The roommate as a normal part of American life is a relatively recent phenomenon.
Fifty years ago a person would typically go straight from living with his or her family to living with a spouse — perhaps with some college in between. Today, it is not unusual to spend the better part of your twenties (or even your thirties) living with people that are neither a family member nor a partner. The living situations of the characters on “Big Bang Theory” and “Friends” would have seemed peculiar to mid-20th century audiences.
Combine increased urbanization, lower marriage rates, later marriage, and increasingly expensive housing costs, and you get a lot of young people willing to live with friends and strangers.
But where exactly — and at what age — do people most commonly have roommates?
America’s Roommate Capital
Using data from the 2014 American Community Survey, we examined the probability of an American resident having a roommate at any given age. Overall, 7.7% of Americans live with a roommate, but as the chart below shows, this likelihood spikes in the early twenties, when many Americans are finished with schooling but not yet coupled up.