Southern California Is Nation's Roommate Central

Southern California Is Nation's Roommate Central

Need a roommate? Don’t bother looking in Southern California. According to a November 3 report by online real estate database Zillow, the high cost of living in the region has resulted in Southern California leading the nation in doubled-up households.

An estimated 48% of all adults have a roommate in Southern California, according to the most recent figures from Zillow dating back to 2012. That leaves them ahead of Miami, New York, San Francisco, Philadelphia, and Boston in the roommate arena, according to the Orange County Register.

“The rise in doubled-up households is a troubling sign of the times and starkly illustrates one of the prime drivers behind weak home sales these days,” said Zillow Chief Economist Stan Humphries.

However, the biggest factor attributing to the rise in the number of roommates, one could argue, is that the increased cost of living, as measured through rising rent and increase home prices, is inconsistent with an increase in pay scale and incomes; people are not making enough money to live on their own. 

Zillow also notes a major supply and demand disparity set against the skyrocketing costs of rent and home prices as being a cause for doubled-up households in Orange County. “We have a housing shortage, and we have a housing shortage in all price ranges,” said Lucy Dunn, a former state Housing and Community Development director who now heads the Orange County Business Council. 

Culture is reportedly another contributing factor. Homebuilders are increasingly going for “multi-generational” housing models in order to cater to the influx of Asians arriving in Southern California; they are among other populations that prefer to have older generations (such as grandparents) living with them as part of the nuclear family model.

Additionally, many adults had moved back home with their parents during the recession because they could not find employment, lost their home during the housing crisis, or wanted to save money, the Register writes. 

The aforementioned has even contributed to a culture of commuting with more people to work in the region. “You’ll find even in Irvine families doubling up in a detached, single-family home just so they can live in the Irvine school district. Our densities in Santa Ana exceed San Francisco, and the county as a whole has the second-highest density (in the state),” Dunn said.