and speak to me that way. My roommate and her boyfriend had me blocked from leaving my room and when I tried to push past my roommate to escape her boyfriend pushed me back against the door and said don't fucking touch my girlfriend. I finally got out and he began to get into my face yelling at me that I was a fat ass and to shut up every time I opened my mouth. He also told me not to touch any of Christine's things ever or else. I went the next night and filed a police report against him, but the officer told me that I would have to move out if I wanted to file a restraining order against him. I only have a month and a half left in the year but it is clear that trying to mediate with my roommate is not an option. Basically, my question is, since we are both on the lease is there any way legally I could terminate my lease agreement early? Also, since her stuff is in the community rooms, and she didn't leave any room for mine, since we are both paying equal rent, does she really have the right to tell me I can't use her property (i.e. sofa, TV, etc.), if she wont move hers out so that we can both use mine? I know this is long I just thought there needed to be some background information to make it apparent that just talking to her is not an option anymore."
Can she? No. WILL SHE? YES. She's mad. You didn't know your friend well enough at the gitgo.
ROOM MATE FINDERS
http://www.roomates.com/ and http://www.roommates.com/info.rs
ROOM MATE SCAMS
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