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traditional  vs.  non-traditional  roommates

Across the US & Canada lately, most roommate groups are either traditional or non-traditional.

Who's best for you?  Who's paying more rent?

Pick your city to find a roommate, or get a bird's-eye view of rent elsewhere.

[ updated may 2024 ]


traditional non-traditional
2BR ÷ 2 roommates often > for both
more $ per roommate less $ per roommate
robot landlords possible robot landlords practically impossible
trendy urban blocks could be trendy,
or trendy-adjacent & commutable
rarely owner-occupied increasingly owner-occupied
smaller living spaces larger living spaces
more $ spots usually available less $ spots unpredictably available
(lower turnover)
slight majority male male and female equally
18-28 fully multigenerational
(older = more homeowners)
1st or 2nd time seeking roommates 3rd or > time
looking for roommates for a year hoping for longer if it works out
assumes work & play elsewhere enjoys hanging out at home
may prefer to socialize separately mingling without leaving the house
= making friends while saving money


(We'd categorize most roommate groups as either traditional or non-traditional.   All of one list above isn't required, just most.   However, across our usual wide variety of roommate groups, most have been much more one or the other, for a few years now.)



Until recently, our one-and-only index of average roommate rent and how much you could save compared to a 1BR was the average cost of a 2BR ÷ 2. Just like smartasset.com.

And until a few years ago, this traditional index would have been close to average for both categories, or almost everyone. We've always heard from non-traditional roommate groups as well. However, since they were previously in the minority but similarly priced, they didn't skew the numbers that much. Before.

But the roommate landscape shifted. Rising rents and an affordable housing shortage in most cities gradually multiplied the differences between the two. Then, pandemic.

Traditional roommate rents went up, but so did the number of homeowners renting rooms, along with working from home. The disparity between traditional and non-traditional roommate groups is now large enough that it no longer makes sense to average them, then declare that the whole story.

Real estate companies are able to monitor rentals of entire units, or the purchase of real estate, because those numbers are reported to the government and the census. If you're renting a room in an owner-occupied property, these same agencies can't "see" you or exactly how much you've paid in the same publicly-accessible way.

Hence, non-traditional roommate groups fly under most real estate radar.


affordable housing shortage

Now, the "depth of the housing shortage and the suddenness of Covid-19 and inflation have tipped smaller cities into an affordability crisis."

While spending >= 30% of income on rent means "rent-burdened" due to likely difficulty affording other life necessities, it's the "new normal" in many US metros.

"The US is now rent-burdened nationwide for the first time."

Economists say "the fundamental issue is that the country does not have enough homes where people want them. ... The shortage has driven up costs for buyers and renters alike—most spectacularly in megacities such as Los Angeles and New York, but pretty much everywhere at this point."


remote equity rentals

"Amid a national housing crisis, giant private equity firms have been buying up apartment buildings en masse to squeeze them for profit ... snapping up rentals by the thousands," along with "tens of thousands of single-family homes lost to foreclosure." This means more remote landlords in major American cities, according to ProPublica’s analysis.

This puts upward pressure on rent prices for everyone, pushing up the cost of renting and driving down affordable housing stock. Meanwhile, many so-called mom-and-pop landlords have been displaced by corporate players. All tenants pay more, while the only ones benefiting from soaring rents are out-of-town investors.

"What the real estate industry won't tell you" is that as the ratio of investor-owned houses to live-in buyers rises, the investors get more tax deductions but prices skyrocket for everyone else." Housing is getting less affordable for everyone at every level," says Daryl Fairweather, chief economist for Redfin.

"Such firms use economies of scale to more aggressively squeeze profits from their buildings" than live-in or even local landlords usually do, tenant advocates say. "The firms’ tactics can include sharply increasing rent or fees and neglecting upkeep."

"In contrast, so-called mom-and-pops usually look for steady streams of rental income over time while their buildings grow in value."

Meanwhile, living with roommates to whom you rent rooms can be reasonably profitable, but only reasonably. So if you own a property good enough for roommates, you can rent part of it out. That's reasonably profitable, and reasonable property owners and reasonable roommates could be happy together.

But investors demand high yields, not reasonable places to live. Investors always want to push past reasonable. Since investment property tends to change hands, each time with someone new taking another cut, ultimately it inflates well past property taxes alone.


robot landlords

And now it's not just remote! It's robot!

Robot landlords are essential.

Charging rent remotely wouldn't be comfortable without automation overlay for all the tasks local landlords previously handled. If robot repair requests are actually honored, they're outsourced to local contractors, who may take their time. Many tenants have been disappointed in their robots' lack of responsiveness. Every attempted complaint sent them down a rabbithole of absolutely no one willing to take responsibility for anything other than charging rent.

The robot landlords control you and their properties using apps developed to assist Wall Street investment firms and real estate developers. So that's a huge help to anyone looking to charge from afar without showing up.

But it's a lot less helpful to anyone looking for affordable housing. The apps allow real estate developers to charge all the fees, but now with next to none of the employees.

Housing advocates say long distance real estate run remotely from afar pushes "lower and middle-income Americans out of homeownership by buying up the kind of older, 1,000-square-foot-ish houses once affordable to first-time homeowners and inflating the market with investors."

Or once affordable for roommates. Because many of those might have been purchased by someone with enough for a down payment, but would prefer help with upcoming monthlies. That person could charge roommates less while still paying all their own bills.

But when multiple absentee landlords take their cut from a roommate situation, it becomes more difficult for most to live there.


owner-occupied roommate groups

Q: So, are roommates really that different than inflation in general? Or to the extent they are, won't the market still correct itself at some point, even if the inflation is driven by away investors?

A: Sure, roommate rents rise with general inflation. And roommate rents can fall when inflation does as well. But remote real estate speculators could extract a lot of value from you and your roommates before that happens.

If investors think they can extract more value from you in the future, they'll try again. Out-of-state investors are pushing for "rent hikes that outpace wages and inflation," say a tenants' rights movement pushing for rent control.


Q: So, is supporting a live-in landlord really that different than supporting several remote ones? Homeowners are extracting value from roommates too, right?

A: Sure, homeowners are extracting value. But they're usually putting a good bit of it back into where you collectively live, as conditions there affect them too.

For your larger roommate community, support of owner-occupied housing keeps a higher percentage of housing affordable for everyone. Assisting someone who owns their home or is working on a mortgage but still living locally is more clever for you both than donating money to away investors.

On the strictly selfish front, when landlords are live-in or even local to the roommates they charge, it puts the brakes on a lot of bad behavior.

Certainly not all.

But a lot.






your rent
northeast US non-trad trad 1BR
Detroit 500 674 1159
Buffalo 450 695 1233
Indianapolis 400 731 1167
Cleveland 350 734 1346
Syracuse 500 734 1198
Columbus 550 740 1231
Cincinnati 350 768 1175
Hartford 800 776 1318
Bangor 350 786 1130
Grand Rapids 500 797 1316
Pittsburgh 550 842 1293
US national average 919 1482
Baltimore 650 948 1533
Manchester 550 952 1658
Philadelphia 700 975 1555
Burlington 500 1028 1754
Worcester 650 1058 1818
Newark 800 1077 1664
Providence 600 1121 1629
New Haven or Bridgeport 800 1141 1811
Portland (ME) 550 1148 2077
NYC-The Bronx 900 1271 2182
NYC-Staten Island 850 1288 1746
New Brunswick 600 1425 2029
Washington D.C. 900 1518 2271
Boston 1000 1788 2967
NYC-Queens 1150 1835 2923
NYC-Brooklyn 1400 2185 3648
NYC-Manhattan 1500 2731 4332




DETROIT

  • $500   =  non-traditional average 1
  • $674   =  average 2BR ÷ 2, or traditional roommate rent 2
  • $1159   =  average 1BR, rented solo 3

83% live within a 10-minute walk of a park. 4
Some errands can be accomplished on foot. 5
ill-advised urban wilderness exploration, urban decay after dark
local professional sports, museums, outdoor water recreation, bicycle friendly, nature preserves, live music 6
another factory that isn't ruined, gentrification, more lots than houses, where the good Mexican food actually is, industrial wasteland, now only bridges, waterfront sculpture gardens, poor people, black bottom, nice park w/crazy geese, crackhead central but good tacos, visiting boaters, I work for Quicken Loans, and southwest suburbs are the largest hoodmap tags 7

SO, roomiematch.com's Detroit roommate rundown:

Detroit looms large in our national imagination. That huge Motown sound now associated with the even huger rise and fall of the automotive assembly line over the last several decades . . . which led to a huge population decline which sadly subsequently led to crime and urban decline.

Decline led to decay led to the dubious phenomenon of Detroit's primacy within the world of "urban exploration?" While the interest value is obvious, leading many urban explorers toward impressive but now untended larger structures, thousands of empty buildings around a city are not a sign of urban health.

It's also wouldn't be a sign of any kind of health if they collapsed on anyone either.

Detroit has responded by demolishing many to plant grass and trees in their wake (urban prairie).

But that's the bad news. With more recent revitalization, many older buildings are now renovated and revitalized, instead of paintballed.

Urban topography aside, Detroit still has a reputation for being dangerous. While not undeserved, crime has declined significantly in recent years, with the overall crime rate downtown now below the national average.

It's now more accurate to say that while danger still lives in Detroit, it's now mostly residing in troubled neighborhoods. So roommates new to Detroit need to be aware of theirs, particularly after dark.

Urban exploration? To explore decay, go during the DAY.

After dark in your car, stick to neighborhoods you know or busy arteries. Don't drive through unfamiliar areas on smaller streets. Driving around with friends but without a lot that's valuable (cash, jewelry, expensive clothing, bling, etc.), especially anywhere new would be clever too.

After dark out of your car, move with larger crowds. Larger venues tend to be policed or feature security that smaller might not easily afford. Understand that a late night club may be adequately populated, and your trip on a well-populated street inside a reliable vehicle relatively safe as well, but where are you going to park? What's the walking vibe between your parking and your party, plus how far?

More on transportation: It shouldn't be shocking (heh) that as the historical center of the auto industry, your experience of Detroit will usually rely on having one.

Detroit has been described as both "auto-friendly" (glass half full) and "auto dependent" (glass half empty). But whatever your feelings about driving, Detroit is spread out over a larger geographic area than most cities. And while public transport exists, it's mostly a nice way to get around downtown. Meanwhile, their modern freeway system plus ample parking pretty much everywhere encourages you to get behind the wheel.

So unless you plan to exist entirely downtown, you'll find Detroit would like you to drive, extra points for a local model.

Except one exception! Bicycling! Because the rise and fall of the auto industry was correlated with same population-wise, most streets have multiple lanes that are now no longer needed. This means bikers can get a whole entire lane all to themselves, which is rare in a city anywhere near this size.

So biking year round is awesome for all roommates, right? Well, depends on the day, plus likely where you're from.

Detroit's weather changes rapidly in all seasons, while winter remains long. Long means COLD. Storms can be severe, and snow remains on the ground for much of winter. Winter temperatures remain below freezing for months, while the wind-chill factor at its icy lowest can snap anyone Southern.

So Detroit's overall current forecast? For the adventurous yet adequately cautious, Detroit's recently revitalized downtown riverfront with ornate buildings, sculpture, fountains, historic skyscrapers, and several parks totaling hundreds of acres has much to recommend it. Affordably!

Many historic buildings downtown have been recently converted into loft apartments, which are popular due to style plus proximity to everything downtown Detroit has to offer.

That includes Detroit's skyline, enduring and still dazzling. Now more than ever.

The rest of the Detroit roommate lowdown:

  • Detroit proper has a population of about 600,000, with the greater metro area about 5 million. This makes it the largest city in the Midwest, after Chicago. While it has remained large, it gained and lost about a million residents during the surge and collapse of Detroit's automotive industry.
  • along the Detroit River, across the border from Windsor, Ontario
  • US and Canadian citizens are required to present a valid passport, enhanced driver's license or approved traveler card when crossing the border (please check with border patrol on the day of travel, requirements can change without much notice). Once you've got your identification under control, you can cross over a bridge, through a tunnel (there's a tunnel bus if you're not already in a vehicle) or on a ferry.
  • home of Baker College, Center for Creative Studies, Detroit College of Business, Michigan Christian College, William Tyndale College, Baker College of Port Huron, Lawrence Institute of Technology, Marygrove College, Walsh College of Accounting, Oakland University, University of Detroit Mercy, Wayne State University, and the University of Michigan
  • Detroit is where Henry Ford pioneered the automotive assembly line, creating the world's first assembly line car, the Model T. Detroit has forever after been known as the "Automobile Capital" or "Motown" (short for "Motor Town"). While the auto industry surged then collapsed since its peak, several major car manufacturers still have a presence here, since merging with higher tech.
  • Detroit is the only US city to have four major sports teams all playing downtown: Detroit Lions, Detroit Pistons, Detroit Red Wings, and the Detroit Tigers. This is possible because downtown also hosts three major sports arenas.
  • largest US city with casino resorts: three major ones
  • Detroit is famous for Coney Island hot dogs, Vernor's Ginger Ale, Detroit-style pizza (deep dish but with a crispy buttery crust) and a lot of excellent Mexican (Mexicantown) and Polish (Hamtramck) restaurants.



After you're settled down, you and your roommates should experience Detroit's:

  • Pewabic Pottery: Founded in 1903, they exemplified the Arts and Crafts movement then developed their own iridescent glaze and some fabulous tiles and then put them various important places all around the country. It's also Michigan's most historic pottery, as it has been designated such by a number of local and national societies. Lots of nice things to buy, but if retail's not your thing you can also view exhibitions, attend talks, and take classes with studio time to create your own.
  • Belle Isle: Shared the same designer as NYC's Central Park, but Detroit's is larger at 1000 acres. It's also in the river between Detroit and Windsor so you get there by bridge, and features swimming, yachting, rowing, golfing, and motor and boat racing. Feeling lower key? Nature watching remains another extremely valid option.
  • Rouge Park: An even larger park! 1200 acres, featuring a golf course, model airplane fields, swimming, and hiking.
  • Guardian Building w/Art Deco Lobby: 40 stories tall, with light tangerine bricks. Includes Aztec and Native American mosaics, many made at Pewabic, along with a massive mural of the state of Michigan
  • Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge: not only the only international wildlife refuge in North America, it's also right inside the city? It includes coastal wetlands, islands, marshes and shoals, all along the Detroit River.
  • Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History: hosts the world's largest permanent art collection on African American culture
  • Detroit Institute of Arts: one of the most important museums in the country with holdings worth more than a billion dollars
  • Baker's Keyboard Lounge: Since 1934, the world's oldest continuously operating jazz club
  • The Raven Lounge: One of Detroit's oldest blues clubs - unassuming exterior, warmer and sparklier interior
  • Hitsville U.S.A.: Motown Records' first headquarters where all the Motown hits were recorded. Today it hosts a museum displaying artifacts of its very own musical historical significance.


Here's the city of Detroit's official .gov for their Department of Neighborhoods, which could guide you toward a better experience in yours.







CLEVELAND

  • $350   =  non-traditional average 1
  • $734   =  average 2BR ÷ 2, or traditional roommate rent 2
  • $1346   =  average 1BR, rented solo 3

81% live within a 10-minute walk of a park. 4
Some errands can be accomplished on foot. 5
heartburn, stray horses
cheapest rent, nature preserves, public transit, symphonies 6
musty money, Bone Thugs, why see the world when u got the beach, railroads, factories, and poverty, hipster paradise, speed trap, west side best side, and you might get mugged though are the largest hoodmap tags 7

SO, roomiematch.com's Cleveland roommate rundown:

Cleveland is friendly. Not just the people, though they are that too, with those stereotypically solid Midwestern vibes.

It's also friendly because it offers much life for less than half your likely cost for coastal cities (most of 'em, check out Baltimore). Cleveland is affordable not just by national standards, but Ohio's as well.

Incredibly all around, as Cleveland is a dream come true for the outdoorsy intellectual. Large lake, large universities, large scale public transport system that actually works ("The Rapid").

There are many seriously outdoorsy students roaming around on The Rapid. Many also enjoy seriously substantial sandwiches. To and from their seriously exciting outdoor adventures, in between their seriously studious university coursework.

So for roommates? Not a lot of cons here.

Well there was that fiery River Cuyahoga. But it seriously seems like they've got that under control.

The rest of the Cleveland roommate lowdown:

  • Cleveland is the urban metro for Northeast Ohio, with about 350,000 folks, on the shores of Lake Erie, in Cuyahoga County. The Greater Cleveland metro area, including Akron and Canton, is about 3.6 million.
  • The weather includes all four seasons; winters are cloudy, snow is frequent, summer is brief. Winter experiences some extra wind chill and lake effect snow from Erie, but overall it's rarely severe. But you and your roommates will want serious winter coats.
  • Most of Cleveland is laid out in a grid with almost no one-way streets and clear signage. It's one of the easiest cities in the world to navigate.
  • Home to Cleveland Institute of Art, Dyke College, Baldwin-Wallace College, John Carroll University, Lake Erie College, Notre Dame College, Oberlin College, Ursuline College, Cast Western Reserve University, Cleveland Institute of Music, and Cleveland State University
  • Cleveland's bus and mass transit by rail system is conducted by the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (RTA), with the rail portion known as RTA Rapid Transit, nicknamed by residents, "The Rapid." About 22% of Cleveland's households use this primarily or entirely instead of a car.
  • The Cuyahoga, Cleveland's river, has caught on fire over a dozen times largely due to pollution from industrial waste. It was fairly poisonous for a while, but since then Cleveland has become a model for environmental cleanup and future protection.



After you're settled down, you and your roommates should experience Cleveland's:

  • Many attractions downtown near the lakefront, including: Cleveland Botanical Gardens, Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland Museum of Natural History, the Great Lakes Science Center, and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame & Museum
  • "Emerald Necklace" or "Forest City" (locals like both names! because parks are awesome!): Cleveland Metroparks circling the city. You can swim, bike, jog, rollerblade, boat, row, canoe, kayak, or ski . . . or just walk on the beach with your roommates.
  • You can even ride a horse. That's right, the urban beaches of Cleveland will allow you to ride your pony upon them.
  • Cleveland Public Library: One of the largest public libraries in the country, including an extensive collection on chess.
  • Cleveland Symphony Orchestra: Considered world-class, one of the "Big Five" orchestras in the US
  • Cedar Point Amusement Park: Many Ohioans say is the Roller Coaster Capital of the World! Over a dozen roller coasters. Also a beach, restaurants, and some live shows.
  • Polka Music: Popular all over Cleveland, past and present. Cleveland has its own subgenre of polka music unsurprisingly called Cleveland-style polka, and it's featured at the local Polka Hall of Fame.
  • Polish Boy: Their hometown native sandwich. It's kielbasa, and french fries, and BBQ sauce inside the bun, then grilled. AND THEN you're ALSO encouraged to add chili, cheese, and coleslaw. Polish Boys are available throughout Cleveland at various restaurants and rib joints . . . all sounding like nobody on the premises would ever want anybody leaving hungry.


Here's the city of Cleveland's official .gov for housing and home improvement, including buying or renting.







SYRACUSE

  • $500   =  non-traditional average 1
  • $734   =  average 2BR ÷ 2, or traditional roommate rent 2
  • $1198   =  average 1BR, rented solo 3

76% live within a 10-minute walk of a park. 4
Some errands can be accomplished on foot. 5
blizzards, chapped lips
Snowy Winter Wonderland > 100 inches a year of sport-ready snow near glacial lakes . . . with festivals! 6

SO, roomiematch.com's Syracuse roommate rundown:

Syracuse is a Snowy Winter Wonderland - almost 30% covered in trees, including maples, cedars, and buckthorns.

And those are often covered in snow, sometimes blizzards, easily over 100 inches a year. Syracuse sports more snow than you could shake a trekking pole with a snow basket at, and it's warm enough in summer for water sports too.

But only just, under 72 most of the time.

Another heads up for non-New-Yorkers, Syracuse is approximately halfway between NYC and Toronto. At about 250 miles from each, it's closer to Buffalo than NYC. So if you were imagining Syracuse might be like a "suburb," but still within shouting distance of New York City? Sorry nope. Not a good plan.

Rather, Syracuse is its own snowier town that seriously loves showing off local culture. Not a showdown with anything downstate, but a hub for education and entertainment for the Central region, hosting multiple important universities and a lot of cultural conventions.

A LOT of cultural conventions. Syracuse loves larger community fests, and fests in general.

Syracuse loves a fair. And a party, and a jam. Events and functions are welcome.

Any crowd contingent on a band is grand. Or a company, chorus, or creative theater. And what about string quartets, societies, ensembles, and chamber compositions from commissioned composers? And if they're all charitable, that'll be even better.

How about the Syracuse Nationals, the largest car show in the Northeast? Or Syracuse Juneteenth, including Gospel performance, a Victory Parade, and an Ancestral Celebration? There's also Syracuse Stage to Symphoria, the orchestra of Central New York.

Or stop by St. Sophia's Greek Cultural Festival, with food and dancing and food and spirit-tasting and food and costumes and food and then you'll be offered a menu.

The Syracuse Irish Festival is free. Jazz with wine is very often why not.

And nothing is more significant to Syracuse than The Great New York State Fair. It's the oldest state fair, still very large. Thirteen days of more talent, livestock, food and flower competitions than you could wave a prize-winning ribbon at . . . so it's a good thing you and your roommates won't be the only judges. There's so much food there's a New York State Fair Food Finder app to help direct your appetite.

You could find wool and roses. Llamas and ice cream. Your rabbits and your poetry could find love too.

Just don't forget your headlamp, long underwear, and lip balm.

Do beware of avalanche! But never sit on snow, you'll get too cold.

Finally, an ice ax might be optional. But why be unprepared?

The rest of the Syracuse roommate lowdown:

  • Syracuse has almost 150,000 residents in the city, and about 650,000 in the greater metropolitan area.
  • located along the Old Erie Canal, both Oneida Lake and Lake Ontario are nearby
  • severe winters, one of the greatest annual snowfalls in the country
  • very low cost of living for New York state
  • over 150 parks and recreation areas totalling over 1000 acres, including public pools and ice rinks
  • Higher education, health tech, research, and medical services figure predominantly in Syracuse's economy today, along with high tech - specifically cleaner energy innovation and sustainable living, a theme running through Syracuse.
  • home to several colleges and universities, including Syracuse University, Upstate Medical University, Empire State College, and the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry
  • no larger professional sports teams, but Syracuse University games are attended very enthusiastically
  • You might want to walk around downtown, when it's not freezing cold. But otherwise, you and your roommates will likely want a car.



After you're settled down, you and your roommates should experience Syracuse's:

  • Onondaga Historical Association: Includes the Iroquois Cultural Center focusing on the native peoples of central New York. Includes "A Brief History of Local Female Philanthropists" and "Social Justice in Central New York." You and your roommates could join their book club, discussing books about your region.
  • Green Lakes State Park: Two glacial lakes surrounded by upland forest, featuring 18 holes of golf and 15 miles of cross-country ski and snow-shoeing trail. You can also kayak or camp in summer.
  • ArtRage Gallery: Since 2008, Syracuse's "home for social justice and environmental art." They're always mounting new exhibitions and prioritize local artists who are interested in awareness and environmental themes.
  • Funk N' Waffles: Waffles, wings, and funk - "From savory and sweet, from vegan to meat, we have the food that will move your feet!" We're into the Banana Bread Belafonte.


