After saying, “I do,” you probably thought your spouse would be the only roommate you’d ever share your home with again. But, according to a new study, a growing number of married couples are actually getting a roommate to help them cut housing costs.
A new study from Trulia.com finds that the number of married couples with a roommate is still very small, but growing. According to the report, 3.28 percent of all U.S. households—or about 4.2 million homes—included a roommate or boarder in 2018. For married couples, the rate is just 0.46 percent, but it’s a number that has more than doubled since 1995.
While bringing in a roommate might not be your definition of wedded bliss, it’s clear many of these husband-and-wife duos are renting out a portion of their home to help cover their housing costs.
According to the study, you’re more likely to find these married-with-a-roommate households in high-cost housing areas such as Honolulu, Orange County, Calif., and San Francisco. What’s more, married couples who own their own home are less likely to invite a roommate than married renters, who often face rent hikes and other changes to their housing costs that might put a dent in their own budget, according to the study.
If you’re looking to trim your own housing costs, getting a roommate might seem like an obvious option. But tread lightly. Before you open your spare bedroom, you’ll want to ensure you’re making the right decision and have found the right person.
Are you both really, truly on board
For one spouse, saving several hundred dollars a month—or more—on your housing costs might seem like a no brainer. For the other, those dollars might not be worth giving up privacy and time alone with loved ones.
Before you consider getting a roommate, have open and honest discussions with your spouse about whether the arrangement is something you both can live with. While you’re at it, consider additional ways to reduce your housing costs and budget in other areas. These are conversations you should be having on a regular basis anyway. Research shows that couples who talk about money are more likely to be together for the long haul.
Search far and wide
It might be tempting to invite your best friend or favorite cousin to live with you, but that might make your spouse feel like a third wheel and, if the arrangement doesn’t work out, it could strain your relationship with your own friend or relative. Instead, cast your net far and wide. Ask your friends and relatives for suggestions. Online sites also make it easy to find potential candidates. Moving.com reviews 10 online roommate finders.
Ask all the questions
Before any agreement is signed, make sure you really know the person who will be sharing your home with you. How messy are they? What’s their schedule like? Do they have any pet peeves? Will a significant other be spending time with them in your home? Do they have a steady job? How loud do they play their music? Do they have a pet?
Realtor.com also recommends that you gather background information on them, including the name and phone number of their current employer, copies of current pay stubs, personal references, a reference from a former landlord and a criminal background check.
Get it in writing
Once you’ve found the perfect roommate, don’t rely on a handshake deal. Get everything in writing to protect yourself if something goes awry. The lease agreement should include details about the security deposit, total rent, utilities, late fees, repairs and maintenances and when the lease expires. Forbes lists the 10 terms to include in your lease agreement.
Opening your home and getting a roommate for even just a few months or a year could help your family when the budget is tight, but it isn’t an arrangement you should enter into lightly. Before you start cleaning out the guest room, take the steps now to ensure it’s the right decision for you and your spouse.
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