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A roommate is a person with whom one shares a residence who is not a relative or significant other. Synonyms include suitemate, housemate, or flatmate ("flat": the usual term in British English for an apartment). In the UK, the term "roommate" means a person sharing the same bedroom, whereas in the United States, "roommate" and "housemate" are used interchangeably regardless whether a bedroom is shared. This article uses the term "roommate" in the U.S. sense of a person one shares a residence who is not a relative or significant other.
The most common reason for sharing housing is to reduce the cost of housing. In many rental markets, the monthly rent for a two- or three-bedroom apartment is proportionately less per bedroom than the rent for a one-bedroom apartment (in other words, a three-bedroom flat costs somewhat more than a one-bedroom, but not three times as much). By pooling their monthly housing money, a group of people can achieve a lower housing expense at the cost of less privacy. Other motivations are to gain better amenities than those available in single-person housing, to share the work of maintaining a household, and to have the companionship of other people.
ousemates and roommates are typically unmarried young adults, including workers and students (the practice of sharing a bedroom is mostly limited to students). It is not rare for middle-aged and elderly adults who are divorced or widowed to have housemates. Married couples, however, typically discontinue living with roommates, especially when they have children.
Roommates are a fairly common point of reference in Western culture, especially in North America. In the United States, most young adults spend at least a short part of their lives living with roommates after they leave their family's home. Therefore, many novels, movies, plays, and television programs employ roommates as a basic principle or a plot device. On the other hand, it is less common for people of any age to live with roommates in some countries, such as Japan.
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