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Two roommates sit in their new apartment and enjoy a cup of coffee on moving day. SmartAsset analyzed rental data to conduct its latest study on what a roommate saves you in 50 U.S. cities.

Looking to boost your savings? Forget about cutting out those morning lattes, and instead consider your biggest monthly expense: housing. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, housing costs represented nearly 33% of all household expenditures in 2019 – almost double the next category, transportation. Making adjustments to your housing budget – like renting a cheaper apartment or living with a roommate – can quickly add up to big savings. With this in mind, SmartAsset set out to determine how much you can save by living with a roommate in 50 of the largest U.S. cities.

To do this, we examined data on the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment and compared it to the average rent for a two-bedroom apartment in 50 of the largest U.S. cities. We then measured the cost difference between renting a one-bedroom alone and renting a two-bedroom with a roommate. For details on our data sources and how we put all the information together to create our final rankings, check out the Data and Methodology section below.

This is SmartAsset’s seventh annual study on how much a roommate saves you. Read the 2020 version here.

Key Findings

  • Not much movement at the top. The six cities where living with a roommate can save you the most money didn’t change compared to last year’s study. New York City and San Francisco reclaimed the first and second spots, respectively, followed by Boston, San Jose, Oakland and Washington, D.C. However, Seattle dropped 10 spots and slipped to 18th, while Baltimore jumped up 19 spots to crack the top 10.
  • Drop in average roommate savings. The average amount of money that a renter saves by splitting a two-bedroom apartment with a roommate is $493 per month, when factoring in data for all 50 cities. That’s down from the 2020 edition of this study, when renters saved an average of $524 each month by living with a roommate.

Image is a map by SmartAsset titled "Top 10 Cities Where Renting With a Roommate Saves the Most."

1. New York, NY

The Big Apple may be one of the most expensive cities in the country, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t opportunities to save. According to data from the rental listings website Zumper, renters who split a two-bedroom apartment with an average rent of $2,781 would save around $1,148 per month when compared to renting a one-bedroom apartment (at $2,538 per month) on their own. This would leave a New York City renter with an extra $13,775 per year, by far the most savings of any city across our study.

2. San Francisco, CA

No city in our study has a higher average rents than San Francisco, California. According to Zumper, the average cost of a one-bedroom apartment is $2,756 per month, while the average rent for a two-bedroom unit is $3,668. That means renters who split a two-bedroom apartment stand to save about $922 per month, or $11,063 per year, when compared to living alone.

3. Boston, MA

Massachusetts’ Beantown renters looking to save some cash can put away an extra $855 per month, or $10,256 per year, by living in a two-bedroom apartment with a roommate. In Boston, two-bedroom units rent for an average of $2,648 per month, not much more than the average one-bedroom apartment ($2,179), according to Zumper.

4. San Jose, CA

With one-bedroom apartments in this Bay Area city renting for an average of $2,145 per month, renters stand to save an extra $795 per month, or $9,542 annually, by living with a roommate. That’s because the average San Jose, California two-bedroom apartment costs $2,699 per month, or $1,349.50 split two ways.

5. Oakland, CA

Another Bay Area city in the top 10, Oakland offers renters savings of around $726 per month, or $8,713 annually, when they share a two-bedroom apartment. Roommates splitting costs this way would each pay $1,300 per month, as opposed to $2,026 each for two separate one-bedrooms.

6. Washington, D.C.

Average rents for one-bedroom apartments in the nation’s capital are $2,051 per month, meaning roommates who split a two-bedroom apartment stand to save about $646 per month. The average cost of a two-bedroom apartment in Washington, D.C. is $2,811 ($1,405.50 split two ways), which adds up to an annual savings of $7,746.

7. Baltimore, MD

Washington D.C.’s neighbor to the north, Baltimore, Maryland moved up from No. 26 in last year’s study to No. 7 this year. That’s because roommates splitting a two-bedroom apartment in Charm City can save around $629 per month, or $7,545 per year. According to Zumper, a one-bedroom unit in Baltimore rents for an average of $1,410, while the average rent for a two-bedroom apartment is $1,562 per month (or $781 split between two roommates).

8. San Diego, CA

How much can a renter save by splitting a two-bedroom apartment in San Diego, California? Coincidentally, you’ll have to look no further than the city’s area code: 619. While one-bedroom apartments in San Diego rent for $1,816 per month, the average rent of a two-bedroom apartment is $2,394. That means roommates sharing a two-bedroom unit would save about $619 each month compared to renting one-bedroom apartments on their own.

9. Los Angeles, CA

Los Angeles is the fifth California city in our study’s top 10. Renters in the City of Angels can save an average of about $617 per month, or $7,400 per year, by splitting a two-bedroom apartment with a roommate versus renting a one-bedroom unit on their own. That’s because the average rent of a two-bedroom is $2,746 per month, while one-bedrooms average $1,990 a month.

10. New Orleans, LA

In New Orleans, Louisiana, renters who share a two-bedroom apartment can save approximately $590 a month, or $7,079 per year, versus renting separate one-bedroom units on their own. The average rent of a one-bedroom apartment in the Big Easy is $1,426, while the average rent of a two-bedroom is just $1,673.

Image is a table by SmartAsset titled "2021 Edition: What a Roommate Saves You in 50 of the Largest U.S. Cities."

Data and Methodology

To find the cities where a roommate saves you the most, SmartAsset examined data from 50 of the largest U.S. cities. We compared them across these two metrics:

  • Average rent for a one-bedroom apartment. Data comes from Zumper and covers monthly rent prices from July 2020 through June 2021.
  • Average rent for a two-bedroom apartment. Data comes from Zumper and covers monthly rent prices from July 2020 through June 2021.

Using this data, we measured how much a person could save in each city by moving from a one-bedroom apartment to a two-bedroom apartment. To do this, we compared the cost of a one-bedroom to half the cost of a two-bedroom for each city, to account for living with a roommate. We ranked the cities according to where the savings were the largest.

Tips for Maximizing Your Savings

  • Pay yourself first. Using direct deposit, you can save money more effectively and keep your finances better organized. Rather than depositing all of your take-home pay into one account, automatically route a percentage of every paycheck into a high-yield savings account. The money you need to cover monthly expenses can be routed into a separate checking account. Use SmartAsset’s savings calculator to figure out how your money will grow over time.
  • Use your job to start saving for retirement. Contributing to your employer-sponsor retirement plan is a powerful way to save for the future. Your employer may even offer a company match that can help you boost your savings.
  • Work with a professional. Need a little extra help budgeting and saving? Consider working with a financial advisor who can help you set up an actionable financial plan so you can meet your money goals. Use SmartAsset’s free tool to be matched with up to three advisors in as little as five minutes. If you’re ready, get started now.

Questions about our study? Contact press@smartasset.com.

Photo credit: ©iStock.com/AntonioGuillem

Patrick Villanova Patrick Villanova is a writer for SmartAsset, covering a variety of personal finance topics, including retirement and investing. Before joining SmartAsset, Patrick worked as an editor at The Jersey Journal. His work has also appeared on NJ.com and in The Star-Ledger. Patrick is a graduate of the University of New Hampshire, where he studied English and developed his love of writing. In his free time, he enjoys hiking, trying out new recipes in the kitchen and watching his beloved New York sports teams. A New Jersey native, he currently lives in Jersey City.
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