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Rental Report: Is it Better to Have a Roommate?

By ARLnow.com - ARLNow.com

Tuesday - 10/29/2013, 2:30pm  ET

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Editor’s Note: This biweekly sponsored column is written by Rick Gersten, founder and CEO of Urban Igloo, a rental real estate firm that matches up renters with their ideal apartments, condos or houses. Please submit any questions in the comments section or via email.

Young professionals moving to the area are often looking to get their first apartment sans roommate. However, they find the prices in the Arlington and Metro D.C. area in general a bit out of reach for their expectations. Perhaps one of the best ways to get more bang for the buck is to find a roommate. Doesn’t sound appealing? Let’s compare a $1300 budget with and without a roommate.

Without a roommate, in Arlington, we have one property that can deliver a 1 bedroom/1 bathroom apartment at $1300 per month. This South Arlington property features amenities such as parking, a pool, a fitness center, and even an on-site convenience store. The apartments are large, with plenty of closet space. So what’s the catch? It is not within walking distance of a Metro, or other conveniences. However, there is a bus stop just outside the property, and plenty of new conveniences such as a Giant grocery store, restaurants and coffee shop, just a half mile down the street.

With a roommate in Arlington, the budget jumps up to $2600 per month for a 2 bedroom/2 bath unit. There are quite a few more options in this category, and you are likely to get a few more items on your desired features checklist.

This Ballston/Virginia Square property boasts in-unit washer and dryer, ample closet space, and balconies. It also features a fitness center, business center and community room. Parking is available for an additional fee, but it isn’t needed since this building is just 2 blocks from the Metro. This 2 bedroom runs about $2500 per month.

Looking to save even more? Go out a little further to South Arlington again, and this property features 2 bedroom/2 bath units for about $2050 per month. These pet-friendly units include one parking space, additional street parking and in-unit washers and dryers. The property includes a huge fitness center, pool, business center, and a weekday shuttle to Metro. It also has easy access to Pentagon City, I-395, and tons of recreation, restaurants and shopping.

Need more convincing? You are not just splitting rent but utilities, cable and internet, too, saving an extra $100+ per month. With a roommate, you are more likely to get a walkable apartment eliminating the need for a car all together. And hey, it doesn’t hurt to have someone to help with the grocery shopping, cleaning and cooking duties. Just make sure you pick your roommate carefully. Leases generally require both roommates to be jointly and severally liable, meaning you are left with the whole bag if your roommate skips out.

What about more than one roommate? Looking for a 3 bedroom? Keep in mind you aren’t likely to save much more money, and these larger units are harder to find. Be prepared to have a tougher time looking for units that fit your needs, and be ready to jump on something if you like it.

While there are certainly some benefits to having a roommate, there are advantages to living alone too. Just be prepared to make some sacrifices if you are looking for something a little more budget-friendly. You may spend closer to $1800 or more for a 1 bedroom, Metro-accessible unit in Arlington.

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

Community discussion guidelines: Our sponsored columns are written by members of the local business community. While we encourage a robust and open discussion, we ask that all reviews of the businesses — good or bad — be directed to another venue, like Yelp. The comments section is intended for a conversation about the topic of the article.