Here's the city of Syracuse's official .gov for Winter in Syracuse, helping you and your roommates prepare for winter-related concerns.







BUFFALO

  • $450   =  non-traditional average 1
  • $695   =  average 2BR ÷ 2, or traditional roommate rent 2
  • $1233   =  average 1BR, rented solo 3

91% live within a 10-minute walk of a park. 4
Some errands can be accomplished on foot. 5
severe winter snow
few traffic jams, winter recreation, snow sports, waterfront 6
lumberjacks be pullin syrup out of trees, snow walls, poor white people, botanical gardens, rick james corpse, rich white people, used to play pro hockey, more gentrification, and canada, eh? are the largest hoodmap tags 7

SO, roomiematch.com's Buffalo roommate rundown:

Buffalo is near the US border with Canada, opposite Fort Erie, Ontario. Buffalo proper is very small, but the larger Buffalo-Niagara Falls metro area has over a million folks. Crossing back and forth at the four border crossings is popular and easy for anyone with a passport.

Buffalo is VERY cheap for New York state. That's mostly because it's closer to Cleveland, Detroit, and Pittsburgh than NYC. Your lifestyle expenses will be much more similar to Cleveland, Detroit, and Pittsburgh as well. All comparatively cheap for metros around that size!

Severe snow happens, immediately followed by city crews removing it. Buffalo handles its winter well; residents in town don't have to slow down much.

And yes, you should eat the famous wings and see the famous Falls once or twice, more if you're into them.

But it's even more Buffalo-typical to eat Cheerios with your roommates on your porch!

The rest of the Buffalo roommate lowdown:

  • located on the eastern end of Lake Erie, near the United States border with Canada, opposite Fort Erie, Ontario - small city of about 275,000, but the larger Buffalo-Niagara Falls Metropolitan Statistical Area is over a million estimated population
  • Buffalo is divided into 5 districts and 35 neighborhoods. Main Street divides the city with the West Side somewhat more expensive than the East Side.
  • VERY low cost of living FOR New York state, which makes sense as Buffalo is actually closer to Cleveland, Detroit, and Pittsburgh than NYC
  • severe winter snow (about 100 inches annually!) during about 7 months of winter, but snow doesn't sideline most Buffalonians as city crews plow and salt the roads regularly
  • Everyone loves the weather all the rest of the time that's not winter.
  • home to three State University of New York campuses, including University at Buffalo, Buffalo State College, and Erie Community College
  • The Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority (NFTA) operates Buffalo's public transportation, including its airport, over 300 buses, light-rail system, and harbors.
  • There are four border crossings from the Buffalo-Niagara Falls area into Canada. Crossing the border is usually easy if you have a passport.
  • waterfront hub, the city's total area is about 22% water
  • While crime in Buffalo is still higher than the national average, crime has decreased significantly since the end of the crack epidemic in the 1990s.



After you're settled down, you and your roommates should experience Buffalo's:

  • Cheerios: They've been made in Buffalo for over 75 years. A toasty oat aroma wafts along the Buffalo River as they bake them fresh every day. You could also wear the popular local T-shirt that says, "My city smells like Cheerios" as that will frequently come true if you move here.
  • Architecture: Buffalo is rated one of the top cities in the country for architecture, featuring many buildings considered masterpieces, including the Buffalo Central Terminal, the Buffalo City Court Building, the Seneca One Tower, the Darwin D. Martin House Complex, and the Art Deco Buffalo City Hall
  • Art Galleries: Over 50 art galleries, including the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, the Burchfield Penney Art Center, the Buffalo History Museum, and the Buffalo Museum of Science
  • Honeycomb Toffee, Butter Lambs, and Beef on Weck: In addition to the famous wings, Buffalo is known for its honeycomb toffee (a sponge made from mostly molasses and baking soda), butter lambs (tiny frozen sculptures made of butter with eyes of peppercorn or clove), and beef on weck (rare roast beef sandwiches served with horseradish and dipped in au jus). Food trucks are very popular.
  • Niagara Falls is a major tourist attraction, mostly during summer.
  • Buffalo Theater District: over 20 professional theater companies
  • Porchfests: Various Buffalo Porchfests feature many beers plus many bands showcasing themselves on porch "stages" all over the city. The original kicked off in Elmwood Village, but newer porch-centric events are also underway in other celebratory Buffalo neighborhoods. If you and your roommates have a porch, you might consider letting local musicians use it as a stage! They'll probably only be there temporarily. Probably.
  • Grain Silos: Many miles of giant hollow abandoned grain silos along the Buffalo River are getting a second life as they're transformed into cultural spaces for poetry, live music, and theater performances. Both public vs. private and walking vs. boating tours are available. Some tours would take you and your roommates all the way to the stunning tops of the now historical grain elevators.


Here's the link to sign up for BUFFALERT, which will send you text messages to warn you of upcoming possible emergencies in Buffalo.







INDIANAPOLIS

  • $400   =  non-traditional average 1
  • $731   =  average 2BR ÷ 2, or traditional roommate rent 2
  • $1167   =  average 1BR, rented solo 3

36% live within a 10-minute walk of a park. 4
Most errands require a car. 5
you must drive, you must worship the Hoosiers
museums, local professional sports, symphonies, motorsports 6
fast & furious wannabes, every type of food, fast cars drive in circles, golf courses, white hood ground zero, golden corral = fine dining, actually hipsters, cool new food court, artsy ppl w/antiques, hipster lake, lafayette scare, ppl who sit in lawn chairs in garages, and cars on cinder blocks are the largest hoodmap tags 7

SO, roomiematch.com's Indianapolis roommate rundown:

Indianapolis is Indiana's capital, largest city, and geographic center. It's known for giving big city with smaller town mentality vibes.

Some have called it sleepy, and thought its nickname "Naptown" was somehow insulting and offensive. Like it was insinuating Indianapolitans were napping more than they somehow should. Because they're . . . too sleepy?

But different others say nope. "Nap" is just an informal stress on the fourth syllable in Indianapolis, with adding "town" a cute way of avoiding the rest of the syllables. They proudly stress "Naptown" was first coined by local jazz musicians, starting in the 1920s.

Lately there's also the Naptown Roller Girls and Naptown Stomp. Also Naptown = Too Sleepy would be hard to reconcile with Indianapolis' other popular nickname, "Racing Capital of the World!"

Did we need to mention Indianapolis is a major hub for motorsports? You've heard of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, home of the Indy 500 (and many other races), but did you know there are hundreds of other motorsport companies and teams, employing a total of about 10,000 locally?

That's sporting. In addition to everything Indy 500 (and many other races), Indianapolis is represented in the NFL and NBA, plus minor league baseball. And it also deservedly refers to itself as the "Amateur Sports Capital of the World!"

Multiple collegiate athletic conferences and associations all meet here. The general high enthusiasm for basketball throughout the state, not just their NBA and WNBA teams, but starting with large high school tournaments, then continuing through college, has been referred to as "Hoosier Hysteria!"

The hysteria itself is named after the critically-acclaimed film (Hoosiers), which is named after their 1954 state championship.

They've been Hoosier Hysterical since then. That's why they're also known as Hoosier Country?

Like a country with a river you can float down. Long ago, city founders wanted Indianapolis to become an important port. However, the White River wasn't navigable enough of the time. Sad for city founders back then, happy for you right now or whenever you'd like to kayak or paddleboat along a gorgeous canal large enough for ships but entirely without any ever getting in your way. No need for your own paddleboat either, it's easy to rent one right there.

The driving is also easy, especially for a city this large. It's laid out in an easily navigable grid. Traffic jams are rarely a concern, and drivers are polite and non-aggressive. That's the good news.

The bad might be you and your roommates will need that car. There are a few public bus routes (Indy Go), but waits are long and they don't go far. There are few nice bike lanes with many more miles planned throughout the next decade, but their bike lanes don't go that far yet either, and none are dedicated. Not a lot of walkable sidewalks either.

Indianapolis scores low on walkability but fairly high on all things driving. They do love driving.

They also love performing for each other, seemingly more than the usual amount. So many are so often singing, playing instruments, marching, and dancing.

And there are a lot of local performing arts organizations. Not just a regular symphony and a regular orchestra and a chamber orchestra, but a specifically Baroque orchestra and an orchestra just for kids. The American Pianists host their association here, along with Drum Corps International and Percussive Arts. There's even a non-profit just for music from the baroque, medieval, and renaissance eras, with an emphasis on including historically correct instruments.

Also they love dinner theater of the cocktail & cabaret variety. They really get into sounding both saucy and sauced, probably as soon as they're done racing around that day.

They're Indianapolitans!

The rest of the Indianapolis roommate lowdown:

  • about 875,000 residents of the city, with about 2 million in the greater metro
  • hub for agricultural and livestock commerce, academic medicine and health sciences research, drugs and pharmaceuticals, and information high tech
  • Indianapolis has 100s of farms covering 1000s of acres, usually on the outskirts but within city limits, interspersed with housing developments, especially unusual compared to other similarly-sized cities
  • Not exactly temperate, they do experience all 4 seasons, but with seasonal highs and lows less than most of the northeast and midwest. It tends to top out at about 85F in summer, it only snows every few years, and catastrophic storms are rare.
  • Low unemployment rate, and many companies based in the region, including academic medicine and health sciences, agricultural, health insurance, logistics, and pharmaceutical. High tech, especially for logistic, is growing. Amazon and FedEx reroute a lot of packages right here. Sports tourism and the hospitality to support it are also huge.
  • home to Butler University, Franklin College of Indiana, Herron School of Art and Design, Marian College, Anderson University, Indiana University, Purdue University, and the University of Indianapolis
  • many golf courses (including one or two miniatures), and over 200 parks
  • Indianapolis is known for deep-fried pork sandwiches, beef Manhattans (that's an open-face sandwich which might have mashed potatoes on top), and sugar cream pies.
  • Also microbreweries. There are already about 50, with Sun King Brewing probably the largest, known most for Scottish-style and cream ales plus all the beer awards they won making those. If you and your roommates are at least 21, you can book a tour that would include samples of their most popular brews. But don't forget your ID, and don't wear sandals.



After you're settled down, you and your roommates should experience Indianapolis:

  • Indianapolis Zoo: Home to the first underwater dolphin viewing dome. Also over 200 species of animals, and the White River Gardens with over 3000 different plants adjoins.
  • Holcomb Observatory & Planetarium: Would you and your roommates like to look through the largest telescope in Indiana in one of the largest public observatories in the world? Have I got a planetarium for you!
  • Indiana State Museum: Learn all about Indianapolis from way back when (fossils, Civil War) all the way through a hall dedicated to the Hoosiers and a sculpture garden dedicated to the counties of Indiana. Indiana-related trinkets in the gift shop and famous chicken soup in the Tea Room.
  • Indianapolis Museum of Art: Since 1883, now covering over 150 acres. And over 53,000 works and over 5000 years of human history. The emphasis on outdoor art, murals, and public historic nature park installations featuring lush gardens emphasize their preference that art exist within and contribute harmoniously to the natural environment.
  • Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art: Featuring a lot of Western art plus artifacts, art, and Native American history. They would like to help us understand Indigenous people through exhibitions of their art and culture. Many free lectures you and your roommates could attend.
  • Conner Prairie Interactive History Park: Would you like to experience some authentic historical details of life in Indiana back in the 1800s? Periodic exhibits and a gift shop too.
  • Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum: World's largest collection of racing, classic, and antique cars. You can also ride around the track.
  • Indianapolis 500: Hosted above, but the main event is in May. Do you like loud cars, louder crowds, and tailgating? Don't miss it.
  • Indianapolis Cultural Trail: 8 miles of maintained trail lined with public art, with Fountain Square and White River State Park along the way
  • Monon Trail: over 20 miles, popular with walkers, joggers, bikers and rollerbladers, connects downtown Indianapolis to the suburbs
  • NCAA Hall of Champions: Explore the history of college athletics
  • Indiana State Fair: Everything you'd expect, plus Hoosiers and Prairie Home Companion - the best-attended summer event in Indiana.
  • Oktoberfest: Do you enjoy German food, beer, live music, and dancing? Guess where you can do all four together? Annually since 1974.
  • Indy Irish Fest: Dancing, food, booze, live music, sheep herding, Civil War reenactments, Celtic Mass, and a kilted mile.
  • Bands of America Grand Nationals: The best marching bands in the country all competing together in one stadium.
  • Harrison Center for the Arts: Local art and artists, four art galleries, dozens of personal studios, and First Fridays where you can check it all out for free, usually with live music.
  • Kurt Vonnegut: As their most famous writer, Indianapolitans gave him The Kurt Vonnegut Museum and Library in 2010, and there's also a mural of him on Mass Avenue. Because he's a true Hoosier.
  • Gainbridge Fieldhouse: See the NBA Indiana Pacers (November-April) or the WNBA Indiana Fever (June-September). Or you and your roommates could check out both home teams. WNBA tickets tend to be cheaper.
  • Naptown Stomp: Teaching and spreading enthusiasm for vintage dancing, including Lindy Hop, with an emphasis on big band sounds of the 1920s and 1930s.
  • Naptown Roller Derby: Indiana's first Women's Flat Track Roller Derby Association team. Watch the Tornado Sirens and another team go for all the rollerskate gusto.


Here's the city of Indianapolis official .gov for Moving to Indianapolis, including registering to vote and suggestions for life in Indy







COLUMBUS

  • $550   =  non-traditional average 1
  • $740   =  average 2BR ÷ 2, or traditional roommate rent 2
  • $1231   =  average 1BR, rented solo 3

71% live within a 10-minute walk of a park. 4
Most errands require a car. 5
aggressive towing
few traffic jams, museums 6
woke white people live here, hillbillies who like softball, grovetucky, recent grads, students, hospital workers, official state religion, more reasonable groceries are the largest hoodmap tags 7

SO, roomiematch.com's Columbus roommate rundown:

Columbus is where many Americans meet. About a million converging right there in the center of Ohio.

It's where the Rust Belt, the Bible Belt, the Farm Belt, and Appalachia intersect - and equidistant from several other nearby cities, including Cincinnati, Cleveland, Detroit, Indianapolis, Louisville, and Pittsburgh.

Columbus is the capital of Ohio and hosts The Ohio Supercomputer Center, among the top 10 academic centers for computing.

All this proximity plus opportunity mean Columbus also hosts one of the nation's largest college student bodies at Ohio State University, Ohio's largest university. Go Buckeyes! (That's about 37 varsity teams, all encouraging "Buckeye fever.")

Most of Columbus mostly drives a car. There is a bus service (COTA) and a bike share (CoGo) but frequent reliance on both could turn into a time suck. While campus and downtown are walkable, most of the rest are mostly driving. You'll want to as well unless you really never leave campus and downtown.

Parking is abundant, but towing is notoriously aggressive, so never leave your car anywhere you're not allowed or it'll likely go on another drive without you.

Try not to drive anywhere near a home OSU football game, unless you actually are trying to tailgate.

And no U-turning anywhere ever!

The rest of the Columbus roommate lowdown:

  • crime rate is fairly low
  • along the Scioto River, 4 small rivers run through the city
  • summers are warm and humid, fog is common - winters both rainy and snowy, sometimes severe, with lightning, hail, and occasional tornadoes, while blizzards and ice storms are less common
  • diverse economy with recent urban revitalization
  • citizens better educated than national average
  • home to College of Art & Design, Denison University, Mount Carmel College of Nursing, Ohio Dominican College, Ohio Wesleyan University, Capital University, Franklin University, Otterbein College, and Ohio State University
  • hosts a lot of museums: Columbus Museum of Art, Wexner Center for the Arts, Ohio History Connection, Ohio History Center, Columbus Historical Society, Orton Geological Museum, the Thurber House, the Central Ohio Fire Museum, and the National Veterans Memorial and Museum



After you're settled down, you and your roommates should experience Columbus's:

  • North Market: Shopping mall meets supermarket meets food truck = no one leaves hungry
  • Columbus Arts Festival: Huge event on the riverfront in June
  • Columbus Jazz and Rib Fest: Great food and music for about half a million people downtown every July
  • Italian Village: Near downtown, prominent Italian-American community since the 1890s
  • Columbus Metropolitan Library: With more than 3 million items, it's one of the largest, most used and highest ranked libraries in the country
  • Franklin Park Conservatory: Over 400 species of plants in a large greenhouse. Biomes include mountain, desert, and rain forest. Opened in 1895!
  • Columbus Park of Roses: 13 acres with thousands of blooms
  • Jeni's Ice Cream: Flagship location of James Beard Award-winning gourmet ice creamery
  • Ohio Roller Derby: Competes internationally in Women's Flat Track Derby Association


Here's the city of Columbus's official .gov for Housing & Renters' Programs.







HARTFORD

  • $800   =  non-traditional average 1
  • $756   =  average 2BR ÷ 2, or traditional roommate rent 2
  • $1307   =  average 1BR, rented solo 3

96% live within a 10-minute walk of a park. 4
Some errands can be accomplished on foot. 5
insurance capital of the world
museums, bicycle trails 6
you grew up playing ball here, this park be lit, rich white people in their 30s, private school nestled between hoods, even more rich soccer moms, old people live here, and people exercising are the largest hoodmap tags 7

SO, roomiematch.com's Hartford roommate rundown:

Hartford is one of the oldest cities in the United States.

Hartford also wants you to know it still hosts the oldest public art museum, oldest continuously published newspaper, oldest public farmers' market, oldest public rose garden, and the oldest publicly funded park in the entire country.

In addition to all the oldest listed above, Hartford also hosted the first coin-operated payphone. It was installed in a bank. However, that corner now hosts only a small blue plaque commemorating its location as "World's First Pay Telephone, Invented by William Gray and developed by George A. Long, was installed on this corner in 1889."

And a lot of Hartford is exactly that historical vibe.

But everything older in Hartford is celebrated by many well-educated younger, with the University of Connecticut, the University of Hartford, and Trinity College all nearby.

So you'd think something listed up above would have taken responsibility for Hartford's dominant nickname, right? But no.

As the headquarters for many insurance companies and the historic international center of the industry, Hartford has often been referred to as "Insurance Capital of the World" and "America's Filing Cabinet."

While that is a lot of paperwork, the city's motto still seems more profound, in Latin, "Post Nubila Phoebus" or "After the clouds, the sun." Seemingly appropriate for Hartford on a number of levels, not just the weather?

While Hartford gets a lot of clouds and a lot of sun (literally, all 4 seasons are a lot) . . . some metaphorical clouds are happening too.

Before the pandemic, downtown Hartford was mostly about the insurance offices and the insurance office employees, during the day. And not much else. As several companies relinquished their office space as their employees opted for remote work, downtown depopulated quite a bit. Ultimately, unfortunately, the pandemic didn't do downtown Hartford any favors.

But city planners have revival ideas for the future! Downtown plans that are less dependent on the office, including residential, including new units.

Plus live music and other events planned for weekends.

The rest of the Hartford roommate lowdown:

  • Connecticut's capital, on the Connecticut River, 40 miles north of the Long Island Sound, 110 miles northeast of New York City
  • Hartford's proximity to the Atlantic Ocean leads to strong northeast winds - very cold in winter and very warm in summer - periodic snow in winter - summer thundershowers
  • about 125,000 residents
  • home to Charter Oak State College, Central Connecticut State University, Eastern Connecticut State University, Hartford Graduate Center, Trinity College, Saint Joseph College, University of Connecticut, University of Connecticut School of Law, University of Hartford, and Wesleyan University
  • Hartford is served by Amtrak, a number of buses (CTtransit), and the Hartford Line (commuter rail connecting Hartford with New Haven and Springfield). "CTrail" trains provide service along this corridor. There's also a free bus circulating downtown, the Downtown Area Shuttle (DASH).
  • Hartford has a bicycle route running right through the middle including Bushnell Park, which is part of the East Coast Greenway, a 3000 mile route from the Florida Keys up to Maine. Some of the bicycle lanes are designated. You and your roommates can check with the city for same day bicycling updates.
  • Hartford is known for its Italian cuisine, particularly its giant grinder shops, many in the South End.
  • Many citizens of Hartford experience an intense rivalry between the Boston Red Sox and the NY Yankees, even though (you are noticing, right?) both of those teams are not from Hartford? So you can't know who you'll offend with that one. You could play it safe and express enthusiasm for the UConn Huskies. No one will fault you for focusing your fandom on Hartford's local Huskies instead, especially their championship-winning men and women's basketball teams.



After you're settled down, you and your roommates should experience Hartford's:

  • Bushnell Park: Near the state capital, designed by the same architect who designed Central Park in NYC, and the first publicly funded park in the country. Features historic sculpture, fountains, and a carousel.
  • Elizabeth Park: Over 100 acres of green including more formal gardens, walking trails, a cafe, and the oldest public rose garden (also the 3rd largest rose garden in the country)
  • Wadsworth Atheneum: Since 1842, America's first and now oldest public art museum, with more than 45,000 pieces in its permanent collection. Free for you and your roommates if you visit between 4 and 5 p.m.
  • Connecticut Science Center: 9-story, architecturally significant, $165-million-dollar museum on the riverfront
  • Dunkin' Donuts Park: Baseball field inaugurated in 2017, now hosting the Hartford Yard Goats
  • Old State House Farmers' Market: Since 1643, the oldest public farmers' market in Connecticut, with fresh produce and local crafts summer through fall.
  • Real Art Ways: Non-profit art space since 1975. Known for visual art, independent cinema, live music, and literary community events.


Here's the city of Hartford's official .gov for residents, with info on public libraries, trash, public safety, and transportation.







CINCINNATI

  • $350   =  non-traditional average 1
  • $768   =  average 2BR ÷ 2, or traditional roommate rent 2
  • $1175   =  average 1BR, rented solo 3

88% live within a 10-minute walk of a park. 4
Most errands require a car. 5
must have reliable car
cheapest rent, nature preserves, parkland 6
high school football, sketchy white people, HOA hell, Crazy Australian + Bible Theme Park, Florence Y'all!, Waffle House, and nothing else, who the hell put a casino here??, and good food are the largest hoodmap tags 7

SO, roomiematch.com's Cincinnati roommate rundown:

Cincinnati has a reputation for cheap rent, Cincinnati-style chili, and crime? Also abandoned places you can visit and one of the best park systems in the country?

That's a lot, but which of these factors is most relevant to you and your roommates will fully depend on the neighborhood. This is a metro area that features highly variable neighborhoods with dramatically different characters.

Cincinnati is also a metro area that's often called the best place to live in Ohio . . . even though it's kinda sorta also Indiana, Kentucky, and Ohio? And don't leave out Lake Erie.

Meanwhile, it's definitely actually in the midwest, geographically, but culturally significantly Southern Bluegrass too.

In short, Cincinnati has a lot for you and your roommates to explore, almost everything cheaper than other metro areas in the country, and chances are good you can find the right neighborhood for you. But until you're familiar do proceed with caution. Go together as a group until you're comfortable, and you'll be much happier in a reliable car.

(No really, you don't want to move to Cincinnati without that reliable car.)

But if driving that reliable car to a chili parlor sounds appealing, you're already on your way!

