Are you looking to make some extra money, hack your housing, and make some new friends? If so, SpareRoom could be a resource for you. The site matches people with extra bedrooms to people looking to sublease (or share) a house or apartment.
Could this be the easiest way to make extra cash? I think so, but you’ll have to decide whether SpareRoom is a good resource for you. Here’s what you need to know about the site.
What Is SpareRoom?
SpareRoom is a website that helps match people with spare rooms to people who are looking to rent a room. The site is really designed for people seeking roommate situations, though some landlords will accept couples or a parent with a child desiring just a single room.
If you’re looking for affordable housing, renting a single room is usually as affordable as it gets. In my area, average one-bedroom apartments rent for an average of $1,500 per month plus utilities. I found listings on SpareRoom for single rooms ranging from $400 in an economy apartment with a shared bathroom to $900 for a bedroom with a private bathroom in a nice-looking house.
Anyone living in a large urban area can probably find at least a few suitable rooms for rent. And people with spare bedrooms are likely to find suitable renters too.
Does SpareRoom Help Keep Me Safe?
Unfortunately, safety is a potential issue when finding roommates through SpareRoom. SpareRoom has a system in place to filter out scammers, but not everyone who lists or searches listings is guaranteed to be a safe human being.
As a landlord, I’ve always run background and credit checks on roommates, even if I personally knew and liked them. Whether you’re a landlord or a renter, I would recommend meeting a potential roommate in person and running a background check before moving in.
If you’re a landlord or if you’ll share a lease with someone, you should run a credit check on them. Personally, I’ve always used Cozy.co to run background checks, but you can use any tool that makes sense for you.
Is Renting a Room a Good Way to Earn Extra Income?
Yes! My family and I have rented out our spare bedroom through Airbnb, allowed a friend to live with us for free, and we’ve had a room rented out on a long-term basis. In terms of earning extra income, a long-term rental was by far the easiest money we earned.
We also became close friends with one of our long-term renters. We were happy to have him join us during family dinners or on day trips when he was available, but we were also happy to have him enjoy his living space in private when he needed space to himself.
But even if you aren’t a homeowner, splitting an apartment or house with roommates can be a great move. Financially, you’ll dramatically reduce your total costs which frees up money for paying down debt or investing. On top of that, living with other people can be a lot of fun. As long as you mesh well with your roommates, it is nice to come home to someone else.
How Much Does SpareRoom Cost?
According to the site, 85% of SpareRoom users never pay to use it. That makes sense to me, since most people advertising a room may also find acceptable roommates through a site like Zillow or Craigslist.
Some people may choose to pay for “Early Bird access” or to “bump” an ad to the top of the page. Early Bird access means that you can access sites that are less than seven days old. Bold or “bumped” ads can have all users access from day one. For either of those privileges the costs are:
- $10.99 for seven days
- $21.99 for 14 days
- $24.99 for 28 days
- $99 for six months
- $139 for a year
It makes sense to pay for access if you’re really eager to find a room or to get a room rented out. Otherwise, the free version makes a lot of sense.
Is SpareRoom the Only Way to Find Good Roommates?
Since SpareRoom is free, I think it’s a great resource to find roommates, but it isn’t the only option. My top choice for roommates has always been friends or friends of friends. If that’s not an option, I think SpareRoom can be a good choice.
I suspect that for young, single people, SpareRoom is likely to yield better roommates than a Craigslist, Facebook, or Zillow post. That said, the site is definitely oriented towards major metro regions (New York City, Los Angeles, Austin, Chicago, etc.). In those areas, you may need to use different tools.
Additionally, if you’re a person with children looking to rent or be a landlord, you may struggle to find the right fit through SpareRoom. Most ads specifically call out that all residents must be over age 18 or 21.
Hannah is a wife, mom, and described personal finance geek. She excels with spreadsheets (and puns)! She regularly explores in-depth financial topics and enjoys looking at the latest tools and trends with money.
Editor: Clint Proctor