Rental Report: Is It Better To Have A Roommate?

Rental Report

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 Bethesda and Metro DC 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 Bethesda, we have one property that can deliver a studio apartment at around $1,350 per month including utilities. This Bethesda property features amenities such as parking, a fitness center, and 24-hour concierge. So what’s the catch? It is not in downtown Bethesda.

However, it is within walking distance to Whole Foods and Giant, and about a mile from the restaurants, shopping, and Metro in Friendship Heights.

With a roommate in the Bethesda area, your same apartment budget jumps up to $2,600 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 large Bethesda apartment boasts an in-unit washer and dryer, ample closet space and split floor plans. It also features a fitness center, business center and community room. Parking is available for an additional fee and there is a weekday, prime hour shuttle to the Friendship Heights Metro. This property is just about one mile from the Metro, so you can enjoy the walk on a nice day. This two-bedroom unit runs about $2,200 per month.

Not the neighborhood you want? Go up to North Bethesda, and this newer property features two-bedroom, two-bath units starting at $2,100 per month. These spacious, pet-friendly units are nicely finished and include in-unit washers and dryers. The property includes a fitness center, pool, and 24 hour concierge. It is also located just a few blocks from the Metro, and is nicely situation above restaurants and shopping, including Whole Foods and the delicious Seasons 52.

Need more convincing? You are not just splitting rent but utilities, cable and internet, too, saving an extra $100 or more 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 three-bedroom? Keep in mind that 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 will likely spend over $2,000 for a one bedroom, Metro-accessible unit in downtown Bethesda.

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