When it comes to housing costs, Los Angeles is one of the toughest markets in the nation. According to a recent analysis by Zillow Research, LA renters spend 45% of their income on the typical property (spending more than 30% is considered “cost-burdened”). Homeowners in the area aren’t much better off, spending nearly 44% of their income on the typical mortgage (based on current prices). To make matters worse, if you’re among the many San Francisco or San Jose residents found by Zillow to be earning a lower income, you have a whole lot less to live on after paying those high housing costs.
For young people, especially, the gap can be very wide indeed. HireaHelper.com’s analysis shows that the Los Angeles/Long Beach/Anaheim area is America’s third worst-paying city for Millennials. So it’s not surprising that many people are looking for roommates in LA or wondering about renting a room.
What are the benefits of having roommates in LA?
According to a 2020 report from Smart Asset, sharing the average two-bedroom can make Los Angeles apartment living more affordable, with each roommate saving roughly $700 per month ($8,400 per year). Another solution—homesharing—can actually offer a far greater value.
As long as everyone’s compatible, roommates offer much-needed companionship and camaraderie, which are needed in a large city that can feel alienating at times—especially during social distancing. With roommates, there’s usually somebody around for spontaneous trips to the beach or your latest binge-watch. Pro tip: A roommate agreement goes a long way towards ensuring happy companionability over time. Everything's in writing so you’ve got peace of mind, instead of wondering, “I’m renting a room in a house, what are my rights?” or having awkward conversations about who left the dishes in the sink.
Homesharing is a modern way to roommate that’s gaining popularity across the city. In homesharing, homeowners rent out extra space in their homes for extra income and companionship, while renters gain a more unique place to live — often with more space, a more desirable neighborhood, access to a private yard, etc. Each homeowner is free to set their own rental rate and negotiate with potential housemates. At Silvernest, we've developed a homesharing platform to address these needs in LA and nationwide. We've found that homowners earn, on average, as much as $12,000 per year through the platform. In addition, thanks to our convenient rent calculator, that savings can be passed on to the renter!
I have a room to rent in my house – should I homeshare?
Homesharing can be a wonderful way for homeowners to earn extra income from unused space. All you really need is a spare bedroom (and usually a full bath) you can clear out for a renter to use. Common areas are generally shared, though it’s a good idea to have a roommate agreement or some form of house rules to help set expectations.
Homesharing can be especially helpful for older adults looking to age in place. Rene, a homeowner in Santee, says “..finding myself newly divorced and living in an income- and age-qualified community, I wasn’t sure how I was going to make ends meet. (Homesharing with Silvernest), I make an extra $800 a month. I stayed in my home where my garden lives and where my friends are.”
Often, a homeowner asking “can I rent a room in my house?” turns into a real benefit for the community. Many Silvernesters offer reduced rents for Teach For America educators and others working within service organizations.
Where do I find roommates?
The more important questions are “how do I find a roommate safely?” and “where do I find a roommate I’m comfortable living with?” Whether you’re bringing in a housemate or renting a room in Los Angeles, there are many important considerations to keep in mind—including personal safety, pet peeves, habits, finances, etc.
Here’s a look at the pluses and minuses of different places you can look for a roommate.
- Classified Ads
The classifieds used to be a very popular option for selling household goods, finding a job, searching for roommates and all kinds of personal business. Interestingly, The Los Angeles Times and LA Weekly no longer appear to accept these kinds of personal ads. Some smaller papers serving various communities, such as the Los Angeles Sentinel, still do—and some churches and other faith-based orgs sell classified ad space on their websites. Those looking for roommates in these classified ads will likely have community membership in common, which may indicate a certain amount of compatibility.
Unfortunately, with a “roommate wanted” ad, all of the responsibility falls on you in terms of connecting, screening, background checks, roommate rules, etc.
- Bulletin boards—online (Craigslist) or at your local community center, coffee shop or church.
Depending on where you post your “roommate wanted” notice, you may be able to target people within a certain community or with similar interests. Craigslist usually has plenty of visibility to others seeking roommates, whereas a physical bulletin board may only reach a few people. Either way, you’re on your own for fending off scammers, screening candidates, conducting background checks, etc.
- Roommate-finder sites and apps (Roommates.com, Roomster, Roomi, etc.)
Anyone using one of these websites or apps would theoretically be looking for a roommate, it’s true. They generally do carry a bit more information than the average classified or Craigslist ad. Unfortunately, these sites and apps can be plagued with bots, fake accounts and scammers. Plus, these sites don’t offer the homeowner or renter anything besides a connection. Screening, security and other important details are up to you.
- Facebook Marketplace
Facebook Marketplace functions somewhat like Craigslist, but Facebook provides a much friendlier user interface with lots of pictures and careful organization of information. On the other hand, a Facebook Marketplace ad doesn’t offer anything else in terms of screening to ensure the post is legitimate, assessing potential roommate compatibility, negotiating terms, etc. In addition, rentals are often posted with publicly visible addresses, leading to unexpected visitors and a large potential safety threat for homeowners.
We might be a bit biased, but Silvernest would be our choice. Our platform is designed to provide a holistic, modern homesharing experience for both housemate and homeowner. Before any connection is made, Silvernest provides a unique compatibility score for homeowners and renters based on their own personal preferences and lifestyles. Instead of worrying if Craigslist is safe for finding a roommate or hoping your Roomi listing doesn’t attract scammers, you can rely on Silvernest’s full-service platform for ID verification and background checks, plus private and secure in-app messaging. Silvernest also provides housemates with a lease creation tool, automated rent payments and even homesharing-ready insurance coverage.
Intrigued? Silvernest can help! If you’re a homeowner seeking to rent out your spare room in Los Angeles, you can find out more about Silvernest or list your home here. If you’re interested in homesharing by renting an available room, you can see all available spaces in Los Angeles here.
Not sure about where to start? Our friends at the South Bay Cities Council of Governments are here to help you on your homesharing journey! Learn more here. Happy homesharing!