New York City’s affordability crisis has lead to a steep rise in the number of New Yorkers over the age of 40 with roommates. The statistic comes by way of room share website SpareRoom, whose new study reveals a whole lot of predictable, yet still unpalatable facts about renting in New York City today.
Generation X take note: one in seven roommates in the city is over the age of 40. This isn’t only due to a lack of affordability but also to what the SpareRoom diplomatically refers to as “relationship breakdowns.” They found that ten percent of roommates over 40 move into a shared accommodation because of a relationship ending while 23 percent are newly divorced or widowed.
“Apartment sharing is often seen as a young person’s game,” SpareRoom CEO and founder Rupert Hunt said in a statement. “But Generation X is now our fastest growing group of users. They fall into two key groups—lifetime renters who’ve never made it onto the property ladder and those coming out of long-term relationships and realizing they can’t afford to live on their own.”
But that doesn’t mean all Generation Xers with roommates live that way out of necessity. The study found that 51 percent of people surveyed said they chose to live with roommates. “It’s easy to get settled in one neighborhood or niche and to become less social. There are things you intend to do but talk yourself out of when you live alone. Having a roommate gets me out,” one such Gen. Xer who chose to move in with a roommate in her 40s told the Times in 2014. “It’s nice and surprisingly comforting to have someone there when you get home from a business trip.”
But alas, even taking on roommates is often not enough to make apartments affordable by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development standards. Even when paired up, 36 percent of roommates spend more than half of their salary on rent, with 57 percent of renters in New York City still believing their rent is affordable. By HUD standards, rent is considered affordable if it composes 30 percent or less of annual income.