By Colin Daniels
Living with roommates often was done when the economy was rough, but now it is something millennials and recent college graduates sometimes expect to do until their next phase of life, like marriage. For some millennials, living with roommates can bring a sense of community and family while enhancing social skills.
Economics still plays a role in why millennials are living with roommates, though. Almost 22 million more people were renting in metropolitan areas around the U.S. in 2014 than in 2006, according to a new report from New York.
University’s Furman Center, which studies real estate and urban policy, and Capital One. The Wall Street Journal reported Boston rent has risen by five percent in the last ten years. “The rise in cost of rent in the Boston metro area has exacerbated, but certainly millennials tend to live this sort of lifestyle for longer (e.g., they don’t get married and settle down with a family until later in life).” said Harriet Lau, 26, a Somerville resident.
Aside from the constant rise of rent, some millennials are making the choice deliberately to have a roommate. “I’m just a people person so I knew I wanted to live with others all along,” said Jesse Mark, 28, a Cambridge resident.
Average rents nationwide rose 4.6 percent in 2015, the biggest increase since before the recession, reported real-estate researcher Reis Inc. The average monthly U.S. apartment rent now stands at nearly $1,180, up from about $1,125 a year ago, Reis stated. For a millennial or anyone to live in Boston’s Leather District, renters would need to make nearly $142,000 to afford average rents for newly built one-bedroom apartments of more than $3,500 a month, CoStar, a real estate information company, reported. The median income in the area is closer to $60,000.
With rising rent prices like that of the Leather District, this makes it an easy decision to have roommates for some millennials. “ It’s a common thing, for economic reasons,” said Auburney Jackson, 24, on living with a roommate. “I live with a long-term romantic partner so that’s my reasoning.”
Specific places for millennials to live called millennial villages have been thought of to solve this problem. “Across the commonwealth, low rates of housing production have not kept pace with population growth and need,” said state Sen. Linda Dorcena-Forry. In the report Dorcena-Forry proposed in March of this year, she states how the units in a so-called millennial village “would vary in affordability to accommodate all students, from the low-income graduate student to the more well-heeled student and young professionals.” The report states millennials, people aged 20-34, have accounted for 73.9 percent of the population growth in the inner core of Boston, Cambridge, and Somerville between 2000 and 2012.
With Boston continuing to be a hub for young professionals, housing continues to be an issue. The Boston Globe reported this year the lack of people getting married contributes to tenants doubling-up. According to Zillow, an online real estate data base, nationwide, nearly a third (thirty-two percent) of tenants are living in homes where two or more working-aged adults live together but aren’t married or with partners. This figure is up from 26.4 percent in 2000. With this increase of millennials and young professionals, Boston is being forced to create ways for millennials to live in the area.