Having a roommate isn't always ideal, but if you could save nearly $13,000 a year, the price of sharing your space can certainly seem worth it.
StreetEasy, a real estate website, recently analyzed median asking rents in New York City for Q1 of 2018 and found that based on those numbers young people moving to the Big Apple could save $12,600 per year, or a quarter of the national average starting salary for recent college grads (which is $51,000 according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers) by having one roommate in a two-bedroom, as opposed to living in a studio or one-bedroom apartment alone.
That's about $1,050 a month in savings.
Doubling up with two roommates in a three-bedroom will stack on even more savings, StreetEasy found. Recent grads can save $16,000 a year based on median New York City asking rents — or $1,333 a month — with two roommates in New York City.
By borough, having a roommate in Brooklyn yields the most savings — $875 a month for one roommate and $1,117 a month with two. In Queens, renters can save $602 a month with one roommate and $833 with two. The savings for splitting a two bedroom in Manhattan, according to StreetEasy, is $795, and if you're splitting a three bedroom, you'll save $980 monthly.
The report found the median asking rent for a studio or one-bedroom apartment in Manhattan the first three months of 2018 was a whopping $2,745, and while other cities might not boast as pricey rents, the difference from renting a one-bedroom versus a two-bedroom can still be significant.
In Los Angeles, for example, Apartment List found the median monthly rent for a one-bedroom is $1,360 compared to the median monthly rent for a two-bedroom, which is $1,740; that's $380 in savings.
In Houston, Texas, the median monthly rent for a one-bedroom is listed at $840, in contrast to $1,020 for a two-bedroom, a $180 savings, and in San Diego, California, the median monthly rent for a one-bedroom is $1,550, compared to $2,010 for a two-bedroom, for $460 in savings.
Ways to save on your first place
In addition to finding a roommate, there are other ways to save on your first apartment. Judy Dutton, deputy editor at Realtor.com, recommends opting for a two-year lease if you know you're going to stay put; it could save you money in the long run.
"Landlords hate having to find new tenants, so they may be willing to cut you a deal on your rent when you sign a two-year lease," Dutton tells CNBC Make It in an email.
Plus, "You're essentially 'locking in' your housing costs for two years when you sign a two-year lease, and guaranteeing your rent won't go up," Dutton says.
"In return, your landlord can rest assured that he or she won't have to scramble and find another tenant in a year's time. It's win-win."
Another way to save? "Always negotiate," Grant Long, senior economist at StreetEasy, tells CNBC Make It in an email. "In many large cities, rents are high but the market is relatively weak relative to years past. Many landlords might be willing to throw in perks such as free gym access or storage, or even a month or two [of rent for] free."
And take notes on anything that's wrong with the place, says Long.
"Less than attractive elements of building [can be used] as leverage in any negotiations," Long says. "Some otherwise perfect homes might have poorly maintained common areas, dated appliances or noisy neighbors, all of which can help negotiate a lower rent."
Dutton also suggests negotiating, which she admits seems daunting, but can be done if you can prove two things.
"One, that the rent you're being charged is higher than similar places elsewhere, and two, you'd be a model tenant who'd pay rent on time," Dutton says. "You can also prove your model tenant status via letters of reference from previous landlords and your current employer."
"This is also where a good credit score will speak volumes about your potential as a tenant, since that's a measure of how well you've paid off your credit cards and other past debts," she adds.
Dutton also recommends looking for landlords who include utilities in the rent so you're only paying one lump fee every month.
But if you do pay separately, she offers this bonus tip: "Another little-known fact is that many local utility companies offer energy audits, often for free or for a minimal fee, that can save as much as 30 percent on your monthly bills," Dutton says.
"Basically an auditor will look at your records to assess at your energy consumption patterns, and maybe visit your home to check for air leaks and other problems," she explains. "You can learn more at the Residential Energy Services Network, where you can enter your ZIP code to find an auditor near you."
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