The rest of the Cincinnati roommate lowdown:

  • Metro "Cincinnati" is centered on Cincinnati, but also includes nearby counties in Indiana, Kentucky, and Ohio. It's Ohio's third largest city (just over 300,000), but the largest metro region featuring many towns and suburbs, including Florence (Kentucky), Lebanon, Mason, Milford-Miami, and Oxford . . . about 2.25 million.
  • There are four distinct seasons with a few to several snow days. Extreme weather like large hail or a tornado happen occasionally, but overall, Cincinnati weather actually isn't that severe most years.
  • Cincinnati is geographically midwest, but culturally many feel Cincinnati is more a part of the Southern Bluegrass culture of Kentucky.
  • Public transportation exists, but just a bit, as public buses exist, served by two bus systems. You should check the continuing availability of your route before taking the bus even though buses are still not known for reliability so and . . . you and your roommates will probably still want cars.
  • Home to Cleveland Institute of Art, Dyke College, Baldwin-Wallace College, John Carroll University, Lake Erie College, Notre Dame College, Oberlin College, Ursuline College, Cast Western Reserve University, Cleveland Institute of Music, and Cleveland State University
  • Cincinnati has a fantastic park system / Urban Forest - From a more intense hike to just wandering around in incredible green forestry just to take it all in, Cincinnati's incredible park system offers both. There are over 40 public parks, and in total they feature hiking trails, nature preserves, lakes, and out-of-the-way gardens.
  • Cincinnati-style chili is all meat, no beans or onion. "Three-way" is over spaghetti with cheddar on top, "four-way" add onions or beans, and "five-way" means add them all. The debate over which chili parlor does all of this the best is dramatic and ongoing, with several different parlors with their own devoted fans. Hopefully you and your roommates seriously like chili some kinda way!
  • Cincinnati has a reputation for crime, both violent and property. However, while the city has over 50 declared neighborhoods, most of the crime occurs in just several. The neighborhoods in which crime occurs most frequently are the most impoverished.



After you're settled down, you and your roommates should experience Cincinnati's:

  • Downtown: Mostly walkable, featuring over 50 buildings listed in the National Register of Historic Places, in addition to several theaters, statues, and murals.
  • Findlay Market: Ohio's oldest public market operating continuously
  • Lucky Cat Museum: 2000+ Maneki-nekos or Japanese luck idols will wave their paws at you and your roommates encouragingly. They'll wave only during limited hours though, so experience those plastic cats by checking ahead to make sure this museum is open before going.
  • Lindner Park - Many semi-abandoned structures to explore, like a pool, an ice house, and a turtle pond. You and your roommates can visit between dawn and dusk.


Here's the city of Cincinnati's official .gov for all their resources for residents, including rental resources.







BANGOR

  • $350   =  non-traditional average 1
  • $786   =  average 2BR ÷ 2, or traditional roommate rent 2
  • $1130   =  average 1BR, rented solo 3

56% live within a 10-minute walk of a park. 4
Most errands require a car. 5
freezing to death in an ice storm
cheapest rent, outdoor snow recreation, few traffic jams, lobster 6

SO, roomiematch.com's Bangor roommate rundown:

Bangor is the easternmost metro area in the US. Most of what you'd imagine goes along with that designation? Yes.

So: mostly white (people plus snow), very quaint, lots of lumber, lots of lobster, lots of ice fishing, lots of anything else winter? Yes yes yes yes yes and yes.

Really, it's mostly cold. That's the main thing for which you will need to be prepared.

In addition to that, the local economy is not diverse. Most work in healthcare, education, lumber or the Air National Guard.

If you can find a worthwhile way to earn or pay for school plus learn to love winter weather, Bangor would reward you with some of the lowest rents in the country and locals happy to meet new residents.

Which is awesome because you will likely need their help during your first ice storm!

The rest of the Bangor roommate lowdown:

  • easternmost metro area in the US - small town, about 150,000 in the Bangor metro area
  • higher than average percentage medical personnel than most cities due to two large hospitals
  • about 95% white, so not ethnically diverse
  • home to the University of Maine, Husson University, Eastern Maine Community College, Beal College, Bangor Theological Seminary, and Hudson College
  • main industries are healthcare and education
  • lumber, paper, and shipping center for Maine
  • downtown area is quaint with locally owned shops
  • Bangor is home to the Bangor Air National Guard base.
  • Bangor is NOT pedestrian-friendly. In terms of public transport options and weather, it's fairly hostile to non-drivers. You and your roommates will likely need reliable vehicles. But the upside here is there are very few traffic jams and commute times are wee!
  • There's an extremely long and severe winter with snow on the ground most of the year. Summers are mild. You and your roommates should be prepared to lose electricity in the winter due to ice storms.



After you're settled down, you and your roommates should experience Bangor's:

  • Steamed lobster: The classic local meal is steamed lobster, as most US lobster comes from around here.
  • Bangor City Forest: You and your roommates could go cross-country skiing. It's about 700 acres of wildlife habitat with more than 9 miles of trails for running, biking, hiking, and snowshoeing.
  • Rocky Beaches: Bangor is close to the coast, and features beaches, but they're not your warm and sandy variety. They're rocky and rugged, and the water stays COLD.
  • The Bangor State Fair: Ongoing over 150 years, one of the country's oldest.
  • The Zillman Art Museum: At the University of Maine, features a number of permanent exhibitions plus art workshops for adults.
  • Moosehead Lake: Popular fishing spot.
  • Jeremiah Colburn Natural Area: Good for bird watching.
  • Blueberry Wine: Local wineries feature blueberry wine, because Bangor loves its blueberries!
  • Orono Bog: You and your roommates could experience the unique flora and fauna of a Maine bog here. But don't bring your dog.
  • The Bangor Opera House: Built in 1889, and still stands, sort of (it burned down and had to be rebuilt in 1953, then massively rehabilitated again in 1999). Some say it's haunted now due to all the drama. You can your roommates could call the box office and schedule a tour.
  • Stephen King's Red Mansion: He lives in a red mansion with white trim outside downtown Bangor. There are wrought-iron spiders and bats out front.
  • Paul Bunyon: There's a 31-foot-tall Paul Bunyon towering over Bass Park. Many say this Bangor Bunyun is the jolliest and the handsomest of all the Bunyons in existence. For special occasions he occasionally wears a fez.


Here's the city of Bangor's Public Health & Community Services page, which links to a number of local services including Healthy Homes initiatives. Also moth avoidance.







GRAND RAPIDS

  • $500   =  non-traditional average 1
  • $797   =  average 2BR ÷ 2, or traditional roommate rent 2
  • $1316   =  average 1BR, rented solo 3

79% live within a 10-minute walk of a park. 4
Some errands can be accomplished on foot. 5
snow
cheapest rent, commutable to more expensive cities 6
hipsters trying too hard, MLK hood, the 1% live here, ramblehood, dive bars, older Christians, white Christianville are the largest hoodmap tags 7

SO, roomiematch.com's Grand Rapids roommate rundown:

Probably most importantly for most is Grand Rapids is smaller, more navigably compact, more family-friendly, more neighborly, less expensive, with lower crime and better air quality . . . but still close enough to travel regularly to both Chicago and Detroit.

Not many commute round trip several times a week for work, but a few times a month for the cultural amenities exclusive to the largest urban areas? That's a good time for many roommates.

But what's to love when you're home in Grand Rapids?

It's lovingly and variously nicknamed: "Furniture City" (as the home of 5 leading office furniture companies), "River City" (the Grand River) and "Beer City" (there are about 40 popular craft beer spots right in the urban area).

Hopefully you'll also love all the seasonal weather. Grand Rapids' humid continental climate means humid warm summers, cold snowy winters, and enjoyably mild but short spring and fall seasons. Grand Rapids is one of the country's most snowy cities, with an average of 75 inches a year.

And hopefully you'll enjoy some of that seasonal weather outdoors. About 75% of residents live within a few minutes walking distance of a public park! You may also love the proximity to freshwater beaches, plus the two large urban nature centers totaling over 300 acres?

You may not love the lack of professional sports teams (they're all playing in nearby Chicago and Detroit), but it would only make sense to learn to love local ice hockey.

Grand Rapids is also well-known as a center for Christian publishing and excellent fruit. They particularly love their locally grown apples, peaches, and blueberries.

The rest of the Grand Rapids roommate lowdown:

  • Grand Rapids was developed on the banks of the Grand River, 25 miles inland from Lake Michigan, where there was once a set of rapids above sea level that ships used for navigation. Grand River still flows through the center, but the rapids were long ago eradicated by dams.
  • You will definitely need both heat and air conditioning for all the seasonal weather.
  • second largest city in Michigan with about 200,000 within the city limits and about 550,000 in the surrounding county
  • You can tell which quadrant of the city is referenced by its street address, they mostly have NW, NE, SW, or SE after the street name. East to west roads are usually called "Street." North to south roads are usually called "Avenue."
  • There are connected bike routes, and "The Rapid" bus service has routes throughout the city. DASH buses ("Downtown Area Shuttle") provide free rides to and from parking lots designated as loading areas. But most of the time, especially during winter, you'll probably want a car. Convenient free parking is available most places outside downtown, and even downtown parking is not usually enforced evenings and weekends.
  • home to several colleges and universities, including Grand Valley State University, Ferris State University, the Kendall College of Art and Design, Michigan State University College of Human Medicine, and Western Michigan University
  • Heritage Hill is one of the largest urban historic districts. You and your roommates could stroll by over 1300 structures representing over 60 architectural styles, all within one neighborhood directly east of downtown.
  • center for Christian publishing companies and several private religious schools
  • known as a center for apple, peach, and blueberry farming



After you're settled down, you and your roommates should experience Grand Rapids':

  • Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park: An outdoor sculpture park and the largest tropical conservatory in Michigan, plus an amphitheater with concerts in the summer
  • Grand Rapids Ballet: If you and your roommates enjoy ballet, don't miss Michigan's only professional ballet company
  • Blues on the Mall: Every Wednesday during the summer at Rosa Parks Circle. It's the best for summer downtown people watching.
  • ArtPrize: Sculptures, murals, paintings, and performances! All in downtown Grand Rapids, and all competing for a cash prize of at least $200,000. Some say it's the world's largest art prize decided by public vote.
  • home to two large urban nature centers, the Calvin Ecosystem Preserve, and the Blandford Nature Center, in total over 300 acres of nature trails, wildlife preserves, an animal hospital, and their "heritage village"
  • Grand Rapids Symphony: The largest performance arts organizations in Grand Rapids. Since 1930!


Here's the city of Grand Rapids' official .gov Downtown Commuter Resource Guide, including a helpful map of bike trails.







PITTSBURGH

  • $550   =  non-traditional average 1
  • $842   =  average 2BR ÷ 2, or traditional roommate rent 2
  • $1293   =  average 1BR, rented solo 3

92% live within a 10-minute walk of a park. 4
Some errands can be accomplished on foot. 5
hills, getting lost
public transit, live music, professional sports teams 6
punks & the elderly living in peace, finest hipsters in 412, best brews in the city, cool neighborhood, hood af, crack dealers, yes we have an observatory, confusing af ramps, hope you like TRAFFIC, all the tourists but nice view, surprisingly tall buildings, overpriced, let's go bucs, nerds, more shopping, furry convention, and we aren't Steel City anymore are the largest hoodmap tags 7

SO, roomiematch.com's Pittsburgh roommate rundown:

Pittsburgh is appropriately known as our dying Steel City . . . that pivoted into new life in tech, higher education, and health.

But its cheaper housing market has survived, still. Plus decent pizza and cheap beer are almost everywhere.

Like several other cities in the Northeast, Pittsburgh hosts a lot of institutions of higher learning that export a lot of culture . . . but they tend to be aggressively unpretentious about it?

And like elsewhere in the NE (compared to the rest of the country), Pittsburghers tend to talk louder and faster . . . but they're more neighborly too. At the same time. Like a rapid fire friendliness?

They're also into bridges, trains, transit, trails, pizza, regional comfort foods, and a wide variety of indoor and rustic outdoor sports.

And it's all better with beer. Beer is bigger than usual here. Several local breweries are found on tap all over the city, many with a German beer hall flair.

In addition to pizza and beer, regional snacks include: halushky (potato dumplings sauteed with cabbage, pork, or cheese), kolbasi (sausage), pierogies (filled dumplings), city chicken (actually pork), chipped ham (processed lunchmeat), hoagie sandwiches, and kielbasa (sausage again!).

Pittsburgh is where three rivers meet. It's seriously hilly. It also has a lot of bridges over the rivers, more bridges over 20 feet than any other metro. That's over 400 in the city, and over 1700 in the county. Plus they've been a busy freight rail corridor since the 1850s. Trains are always going around and sometimes through the city.

And roads are going every which way around all of it. Up and down the hills and valleys and across the rivers and train tracks all over their spaghetti-like streets.

Non-natives will need a GPS to navigate. But Pittsburgh is lately helping out with their Wayfinder System. That's a series of signs offering directions to destinations throughout the city. The system divides the city's approximately 80 neighborhoods into five regions assigned a color. The dark blue stripes of the three rivers are navigational landmarks. And you'll probably need it too, as you and your roommates will want to drive a lot of the time.

Pittsburgh Regional Transit also offers bus, light rail, subway, paratransit (with reservations), and charmingly rustic incline railways or funiculars. Inclines are hundreds of years old, and previously primarily transported industrial workers up and down the cliffs of their employment. Inclines scale the hills for hundreds of feet, then overlook their historic scenery.

The rest of the transit routes do cover the city, more or less, but can be confusing and run at different times on different days of the week. Before boarding a bus or trolley, reconfirm your route with the driver.

There are also number of ways to pay and different discounts are available. Some zones are occasionally free. So you can public transport Pittsburgh pretty much, but you should plan in advance to get the best fare but not get stranded.

Pittsburgh is also somewhat bike friendly, definitely for scenery. When biking Three Rivers Heritage Trail, you can connect to other trails and some of Pittsburgh's main destinations. However, streets in the city are often narrow and feature no separation for bikes. It's a mixed bag for inner urban destinations.

Also seriously, try not to drive anywhere when an important game is in progress (important = most of them). You might want to bike, depending on proximity to the game(s). Or walking! Seriously consider walking around all the game times.

Pittsburgh Steelers (NFL), Pittsburgh Pirates (MLB), Pittsburgh Penguins (NHL), Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC (USL), and Steel City Yellow Jackets (ABA) are all locally loved. There are several popular college teams and even a few passionate high school football fandoms too. Pittsburgh fans are loyal. They show up a LOT.

So if you drive you should subscribe to all the sports schedules too. Then keep an eye on games, even if you're not attending. This will only feel unnecessary until the first time you're stuck in traffic with the other fans who also didn't take our advice.

In additional athletic appreciation, there are also four large parks with hundreds of miles of hiking and biking trails, public swimming pools, tennis courts, bocce courts, a golf course, and an outdoor ice-skating rink. You can even kayak through some of that. Or maybe canoe.

Pittsburgh also periodically hosts world-title fishing tournaments like Fishing League Worldwide and the Bassmaster Classic!

And is heavy metal a sport? Pittsburgh is also known for their passionate heavy metal music community. Kinda poetic, right? Dying Steel industrial energy had to pivot into . . . Heavy Metal?

The most Pittsburgh thing you could do might be ride an incline up its very steep hill. Perform a feat of athletic prowess at the top. (Amateur to pro to whatever works, all good.)

And now, your blistering guitar solo!

The rest of the Pittsburgh roommate lowdown:

  • Pittsburgh is in west central Pennsylvania, in the foothills of the Allegheny Mountains, where the Monongahela and Allegheny Rivers meet as the Ohio River. This is called "The Point," which is also a large fountain downtown in Point State Park.
  • second most populated city in Pennsylvania, with 300,000 in the city and about 2.4 million in the greater metro
  • summers are warm and sunny, winters are cool and variable, with intermittent freezing and thawing
  • 50% chance of precipitation any given day, many days are cloudy
  • home to Penn State University Beaver, Penn State University Fayette, Penn State University McKeesport, Penn State University Kensington, Saint Vincent College, University of Pittsburgh Greensburg, California University, Carlow College, Chatham College, Geneva College, La Roche College, Point Park College, Robert Morris College, Seton Hill College, Washington and Jefferson College, Carnegie Mellon University, Duquesne University, Slippery Rock University, and the University of Pittsburgh
  • Education is a major economic driver. The largest single employer is the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, with almost 50,000 employees.
  • Locals refer to the Interstates radiating outward from downtown as the parkways.



After you're settled down, you and your roommates should experience Pittsburgh's:

  • Carnegie Museum of Natural History: 22 million specimens. That doesn't even really seem possible, but they have been collecting and conserving for over 50 years. Timed tickets are recommended.
  • Carnegie Museum of Art: About 35,000 works in the permanent collection. Ongoing, traveling, and special "in our collection" gallery exhibitions, docent-guided tours available. The "Carnegie Lab" is an ongoing class in art-making, free with museum admission.
  • Frick Park: Pittsburgh's largest park, about 664 acres of hiking, biking, and birdwatching.
  • Phipps Conservatory: So many beautiful flowers on 15 acres, a City of Pittsburgh and National Register Historic Place - Palm Court, Serpentine Room, Fern Room, Orchid Room, Desert Room, and a Tropical Fruit Room. There's also a rooftop garden focusing on rooftop-able yet still very edible fruits and vegetables.
  • Squirrel Hill: Home to about 21 synagogues.
  • Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium: Zoo and aquarium combo! Over 77 acres, more than 4000 animals representing 475 species. There's a Gorilla Trek Virtual Reality Theater.
  • Andy Warhol Museum: More Andy Warhol than anywhere else, including recreations of "The Factory" and an exploration of the ever-changing chemistry of this Pittsburgh-born artist's "oxidation paintings"
  • National Aviary: The country's largest aviary, home to more than 500 birds representing 150 species. So many immersive habitats to visit along with outdoor birdwatching classes and conservation.
  • Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra: From the Pops to the classics to family-friendly concerts at discount rates. Several conductors!
  • Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix Motorsport Festival: Wide variety of car shows including a vintage parade, usually in July.
  • Picklesburgh: Voted #1 Best Specialty Food Festival in America - There's a pickle juice drinking contest, pickle cotton candy, and live music on multiple stages.


Here's the city of Pittsburgh's official .gov for parks, pools, and other public recreation centers, some of which should interest you and your roommates.







BALTIMORE

  • $650   =  non-traditional average 1
  • $948   =  average 2BR ÷ 2, or traditional roommate rent 2
  • $1533   =  average 1BR, rented solo 3

87% live within a 10-minute walk of a park. 4
Some errands can be accomplished on foot. 5
exploring the wrong neighborhood after dark, gun violence
commutable to more expensive cities, museums, waterfront 6
hipsters who ride bicycles, buppie families, queer artist community, little el salvador, murders here, industrial wasteland, gluten free cupcakes, hipsters with lesbian moms, dog lovers, you will get robbed, expensive hotels & apartments, toothless, and the port are the largest hoodmap tags 7

SO, roomiematch.com's Baltimore roommate rundown:

Many not from the northeast fail to notice before visiting that Baltimore is only 40 miles NE of Washington D.C.?

Lending Baltimore a "big city with a small town vibe" atmosphere . . . because a substantial percentage leaves most days for work, to benefit from Baltimore's lower rents while commuting to D.C.?

Also because commuter trains also run to Philly and NYC, so same deal with them as well?

So Baltimore has its own distinct metro vibe . . . but it's also a cozy suburb for three larger ones?

And this cozy suburb is also a major port?

The local sense of humor would say yes. To all of that, even how it's contradictory, 'cause why not? It's Charm City.

The gang violence for which Baltimore is famous is real - but 75% of the gun violence is concentrated in the 25% of neighborhoods with the most poverty. Gang-related crimes mostly affect people involved in the distribution of illegal narcotics.

Otherwise, "Bawl Mer" features many gorgeous historic districts and neighborhoods, and a restored waterfront. Based on how many urban amenities and attractions you can experience with friendly residents near world renowned art and stunning views for about how much rent?

Baltimore might be the best bargain on the East Coast.

The rest of the Baltimore roommate lowdown:

  • most populous city in Maryland, with about 550,000 in the city and almost 3 million including the larger metro
  • population is extremely diverse
  • Climate is very changeable, with warm humid (some say steamy) summers and cold rainy winters with some snow. Summers feature quite a few hot days plus thunderstorms.
  • home to 19 universities, including Sojourner-Douglas College, the United States Naval Academy, College of Notre Dame - Maryland, Coppin State College, Goucher College, St. John's College, Towson State University, Western Maryland College, Loyola, Johns Hopkins, University of Maryland and the University of Baltimore
  • Baltimore is called "Charm City" because it's a big city with a small-town vibe and friendly people.
  • As it's only 40 miles northeast of Washington, D.C. and one of the most affordable urban areas along the East Coast, commuting between happens a lot. Many who work in D.C. benefit from Baltimore's lower rents. Regular commuter trains are also running to Philadelphia and NYC.
  • Johns Hopkins Hospital and Johns Hopkins University employ many, along with a number of government agencies such as the NAACP, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, and the Social Security Administration.
  • Baltimore surrounds a major inland port. Inner Harbor was once the second leading port of entry or immigrants to the United States and the Port of Baltimore is the closest East Coast port to the Midwest.
  • Some neighborhoods are walkable, others not so much. The Charm City Circulator can take you around the center of the city. The Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) includes buses, light rail, and commuter rail, which provide access to several suburbs along with the airport, downtown, Timonium, and Hunt Valley. However, unless you live near your work/school, you and your roommates will probably still want cars.
  • Most affordable neighborhoods for roommates include Locust Point, Mount Holly, Penn North, and West Arlington. More expensive neighborhoods include Federal Hill, Fells-Point, Mount Vernon, Homeland, and Little Italy.
  • Many say the urban dynamics depicted in David Simon and Edward Burns' television shows The Corner: A Year in the Life of an Inner-City Neighborhood and The Wire are still ongoing. Baltimore has remained notorious for its high homicide rate for the last several decades, peaking in 1993 and again in 2015 following major protests following the death of Freddie Gray. However, about 75% of the gun violence is concentrated in about 25% of the neighborhoods, those being same as those with the most poverty. Gang-related crimes mostly affect people involved in the distribution of illegal narcotics.
  • Baltimore features many beautiful and historic districts, many playing a key role in the American Revolution. Nearly a third of the city's buildings are designated historic and there are more public monuments than any other US city. Also, a recently restored waterfront!
  • Locals pronounce it: Bawl DaMore or Bawl Mer. Locals mostly drop the T.



