Splitting the Rent To Share a Room

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Take a look at Craigslist and you'll see pleas such as these from people searching for apartments and houses to share: "Nowadays due to economic conditions, I am planning to go back to Graduate School and extensively preparing for this purpose. I can even help any student who is living in a room and paying 500-600."

"I've been unemployed since March (NIH) and I need a decent place to live. I've got about $10 grand left and looking for employment."

"Married couple looking for shared apartment (Vienna)."

And there are plenty of people offering to rent out rooms or basements.

Nationwide, the number of postings from people seeking roommates has spiked 160 percent in two years, said Susan MacTavish Best, a spokeswoman for Craigslist.

"The guest bedroom is a welcome luxury during rosy economic times, but during these days of tight budgets the spare room becomes wasted space that isn't paying for itself," Best said. "The solution? Find a compatible roommate quickly and charge them rent."

Andrew Goldman, who co-owns Andrews' Property Management in Arlington, said he has a lot more pairs of friends looking for apartments.

"People just don't want to pay for a one-bedroom place," he said. "You'll have to pay $1,400. I guess there's probably fear in this economy."

Many of the pairs he has worked with don't even think splitting a two-bedroom apartment offers enough of a savings. Instead, they want to rent space in group houses. Even more unusual, he said, is the increase in the number of couples looking to split houses or apartments with others. "That was actually a surprise to me, that a married couple would want a $675 bedroom in a house with four other people," he said.

-- Nancy Trejos

© 2009 The Washington Post Company