Weekly Wonder: How much can having a roommate save your rent?

By Mia Ping-Chieh Chen
BU News Service

BOSTON — It’s well-known that living in Boston is expensive. As a result, many people choose to share an apartment with at least one roommate to save on rent. But exactly how much can they save by living with a roommate?

recent report by financial technology data company SmartAsset looked into where in the nation living with a roommate might translate into the greatest savings. They analyzed apartment prices from April 2018 to April 2019 from Rent Jungle for the 50 largest U.S. cities, and measured the cost difference between an one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartment.

Boston came in fourth for allowing for the greatest savings with a roommate. The average one-bedroom apartment in Boston is $2,721 per month, and the average two-bedroom apartment is $3,457. The rent when splitting a two-bedroom with a roommate is $1,728.5, which saves around $993 per month.

The average saving in Boston has increased nearly $150 compared to five years ago. When SmartAsset released their first report on rent savings in 2015, the rent difference was $846 between living with a roommate and living on one’s own. The rent was $2,260 for one-bedroom apartment and $2,868 for a two-bedroom.

Boston and San Jose have been third or fourth on the list for the past five years. The cities have comparable rent prices and potential savings. San Francisco and New York have always been the top two on the list, having both the highest rents but also the greatest savings when sharing an apartment with a roommate. 

This year, the average one-bedroom apartment in San Francisco costs $3,361 per month, compared to $4,529 for a two-bedroom. For residents who choose to share an apartment and split the rent equally, savings can be up to $1,096.

In the report, SmartAsset also found that how much a renter saves by sharing with a roommate varies greatly across the U.S.’s 50 biggest cities.The amount per month saved by having a roommate in San Francisco is roughly $500 more than the average saved across all cities. Moreover, it is nearly $900 more than how much a renter can save in the last city on the list, Detroit, Michigan.

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