There’s a new housing trend in town.
More and more married couples in America are living with roommates now. And they actually choose to.
According to the economists at home and neighborhood website, Trulia, married couples now choose to take on roommates as a way to ease the financial burden of current housing costs.
And it’s increasing.
There’s only a small number of married couples who live with non-relatives, but the trend is becoming more and more common the last 20 years. Mostly in the country’s more expensive neighborhoods.
Trulia economist, Cheryl Young writes:
“While only a small share of married couples live with non-family members, the ones that do often take on roommates either as a financial strategy to cope with housing costs or as a means of assisting others burdened by housing costs.
“A greater share of married couples have roommates in expensive, unaffordable markets.”
It might be unconventional, but it does seem like a smart option… if you don’t mind having to share a bathroom.
Here’s how the statistics look
The survey found that in 2018, 3.28% (4.2 million) of all American households lived with roommates.
Among married couples, however, they found a scant number of 0.46 percent (280,000) who live with a boarder.
It’s not all that much, right?
Not really, if you consider the spike from the number in the 1995 survey, the earliest year of which data is available.
Statistics show that 0.46% of married couples in 2018 have roommates, which is above the historical average of 0.36%. That’s almost 40% higher since 1995.
So what is driving up this new housing trend?
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Trulia’s chief economist, Issi Romem, shares his insight to TODAY Home, saying:
“While reasons can vary, the rate of married couples living with roommates has doubled since 1995 largely because it now costs more to own or rent a home. Married couples often take on a roommate to help the individual lighten his or her housing cost burden, or to defray their own housing costs.
“The two reasons are not mutually exclusive, and the data suggest that in recent years they were both relevant.”
The housing market is now more expensive than ever
As of 2019, statistics showed that home prices jumped 5.1% year over year.
In 2018, it was up 7.1%, which, according to CoreLogic, is the biggest jump of the housing market in four years.
And if mortgage rates rise any further, fewer and fewer homeowners will refuse to move, or even purchase their own space.
As of May 2018, the median price of existing homes $264,800. But market prices are higher in hotter markets like Denver, Seattle, and San Francisco.
Moreover, younger generations are delaying buying homes because of the recession and the responsibility of paying off high levels of student debt loans.
So can we really blame newly-wed couples, if the only way they can afford a decent home, is to take on roommates?
What’s interesting is that, around the world, fewer and fewer people – married or not – decide against home-ownership. The US, Australia, Ireland, and many other countries face a dramatic decline in home ownership. And there are many reasons why.
The soaring house prices are discouraging millennials from investing in their first property. Especially when renting is cheaper and more available. But perhaps it’s more than that.
People are more environmentally conscious now, and are a bit more hesitant with building new homes. What’s more, taxes still continue to rise.
All of these elements vary, and things may not seem to add up. But the trend goes just beyond married couples trying to cope with housing costs.