Here’s How Much You Can Save by Renting with a Roommate in Philly

According to a recent study, local renters who share apartments with roommates could cut their rent by as much as 44 percent compared to renting on their own.

renting with roommates three young roommates

Stagnant wages, high student loan debt and rising rents are all conspiring to lead younger renters to seek out roommates to help foot the bill, according to a recent HotPads report. | Photo: Svetlkd via Getty Images

Feeling pressured by the rising cost of renting an apartment? You’re not alone. Wish you could cut your rent substantially? You’re not alone.

How can you do this? Don’t rent alone. Instead, find a roommate or rent an available room in a shared house or apartment.

According to HotPads’ first Rooms for Rent Index, renters nationwide can save $515 a month by renting a room in a shared house or apartment or sharing an apartment with a roommate instead of renting their own one-bedroom apartment. In Philadelphia, the typical renter can save even more: $630 a month. That’s the difference between the $770 median rent for a room in a shared house or apartment and the $1,310 median rent for a one-bedroom apartment.

Since these median figures are based on apartments and rooms listed for rent on HotPads, the potential savings could be even greater — or less, depending on where within the local market one is willing to rent.

More renters share now than did 10 years earlier

The percentage of renters sharing houses or apartments with roommates has climbed steadily over the past decade, according to HotPads’ analysis of Census Bureau American Community Survey data. The Zillow-operated apartment search site says that in 2017, about 30 percent of all renters nationwide lived with a roommate, up from 24 percent in 2007.

Many people don’t consider splitting rooms with a roommate, which means they’re missing out on a golden opportunity to get more for less. Joshua Clark, the HotPads economist who wrote the rent report, says, “The rich are getting richer. [Renters in] expensive cities like Philadelphia get the benefits of luxury for less when someone lives with a roommate. In comparing studios and one-bedroom prices, studios will lean about $300 more expensive based on location.” By splitting the bill with one or more roommates, renters can enjoy the luxury they desire without straining their monthly budgets.

The first step any renter should take when looking for an apartment is to determine the kind of space they desire. Then they should figure out who might share that space to help with the rent. In 2019, having a roommate has become a more common arrangement as people already burdened by debt such as student loans or whose pay is stagnant find renting solo harder to do. “Across the country, 30 percent of adults live with either a roommate or parent, up eight percentage points since 2000,” says Clark. Those percentages, he added, pointed out how the numbers continued to increase since the Great Recession as new apartments become even more expensive.

Renters are advised not to panic but simply consider their personal needs while weighing the costs and benefits. HotPads’ data show median one-bedroom apartment rents in Philadelphia as close to the national median of $1,320 a month, which means that many renters here may still be able to afford a one-bedroom apartment.  Clark advises, “Know your tradeoffs and arm yourself with information,” adding that HotPads has data on bedroom sizes relative to prices as well.

Sandy Smith contributed to this article.