After you're settled down, you and your roommates should experience Baltimore's:

  • Lexington Market: Founded in 1782, is one of the oldest continuously operating public markets in the United States. You could shop there with your roommates.
  • Edgar Allan Poe at the Westminster Presbyterian Church: He died in Baltimore under mysterious circumstances in 1875. Many pay respects to his monument at the Church's cemetery. Some leave roses and bottles of cognac. And yes, the Baltimore Ravens are named after his poem.
  • Maryland blue crabs: Most everyone eats them, and crab cakes are the local signature seafood dish . . . although most everyone also eats them more simply steamed and cracked open with a mallet over newspaper.
  • HONfest: Yearly celebration of the historic working women of Baltimore and their charming hairdos. "Hon" is a local term of endearment symbolizing warmth and hospitality. "HONdreds of Hons" gather in the Hampden neighborhood every year. Their "judges give extra points for a real wash & set updo because it’s full of hope and hairspray."
  • Baltimore Art Museum: World renowned, with the largest holding of works by Henri Matisse. There's also a John Waters Collection, and an exhibition on the culture of hip hop is upcoming.
  • Baltimore's American Visionary Art Museum: "Specializes in original thematic exhibitions that seamlessly combine art, science, philosophy, humor and especially social justice and betterment." They pride themselves on featuring art in all mediums from self-taught innovators from outside the "art world."
  • Ministry of Brewing: Previously a church, now renovated into a brewery. There's a 20-barrel brewing system where their altar once was, and the original stained glass windows, original organ, and vaulted ceilings remain near a wide variety of brews on tap.
  • The National Great Blacks in Wax Museum: Dedicated to preserving Black history through life-sized wax models. It features dioramas of the Underground Railroad, and more recently a model of President Barack Obama.


Here's the Baltimore City Online Payment Directory, which could hopefully help you pay for any new permits you might need after relocating.







MANCHESTER

  • $550   =  non-traditional average 1
  • $952   =  average 2BR ÷ 2, or traditional roommate rent 2
  • $1658   =  average 1BR, rented solo 3

68% live within a 10-minute walk of a park. 4
Some errands can be accomplished on foot. 5
snow drifts
commutable to more expensive city, ice hockey, LEGO 6
the school rich kids laugh at, meatheads, Manchganistan, juvie, and pretend fancy mall are the largest hoodmap tags 7

SO, roomiematch.com's Manchester roommate rundown:

Manchester is the largest city in New Hampshire, northern New England's largest city!

But that's only about 110,000 residents.

Manchester experiences harsh winters with lengthy snow cover. Storms thrill skiers as there are lovely, less crowded local slopes . . . while non-skiers are meh.

Spring and fall are brief transitions, while summer is sometimes pleasant . . . sometimes exceedingly humid.

Like most cities this small, Manchester isn't celebrated so much for public transport. Very limited bus service. You and your roommates will need a car.

But especially compared to larger cities, there's very little crime!

Do you like shopping? There's no sales tax! That's part of why South Manchester's many retail outlets and the Mall of New Hampshire are popular! I mean, the Mall has 115 stores, plus several dining options. That's good shopping.

But many in Manchester craving fun but not into skiing or shopping occasionally take off north for Boston instead.

Manchester claims to have invented the chicken tender, maybe even at the Mall of New Hampshire? Several prominent residents have suggested that for tourism they rebrand themselves, "The Chicken Tender Capital of the World!"

This has remained controversial even though validated by America's Test Kitchen.

The rest of the Manchester roommate lowdown:

  • located in South Central New Hampshire at the Amoskeag Falls on the Merrimack River
  • 50 miles NW of Boston
  • home to several sports teams, including ice hockey, Women's Tackle Football, and flat track roller derby
  • home to a few minor-league teams, including Fisher Cats Baseball and the Phantoms soccer. They also love their Manchester Monarchs in the American Hockey League
  • home to several colleges and universities, including Granite State College, the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, the New Hampshire Institute of Art, Southern New Hampshire University, St. Anselm College, and the University of New Hampshire at Manchester



After you're settled down, you and your roommates should experience Manchester's:

  • Currier Museum of Art: Painting, photography, sculpture and performance. Free Saturday mornings!
  • Elm Street: Walk to a number of popular bars and taverns. You may want to remind new roommates from elsewhere that last call is 12:45 a.m., quite a bit earlier than most cities.
  • White Mountains: Drive around in fall for fabulous foliage viewing!
  • Dean Court: The side street leading to the Manchester Library is now a public gallery for cat-centric street art. Painted right on and into the alleyway.
  • SEE Science Center: "Hands-on science fun for everyone!" In addition to Physics Fun, Dinosaurs, Sun Earth Universe, and Bubbles & the Ocean, SEE is home to the LEGO Millyard. It's a representation of Manchester's millyard as it might have looked in 1900.

    It's the largest permanent LEGO installation at minifigure scale in the world.


Here's the city of Manchester's official .gov for Residents, including city announcements, city maps, landlords and tenants, list of parks, parking, polling locations, and vehicle registration.







PHILADELPHIA

  • $700   =  non-traditional average 1
  • $975   =  average 2BR ÷ 2, or traditional roommate rent 2
  • $1555   =  average 1BR, rented solo 3

95% live within a 10-minute walk of a park. 4
Most errands can be accomplished on foot. 5
traffic, aggressive drivers, property theft
pedestrian friendly, symphonies, professional sports teams 6
worst traffic, what the hell happened, irish flight, drug crisis, badlands, literally an open air drug market, graffiti pier, get the hell outta here, hipster houses vs angry townies, be street smart, 3rd world hell hole, students, i just heard gun shots, champions, former italian mafia, little africa, hot people in scrubs, fine swedish design, white camden, hordes of children, trains, and the land of broken dreams are the largest hoodmap tags 7

SO, roomiematch.com's Philadelphia roommate rundown:

Philadelphia was founded in 1682 by William Penn, an English Quaker and huge fan of religious freedom. They they hosted congresses and wars and sieges and ultimately the signing of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776.

Philadelphia is the birthplace of the American Revolution. Then about 67 more National Historic Landmarks. And along the way they also founded the first: business school, federal capital, hospital, library, medical school, stock exchange, university, and zoo.

All that was already happening in Philly hundreds of years before you were born, and they're are eager to tell you about it. If you're from out of town, you should learn and appreciate Philadelphia's history. Nope, not overeager or sarcasm, that's just the truth.

Because if you don't want to hear a lot about Philadelphia? You probably shouldn't move within 100 miles. Any closer, someone will be definitely be determined to tell you.

But a whole lot is happening in Philly, and for a lower cost of living than several other cities in the Northeast? So step up for your history lesson. The University of Pennsylvania and several university-associated hospitals are Philly's largest employers, after all.

There are over 50 (!) colleges and universities in Philly. It's properly a very large college(S) town . . .

. . . so it's also chock full of comfort food. Or dishes that work in cozy pubs and small bars, like all over Philly. They're often locally-owned, and not always labeled.

And serving Philadelphia's most famous sandwich with grilled shaved or chopped beef and cheese along with optional onions, mushrooms, and peppers on a fresh white roll? Yes, cheesesteak! There are many excellent versions all over the city. Clearly.

Also hoagies, like submarine sandwiches, and "grinder" means your hoagie's now toasted.

"Scapple" is originally from the Pennsylvania Dutch, including the Amish and Mennonites. It's pork offal boiled into mush, combined with cornmeal or wheat flour and spices, set into a loaf, then sliced and pan-fried until crispy and brown. Usually served as a breakfast side like sausage, or on a roll with apple butter, ketchup, or BBQ sauce. Maybe American cheese.

A tomato pie is pizza with no cheese other than parmesan. Water ice, slushy ice, and Italian ice are mostly the same, except for your choice of syrup for flavor.

And soft pretzels, Tastykakes, and Goldenberg's Peanut Chews are popular too at pubs and bars plus sporting events . . . or anything else to which Philadelphians can walk right up . . . which is a lot. It's a pedestrian-friendly city.

And while locals report a few aggressive drivers, Philly is generally bicycle friendly as well. The Delaware River and Schuylkill River trails invite cyclists to ride along the river then connect to popular spots.

There is a bus network connecting most of the city, including some rail, subway, and trolley routes, and most of that is Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, or SEPTA. However, it's notoriously slow, and service outside Center City can be spotty. There are several different lines, several different ways to pay, and several different ways you can get bulk rate discounts. You can also use vending machines and a variety of passes.

Basically, you can take public transport anywhere in Philly . . . but identifying the fastest route plus the cheapest way to pay for it will take research. A trip planner with a real-time map is recommended (see below). Also, if it's important and you've not yet used that route at that same time, maybe go on a trial run first.

You can drive pretty much anywhere in Philly too, but it'll always be crowded.

Philly is the center of a very large metro area, so roads are always congested during the day, gridlock happens frequently, and parking garages are expensive. Legal street parking is hard to find, rush hour is often, and if your meter runs out you better believe you're getting a ticket.

The Philadelphia Parking Authority isn't kidding around.

Residents of nearby suburbs use multiple park-and-ride centers. If you don't already live within the city, your cheapest fastest route might be driving to one of these, paying to stash your car, then taking the rail the rest of the way.

SO: If you could live and work entirely within one Philly neighborhood and walk most places, you'd be loving life! You could also laugh your ass off at all the commuters . . . but you're better than that, right?

But no kidding, you would love the time you'd spend strolling around NOT in gridlock.

Meanwhile, Philly also has major historical reputation with violent crime. It was was actually nicknamed "Killadelphia" sometime in the 80s.

However, like several large cities on this list, what this means lately is that you need to be aware of your neighborhood. Philadelphia is no exception.

Anywhere in Philly that's popular with tourists or college students is usually well policed and reasonably safe, with the possible exception of pickpocketing and car theft. So keep an eye on your belongings, put your valuables like your phone and wallet inside inner pockets that fasten, and never leave anything in your car.

But when we said like other large cities, no exception . . . we do mean neighborhoods within walking distance of one another can present different risk levels. There are neighborhoods in Philly that are reportedly open air drug markets. Philadelphians are also said to host more outdoor art, including murals and sculpture and repurposed graffiti than any other city.

They took worthwhile but previously illegal graffiti, and made it contemporary art. Then they included it officially, within their own history. It's now displayed educationally for tourists.

Mural Arts Philadelphia is one organization, originally helping professional artists collaborate with prosecuted graffiti writers and mural artists. Now, they connect community groups with graffiti artists too. Formerly illegal graffiti artists are now on "History on Tour!"

Everyone's history could become Philadelphian, if and when Philly says so. If you and your roommates do some outdoor art, maybe they'll write you into a popular tour too.

The rest of the Philadelphia roommate lowdown:

  • Philadelphia is located in southeastern Pennsylvania along the Susquehanna River, while the Schyukill River runs through the city. It's near the New Jersey border and only 15 miles from Delaware.
  • The Appalachian Mountains to the west and the Atlantic Ocean to the east moderate extreme temperatures.
  • The greater metro area including the Delaware Valley hosts around 6 million residents.
  • NYC is about an hour and a half away via various public transport, driving highly variable due to traffic. And easy access to the rest of the Northeast too.
  • all four seasons, with cold and snowy winters, but not as cold as Boston or Chicago - yearly snowfall is variable but blizzards are possible, usually melts quickly - spring and fall are pleasant, summers are hot and muggy
  • home to Delaware Valley College, Haverford College, Moore College of Art and Design, Penn State University Delaware, Penn State University Ogontz, Ursinus University, Valley Forge Christian College, American College, Beaver College, Cabrini College, Chestnut Hill College, Cheyney University, Eastern College, Gwynedd-Mercy College, Holy Family College, La Salle University, Lincoln University, Neumann College, Pennsylvania College of Optometry, Philadelphia College of Textiles, Rosemont College, Rutgers University, St. Joseph's University, Swarthmore College, The University of the ARts, West Chester University of Pennsylvania, Bryn Mawr College, Drexel University, Hahnemann University, Pennsylvania State University, Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, Philadelphia College of Pharmacy and Science, Rowan College of New Jersey, Temple University, Thomas Jefferson University, University of Pennsylvania, Villanova University, and Widener University
  • Philadelphia hosts a LOT of sports with a lot of extremely passionate fans, including: Philadelphia Phillies Eagles (NFL), 76ers (NBA), Flyers (NHL), Union (MLS), NJ/NY Gotham FC (National Women's Soccer League).

    Also, several winning college teams, including but not limited to the "Big 5" men's basketball rivalry.

    There's also a legendary Army vs Navy game, where the Army Black Knights of the Military Academy and the Navy Midshipmen of the Naval Academy fight it out as bitter rivals . . . but it's also mutually respectful and honors decades of military tradition.

    Last but not least, an unusually large number of amateur to elite teams in cricket, rugby, and rowing.
  • Free Black Philadelphians founded the first independent Black protestant denomination in the country, the African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME).
  • As a large city, Philly features the variety of architecture you'd expect, but "row houses" are more common here than most cities in the US. They're a row of joined houses sharing side walls, more commonly known as "terraced" houses in the United Kingdom.



After you're settled down, you and your roommates should experience Philadelphia's:

  • Philadelphia Museum of Art: 200 galleries of art, one of the largest art museums in the world. Daily tours of something interesting almost every day, free with museum admission. There's a sculpture garden, where contemporary large-scale work extends outdoors, and the Rodin Museum, featuring the world's largest collection of Rodin outside France showcased in an elegant garden. Also, the stairs to the main entrance were made famous by the movie Rocky (1976).
  • Fairmount Park: Philly's largest park, one of the oldest and largest urban parks in the US. The Philadelphia Zoo is inside this park, along with several historically registered mansions.
  • Franklin Institute Science Museum: Daily live science demonstrations. There's a giant heart. They have staff scientists who oversee their programs. Also a planetarium, an observatory, and a lot of Frankliniana.
  • Mummers Parade: Every New Years Day, local clubs compete with elaborate costumes and moveable props in a parade with over 10,000 marchers.
  • West Philly Porchfest: DIY community music festival in June featuring free shows all over neighborhood porches. You and your roommates could perform or host. Hosting is as equal opportunity as possible, but do be considerate of your neighbors. If you don't have a porch, tiny lawns work too!
  • ODUNDE: The largest African American street festival in the country, with a procession and a marketplace featuring goods from Africa, the Caribbean, and Brazil. Since 1975, now covers 15 city blocks. They also feature ongoing educational programs called ODUNDE365.
  • World Naked Bike Ride (WNBR): Internationally-attended clothing-optional bike ride, since 2004. You can also attend on skateboards or rollerblades. Philadelphia is one of their largest and most famous rides.
  • Mural Arts Philadelphia: Go on a guided or virtual or self-guided tour of the thousands of now public murals across the city. If you and your roommates have a mural, you can apply for potential projects and/or inclusion on an existing tour.


Here's most of the city of Philadelphia's public transportation system (SEPTA), including real time updates, which you and your roommates will probably need.







WORCESTER

  • $650   =  non-traditional average 1
  • $1058   =  average 2BR ÷ 2, or traditional roommate rent 2
  • $1818   =  average 1BR, rented solo 3

76% live within a 10-minute walk of a park. 4
Some errands can be accomplished on foot. 5
winter cold snaps, rush hour
commutable to more expensive cities 6

SO, roomiematch.com's Worcester roommate rundown:

Worcester (say WOOS-tuh) is sufficiently separated from both Boston and Providence to count separately, but only just. Boston's about an hour away driving east, about 40 miles. Providence is same to the south.

(For still American comparison: In larger cities in the SW it can take longer than an hour to drive across. Maybe not at 3 a.m., but moderate daytime traffic, frequently. Again, same city on the address.)

There are a lot of respected colleges and respectable bars serving local students, along with several local breweries . . . but Worcester's not vibing collegiate like other "college towns?" It literally is, but feels not really?

It could be that campus communities here tend to be insular, in part because most students arrive by car, via highway. There are buses and trains operating in Worcester, but they're almost all for commuters, on their way to another town.

Public transit in Worcester is pretty much to leave it.

So Worcester often feels like a hub, especially for commuters . . . a hub that's hospitably full of delicious snacks you can get quick without reservations! Famous Coney Island-style hot dogs and roast beef sandwiches and Italian subs. Or maybe you'd rather catch breakfast at a local diner, or delicious neighborhood bakery.

Worcester hasn't made much effort on behalf of pedestrians. Sidewalks are poor to nonexistent. However, since the city covers a large area and receives heavy snow, substantially better sidewalks would be very expensive. In this regard, getting Worcester out of their cars would be difficult.

There's a municipal bus system (WRTA) but . . . did we mention you'll need a car to get around?

And you'll probably want GPS or a map when you do, because the roads are NOT like a grid, nope.

If you take transit to a nearby city, you might not drive all the way. Many Bostonians leave cars here. Happily there's still more than enough street parking.

Just watch out for rush hour.

The rest of the Worcester roommate lowdown:

  • small city established in 1722, near the center of Massachusetts and the Rhode Island border
  • about 200,000 residents
  • Summers are fairly moderate, winters feature frequent cold snaps (about 75 inches a year of snow, typically from November-April), while spring and fall are pleasant.
  • many that need to live near Boston consider Worcester an alternative lower-cost living solution
  • "triple deckers" are narrow houses shaped like boxes, usually 3 floors
  • home to College of the Holy Cross, Anna Maria College, Assumption College, Nichols College, Worcester State College, Clark University, University of Massachusetts Medical School, and the Worcester Polytechnic Institute



After you're settled down, you and your roommates should experience Worcester's:

  • Worcester Art Museum: Second largest art museum in New England, since 1898. Known for American Art and Arms & Armor.
  • Union Station: Worcester's largest work of art.
  • Hadwen Arboretum (at Clark University): Since 1907, their "very own forest" with 26 acres of green including hiking trail, waterfront for swimming, and century-old trees.
  • Mechanics Hall: Built in 1857 in the Renaissance-Revival style, still known for its beautiful acoustics, now home to the Worcester Symphony Orchestra.
  • Miss Worcester Diner or Worcester Lunch Car # 812: Built in 1948, still operating across from a now defunct factory.


Here's the city of Worcester's 311, "your one-stop resource for all non-emergency questions!"







NEWARK

  • $800   =  non-traditional average 1
  • $1077   =  average 2BR ÷ 2, or traditional roommate rent 2
  • $1664   =  average 1BR, rented solo 3

94% live within a 10-minute walk of a park. 4
Most errands can be accomplished on foot. 5
political corruption
commutable to more expensive city 6

SO, roomiematch.com's Newark roommate rundown:

Newark is both a city in its own right, and a commuter community to NYC.

There are quite a few folks who commute to Newark from somewhere else. Most work in the downtown business district or one of the Universities.

But many more commute from Newark to NYC. Immediate proximity to NYC with so many public transportation options combined with lower rent make this option attractive to many.

Newark has had a dangerous reputation ever since a lot rioting took place back in the 1960s . . . which more or less led to most of their middle class leaving for New Jersey's farther flung suburbs. But since the 90s, this demographic has been gradually drifting back.

These days, especially compared to the rest of NYC, Newark's reputation as mostly dangerous is now mostly undeserved.

Well. It has been said you shouldn't leave your car out on the street overnight in Newark. That's fair. But how's that any different from the rest of NYC?

Some blocks downtown more or less empty out after traditional business hours, and depopulated blocks are more dangerous. But if those businesses are closed, you probably didn't need to be there anyway?

Be aware where you are, don't explore anywhere new after dark or when few other folks are around. Late at night, some train stations get scary dark and deserted too. So don't hang out there either.

Remain in well lit areas. After business hours and by yourself, if you stick with what you know and where you have some logical reason to be, Newark is about as safe as the rest of NYC.

In addition to its reputation for dangerous crime, Newark also has a dangerous history with political corruption. Most if not all of their mayors anyone alive can still remember other than Cory Booker have already been indicted for crimes committed while in office if not elsewhere as well. However, unless you and/or your roommates work for local government or law enforcement, this probably would not affect you directly.

The Jersey Shore is only a few hours away. This probably would affect you directly. This is harder to justify logically.

The rest of the Newark roommate lowdown:

  • New Jersey's largest city, about 310,000 in the city, then their greater metro is just NYC
  • in northern New Jersey near the lower Hudson River, immediately west of NYC, natural terrain is flat and marshy
  • summers are hot and muggy: winters are cold and wet: spring and fall are unstable but usually mild
  • say "Noo Wirk" instead of "New Ark" - locals sometimes shorten to "Nerk" or "Nork"
  • Too many public transportation options to list, Newark is a massive people and products distribution hub. It's pretty easy to go everywhere to and from Newark.
  • A huge number of nearby port and rail facilities have made Newark one of the largest shipping hubs on the East Coast.
  • third largest US hub for commercial insurance
  • hosts the NHL's New Jersey Devils
  • home to Bloomfield College, Caldwell College, Centenary College, College of Saint Elizabeth, College of New Jersey, Montclair State College, Drew University, New Jersey Institute of Technology, Rutgers University, Seton Hall University, and the University of Medicine and Dentistry



After you're settled down, you and your roommates should experience Newark's:

  • Branch Brook Park: Largest public park in Newark with > 4000 cherry blossom trees
  • Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart: French Gothic cathedral, over 200 stained glass windows and a dozen giant bells.
  • Newark Museum of Art: You and your roommates can visit as a group, but they prefer you reserve tickets in advance. No eating, drinking, or walking your dog inside! There's a mobile guide, a planetarium, a restored Victorian mansion, and a special focus on scientific phenomena.
  • Newark Public Library: In addition to eight locations and > 1,000,000 volumes, The James Brown African American Room and the Philip Roth Personal Library are inside this library. Also hosts ESL and yoga classes.
  • Institute of Jazz Studies: The world's largest jazz research library, with an archive of over 100,000 recordings and 30 instruments. It's at Rutgers.
  • New Jersey sound: Deep house infused with gospel, invented here in the 1980s, still popular! Any club with a DJ or any music festival hosted here should feature some.


Here's the city of Newark's official .gov for the Department of Water & Sewer Utilities. Newark has had problems with their water, you and your roommates may want to check here for current advice and instructions.







BURLINGTON

  • $500   =  non-traditional average 1
  • $1028   =  average 2BR ÷ 2, or traditional roommate rent 2
  • $1754   =  average 1BR, rented solo 3

95% live within a 10-minute walk of a park. 4
Some errands can be accomplished on foot. 5
harsh winters, must have snow-worthy car
few traffic jams, excellent air quality 6

SO, roomiematch.com's Burlington roommate rundown:

Burlington is the largest city in Vermont and considered its cultural and educational center. However, that's only about 45,000 folks?

Burlington features harsh winters, but lush and sacred summers no one ever wants to waste.

There are no traffic jams and excellent air quality (obviously related). But you and your roommates will need at least one snow-worthy vehicle.

And speaking of snow, it's the best here. All the snow sports you can name plus international ice hockey and ice fishing. Also winter bashes, fests, and carnivals, all involving maple syrup.

They also adore flannel, farmers' markets, and water resistant wool parkas.

Probably why their crime rate is so low. Everyone just stays super cozy.

The rest of the Burlington roommate lowdown:

  • Burlington is the most populous city in Vermont, but still the least populous US city to still be the most in its state with about 45,000
  • in Northwest Vermont along the east shore of Lake Champlain with the Adirondacks 35 miles to the west and the Green Mountains 10 miles to the east and southeast
  • Burlington is green and lush in summer but features very harsh winters. Snowstorms are possible even in spring. The severity of the cold will surprise anyone new to heavy snow, particularly their first December.
  • Sunny summer days are sacred and not to be wasted, according to most Burlingtonians.
  • home to several college and universities, including the University of Vermont, Burlington College, and Champlain College
  • Burlington has a very low crime rate and excellent air quality.
  • low population density means traffic jams are nearly nonexistent
  • In 2015, Burlington because the first US city to run entirely on renewable energy.
  • Almost everything in Burlington is farther apart than you'd expect for a city, including the other cities on this list. Since snow is also an issue most of the year, it's highly recommended you and your roommates have at least one decent snow-worthy vehicle. Gas also tends toward more expensive than average here.



