Can A Roommate Help You Save Money?

Do you long to leave the nest, but worry that you can’t afford it? Do you have nightmares about growing old, but still living in your parents’ basement? If you crave the freedom that comes with having your own place, but worry about the bills associated with said space, you may wish to consider having a roommate.

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Rent – Stating The Obvious

It is often said that ‘two heads are better than one,’ so, surely, two incomes and two bank accounts would be doubly good as well. Splitting the rent with a roommate is a logical way to drastically cut your living expenses and free up cash for other things–like your savings account. Plus, with someone to share the expenses, you may be able to upgrade from a cockroach-infested tenement to a decent apartment in a safe neighborhood.

There is, however, one caveat. As Main Street’s ‘5 Hidden Costs of Having Roommates’ warns, with both names on the lease, the landlord or management company can bug you for rent even if you’ve already paid your share. It is very important to make sure that you choose a roommate who is fiscally responsible or you could wind up owing both halves of the rent.

Start-up Costs

Moving out, in itself, can be costly endeavor. A roommate, however, can help deflect some of these expenses. How? You could rent a U-Haul together to cart your belongings to your new abode–saving on rental and insurance fees. Speaking of insurance, you can also split the costs associated with contents and liability insurance. Hook-up fees for utilities can be divided in half. And, you can share the price of cleaning products, paint, and a carpet cleaner rental if need be.

Between the two of you, you will also be better able to fully equip your apartment with furniture and appliances. One word of advice, however–it is best to avoid buying furniture and other large purchases together as it will likely prove problematic when you part ways.

Living Expenses

Ideally, having a roommate will enable you to split electricity, internet, cable, and other utility bills down the middle. It is important to note that these bills can also become a sore point if one individual makes use of a specific utility much more frequently than the other. For instance, a roommate that engages in a lot of downloading may push you over your monthly internet usage–causing your half to be much more costly than you bargained for.

When it comes to food, it may be wise to introduce a ‘what’s yours is yours, what’s mine is mine’ policy. This will enable you to avoid bickering over petty issues like ‘who ate the last Oreo?’

Little things like combining your laundry at the coin wash, splitting the cost of take-out orders, sharing magazine subscriptions, and carpooling can defray living expenses. If your roommate, however, craves entertainment and nightlife more than you do, your cost of living could increase if you are constantly compelled to tag-along.

Geography

You may be surprised to learn that not everyone benefits from having a roommate–even if said roomie pays their bills on time, every time. Depending on where you live, you may be able to live more cheaply on your own. Not convinced? Check out Mint.com’s enlightening infographic, ‘Should You Get a Roommate?’ to see what it says about your city.

In many cases, getting a roommate makes fiscal sense. But, before hunting down your own Ernie or Bert, you should consider your lifestyle and the expenses associated with it, the city that you’re in, and how well you will mesh with your new roommate. After all, as Leonard Hofstadter would probably tell you, ‘saving money is not worth living with a Sheldon.’

If you’d like to learn hear another side to this story, check out ‘What if You’re Frugal, but Your Roommates Aren’t?’