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The roommate as a normal part of American life is a relatively recent phenomenon. 

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.

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