After you're settled down, you and your roommates should experience Burlington's:

  • Ethan Allen Express: A passenger train running from Burlington to New York City's Union Station by way of Albany. There's one round trip daily that covers 310 miles in about 7.5 hours. It's named for American Revolutionary War hero and Vermont cofounder Ethan Allen.
  • Outdoor Snow Sports: They're the biggest and best here, with about 18 ski resorts on various mountains nearby. Downhill skiing and snowboarding are very popular, with cross-country skiing, showshoeing, snowmobiling, and ice fishing available too. Ice-wise inside, Burlington has a long history with hockey as well, as it was the location of the first international ice hockey match and now hosts many hockey championships.
  • Hiking Trails: Burlington (along with the rest of Vermont) is nicknamed the "Green Mountain State" as the mountains are beautifully blanketed with wildflowers after the snow melts. Right after all that snow mud dries up and before summer gets too muggy is the best time for you and your roommates to explore Burlington's hiking trails.
  • Burlington Farmers Market: Operates year round with about 100 vendors of locally grown food, art, and flowers.
  • Ben & Jerry's: In 1978, the original Ben & Jerry's opened in Burlington in a renovated gas station. The now multinational company maintains headquarters in South Burlington and a factory in Waterbury.
  • Maples: Burlington (along with the rest of Vermont) is known for brilliant fall foliage and natural maple syrup, their superior sweetener. "Leaf peeping" tourists come from all over to photograph the leaves from September to November, and the Maple Festival honors the syrup. (Do not EVER serve a Vermonter any fake ass maple syrup. Syrup social acceptability = local real deal only.)
  • Winter Everything: Burlingtonians are determined to stave off any possible winter depression or despair with carnivals and fairs as popular with snow on the ground as anything during summer: Brrlington Winter Bash, the Middlebury Winter Fest and the Stowe Winter Carnival.
  • Fashion Flannel: f you and your roommates want to make a statement in winter you'll do that with high-fashion flannel shirts, waterproof winter boots, and snuggly wool parkas. Fashion = flannel = don't fight it or you'll freeze to death.
  • Filing Cabinet: There's a 38-drawer filing cabinet built by local artist Bren Alvarez that claims to be the Earth's tallest filing cabinet. It's a comment on bureaucratic delay, with each drawer associated with a year of paperwork associated with the legal battles associated with a local street project. You and your roommates can visit it where it remains way too tall for a filing cabinet and still sitting on a parking lot on Flynn.


Here's the city of Burlington's Rental Resource page, including Resources & Guides to renting in Vermont and Tenant Rights & Responsibilities.







PORTLAND (Maine)

  • $550   =  non-traditional average 1
  • $1148   =  average 2BR ÷ 2, or traditional roommate rent 2
  • $2077   =  average 1BR, rented solo 3

93% live within a 10-minute walk of a park. 4
Some errands can be accomplished on foot. 5
lost in the winter forest, summer tourists
pedestrian friendly, rugged coastline, longshoremen, ferries, fresh seafood 6
cruise central, farmers market, and The View are the largest hoodmap tags 7

SO, roomiematch.com's Portland (Maine) roommate rundown:

How do you feel about a rugged coastline? Surrounded by seafood and forests?

Also snow. And longshoremen. How do you feel about snowflake-sprinkled longshoremen?

Portland possesses all of Maine's beauty and its brutal winter, slathered in snowy longshoremen.

If you'd like to live happily ever after as a Portlander (East Coast!), you'll embrace all of that, along with a few appreciative tourists as well.

You really can't blame the tourists, especially in summer, when so many show up. You're basically living life inside a postcard for Maine.

In additional postcard similarities, along that coastline Portland's also got cute seaside shops, galleries, cultural tours, boutiques, bookstores, bars, pubs, coffee shops, restaurants (obviously including seafood), and museums, and all along cobblestone streets you can enjoy walking along in the great outdoors after consuming coffee or alcohol. Or both.

And cute longshoremen might be there too, enjoying same. Who wouldn't want to visit?

Portland also encourages appreciation of its maritime history, and its contribution to commercial shipping and fishing economies. You can see a lot of fishing boats, cargo tankers, sailboats, yachts and cruise ships, maybe go on some yourself.

Or you could get on a ferry to the islands in rest of Casco Bay and Nova Scotia.

So what about Portland is less postcard-idyllic? Not Portland so specifically, but just the speed of Maine . . . is about the speed of a small town . . . for some.

It's mostly about your recreational time. If you love fishing, you're not getting bored in Portland. Or if it sounds fun to snowshoe your way through a few errands downtown? You're having a ball.

But if nightlife is your thing? Slower-paced, smaller towns do not host the most excitingly diverse party scenes, at least not regularly. Nope. They do not.

Meanwhile, like other lower density places, the crime rate is also low!

So Portlanders have no worries regarding late night crime in train stations! Low crime rate is awesome! But also because . . . there's no real public transport in Portland. Or really, anywhere in Maine.

(Maine already knows this, but everyone else might not. You cannot rely on public transport here as it hardly exists. Also, again, there's just too much winter, sometimes too much for walking or biking. You and your roommates need at least one reliable car. Don't fight us on this then end up stranded somewhere chilly.)

Also don't fight us on the local maple syrup. If you can handle the snow, reward yourself with a delicious sip of your surrounding forests.

The rest of the Portland (Maine) roommate lowdown:

  • small coastal city in southern Maine, on the Atlantic Coast at Casco Bay . . . but still the largest city in Maine
  • about 100 miles north of Boston
  • about 65,000 residents, greater metro about 550,000
  • over 700 acres of public park, linked by over 70 miles of nature trail
  • Portland's summers are warm but short, you might not even need air conditioning. Winters are severe with heavy snowfall.
  • Snowfall inches vary yearly, but snowstorms are possible from November through April. Thunderstorms are possible in the summer months, but direct damage from a hurricane is rare.
  • Portland's economic history is mostly maritime, but they now also host a lot of tourism, banking institutions, and service industry.
  • Lobster, clams, scallops and other high quality seafoods are less expensive here, at many local restaurants really, but extra especially seafood restaurants in Old Port and along Commercial Street.
  • Old Port and the Downtown Arts District are walkable, but otherwise and usually you'll need a car.
  • Other than weather, driving in Portland is easy, with very little chance of getting stuck in a traffic jam.
  • Portland is relatively crime free like smaller towns and Maine in general tends to be, but still use your common sense.
  • home to Maine College of Art, Saint Joseph's College, Roux Institute, University of New England, and the University of Southern Maine



After you're settled down, you and your roommates should experience Portland (ME)'s:

  • Portland Observatory: National Historic Landmark. Climb to the top for a stunning view of the waterfront, depending on the season.
  • Portland Farmers Market: Started in 1768, now in winter too.
  • Victoria Mansion: Built starting in 1958 as a summer home for Ruggles Sylvester Moore and his wife Olive. They were probably on the run from the heat in New Orleans. It's like an Italian Villa in America from almost 200 years ago, everything is preserved and lavishly superb.
  • The Holy Donut: Family-owned business since 2010, they put Maine potatoes in the dough.
  • Carlson Turner Antiquarian Books & Bookbindery: Curated treasures, carefully organized. Also about 40,000 used books in most categories including Maine.
  • Portland Symphony Orchestra: Established in 1923, one of the best orchestras in the country of its size, with a lengthy local concert season. You could also show up for "Symphony & Spirits," and experience live music in a community of music lovers drinking signature cocktails.
  • Fore River Gallery: Group of artists living in Maine and showing work co-operatively here since 2009.
  • Maine Roller Derby: Maine's first women's flat track derby league, since 2007.
  • Becky's Diner: On Portland's waterfront since 1991. Diner food along with seafood, you can get a club or salad with crab or a freshly picked lobster benedict. One of the places in town the out very late party folks finishing their night with a snack could run into the up very early waterfront folks starting their day with breakfast.


Here's the city of Portland (ME)'s official .gov for online services, from 311 service requests to rental housing resources to voter registration.







PROVIDENCE

  • $600   =  non-traditional average 1
  • $1121   =  average 2BR ÷ 2, or traditional roommate rent 2
  • $1629   =  average 1BR, rented solo 3

99% live within a 10-minute walk of a park. 4
Most errands can be accomplished on foot. 5
fog, abandoned buildings
public transit, bicycle friendly, pedestrian friendly, commutable to more expensive city, coastline 6
young professionals who love lofts, upcoming area, grimy hood but good mexican food, poor hipsters, insanely rich, little dominican republic, and RI escape route are the largest hoodmap tags 7

SO, roomiematch.com's Providence roommate rundown:

As one of America's oldest cities, Providence has buildings from all American architectural periods, well-preserved. Rhode Island's capital is one of the original thirteen colonies, and that heritage is celebrated.

It also boasts a storied history with both manufacturing and organized crime.

Very little organized crime lately, or so they say. Now the dominant economic forces are hospitals and higher learning, about eight campuses of each. Medical centers include a Level I Trauma Center and a Veterans Affairs medical center, as well as multiple teaching facilities.

Longer-term residents of Providence with no connection to one of the universities or medical systems often have something to do with state government or transportation around the port.

So it's super convenient that all these landmarks are closer together than most cities with similar, as Providence is geographically very compact for its population. The whole city proper is only about 20 square miles, which helps keep it walkable and bikeable.

Along with several separated bicycle lanes crossing the city, Providence is also the starting/stopping point of a few traffic-free bicycle paths leading elsewhere in the state. They're also working on their Urban Trail Network, including 60 miles of bicycle friendly greenway.

And local public transit is served by the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA). It's mostly buses, some with more rapid service. Or explore transit to Boston, along with many commuters. Many transit possibilities to Boston, most only take about an hour.

Along with access to Rhode Island's scenic coastline, Providence offers nearby culture for not a lot of money for the East Coast. You could check out the Providence Athenaeum and ponder the woman that broke up with Edgar Allen Poe right over there . . . then check out a book too - digital or old school paper.

You could also check out the Women's Flat Track Derby Association. Your local Providence Roller Derby are founding members and internationally-ranked all stars!

Current teams include the Rhode Island Riveters, Killah Bees, Old Money Honeys, Sakonnet River Roller Rats, and The Mob Squad!

The rest of the Providence roommate lowdown:

  • one of the original thirteen colonies, established in 1636
  • state capital and largest city in Rhode Island, on the eastern edge, at the head of Narragansett Bay
  • large seaport, Providence River flows through the city
  • about 200,000 in the city, about 1.5 million in the greater metro
  • high humidity and lots of precipitation year round
  • Summers are warm and foggy, while winter temperatures are moderated by proximity to water . . . but blizzards still happen, and snow might need shoveling.
  • home to the Providence Bruins of the AHL
  • home to New England Institute of Technology, Roger Williams University, Bryant College, Rhode Island School of Design, Brown University, Johnson & Wales University, Providence College, Rhode Island College, and the University of Rhode Island
  • Providence is safe for its size. Just don't go anywhere that looks abandoned.



After you're settled down, you and your roommates should experience Providence's:

  • Prospect Park: Overlooks the city, usually relaxing.
  • Roger Williams Park: Over 420 acres. Several lakes, a zoo, a botanical center, and a Museum of Natural History.
  • Water Place Park: Cobblestone-paved pedestrian walkways along the waterfront. Hosts several concert series including WaterFire, mostly in summer.
  • Providence Athenaeum: 19th century library, almost 200 years old now. Both an historic space and a modern day lending library. Anyone can drop in and browse all the artwork. Poet Sarah Helen Whitman broke up with Edgar Allan Poe here a long time ago. Parties, salons, and other cultural events are now hosted in the Victorian stacks, but don't bring your dog on the mezzanine!


Here's the city of Providence's official .gov, here an index to city departments and services, you and your roommates might need one.







NEW HAVEN or Bridgeport

  • $800   =  non-traditional average 1
  • $1141   =  average 2BR ÷ 2, or traditional roommate rent 2
  • $1811   =  average 1BR, rented solo 3

96% live within a 10-minute walk of a park. 4
Some errands can be accomplished on foot. 5
Yale
commutable to more expensive city, pedestrian friendly 6
drunk driving rednecks with money, asbestos avenue, pharma company ruins, halal mode, trenches, tax yale!!!, and exotic truck food line are the largest hoodmap tags 7

SO, roomiematch.com's New Haven roommate rundown:

Since 1701, New Haven has been home to Yale University. If you live here, you will never struggle to remember that.

New Haven is also frequently referred to as the cultural capital of Connecticut. But that's what Yale told them to say.

A whole whack of US presidents went to Yale, along with even more in Congress. If you're not also attending Yale, this probably won't affect you much, other than forever hearing about it.

New Haven is covered in historical sites, many officially registered. Lighthouse Point Park, a public beach and historic place in and of itself, is also home to two lighthouses plus a carousel, all three also historical!

Officially!

Most of the rest of their economy is human service too - home to a lot of other schools, health care, religion, and pharmaceuticals.

New Haven's downtown is more walkable than most, with many working and living downtown so they can walk easily between. Pedestrian commuting, yay! Lots of walkable retail and casual dining, with over 100 food trucks and carts clustering at a few popular points for lunch.

Which is typical of . . . a much larger city? Topographically, New Haven is a lot more bucolic than most where you can walk to so much that's functionally different within so few blocks.

You can also bicycle along the shorelines of several local beaches nearby, weather permitting.

New Haven Green offers free music concerts, especially in summer. Also, free wifi!

Along with other recent downtown vitalization efforts, 360 State Street apartments is now the largest residential building in Connecticut. It's a 300-foot skyscraper of apartment homes.

If you're not into Yale and/or the pedestrian-friendly and mega-historical spaces surrounding it . . . you may be treating New Haven as your commuter town? But it's encouraged.

Because there are too many commuter trains to mention?

As often as you could reasonably require you can board trains to NYC, Boston, D.C., Providence, Newark, Philadelphia, and Baltimore . . . and farther on to Norfolk . . . and even farther to Vermont.

New Haven could be your somewhat less expensive NE residential roommate hub . . . but from which you could spoke outward to several more expensive cities and several similarly-priced ones.

All without really needing a car for much, at least in New Haven, if you live near enough to catch a ride or walk to the various stations.

Hope you're a history buff!

The rest of the New Haven roommate lowdown:

  • New Haven is a port on New Haven Harbor, on the northern shore of Long Island Sound, about 60 miles northeast of New York City.
  • population of about 130,000 New Haveners in the actual city, about 860,000 in Greater New Haven
  • New Haven is known as the first planned city in the American Colonies, founded in 1638.
  • home to Albertus Magnus College, Gateway Community College, Quinnipiac College, Southern Connecticut State University, University of New Haven, Fairfield University, Sacred Heart University, University of Bridgeport, and Yale University
  • summers are warm and humid, but winters are milder than surrounding areas due to the Long Island Sound - snow happens, but usually more like snow showers than heavy snow drifts
  • New Haven and Bridgeport are known for property crime, but in recent years it's usually car-related . . . always lock your car doors and never leave anything of value visible inside.
  • There is some bus transit . . . but most in New Haven use transit to go elsewhere. If you don't like walking in cold weather, they do have bus routes around downtown.
  • East Rock Park, Sleeping Giant State Park, West Rock State Park are all nearby with many miles of hiking and biking, along with scenic views galore.
  • Invented New Haven-style apizza (say uh-BEETZ) which might be a cousin to regular pizza or in a different family entirely, depending on who you ask. It's thin crust scorched to bitterness in a brick oven, then topped with higher quality ingredients than typical on most American pizzas. The New England clam variety is extra popular.



After you're settled down, you and your roommates should experience New Haven's:

  • Farmington Canal Trail: "Rail trail" or former canal and railroad, now a scenic recreational trail for residents, proposed to expand many miles and well into the future
  • Morris Steinert Collection of Musical Instruments: Possibly still closed for renovation, but you can always view the online gallery of amazing musical expression through time.
  • Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library: Yale's rare books and manuscripts, from ancient papyri to born-digital material. There's an original copy of a Gutenberg Bible. The marble walls inside are extra glowing. No registration required for individual tours, but if you and your roommates want to tour as a group, you might have to let them know then let them lead you. (Don't be drunk or otherwise unruly. Snacking is not allowed during tours.) You can also register for their reading room, even if you do not and never have attended Yale. Their hours open to the public can vary as they host many private events, so confirm before going.
  • Yale University Art Gallery: 186,088 objects! Special focus on Ancient Art, American Decorative Arts, Photography, and Numismatics (coins, paper currency, and medals). Free and open to the public from Tuesday through Sunday. There's a free app with the floor plan and other informational stuff, or you and your roommates could also register in advance for a guided tour.
  • Louis' Lunch: They claim to have invented the "classic hamburger sandwich" that's made with five cuts of meat, then served between white toast with only cheese, onion, and tomato allowed as toppings. They don't think you can properly experience their hand-rolled burgers grilled to perfection with ketchup and mustard all over them! The Lassen family "holds firm on their desire not to offer any condiments." So if you want a special sauce or fries find the nearest McD? But probably try this first, if you and your roommates are already nearby.
  • The Devil's Gear Bike & Board: Community bike shop where you can buy gear and accessories and/or have yours repaired or tuned-up as expected. This one supports their community by sponsoring various local organizations trying to move everyone forward, including promoting free community (you and your roommates are invited!) bike rides.


Here's the city of New Haven's official .gov for all their city services.







NYC - Staten Island

  • $850   =  non-traditional average 1
  • $1288   =  average 2BR ÷ 2, or traditional roommate rent 2
  • $1746   =  average 1BR, rented solo 3

99% live within a 10-minute walk of a park. 4
Most errands can be accomplished on foot. 5
getting lost in the urban wilderness, no longer trendy, falling off the Staten Island Ferry
commutable to more expensive city 6

SO, roomiematch.com's Staten Island roommate rundown:

So many New Yorkers agree Staten Island is the least happening, least trendy and definitely least trend-setting borough!

And yet.

Staten Island also hosts a lot of artists and musicians who really needed proximity to Manhattan and Brooklyn . . . but also really needed larger and more affordable residential and working spaces? Some non-independently-wealthy artists need the kind of larger more affordable spaces that make it easier to live and work while concentrating on your art.

And the North Shore has been especially popular with filmmakers, in part because it's closest to the rest of the city. Many are enthusiastically supported by Staten Island Arts, a grassroots arts collective encouraging local artists to proliferate and prosper here via local recognition and direct funding.

Staten Island has also been known internationally for hip hop culture ever since Wu-Tang Clan formed here in 1992.

SO: How many times could YOU happily ride the Staten Island Ferry over the course of a week? It is a subjective and personal question. Staten Island roommates are in the process of exploring their personal answers right now.

But many say if you had to ride every single day . . . meh. But once or twice a week wouldn't be bad at all, especially if you could work at home or elsewhere on Staten Island the rest of the time!

Because for real, you would want to ride that ferry more often than not when leaving Staten Island.

While the Staten Island Ferry is a popular tourist attraction in and of itself, as the route passes through great views of Ellis Island, the Statue of Liberty, and the Manhattan skyline, it's also the cheapest option. Free since 1997.

And it runs 24 hours a day! Back and forth from Battery Park in Manhattan to St. George Terminal in Staten Island; at least once every half hour. The ride itself is about 25 minutes, which is often faster than driving due to traffic congestion. They'll allow your bike on the lower decks too.

And it is very helpful that this ferry is free and always available, because Staten Island is the only one of the five boroughs not connected to the New York City subway system. Free ferry is pretty much the consolation prize for that otherwise egregious situation.

But if you can love the ferry, the ferry could work for you! Especially if you live closer to the terminal.

You can also reach the rest of NYC by car over multiple bridges, or by local bus, or express bus, or rail. The local buses are usually reliable on weekdays, less on the weekends. On weekends you'll need to track your bus route online to make sure it still exists . . . then understand you'll probably need to make alternate travel arrangements anyway. (After it never shows up.)

(That Staten Island Ferry is sounding better and better, right?)

If you do want to take the ferry, also have a car, and don't want to live on the North Shore . . . you'll probably be driving a ways north at least partially through parkland. Staten Island has a huge number of parks.

Over 12,000 acres of protected parkland! That's hundreds of acres of completely wooded area with decidedly less NYC-urban-typical, more bucolic landscaping. (That mostly means no landscaping.)

All that parkland hosts a diverse collection of wildlife.

And most parks are considered open from dawn to dusk. To humans. The white-tailed deer, turkey, pheasants, and box turtles don't observe curfew.

You might run into a fox or two too.

The rest of the Staten Island roommate lowdown:

  • Staten Island is the least densely populated of the five boroughs of New York City, with only about 500,000. But that's still considered a respectably large population for most metro areas on their own.
  • high temperatures in summer with frequent freezes in winter
  • Used to claim the largest landfill in the world, but it's now being made into a public park which is planned to be three times the size of Manhattan's Central Park.
  • in New York Harbor, with New Jersey across New York Bay: also connected to New Jersey via three bridges and one railroad
  • North Shore is the most densely populated area, with some high rises. The South Shore is mostly suburban, while the West Shore is more industrial.
  • The Staten Island Railway is officially a part of NYC Transit. But it doesn't connect to the subways.
  • Staten Island hosts over a dozen branches of the New York Public Library.
  • home to The College of Staten Island, Wagner College, and St. John's University
  • Staten Island's residents are at least twice as likely to own a car as the rest of NYC.
  • Staten Islanders usually find it cheaper and faster to fly out of Newark than either of Manhattan's airports.
  • Many excellent Italian restaurants. Probably because Staten Island has the highest proportion of Italian Americans anywhere in the entire country? Mangia!
  • There are also large Russian, Polish, Sri Lankan, and Liberian communities, in addition to African American and Hispanic.
  • Staten Island does not have a numbered street grid, and the streets are notoriously confusing. They're seemingly laid out at random, with the most important arteries in the shape of a triangle. You should study a map, possibly even before moving here, but definitely after. Even if you navigate using an app on your phone most of the time, you'll feel perpetually confused regarding exactly where you're headed unless you orient yourself first.



After you're settled down, you and your roommates should experience Staten Island's:

  • Maker Park Radio: Non-Profit Community Streaming Radio Station: Provides space and DJ/radio training to showcase local artists. 100% volunteer run. You and your roommates could start your own show, they might even help you.
  • New York City Marathon: Starts each year on Staten Island, then heads to the other four boroughs.
  • Snug Harbor Cultural Center: Collection of architecturally important 19-century buildings, including Beaux Arts, Greek Revival, Italianate, and Victorian styles. Originally opening in 1833 as a retirement home for sailors, now remodeled and extensively landscaped into a cultural center, including: Staten Island Botanical Garden, Staten Island Museum, Staten Island Children's Museum, Newhouse Center for Contemporary Art, Noble Maritime Collection, Art Lab, Music Hall, and Veteran's Memorial Hall.


Here's the Staten Island Resources page, listing from community associations to maps to parks to transportation, you and your roommates may want to reference.







