A roommate is a person with whom one shares a residence who is not a relative or significant other. Synonyms include suitemate, housemate, or flatmate ("flat": the usual term in British English for an apartment). In the UK, the term "roommate" means a person sharing the same "bedroom", whereas in the United States, "roommate" and "housemate" are used interchangeably regardless whether a bedroom is shared. This article uses the term "roommate" in the U.S. sense of a person one shares a "residence" who is not a relative or significant other.

The most common reason for sharing housing is to reduce the cost of housing. In many rental markets, the monthly rent for a two- or three-bedroom apartment is proportionately less per bedroom than the rent for a one-bedroom apartment (in other words, a three-bedroom flat costs somewhat more than a one-bedroom, but not three times as much). By pooling their monthly housing money, a group of people can achieve a lower housing expense at the cost of less privacy. Other motivations are to gain better amenities than those available in single-person housing, to share the work of maintaining a household, and to have the companionship of other people.

Who lives with roommates?

Housemates and roommates are typically unmarried young adults, including workers and students (the practice of sharing a bedroom is mostly limited to students). It is not rare for middle-aged and elderly adults who are divorced or widowed to have housemates. Married couples, however, typically discontinue living with roommates, especially when they have children.

Roommates are a fairly common point of reference in Western culture, especially in North America. In the United States, most young adults spend at least a short part of their lives living with roommates after they leave their family's home. Therefore, many novels, movies, plays, and television programs employ roommates as a basic principle or a plot device. On the other hand, it is less common for people of any age to live with roommates in some countries, such as Japan.

Many universities in the United States require first-year students to live in on-campus residence halls, sharing a dormitory room with a same-sex roommate. Studies have found that the academic grades, study style, social behavior, and of one roommate will affect the other roommate's academic performance. Fact|date=November 2007


The change in the cost of housing makes the consideration of roommates more attractive. As the housing market increases, so too does the roommate ratio rate. When house prices drop, the opposite can be expected. This has been seen extensively in cities such as Washington D.C., Phoenix, and San Diego. [ [ Washington Times - Wanted: Roommates ] ]

Student exchanges are getting more and more popular with globalization and has influenced a lot in the Roommate Boom. The Erasmus exchange program in Europe has contributed as being the biggest exchange program in Europe. Exchange students can live in university residences but a growing amount want to share apartments with other international students in shared apartments.

Roommates and house-sharing are not limited to students and young adults however. American politicians Chuck Schumer, William Delahunt, Richard Durbin, and George Miller famously share a house in Washington, D.C. while Congress is in session. [ [ Taking Power, Sharing Cereal] , New York Times, Jan. 18, 2007; [ D.C. Lawmakers Share 'Animal House'] , ABC News, Mar. 12, 2007; [ Capitol Hill's Animal House is Their Home Away From Home] , Boston Globe, Jan. 18, 2007.]


One difficulty is finding suitable roommates. Living with a roommate can mean much less privacy than having a residence of one's own, and for some people this can cause a lot of stress.

Another thing to consider when choosing a roommate is how to divide the cost of living. Who pays for what, or are the shared expenses divided between the two or more roomies. Also, the potential roommate should be trusted to pay their share and trusted to pay it on time. Sleeping patterns can also be disrupted when living with a number of people, so it is therefore important to choose housemates wisely.


See also

*Stable roommates problem

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Roommate — Room mate , n. One of two or more occupying the same room or rooms; one who shares the occupancy of a room or rooms; a chum. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • roommate — 1789, Amer.Eng., from ROOM (Cf. room) + MATE (Cf. mate) (n.). Short form roomie is from 1918 …   Etymology dictionary

  • roommate — ☆ roommate [ro͞om′māt΄ ] n. a person with whom one shares a room or rooms …   English World dictionary

  • roommate — [[t]ru͟ːmmeɪt, r ʊm [/t]] roommates also room mate 1) N COUNT Your roommate is the person you share a rented room, apartment, or house with, for example when you are at university. [AM] 2) N COUNT Your roommate is the person you share a rented… …   English dictionary

  • roommate — UK [ˈruːmˌmeɪt] / US [ˈrumˌmeɪt] noun [countable] Word forms roommate : singular roommate plural roommates 1) someone who you share a room with, for example at university 2) mainly American a flatmate …   English dictionary

  • roommate — noun (C) 1 someone who you share a room with, especially at college: Ben and I were roommates at university. 2 AmE someone you share a room, apartment, or house with; flatmate BrE: I hate the way my roommate never does the dishes …   Longman dictionary of contemporary English

  • roommate — noun Date: 1770 one of two or more persons sharing the same room or living quarters called also room•ie …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • roommate — /roohm mayt , room /, n. a person who is assigned to share or shares a room or apartment with another or others. [1780 90, Amer.; ROOM + MATE1] * * * …   Universalium

  • roommate — noun a) A person with whom one shares a room, as at university etc. b) A person with whom one shares an apartment or house (UK: flatmate or housemate). Syn …   Wiktionary

  • roommate — Synonyms and related words: ace, amigo, associate, bedfellow, bedmate, birthmate, bosom buddy, buddy, bunkie, bunkmate, butty, camarade, chamberfellow, chum, classmate, clubmate, colleague, comate, companion, company, compeer, comrade, confrere,… …   Moby Thesaurus

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