NYC - The Bronx

  • $900   =  non-traditional average 1
  • $1271 (   =  average 2BR ÷ 2, or traditional roommate rent 2
  • $2182   =  average 1BR, rented solo 3

99% live within a 10-minute walk of a park. 4
Most errands can be accomplished on foot. 5
bodega ATM scams
public transit, parkland, bicycle friendly 6

SO, roomiematch.com's The Bronx roommate rundown:

The Bronx is home to about 1.3 million residents, living in the only NYC borough on the mainland of the US. (Meaning, not on an island.)

BX is divided in half by the Bronx River and Jerome Avenue. The subways go north to south, which doesn't work as well for cross-Bronx travel. Especially since drivers on the Cross-Bronx Expressway often consider it misnamed, as it frequently slows to a standstill.

But like the rest of NYC, most residents don't own cars, and even those that do probably take public transport more often, saving the car for trips outside the city. With the traffic jams and the subway situation, many Bronxites would rather ride a bike. Many Bronx streets feature separated bikeways. You and your roommates might be happier on a bike or walking as well.

In more transport news, The Bronx is more or less known to the rest of America for elevated trains through graffiti. To some, the graffiti looks dangerous. It's not, but still try not to ride an empty train car. There are conductors, select their car whenever your train is mostly deserted.

Are we saying that for the South Bronx? Indeed!

But we're saying that for all of NYC. Moving with the herd is more safe, while public but deserted late at night and you're all alone could be less. You and your roommates will never be wrong to heed that advice, in The Bronx or anywhere in NYC.

The South Bronx is also known for hip hop and hip hop culture, kicked off here in 1973. At a birthday party, on Sedgwick Avenue. Probably! (It's controversial, but we're going with definitely probably.)

So are we stereotyping The Bronx as geographically mostly graffiti?

Nope! What The Bronx mostly really is, still geographically speaking? PARKS!

Plural parks, or park space in general. About 20% of the whole borough, permanently officially publicly parks!

You've got Crotona Park, with its very deep pool, trees, ducks, and tennis.

There's Pelham Bay, which is three times the size of Central Park! You could go birdwatching, hiking along 13 miles of shoreline, picnicking, or horseback riding!

Or visit Van Cortlandt Park, with America's oldest golf course. Also a brook, a forest, a large freshwater lake, cricket, and horseback riding again.

So all that green seriously competes with the graffiti.

You could even practice your rhyming and rapping in multiple lovely parks riding through the green on your horse.

Perhaps a ride-along rap, including some Bronxites in your neighborhood? It's civically encouraged.

The rest of the The Bronx roommate lowdown:

  • The Bronx is 42 square miles.
  • northernmost of the five boroughs of New York City
  • only borough located on the mainland, not primarily on an island
  • high temperatures in summer with frequent freezes in winter
  • majority Hispanic
  • home to Fordham University, Manhattan College, three campuses of the City University of New York, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, and the United States Merchant Marine Academy
  • If an ATM in a bodega or deli or convenience mart looks a little "fly-by-night," leave it alone. Please note: We're not trying to libel anyone's bodega! But thefts have been reported from an unusually large number of bank machines in The Bronx, always challenging to determine where the thefts ultimately originated (often the ownership of the ATM is not the same as the store in which it sat).

    SO: We'd recommend inserting your bank/ATM card plus password exclusively into machines owned and operated by your same bank. This could mean withdrawing all your cash from one of your bank's locations during the day, which would be more clever too.

    If you can't easily tell who's responsible for an ATM, there's probably a not-very-nice reason for that. A not nice reason which will ultimately mean don't count on anyone from the mystery machine returning any unauthorized withdrawals.



After you're settled down, you and your roommates should experience The Bronx's:

  • New York Botanical Garden: There's a PlantTracker and plant experts. The Bronx Green-Up is a community gardening outreach program.
  • Edgar Allan Poe Cottage: The small wooden house where he lived the last three years of his life. Sadly, he moved to Baltimore after his wife Virginia died of tuberculosis, here. You and your roommates could go on a guided tour.
  • Bronx Zoo: Over 6000 animals. From Jungleworld to Tiger Mountain. There's also a Mouse House and a Wild Asia Monorail. Sometimes they have an adults-only "brew at the zoo" where they pass out beer, wine, and cider and let you look at the sea lions all night. After hours parties are on and off though, so doublecheck your details before departing.


Here's the official Bronx newsroom, on their official .gov.







NEW BRUNSWICK

  • $600   =  non-traditional average 1
  • $1425   =  average 2BR ÷ 2, or traditional roommate rent 2
  • $2029   =  average 1BR, rented solo 3

94% live within a 10-minute walk of a park. 4
Most errands can be accomplished on foot. 5
rush hour, pickpocketing at local bars
commutable to more expensive city, public transit 6

SO, roomiematch.com's New Brunswick roommate rundown:

Honestly, the only reason a "metro" or college town the wee size of New Brunswick with only around 55,000 residents gets its own mention on this list is because of the easy accessibility to larger metros.

(Also, the college in question is Rutgers, but Princeton's pretty close too.)

New Brunswick is along the New Jersey Transit line, meaning trains go from New Brunswick to NYC's Penn Station or Newark and it takes about an hour, or Philadelphia and it takes about an hour and a half.

Whether or not you and your roommates need a car depends on how often you leave Rutgers . . . to do anything other than depart to NYC or Philly or someplace else off the New Jersey Transit Line. If you do decide to drive in New Brunswick, you should know that downtown parking is expensive, and traffic gets jammed up around any football game.

Route 18 also features a rush hour that might be a few hours long. Avoid!

So what's the "culture" of New Brunswick . . . specifically? Either ONE or TWO, below, take your pick.

ONE: You can't go far without spotting a bar. The Rutgers campus area and surrounding is generally safe and features its own Rutgers University Police (RUPD), but locals advise against wandering around alone in the rest of the town after dark. Pickpocketing along with occasional muggings has happened at bus stops, so keep your obvious valuables safely stashed. Always best to travel in a group, especially after dark, especially if you've been drinking.

TWO: It doesn't exist, because everyone is constantly leaving on transit?

(But still excellent metro to roommate from, because proximity!)

The rest of the New Brunswick roommate lowdown:

  • 28 miles southwest of NYC, on the banks of the Raritan river, located approximately 30 miles southwest of Manhattan
  • an enthusiastic Hungarian and Hungarian-celebrating community, with up to 10% Hungarians of several generations, and several landmarks and memorials relating to all their revolutions plus a Hungarian Festival every June
  • up to 50% of New Brunswick's residents report an Hispanic background, and it's amazingly various
  • also known as "Healthcare City," after its abundance of medical facilities, including Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, Saint Peter's University Hospital, and Rutgers University's Robert Wood Johnson Medical Schools . . . plus New Brunswick is the international headquarters of Johnson & Johnson



After you're settled down, you and your roommates should experience New Brunswick's:

  • George Street: Home to George Street Playhouse and a number of other performing arts organizations and art galleries. Also a lot of casual dining and the college students partaking.
  • Zimmerli Art Museum: More than 60,000 works, with strengths in Art of the Americas, Soviet Nonconformist Art, and Original Illustrations for Children's Literature. Part of Rutgers, but open to the public and free to all.
  • Rutgers Gardens and Helyar Woods: "One of the few botanical gardens that does not charge an admission fee and is open year round." Hours change seasonally so be sure to doublecheck your info before going.


Here's the city of New Brunswick's official .org for new residents (including roommates).







WASHINGTON D.C.

  • $900   =  non-traditional average 1
  • $1518   =  average 2BR ÷ 2, or traditional roommate rent 2
  • $2271   =  average 1BR, rented solo 3

99% live within a 10-minute walk of a park. 4
Most errands do not require a car. 5
distracted drivers
history is everywhere, yes, but especially HERE 6

SO, roomiematch.com's D.C. roommate rundown:

Do we even need to list cool stuff in America's capital? The whole world is already familiar with D.C.'s most famous. You can't even talk to your neighbor without mentioning anything iconic. Even if you're not a political junkie, there's so much official history all over the city, you're probably sitting on some right now.

Or within earshot of its historical tour.

You might have to become an American history buff just to keep up with conversation! (But we'll put stuff here that's practically roommate-relevant.)

Locals say D.C. or "the District." They say "Washington" too, but that tends to mean "our national government and the entire political circus surrounding it," more often than the literal geographic radius around the capital.

The city's entire sprawling skyline is low to the ground, due to the Height of Buildings Act, limiting building height to the width of the street plus 20 feet. This means urban canyons are non-existent, and many balconies have great views, especially of the National Mall. Critics say height restrictions have also limited affordable housing while increasing traffic.

One of D.C.'s prominent nicknames remains "Chocolate City," as it was the first black-majority city in the country. It remains black majority today, but now less than 40% of D.C. residents were born here. D.C. natives tend to make less money, but form deeper roots in local community.

The majority are now transplants and immigrants. The capital's pull is truly international, and immigrant culture extends through the city. D.C.'s transplants tend to be younger, more educated, and planning a career in government or politics.

There's controversy that wealthier but more transient professionals are displacing long-term residents. While not to discount these social issues, sometimes the severe diversity of this city just works anyway. The neighborhoods or social scenes that successfully involve everyone mentioned above are always the best.

About a quarter of residents are employed by the federal government. It might seem like more site-seeing all that's federally funded.

Tourism is clearly the number two industry. And D.C.'s multiple walkable neighborhoods involve both.

If your feet are going to pound local pavement, know there's a lot of concrete around most of the monuments, which will murder your feet if you're not wearing good walking shoes. In warmer weather you may want to stick with air-conditioned museums in the middle of the day, reserving monuments and everything else outdoors for morning and evening.

For bike enthusiasts: We'd recommend walking whenever you can especially in the center of town, then biking anywhere with a lot less traffic. There are fantastic biking trails in the greater D.C. area, and dedicated bike lanes on many avenues, but drivers tend to be distracted and accident-prone. Helmets for city biking are not legally required when you're over 16, but are strongly recommended.

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority operates extensive public transit with subways, trains, and buses. Mostly labeled "Metro (fill-in-the-blank)," and you can get a discount by purchasing and reloading their proprietary debit card, either live or via the mobile app. You can also prepay for Metrorail parking lots.

The District hates bad manners on their Metro. If you are carrying food or drink, keep it covered, preferably stashed in a bag. Stand on the right on escalators, leaving the left free for passing. Keep your belongings off the seats as much as you can - when your car is full of passengers, consider putting your bag on your lap instead of taking another needed seat or cluttering the floor. Don't block the doors - let other passengers leave unobstructed.

Metro's underground stations are known for their brutalist architecture and lengthy escalators. The longest is 230 feet, dizzying for some. Extra especially avoid passing on the right on that one.

If you can make it work, just avoid driving in D.C. entirely. It's almost always easier to take transit than drive in terrible traffic. Then pay too much for parking. Even folks that do drive D.C. agree everyone should stop! Or that it's just too hectic with too much going on.

Along with too much traffic, there are additional stressors like traffic circles and street directional changes. Driving D.C. is like a video game set a level too high for most to play comfortably. Everyone seems slightly accident prone. And parking is complicated on weekdays too - mostly limited to two hours during the day. Other than during any major event, parking in public garages won't be hard to find. However, it'll be about 25 bucks per day. Some garages allow prepaid days at a discount.

D.C. gets a reputation for higher homicide rates periodically, but it's mostly gang-related or situations in which everyone involved already knew each other, nothing was random. It's also mostly in areas of town away from tourism and college students. Especially near anything of federal importance, police and security presence will be heavy. No one's randomly getting assaulted and mugged right in front of the feds!

Petty theft and snatch-and-grab of mobile phones is unfortunately more common in neighborhoods where nightlife is the main point. Mostly late at night, targeting intoxicated patrons leaving bars. If you go clubbing or barhopping: stay in well-lit areas, with friend(s) who'll keep an eye out, and sober enough to remain aware of your surroundings.

Another District tip, the size of the crowd for almost everything will depend on whether Congress is in session. Anything still happening after they're gone will be cheaper and less crowded.

No, it's not that senators keep bumming all the tables at Korean Karaoke BBQ. It's that during recess, there are fewer people overall, via a long list of cascading causes. Since many local businesses serve Congress different downstream ways, their absence is a great time for some employees to take off too, either more time needed chilling at home or elsewhere for variety . . .

. . . thus allowing you and your roommates to joyride a now depopulated D.C.

With less traffic on the highways and Metro, and less demand for most attractions, you can zoom around the city faster than usual however you'd like, then right up to the front of whatever. No lines or long waits for you!

And in spring, don't forget to joyride through the cherry blossoms.

The rest of the D.C. roommate lowdown:

  • nation's capital, along the Potomac River, inland from Chesapeake Bay, between southern Maryland and northern Virginia
  • about 700,000 residents in town
  • only 35 miles from Baltimore, 125 to Philadelphia
  • summers are hot, humid and stormy, winters are relatively cold with occasional snow, spring in D.C. is moderate temperature, cool breezes, lush green everything, and cherry blossoms
  • D.C. hosts the Washington Commanders (NFL), Washington Wizards (NBA), Washington Nationals (MLB), Washington Capitals (NHL), D.C. United (MLS), Washington Mystics (WNBA) and the Washington Spirit (NWSL)
  • hosts a large swing dancing community
  • Falls Church is home to the largest Vietnamese community on the East Coast.
  • The District hosts the largest concentration of embassies and diplomatic missions in the world.
  • over 70 museums to choose from, most offering free or reduced cost admission
  • D.C. hosts an exciting range of culinary options, both internationally, and from affordable to high end. Locally popular dishes include: pupusa (Salvoadoran stuffed corn tortilla, often topped with slaw and tomato sauce), Ethiopian injera with stew, ramen, Korean BBQ (often with karaoke), half-smokes (half beef, half pork, all smoked sausages), steamed crabs (particularly Maryland blues), which could also end up in crab cakes or crab bisque.
  • D.C. has the highest proportion of parents doing all or most of their childcare at home. Nannies and au pairs are always in demand.
  • home to Columbia Union College, Corcoran School of Art, Shepherd College, Bowie State University, Capitol College, Defense Intelligence College, Hood College, Mary Washington College, Marymount University, Mount Saint Mary's College, Mount Vernon College, Southeastern University, Trinity College, University of Maryland, University of the District of Columbia, American University, Catholic University of America, Gallaudet University, George Mason University, George Washington University, Georgetown University, Howard University, and the University of Maryland - College Park



After you're settled down, you and your roommates should experience D.C.'s:

  • National Mall: 25 million visitors per year. Monuments, memorials, and museums galore.
  • Rock Creek Park: 1700 acre national park. Hike, bike, run, or walk on a paved path near many deer. Or kayak.
  • Great Falls Park: 800 acres that's 14 miles away, but there's a waterfall.
  • Washington National Cathedral: Neo-gothic magnificence.
  • Smithsonian American Art Museum (SAAM): One of the world's largest collections focusing on art made in the United States from the colonial period to now. "Explore the sweep of four centuries of the American imagination."
  • Politics & Prose: Independent bookstore since 1984, known for their public discussions and author events.


Here's America's official .gov, and it's a lot. But that link is new resident resources, not stuff for the rest of the nation.







NYC - Queens

  • $1150   =  non-traditional average 1
  • $1835   =  average 2BR ÷ 2, or traditional roommate rent 2
  • $2923   =  average 1BR, rented solo 3

99% live within a 10-minute walk of a park. 4
Most errands can be accomplished on foot. 5
geographic confusion
public transit, commutable to more expensive city 6

SO, roomiematch.com's Queens roommate rundown:

Queens is the largest of NYC's five boroughs by area, but not population (that'd be Brooklyn).

And some say there's so much diversity going on, Queens is better understood as a collection of neighborhoods. About 45% of Queensites were born in another country. Now with over 120 languages spoken, it's overwhelmingly one of the most ethnically diverse areas in the country.

And Queens is a collection of famous neighborhoods like Jackson Heights, Jamaica, Long Island City, Astoria, Ozone Park, and The Rockaways. But this collection is occasionally confusing as unlike the rest of NYC, the address includes the neighborhood (like Jackson Heights) instead of the borough (like Queens or Brooklyn).

(So your address in Queens probably doesn't include the word Queens . . . but you'll still get mail at your postbox if it is in Queens, don't worry.)

Others say Queens was invented as a collection of neighborhoods by and for those who want to live near the rest of NYC for some important reason, but without the "attitude" more common to those who never leave Manhattan or Brooklyn?

Yet even others argue Queens still has plenty of NYC attitude all the same, but Queens tunes differently, in the key of diversity and an almost aggressive authenticity over "snobby" plus "trendy?"

Queens is also a lot more diverse in terms of density, with the area closer to Manhattan full of urban clusters, even including skyscrapers, but as you move farther away to the east, a bit more suburban. Much of Queens is more spread out than other boroughs in this way, so while many bridges and neighborhoods are friendly to pedestrians and bicycles, be prepared for some longer walks.

Meaning, a little more elbow room for some. But more elbow room is sometimes not expensive or trendy!

(And whether you regard that as good or bad probably explains a lot of YOUR "NYC attitude" . . . right?)

All this diversity plus authenticity means Queens is determined to offer everyone a lot of bargain casual dining that's the "real ethnic deal."

Affordable sit-down or dine-in food that's cheaper and better than the rest of the country, including most of the rest of more expensive NYC. Anything you might expect from a Manhattan food truck and more, every single variety of cuisine plus some you've not yet heard of are always available.

But here you could have it sitting down at a diner.

Or a bar, pizza parlor, lounge, dim sum counter, casual cafe, community picnic, or local market . . . or sure, hamburger joints and diners again . . .

. . . all hardly ever hipster, but usually more affordable than the rest of NYC.

The rest of the Queens roommate lowdown:

  • crescent-shaped, with a tail, along the north to south of Long Island
  • easternmost of the five boroughs of New York City, second most populous (about 2.4 million), includes a few small islands
  • high temperatures in summer with frequent freezes in winter
  • two of New York metro's airports are located here, LaGuardia and John F. Kennedy International Airport, airline industry is huge
  • a lot of local buses around Queens, and express buses to other boroughs and the airports
  • the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) operates 22 stations here with service to other boroughs and Long Island, also the JFK AirTrain
  • too many bridges and tunnels to list . . . to the other four boroughs and everywhere else
  • home to the New York Mets (MLB)
  • hosts the U.S. Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center
  • home to a number of colleges including LaGuardia Community College, Queens College, Queensborough Community College, York College, and the Vaughn College of Aeronautics and Technology
  • Just like Manhattan and Brooklyn, some of Queens previously sported a dangerous reputation, but that's almost entirely in the past. Most of Queens is really safe now, and hardly ever depopulated. You should still always be aware who is around you on the street, and beware of pickpockets or purse snatchers, particularly if your purse looks expensive. Keep any purse closed and in front of you at all times. Keep an eye on your electronics, and store your valuables in interior or securely closed pockets.



After you're settled down, you and your roommates should experience Queens':

  • Queens Museum: Lots of visiting exhibitions and ongoing projects, but the permanent collection includes a scaled-down panorama of all of NYC, a relief map of the NYC water supply, and Tiffany glass. You and your roommates could even take experimental courses on art plus technology.
  • Queens Borough Public Library: One of the largest public library systems in the US, separate from New York Public Library, over 60 branches and over 16.5 million items in circulation on its own!
  • Isamu Noguchi Sculpture Museum: It's a garden with stone and light sculptures in Long Island City. You and your roommates can visit for free, but the Museum hours are only Wednesday-Sunday.
  • Rockaway Beach: A cleaner stretch of beach and boardwalk along a peninsula connected to Queens which seems more bucolic than the rest of NYC.
  • Bohemian Hall & Beer Garden: While there are a huge number places to drink beer, this is true, this one's a whole city block walled with trees that bills itself as the oldest and largest outdoor drinking venue in NYC. Serves Czech and Slovak food and hosts many community events. Since 1910!
  • New York Hall of Science: NYC's only "hands on" biology, chemistry, and physics center. You and your roommates could take part in The Big Bubble Experiment.
  • Louis Armstrong House Museum: All newly renovated and curated, several collections with tens of thousands of items and recordings and collections and memoirs. Meet Satchmo all over again.
  • Afrikan Poetry Theater: 447-year-old cultural arts non-profit institution serving Southeast Queens. Programs include workshops and classes and celebrations including: acting, African music, book writing, dance, drama, drum and piano, film making, hip hop, jazz, martial arts, poetry reading, and Indy film screenings for Black History Month and Kwanzaa.


Here's the Queens Calendar for constituents, which you and your roommates may want to check out? It includes municipal meetings as well as celebrations and other cultural events.







BOSTON

  • $1000   =  non-traditional average 1
  • $1788   =  average 2BR ÷ 2, or traditional roommate rent 2
  • $2967   =  average 1BR, rented solo 3

100% live within a 10-minute walk of a park. 4
Most errands can be accomplished on foot. 5
traffic congestion during special events, Atlantic fog
public transit, symphonies, parkland, museums, local professional sports, pedestrian-friendly 6
dead body disposal, italians, great seafood, technically a beach, moms that still dress like pat benatar, hipster mecca, asian tourists, harvard kids displacing working people, art school dropouts, loud noises, the irish mob, catholics, liberals not welcome, zombieland, universities galore!, family hipsters, lesbians, irish american firemen, murderpan, used to be mobsters here, new chinatown, and allston rat city are the largest hoodmap tags 7

SO, roomiematch.com's Boston roommate rundown:

Boston is the most densely populated most expensive city in the United States . . . after NYC and the Bay Area, of course.

Just like the larger two, public transport is popular. About a third of Bostonians use public transport daily, and about a third, exclusively. That's underground, bus, plus commuter rail. Since most of the city is compact and densely populated, many prefer to walk around outdoors as well, even in winter.

Prepare to bundle up.

But if you're not walking, be prepared for gridlock . . . hardly anyone offers free parking, yet there's still a lot of commuting, particularly during special events. The city's population can suddenly double, leading to a sudden traffic bubble. You don't want to be on the road with that.

The best advice is to live in a neighborhood near where you'll spend most of your time. In Boston, almost any amount of commuting is associated with annoyance. Avoidance would be enviable.

Boston has a very high cost of living, more or less again, right after NYC and the Bay Area. Salaries tend to be higher too, so for many, it's worth it.

Many whose salaries don't tend to be higher tend to have roommates. And many others tend to have roommates too just to save money anyway. Spend it on seafood instead.

The rest of the Boston roommate lowdown:

  • Boston is the most populous city in Massachusetts, about 675,000 in the city and almost 5 million in the Greater Boston metropolitan region. That makes Boston the third most densely populated large US city and the most populous state capital.
  • Boston is called a "city of neighborhoods" as 23 have officially been designated and they're very diverse architecturally. Most didn't exist even in terms of their land area when the city was founded, but were created by filling nearby tidal areas with gravel.
  • About 1/3 of Bostonians use public transport daily, and about 1/3 of Boston households do not have a car. The MBTA operates the oldest underground transit system in the country, along with many buses and commuter rail.
  • Boston has the highest percentage pedestrian commuting in the country. Much of the city is both compact and densely populated with a huge student demographic, which leads to foot traffic from both preference and necessity. Prepare to wear layers to walk around in the winter.
  • But if you and your roommates do choose to drive within Boston, you should plan more in your budget than cheaper cities. Most apartments don't have spaces included with the rent. Parking most places you'd drive in the city is paid as well, by the hour or monthly.
  • There is a lot of commuting from the suburbs for work and special events. Sometimes the city's population doubles or even triples for short periods, so traffic congestion can get severe.
  • The best advice for commuting around Boston may simply be to try harder to find a neighborhood near where you'll spend most of your time. Reverse commuting and/or not commuting at all during business hours and other citywide excitable moments would also be enviable lifestyle choices for you and your roommates to consider whenever possible.
  • Boston features all four seasons, extremely so. Weather changes rapidly with heavy precipitation. Summer are hot, winters are stormy with lots of rain, snow, sleet, and fog. Heavy downpours and hailstorms are common. Chilly coastal sea breezes lower land temperatures suddenly, then the fog rolls in all along the North Atlantic. You and your roommates will want to pack hoodies.
  • Boston has a high cost of living, one of the highest in the country. Usually only NYC and San Francisco beat Boston for overall expensiveness. However, salaries tend to be higher here too, so for many it's worth it.
  • Boston hosts many professional sports teams, including the Boston Red Sox, the Boston Celtics, and the Boston Bruins. Boston also hosts the Boston Marathon, the world's oldest annual marathon run on Patriots' Day. Locals take their teams very seriously! All older teams are followed by their own exceedingly enthusiastic fanbases.
  • Boston is home to an extremely large number of universities and colleges, including: Art Institute of Boston, Berklee College of Music, Boston Architectural Center, Endicott College, Gordon College, Lasell College, Montserrat College of Art, Mount Ida College, Newbury College, Wellesley College, Wentworth Institute of Technology, Wheaton College, Atlantic Union College, Babson College, Bentley College, Boston Conservatory, Cambridge College, Curry College, Eastern Nazarene College, Emmanuel College, Framingham State College, Massachusetts College of Art, MGH Institute of Health Professions, Pine Manor College, Regis College, Salem State College, School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Wheelock College, Boston College, Boston University, Brandeis University, Emerson College, Harvard University, Lesley College, Massachusetts College of Pharmacy, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, New England Conservatory of Music, Northeastern University, Simmons College, Suffolk University, Tufts University, and the University of Massachusetts



After you're settled down, you and your roommates should experience Boston's:

  • Seafood: Boston is at the head of the Boston Bay, New England's most important seaport. The seafood is sparklingly fresh, so don't miss the lobsters, oysters, and clam chowder.
  • Contemporary Classical Music: From the Boston Symphony Orchestra (one of the "Big Five") to the Boston Pops Orchestra. There's also Boston Baroque, the Boston Modern Orchestra Project, Boston Ballet, Opera Boston, and Boston Musica Viva . . . and then several annual musical festivals and local events including a Boston Pops concert with fireworks on the banks of the Charles River.
  • Parks: Their system is stunning, one of the best in the country. Along with Boston Public Garden, the Emerald Necklace is a string of parks including Franklin Park, the Franklin Park Zoo, the Back Bay Fens, Arnold Arboretum, and Jamaica Pond. They were designed by Frederick Law Olmsted to encircle the city. Several other parks are scattered around the city as well, so you and your roommates should most definitely chill in at least one of these excellent greenspaces.
  • Old Corner Bookstore: Many claim it's the "cradle of American literature," where Ralph Waldo Emerson, Margaret Fuller, Nathaniel Hawthorne, James Russell Lowell, and Henry David Thoreau all met and wrote. Boston continues its literary scene with The Atlantic Monthly, the Boston Book Festival, and the Boston Public Library (the first free library in the US).
  • History: Boston is one of the oldest cities in America; it's the scene of several key events in the American Revolution including the Boston Massacre, the Boston Tea Party, and the Battle of Bunker Hill. The USS Constitution and Walden Pond are also spectacularly popular with tourists.
  • Boston's so rich with history REALLY there's an historical marker nearly everywhere you turn. You and your roommates could take photos of each other posing throughout history all over the place! Definitely sort of!


Here's the City of Boston's Services, Applications, and Permits: probably of interest to new residents.







NYC - Brooklyn

  • $1400   =  non-traditional average 1
  • $2185   =  average 2BR ÷ 2, or traditional roommate rent 2
  • $3648   =  average 1BR, rented solo 3

99% live within a 10-minute walk of a park. 4
Most errands can be accomplished on foot. 5
hipsters, incomprehensible trends, unrealistic expectations
public transit, parkland, museums, pubs 6

SO, roomiematch.com's Brooklyn roommate rundown:

After hearing from thousands and thousands of wishful Brooklyn roommates, we're offering our Proceed with Caution Preamble: If your Brooklyn lifestyle is entirely imagined thus far . . .

. . . if you've yet to nail down any serious details . . .
. . . it's likely less realistic than you think.

No, not saying you're stupid, saying this is true of almost everyone not in Brooklyn (or Manhattan or San Francisco). So many roommates imagined they could get along pretty easily here for at least a year, working only part time, freelance, or in the gig economy . . . to explore local life via roommates before making any longer-term geographic commitments, and/or just for the excitement of Brooklyn for a spell before moving on.

And in most of the cities on this list, that actually works! Many succeed.

You could too, provided you can support yourself locally some way you won't hate that's still lucrative enough to pay your roommate share.

There's obviously a range, but you could gig your way into a lot of realistic roommate scenarios and experience huge urbanity for non-huge money . . . again, in most of the cities on this list.

Less so this one.

Overall, definitely including cost, Brooklyn is a LOT.

After Manhattan, Brooklyn is the most densely populated area on the East Coast. After rent, even with roommates, the overall cost of living remains very high.

We're not trying to be down on Brooklyn. Many Brooklynites love their borough! It has so much to recommend it!

But everything Brooklyn is competitive, everything is crowded, and everything is more expensive than you're probably imagining if you don't already truly know.

And while everything Brooklyn is also lively, multicultural, often educational, and frequently cool . . . you might not ultimately enjoy yourself as much as you're currently imagining if you'd have to struggle too much to pay for it.

At the overcrowded corner of Hip & Trendy, your rent will cost more than almost everywhere else in the country, even with roommates. This to live in real estate that will NOT be nicer. Definitely not more spacious.

In addition, be warned that even after paying the "I live in Brooklyn" surcharge . . . no one in their right mind ever moves to Brooklyn just to stay home in a tiny room.

So you have to pay not just your own inflated rent, but all the other unreasonably high charges for everything else all over the rest of your overpriced neighborhood, so you can be out and about too in all that's exciting in Brooklyn that includes . . .

. . . the largest number of "Chinatowns" in NYC, especially along 8th Avenue. That Brooklyn is about 25% Jewish, some say it's the "most Jewish spot on Earth." Greenpoint, also known as "Little Poland." The huge Hispanic community, Bushwick is the hub. Brooklyn is also home to the largest community of West Indians outside the Caribbean, and Brighton Beach, our largest Russian-speaking community.

It also includes Bay Ridge, which includes the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, which connects to Staten Island.

And Bay Ridge also includes Fort Hamilton, a United States Army Base. (Also a lot of bars with a lot of food specials, they like soldiers, quite possibly you and your roommates too even if you're non-military.)

Brooklyn speaks a lot of languages. While most Brooklynites speak English, up to half speak something else as well or more often.

Performing arts and restaurants happen everywhere, indoors and out, parks and the sidewalk and whatever. You could just walk around on any warm day, open to new experiences especially involving street performance and food trucks, and be entertained and well-fed.

Brooklyn is extremely well-served by a lot of public transport, including subways, buses, a ferry network, and commuter rail, all the way to the suburbs. There's even a Water Taxi.

But if you don't have a serious reason to be in Brooklyn most of the week that's probably your full-time job or in-person full-time-ish education (and/or you're not independently wealthy and/or in possession of the family-owned and/or rent-controlled place, etc.) . . . you would probably find it more affordable and thus less stressful to live most anywhere else on this list also along the East Coast . . .

. . . then VISIT.

Possibly a lot. Which you'll easily afford, since all your bills will be less. Since Brooklyn is connected to everything else via all that public transport, visiting should be relatively easy and fast!

You can still be special too! Even if you don't live in Brooklyn!

You can be just as special living life on less expensive real estate . . . maybe even more special, if special can ultimately involve actually feeling less stressed out?

(Everyone Else (already in Brooklyn with ongoing full-time reasons): Carry on, and apologies for the interruption! This preamble is the best thing for you too! Even if you didn't need to read it! ;) )

The rest of the Brooklyn roommate lowdown:

  • most populous of the five boroughs of New York City, with about 2.6 million
  • on southwestern end of Long Island, sharing a land boundary with Queens
  • 97 square miles, about 26 is water, which borders most of it
  • high temperatures in summer with frequent freezes in winter, rain year round
  • Like the rest of NYC, most residents don't own cars, and even those that do probably take public transport more often, saving the car for trips outside the city.
  • many colleges and universities, including Brooklyn Law School, Pratt Institute, New York Polytechnic School of Engineering, Brooklyn College, Medgar Evers College, New York City College of Technology, and the SUNY Downstate Medical Center



After you're settled down, you and your roommates should experience Brooklyn's:

  • Brooklyn Academy of Music: Lots of concerts, ongoing and visiting exhibitions of visual art, a cinema, opera, kid stuff
  • Coney Island: Amusement park reliably attracting summer crowds during any heatwave. Also a roller coaster, an aquarium, a ferris wheel, the Brooklyn Cyclones, and the New York Liberty!
  • Brooklyn Museum: NYC's second largest public museum, since 1897.
  • Brooklyn Bridge Park: Manhattan's spectacular skyline. DUMBO (down under the Manhattan Bridge overpass) sits between the two bridges nearby, also offers great views.
  • Brooklyn Bridge: Connecting to lower Manhattan. Other bridges are available, this one's most iconic.
  • Prospect Park: Ice-skating in winter, kites and concerts in the summer, and the Brooklyn Museum, which contains the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art and Hiroshige's One Hundred Famous Views of Edo.
  • Marine Park: Once mostly a salt marsh, now bike paths, also handball and shuffleboard courts.
  • Brighton Beach: Largest Russian-speaking community in the US
  • New York Transit Museum: Letting you know you can start in Brooklyn and connect to anywhere in the world!
  • Brooklyn Public Library: Brooklyn's own independent library system and non-profit, more than 50 branches, with the ongoing goal of keeping at least one branch within half a mile of every Brooklynite! Lots of other programs like classes, readings, and live performances. Also multiple bookmobiles.
  • Brooklyn Nets: Most New Yorkers pull their sports fandom from whatever borough they please, but this basketball team is specifically Brooklyn's most popular professional sports team and fandom.
  • Jewish Children's Museum: The largest Jewish museum for kids in the country. Would you like to learn to bake a 3D dreidel cookie? You and your roommates could visit as a group, you wouldn't even have to pull up in a school bus.


Here's the Comprehensive Plan for Brooklyn, which you and your roommates may want to check out. (It's mostly about housing units and your health.)







NYC - Manhattan

  • $1500   =  non-traditional average 1
  • $2731   =  average 2BR ÷ 2, or traditional roommate rent 2
  • $4332   =  average 1BR, rented solo 3

99% live within a 10-minute walk of a park. 4
Most errands can be accomplished on foot. 5
unrealistic expectations, dashed Broadway dreams, couchsurfers
public transit, pedestrian friendly, museums, restaurants, local professional sports 6

SO, roomiematch.com's Manhattan roommate rundown:

After hearing from many thousands of wishful Manhattan roommates, we're offering our Proceed with Caution Preamble (extremely similar to the Brooklyn preamble above): If your Manhattan lifestyle is entirely imagined thus far . . .

. . . if you've yet to nail down any serious details . . .
. . . it's likely less realistic than you think.

No, not saying you're stupid, saying this is true of almost everyone not in Manhattan (or Brooklyn or San Francisco). So many roommates imagined they could get along pretty easily here for at least a year, working only part time, freelance, or in the gig economy . . . to explore local life via roommates before making any longer-term geographic commitments, and/or just for the excitement of Manhattan for a spell before moving on.

And in most of the cities on this list, that actually works! Many succeed.

You could too, provided you can support yourself locally some way you won't hate that's still lucrative enough to pay your roommate share.

There's obviously a range, but you could gig your way into a lot of realistic roommate scenarios and experience huge urbanity for non-huge money . . . again, in most of the cities on this list.

Less so this one.

Overall, definitely including cost, Manhattan is a LOT.

Manhattan is the most densely populated area on the East Coast. This long thin island with concrete canyons is the most expensive place to live in the entire country. Even after rent, it's still the most expensive place to live. Even with roommates, the overall cost of living remains very high.

We're not trying to be down on Manhattan. Many Manhattanites love their borough! It has so much to recommend it!

But everything Manhattan is competitive, everything is crowded, and everything is more expensive than you're probably imagining if you don't already truly know.

And you might not ultimately enjoy yourself as much as you're currently imagining if you'd have to struggle too much to pay for everything.

At the overcrowded corner of Wealth & Prosperity, your rent will cost more than almost everywhere else in the country, even with roommates. This to live in real estate that will NOT be nicer. Definitely not more spacious.

In addition, be warned that even after paying the "I live in Manhattan" surcharge . . . no one in their right mind ever moves to Manhattan just to stay home in a tiny room.

So you have to pay not just your own inflated rent, but all the other unreasonably high charges for everything else all over the rest of your overpriced neighborhood, so you can be out and about too in all that's exciting in Manhattan that includes . . .

Wall Street. Broadway. Times Square. Central Park. Chinatown. Lower East Side. The Empire State Building. TriBeCa. Carnegie Hall. Harlem. St. Patrick's Day Parade. The Museum of Modern Art. Madison Avenue. Battery Park. Greenwich Village. East Village. Staten Island Ferry. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. New York Comic Con. Fashion Week. Birdland. The New York Stock Exchange. The Apollo. High Line Park. The American Museum of Natural History. The New York Public Library.

In fact, other than admission (a lot free) to much of the above, street food carts are about all that's NOT overpriced in Manhattan. Not just hot dogs and pizza, but delis with bagels and varnishkes, coffee and croissant carts, bodega food, wraps, exotic tacos . . . an entirely worldwide ethnic variety of faster food options. As decent but still cheap street treats are about the only bargains around, don't miss out!

Manhattan is extremely well-served by a lot of public transport, including subways, buses, a ferry network, and commuter rail, all the way to the suburbs. Walkable bridges to everywhere are everywhere. Also tunnels, but you wouldn't want to walk some of those.

Since there's so little space left for anything, Manhattan's entire infrastructure discourages car ownership. If you're not wealthy (apartments that come with their own secure parking spaces are usually extremely expensive), you probably don't own a car at all . . . or if you do, you pay less to park it somewhere other than Manhattan that you'll have to commute to whenever you need the car again.

Day to day, most Manhattanites walk or take the subway or bus most of the time. The most obvious form of transportation is walking, and it's the best way to see Manhattan, always.

(Or you can also take helicopters and seaplanes. But those cost more. (Also horse-drawn carriages . . . but you can't take them all the places either.))

Cycling can be faster, but cycling this borough is not for the faint of heart. Or calves. Many car drivers are aggressive, not seeming to take any caution whatsoever when sharing the road with cyclists. Potholes, garbage, car doors, and pedestrians will suddenly appear right in front of you, all too often with no warning and no great place to swerve.

Honestly, we're not even sure we'd recommend it, except many actually love cycling NYC and it can save a lot of time and money. Of course, that's only super helpful if you actually survive, right? If you do want to cycle this concrete jungle, wear at least a helmet (if not full body armor) and try to take bike paths whenever possible? Then pray, if you're into that.

Meanwhile, if you don't have a serious reason to be in Manhattan most of the week that's probably your full-time job or in-person full-time-ish education (and/or you're not independently wealthy and/or in possession of the family-owned and/or rent-controlled place, etc.) . . . you would probably find it more affordable and thus less stressful to live most anywhere else on this list also along the East Coast . . .

. . . then VISIT.

Possibly a lot. Which you'll easily afford, since all your bills will be less. Since Manhattan is connected to everything else via all that public transport, visiting should be relatively easy and fast!

You can still be special too! Even if you don't live in Manhattan or Brooklyn!

You can be just as special living life on less expensive real estate . . . maybe even more special, if special can ultimately involve actually feeling less stressed out?

(Everyone Else (already in Manhattan with ongoing full-time reasons): Carry on, and apologies for the interruption! This preamble is the best thing for you too! Even if you didn't need to read it! ;) )

The rest of the Manhattan roommate lowdown:

  • at the mouth of the Hudson River, the southernmost tip of New York state
  • high temperatures in summer with frequent freezes in winter
  • most densely populated of the five boroughs of New York City, but the smallest in land area
  • Manhattan is not just the most densely populated in NYC, but in the world, with about 1.7 million people living within about 23 square miles. That's about 72,000 residents per square mile, with the most expensive real estate in the United States.
  • highest per capita income of anywhere in the United States
  • highest cost of living of anywhere in the United States
  • largest number of students and workers commuting in, home to the most corporate headquarters
  • Walking is the primary means of travel, followed by subway (so actually both). Manhattan's subway system is one of the largest in the world.
  • home to the United Nations Headquarters
  • home to Columbia University, Barnard College, Fordham College at Lincoln Center, Cooper Union, Marymount Manhattan College, New York Institute of Technology, New York University, The Juilliard School, Pace University, Berkeley College, The New School, Bank Street College of Education, Boricua College, Manhattan School of Music, and the Metropolitan College of New York, School of Visual Arts
  • Hotels are extremely expensive in Manhattan, year round, but even more so around any holiday. If you're visiting and want to stay in one, book as far in advance as possible.
  • Some of Manhattan previously sported a dangerous reputation, but that's almost entirely in the past. Most of Manhattan is really safe now, almost completely gentrified and hardly ever depopulated. You should still always be aware who is around you on the street, and beware of pickpockets or purse snatchers, particularly if your purse looks expensive. Keep any purse closed and in front of you at all times. Keep an eye on your electronics, and store your valuables in interior or securely closed pockets.



After you're settled down, you and your roommates should experience Manhattan's:

  • The New York Public Library: Largest collection of any public library system in the country
  • Wall Street: Hosts both the New York Stock Exchange and NASDAQ in lower Manhattan
  • Keith Haring's 'Once Upon a Time' Bathroom Mural: The most valuable restroom in the country, featuring Haring's last major mural before his death. The mural is now restored and you can visit it for free at "The Center" on 13th Street.
  • Second Avenue subway art: NYC's newest subway line features mosaic portraits, larger than life scale.
  • Central Park: It's impossible to imagine just how much is going on here at any given moment.
  • New York Academy of Medicine Rare Book Library: Rare ephemera and medical writing from as far back as the 1700s.
  • Riot Grrrl Collection at the Fales Library at NYC: Documenting the evolution of the Riot Grrrl movement, particularly between 1989 and 1996. Audio and video recordings of shows, fanzines, correspondence, artwork, photos, newspaper clippings, flyers, and stickers. "This research collection provides primary resources for scholars and others who are interested in feminism, punk activism, queer theory, gender theory, DIY culture, print history, and music history." You might need an appointment to visit, better check before going.
  • La Plaza Cultural: Once an empty corner lot collecting crime and garbage, now reclaimed as a community center and garden. Currently hosts a variety of vegetables, flowers, fruit trees, and community events.


Here's the news page for the Manhattan borough, much of which is housing or transportation relevant.







your rent
southeast US non-trad trad 1BR
Little Rock 300 538 904
Jackson 300 544 1106
Memphis 350 587 1033
Baton Rouge 400 617 1103
Louisville 350 636 1026
Columbia (SC) 500 670 1177
Tallahassee 400 695 1114
Gainesville 450 719 1239
Jacksonville 450 731 1221
Birmingham 350 738 1331
Athens 550 749 1251
Pensacola 450 770 1335
Norfolk 600 772 1343
Richmond 650 813 1375
Knoxville 450 854 1321
Raleigh or Durham or Chapel Hill 650 863 1307
US national average 919 1482
Orlando 650 976 1609
New Orleans 550 1010 1578
Charlotte 650 1032 1594
Tampa or St. Petersburg 400 1041 1649
Nashville 700 1057 1646
Atlanta 790 1195 1739
Charleston 550 1335 2092
Miami or Fort Lauderdale 700 1871 2711




JACKSON

  • $300   =  non-traditional average 1
  • $544   =  average 2BR ÷ 2, or traditional roommate rent 2
  • $1106   =  average 1BR, rented solo 3

31% live within a 10-minute walk of a park. 4
Most errands require a car. 5
failing civic infrastructure, summer heat, some struggling neighborhoods
museums, cheapest rent, nature preserves, live music 6
black people and trucks are the largest hoodmap tags 7

SO, roomiematch.com's Jackson roommate rundown:

Jackson is experiencing a lot of problems.

Serious problems.

Many apologists blame the pandemic and recent floods for seriously stressing their civic infrastructure. However, even more say almost all their current problems were a long time coming, insisting Jackson was headed for disaster due to long time neglect.

And they're no longer just headed, disaster's here. At least, a lot of the time. Sometimes Jackson sees civic services. Sometimes they don't.

It's true that Jackson also struggles with poverty (an alarming 25%), and cities that struggle with poverty tend to struggle to fund their infrastructure. But many have pointed out that despite Jacksonian lower median income, the neighborhoods that matter (the University, the Capital, all wealthier suburbs) seem to get the civic attention they need as soon as they need it . . .

. . .while other areas of Mississippi's capital city languish, going weeks or even months at a time without basic services? Like potable water? And trash pickup?

And with so much urban stress that's some percentage natural disaster, some percentage externally imposed, it's hard to say which other problems Jackson is experiencing are reacting or contributing?

Or reciprocating?

Jackson's recent troubles include: overflow flooding, severe unrepaired potholes all over public roads, abandoned buildings collecting problems but never torn down, sewage overflows into the river (swimming unsafe), tap water unsafe (must be boiled before drinking or bathing), filth coming out of faucets, nothing at all coming out of faucets/no water pressure, multiple and massive school closures due to lack of water pressure, a high poverty rate, a high unemployment rate . . .

. . . and the highest homicide rate in the country for the last few years.

And maybe file under "sometimes things have to get worse before they can get better," Jackson has now been judged so severely mismanaged it's actually illegal, in a federal sense. Basically, the federal government has decided the Mississippi state government let things get so bad in Jackson they should lose some of their "running Jackson privileges." So, they're going to take running Jackson out of the the state government's hands for a while.

Somehow. For some period of time, until some amount of improvement? Think they're still working it out.

So in the meantime? Why wouldn't you just write off Jackson entirely?

While no one wants their problems, you'd also be writing off the rest of Mississippi's state capital, this "city of soul," this "crossroads of the South," with a very low cost of living and very low rent.

Jackson is also home to most of the higher education in Mississippi, home to more Mississippians than anywhere else, and an historical hub of civil rights activity with their own museums explaining absolutely everything Jackson.

Last but not least, Jackson is a growing hub for both chefs and artists. Both groups tend to be interested in Jackson's low cost of living, abundant cheap fresh produce, and Southern hospitality.

Helpful locals say possible new roommates should know that while Jackson does have a high violent crime rate and that is a serious source of concern, most can avoid being near the crime that drives it. There's a lot of crime on the city's South side, because there are a lot of abandoned buildings and not a lot of civic services. That poor urban situation in turn has attracted gangs looking for unmonitored spots to commit crime.

Most of Jackson's crime doesn't take place in neighborhoods with destinations folks come from out of state to visit. If you're headed for the capital or a university or a well-known restaurant, gallery, or museum, that's not likely a high crime area.

Locals say be aware where you are in Jackson at all times.

Don't go exploring anywhere abandoned and/or anywhere on the South side by yourself.

Especially at night, stay near well-populated nicer areas seemingly far away from gangs dealing drugs. If you see an abandoned building and/or boarded up/broken/missing windows, go back from whence you came, STAT.

And hoard some bottled water.

The rest of the Jackson roommate lowdown:

  • Jackson is Mississippi's capital, largest city, and most populous - a little over 150,000 in the city and 600,000 in the greater metro area
  • city of Jackson is majority African American (about 84%), greater metro area majority white
  • Jackson is the only city in Mississippi with > 100,000 residents
  • named after President Andrew Jackson
  • humid, swelteringly hot summers, mild winters, rain throughout the year, snow is rare but Jackson is prone to severe thunderstorms and tornadoes, occasionally with large hail
  • minimal public transport, not a lot of bike lanes - there are a few pedestrian-friendly areas in the arts district, but most people use personal vehicles
  • burned down twice in the Civil War, sparing only the original capital and governor's mansion, so they don't have architecture from before the Civil War
  • tourism highlights local history and culture, number of museums, documenting history of the Deep South, particularly own role (which is good, because almost everything else burned down in the Civil War)
  • Jackson is on the "Civil Rights Trail," site of mass demonstrations in the 1960s, with many dramatic non-violent protests
  • still processing the area's livestock, soybeans, cotton
  • very low rent, one of the lowest costs of living of any US urban area
  • about 25% residents below poverty line - Mississippi has the highest poverty of any US state
  • one of the highest crime rates in America
  • home to most higher education in the state, including: Antonelli College, Belhaven University, Hinds Community College, Jackson State University, Millsaps College, Mississippi College, Tougaloo College, University of Mississippi, and the University of Mississippi Medical Center
  • one of Jackson's nicknames: "City with Soul" . . . birthplace of a lot of blues, gospel, folk, and jazz
  • another of Jackson's nicknames: "Crossroads of the South." Jackson is in the Deep South, halfway between Memphis and New Orleans on Interstate 55 and halfway between Dallas and Atlanta on Interstate 20
  • relatively high percentage college students and a lot of retirees



After you're settled down, you and your roommates should experience Jackson's:

  • Old Capitol Museum: Was not burned by Sherman, original Mississippi statehouse, from 1839-1903
  • Mississippi Governor's Mansion: The other large building in Jackson from before the Civil War, you and your roommates can go on a tour.
  • Mississippi Civil Rights Museum: Jackson was an important site of Civil Rights action.
  • Mississippi Museum of Art: Since 1911, nationally significant and local artists
  • Outlets of Mississippi: largest outlet shopping in the state
  • LeFleur's Bluff State Park: Lush green spot with nature trails and camping in the middle of urban Jackson
  • Big Apple Inn: Home to civil rights history, incredible tamales, and pig ear sandwiches
  • Mississippi Petrified Forest: preserved stretch of ancient forest or fossilized tree or petrified wood. Over a hundred feet tall when they were alive, turned to stone millions of years ago. Maintained as a national landmark, also a gem and mineral museum.


Here's the city of Jackson's official .gov for residents, including public transportation, municipal services, and community events







LITTLE ROCK

  • $300   =  non-traditional average 1
  • $538   =  average 2BR ÷ 2, or traditional roommate rent 2
  • $904   =  average 1BR, rented solo 3

43% live within a 10-minute walk of a park. 4
Most errands require a car. 5
cheese dip in handbags
cheapest rent, few traffic jams, hiking, pedestrian friendly 6
back to business, psycheward, gentrification in progress, giant hospital sirens every day, art and food, you might die here, and pokemon GO are the largest hoodmap tags 7

SO, roomiematch.com's Little Rock roommate rundown:

Little Rock is proud of its place on our nation's civil rights trails (plural, various).

From Jazz in the Park to Juneteenth (they've been celebrating theirs for decades now!), Little Rock has been celebrating Little Rockers' proud place in our nation's Civil Rights history. They're also a part of the U.S. Civil Rights Trail, connecting more than 100 sites across 14 states, directing historical appreciators to those landmarks that define Arkansas and America's civil rights history.

Including Rockers' pride in celebrating aspects of the 20th-century American woman - decade by decade, through her handbag and the contents within. Because this is who she is in our American public sphere.

In addition to Bill, they love their Hillary too (especially at the airport), along with their rightful and important place in civil rights history.

Along with purses and handbags. And cheese dip.

So Jazz, Juneteenth, purses and handbags, Bill and Hillary, and cheese dip. Are these interacting with each other? Obviously. Exactly which or what and with who? You and your roommates can decide.

Sure, we know, exactly who doesn't love good cheese dip? But did you know they take theirs so seriously, a nice-sized wedge of Little Rocker Octobers are dedicated to hosting the World Cheese Dip Championship?

FYI: Yes, there are musicians and it's a nice place to kick back but you can't bring your dog to eat dip. It's not allowed. Little Rock is generally dog-friendly but they need you to understand how destructive a dog could be to a dip event. You shudder to think. You'd shudder even more to clean the dog.

At most events and Little Rock in general, they also tend to offer barbeque, baking, and burgers . . . much of which you could enjoy outdoors on a nice day. Along with a whole lot of the rest of Little Rock, with their truly excellent nature galore with trails practically demanding your presence over spectacular bridges and highways, along with their usually easygoing climate.

There are a number of fine loops for pedestrians, some connecting downtown, and the Big Dam Bridge, linking the Murray Lock and Dam with Cooks Landing Park. That's the longest bridge in the world for pedestrians and bicyclists only, part of the Arkansas River Trail at the juncture where it's 90 feet over the river.

There's really no lack of lower key but still relatively macho hiking and biking situations you could enjoy almost any time of the year. The only thing Little Rock might be said to lack would be the public transport that might make more of them more available for the less hardy? Unfortunately, the infrastructure for commuting by bicycle isn't great in most areas.

Even though for recreational biking Little Rock is superb, more than that would be financially challenging for a city this size. So with the money you may be saving via Little Rock's low cost of living otherwise . . . you should probably make do with your car, which you'd want anyway. Even if you're hell on wheels on a bike, there will be some days you wouldn't rather, possibly weather?

Along with celebrating all the above a lot, Little Rockers also strongly encourage their visually creative to mural. There's an official Little Rock Mural Tour (LRMT)! So far they've got dancing produce to Arkansas musicians to celebrations of local harvests. (You and your roommates could make some art to join the tour too. Definitely maybe! Check with the LRMT!)

The rest of the Little Rock roommate lowdown:

  • capital of Arkansas, largest city in Arkansas - about 200,000 in the city, metro residents are about 700,000
  • Where the Ozarks Mountains, the Ouachita Mountains and the Mississippi Delta converge. Little Rock features flat land and their own version of a hill country, in the center of the state along the Arkansas River.
  • Many enjoy their extra colorful fall foliage.
  • hot, humid summers, mild winters with very little snow, can freeze in December or January but rarely stays that cold for long
  • North Little Rock is technically another city, but most regard both as part of one large metro area.
  • East Little Rock is mostly flat. West Little Rock gets more than a little hilly in places.
  • Parking is generally easy and free. There's a cute trolley (River Rail Trolleys) that will take you around downtown attractions for cheap. There's also a city bus (Rock Region Metro), but problem with the bus?
  • home to several colleges and universities, including University of Arkansas at Little Rock, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and the UAMS Medical Center, University of Arkansas Law School, Philander Smith College, and the Clinton School for Public Service
  • home to the Clinton Presidential Library and the Little Rock Zoo



After you're settled down, you and your roommates should experience Little Rock's:

  • Central Arkansas Library Main Library: Former warehouse of the Fones Brothers Hardware Company, now the largest public library in Arkansas, since 1997.
  • Arkansas Arts Center: Home to many major works, a Museum School, and a Children's Theatre
  • William J. Clinton Presidential Library and Park: Over the Arkansas River, the largest in the system, dedicated to his two terms, and includes a replica of the Oval Office
  • Clinton Presidential Park Bridge: Now pedestrian and bike only too
  • River Market District: Would you and your roommates like a relatively nice but still affordable area full of restaurants, bars, museums, clubs, galleries, etc., all within walking distance along the Arkansas River? Have I got a district for you!
  • Little Rock Zoo: Would you like to meet Kevin? He's a rhinoceros. He just turned 2. There's also a newer serval habitat, plus more than 200 other species.
  • Mosaic Templars Cultural Center: Showcasing Arkansas's unique contribution to African American achievement from 1865 to 1950. The original mostly burned down in 2005, but they rebuilt and reopened an even larger and more modern facility. Also hosts Arkansas Black Hall of Fame.
  • Murry's Dinner Playhouse: Serving buffet meals with a side of theatrical presentation. Since 1967!
  • Wildwood Park for the Performing Arts: It's a combination of botanical garden and live theater!
  • Riverfest: Little Rock's largest arts festival, held every Memorial Day weekend in Riverfront Park, and ends with fireworks over the Arkansas River
  • Vogel Schwartz Sculpture Garden: More than 90 works of art, locals and from across the country - gardens with "a sense of whimsey and a Little Rock-focused sense of place"
  • Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site: Famous for integrating 9 students in 1957, now enshrines their memory as brave desegregationists by functioning as a National Park Service. Interactive exhibits and an actual functioning high school within it.
  • Little Rock Mural Tour: "No one gallery can contain Little Rock's thriving arts scene, so it's only natural that it spread onto walls and doors throughout the city."
  • Arkansas River Trail: 17-mile loop, you and your roommates could run, walk, or bike, or camp at various locations on trails branching off, including down to the Delta or into . . .

    . . . Pinnacle Mountain State Park: Locals say no climbing experience is necessary for this one, but if you don't have any, definitely take the west trail, as the east is steeper. Good birdwatching and wildflower appreciating, and if you're really advanced, the Ouachita National Recreation Trail starts here and goes all the way to Oklahoma.
  • ESSE Purse Museum: "Tells the evolution of 20th-century American woman through the bags she carried and their contents." It's a whole fashion museum revolving around handbags, their history and design. Also the stuff within. Hundreds of handbags curated by decade. Is this museum just about handbags, or about the entire history of the modern American woman, but told through her handbags? You decide.


Here's the city of Little Rocks's official .gov for new residents, covering a wide variety of local tidbits for you and your roommates.







BATON ROUGE

  • $400   =  non-traditional average 1
  • $617   =  average 2BR ÷ 2, or traditional roommate rent 2
  • $1103   =  average 1BR, rented solo 3

52% live within a 10-minute walk of a park. 4
Most errands require a car. 5
floods, pythons
parkland, tailgating 6
bring a boat, lots of murder, middle aged hipsters, frat girls who get drunk off of two w.c., and political gridlock are the largest hoodmap tags 7

SO, roomiematch.com's Baton Rouge roommate rundown:

Baton Rouge is LSU's college town. Some say Baton Rouge is the tailgating capitol of the entire world!

If you relocate here and live with roommates, for sure you'll be invited along on a tailgate. Learn to love LSU. If you have multiple roommates, loving LSU will be essential to getting along with at least one of them.

Baton Rouge is also a hot and muggy ocean port that frequently floods due to proximity to the Gulf. You and your roommates should have a safety kit for floods, and look out for any stained glass windows.

Baton Rouge is also the vaguely Gothic capital of Louisiana and the seat of the state government - covered in history and bridal showers and juke joints with the blues plus Cajun food.

And a famous swamp.

Come for the Southern Gothic, stay for the cheap and easy lifestyle. Definitely including the rent!

(But not the humidity.)

The rest of Baton Rouge's roommate lowdown:

  • capital of Louisiana, but still a college town - second largest city in Louisiana (after New Orleans), approximately half a million in the greater metro area
  • located along the Mississippi River, 10th largest ocean port - summers are very long, hot, muggy, and rainy, while winters are mild and snow is rare
  • Baton Rouge is home to Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge Community College, Franciscan Ministries of Our Lady University, and Southern University (the flagship for the Southern University System, the largest historically black college system).
  • The Capital Area Transit System (CATS) serves urban Baton Rouge including most of its colleges and universities, and most have bike racks. However, you and/or your roommates will probably still want a car if you must venture much outside your own neighborhood on a regular basis.
  • Louisiana is the only US state saying "parish" where all others say "county."
  • Proximity to the Gulf of Mexico means a few hurricanes, often with flooding. You and your roommates should have a safety kit for flood-related emergencies.



After you're settled down, you and your roommates should experience Baton Rouge's:

  • Tailgating Parties: College sports are very popular including football, baseball, basketball, and gymnastics with LSU tailgate parties among the most popular in town. Some say Baton Rouge is the tailgating capitol of the entire world!
  • Museums: Museums include The Shaw Center for the Arts, the Louisiana Art and Science Museum, the LSU Museum of Natural Science, The Capital Park Museum, and the Odell S. Williams Now And Then African-American Museum. The LASM includes science exhibits and a planetarium.
  • Louisiana's State Capitol (the newer one): Current seat of the Louisiana State Government. It's 34 floors, with an Observation Deck you and your roommates can visit for stunning views of the skyline at sunset.
  • Louisiana's Old State Capitol: Beautiful Gothic castle downtown near the Mississippi River. It's an historic landmark now operating as the Museum of Political History. The stained-glass windows are popular with wedding parties. There would be no charge to tour with your roommates. There's even an audio guide.
  • Cajun Crawfish: This is Cajun country. Definitely try the boiled crawfish with corn and potatoes.
  • Blue Bonnet Swamp: Approximately 100 acres inside South Baton Rouge is a famous swamp. It's called the Blue Bonnet Swamp Nature Center, and you and your roommates can walk around on the trails.
  • Park System: Baton Rouge features over 140 acres of parkland, which includes the Baton Rouge Zoo, which itself includes over 1800 species. The overall park system also includes the walkable Levee Path and free lessons on everything from climbing to boarding.
  • Mall of Louisiana: Opened in 1997, and remains the largest mall in Louisiana. Cara, a twelve-foot-long Burmese python, escaped her aquarium enclosure and roamed the insides of the walls of the mall for 2 days in 2021.
  • Mike the Tiger: The LSU mascot, lives across the street from the stadium in a lush habitat with his own waterfall. Previously, during games, Mike was wheeled around in a cage with cheerleaders dancing on top. But now he mostly hangs out near his swimming pool.
  • Teddy's Juke Joint has welcomed blues fans for over 40 years. (The Baton Rouge Blues Festival has as well, but it can't claim to be open all year.) The Juke Joint's history is rich, particularly featuring "classic juke" and "swamp" blues styles. You and your roommates could visit any day of the year, even holidays "because blues doesn't get a day off." They feature blues acts a few nights a week where a visit will be "like stepping into the past, like walking back into 1979."
  • also on Highway 61, the famous "Blues Highway"


Here's the Living in Baton Rouge page, which lists community links and resources plus offices dealing with neighborhood and Parish issues.







MEMPHIS

  • $350   =  non-traditional average 1
  • $587   =  average 2BR ÷ 2, or traditional roommate rent 2
  • $1033   =  average 1BR, rented solo 3

46% live within a 10-minute walk of a park. 4
Most errands require a car. 5
property crime, steamy summers, ice storms, downed power lines, pollen
cheapest rent, live music, Graceland, barbeque 6
caucasians tread carefully, hipster town, trendy and instagrammable, shots fired, you got shot, hoods, hipsters, thrift stores, cheaper suburbia, white flight, mexican hood, and voodoo village are the largest hoodmap tags 7

SO, roomiematch.com's Memphis roommate rundown:

Memphis offers serious Southern culture at a steep discount. By that we mean compared to living in all the other cities on this list, which would be more or less all similar size and larger as well.

No state income tax. Overall low cost of living.

Memphis is vibing Deep South, and a lot of neighborhoods have a lot of artists contributing highly to their art, but within their own lowest cost of living frameworks. This is a city where it's a lot easier to make that work than one where the average roommate rent is a few to several times what it is in Memphis.

Memphians regularly experience its many historic highs and lows, because some of them are more or less . . . ongoing?

Obviously sky high, properly considered by most as the Home of the Blues. Also home of Graceland, the Birthplace of Rock'n'roll, and American Soul!

Oh and: Buck, crunk, gospel, Memphis blues, Memphis rap, Memphis soul, rock n' roll, rockabilly, and sharecropper country style!

Fantastic local food, plus their "local" barbeque cooked in a pit, low and slow, with either a dry rub or brushed with sauce (wet).

Also there's a lot of golfing.

Any of that related to why Memphis can offer you the lowest cost of living for any city on our list . . . but also gets its own NBA team?

Memphis also has Tennessee's largest African-American population, after playing a major role in the civil rights movement. Memphis now hosts the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel, where Dr. King was assassinated. The hotel where he was shot is now also a showcase for his work.

They've also the largest Pentecostal denomination in the US, while hosting many theological seminaries.

However, many and various city indexes have ranked Memphis #1 on stuff you'd rather not, like: most dangerous, violent crime, overall crime including property, and homicide.

Memphis has also ranked the poorest city in the country in a previous Census, with 1 of 5 people reportedly living in poverty.

It's important to point out that the worst neighborhoods in terms of all types of crime feature both a lot of poverty and a lot of gang-related activity, almost without fail. The neighborhoods of Memphis are no exception to this overall rule.

Very conservatively, and until you're in the know: stay in touristy areas and/or well-populated areas and/or near the University and downtown, keep your valuables out of sight to avoid minor theft, and be aware of pickpocketing.

Not to disrespect your fashion choices, but we wouldn't recommend carrying an obviously expensive purse all over Memphis. If you follow the rules above, it's unlikely you'll suffer from homicide, but otherwise, somebody might try for the purse?

Some roommates might enjoy just driving around, taking in the sights, and think they'd like to "go for a longer drive" someplace new. Understandable, but locals recommend not after dark all by yourself, as you could accidentally go from one of Memphis' nicer neighborhoods to one of its worst super fast. Not last but least because . . . there's not much traffic.

Bottom line: You should be able to experience Memphis safely, but that relies on attention paid to where you are. After dark don't travel with visible valuables, especially left behind in your car, and stay in better populated areas with which you're already familiar after dark.

Everyone should warn new roommates from cooler climates about Memphis' hot and steamy summers, with a double punch of heat plus humidity many find overwhelming.

Driving is preferred to walking almost anywhere that doesn't attract a lot of tourists, and the weather can feel less walkable too, unless you'd like to arrive sweaty. And except for right around downtown possibly during an event, parking is usually free.

Which is helpful, because possibly downtown during an event is the only time you might not need a car, at least for a few hours. Otherwise, you will. There's a bus sometimes, but it might just stop running seemingly at random. It could be a low stress way for you and your roommates to tour the city one day, especially if you'd like to drink but not drive (good for you!) but do confirm your times and routes same day. Locals say otherwise you might get a little stranded.

But along with the no state income tax and overall low cost of living that sound like good news to most incoming roommates, their wages are very low too (particularly minimum wage).

Some say the dream situation might be working remotely, getting paid the higher wages that tend to be typical in most cities Memphis' size or larger . . . then not have to spend as much living right here.

The rest of the Memphis roommate lowdown:

  • Memphis is Tennessee's second largest city after Nashville, and the largest city on the Mississippi River, near the Arkansas and Mississippi borders.
  • Home to about 650,000 in the city, with a greater metro area of about 1.3 million
  • home to Crichton College, Christian Brothers University, Le Moyne-Owen College, Rhodes College, Memphis State University, and the University of Tennessee
  • frequent weather changes in winter, occasionally involving ice storms and freezing rain and downed power lines, lot of rain throughout the whole year
  • lots of farmland nearby
  • Spring = a lot of pollen = your roommates who suffer from airborne allergies will probably need to stock up on their medication
  • Barbeque spaghetti is regular pasta but topped with smoked pork and BBQ sauce, sometimes with onions and/or peppers
  • largest local employer is FedEx, who maintain a hub at the airport



After you're settled down, you and your roommates should experience Memphis':

  • House of Mews: "Feline adoption agency & Cat Lovers Gift Shop." It's the country's first and oldest no-kill cat shelter. It's kind of like an apartment, cats roam freely, you can sit and play with them. You can buy some cat supplies or cat merch to support them.
  • Graceland: There's a Jungle Room
  • Silky O'Sullivan's: Goats are drinking beer, right on Beale Street. There's a tower. Lager-loving goats amble up. They don't fall down . . . because they're goats. Also you can feed them!
  • Beale Street: Memphis claims this row of bars and clubs with live music as the "Home of the Blues." At night it's closed to cars but "drinks to go" windows open.
  • Blues Hall of Fame Museum: A "Memphis gem for both serious blues fans and casual visitors," this museum has 10 galleries of hard-to-find album covers, unique art, tour jackets, and costumes. And of course plenty of interactive displays featuring the stories and music of inductees.
  • Sun Studio: Claims to be the "Birthplace of Rock'n'roll." Definitely where many musical legends recorded, including Elvis, Johnny Cash, Howlin' Wolf, Al Green, B.B. King, Roy Orbison, Sam Cooke, Otis Redding, Aretha Franklin, and Tina Turner. You and your roommates can take a tour during the day for $15.
  • Stax Museum of American Soul Music: Museum opens in a Mississippi Delta church circa 1906 (reassembled inside the museum), moving on through period recording equipment and studios, floor to ceiling cases of famous records, the Express Yourself dance floor, and Isaac Hayes' custom Cadillac Eldorado with 24-carat exterior trim and white fur carpeting.
  • Ballet Memphis or Opera Memphis
  • Memphis Zoo: Ranked one of the best zoos in the country. One of only four US zoos with giant pandas. More than 3500 animals, including their critically endangered Conservation Six: African elephants, African penguins, Dusky Gopher frogs, Grauer's (Eastern Lowland) gorillas, Louisiana pine snakes, and Sumatran tigers.
  • Memphis Botanic Garden: Over 96 acres, including 30 specialty gardens, an Arboretum, and a Sculpture Collection including pottery and metalwork.
  • Memphis in May International Festival: All month long! Local music, air show, fireworks display, a marathon run, the Memphis Symphony Orchestra playing at sunset and the World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest! Hundreds of teams competing, over $100,000 in prizes.
  • Carnival Memphis: Member krewes and private societies similar to New Orleans, but for Memphis?
  • Metal Museum: Actually NOT music! Working foundry on site. That means metalwork and metal-smithing. Also classes and about 3000 items in a master metalsmith museum!
  • Burke's Books: One of the oldest indies in the country, since 1875. The store has changed over the years, and is now mostly used books < $10. They specialize in "the best of the old, the latest of the new, and hard to find collectibles."
  • Brussel's Bonsai Nursery: 15 minutes outside Memphis (Mississippi) is the country's largest bonsai nursery. The showroom is like a forest of miniature trees. You don't have to buy anything, but if you and your roommates would like to bonsai there's a starter kit.


Here's the city of Memphis' official .gov for new residents, including household services and utilities, city hall, local culture, neighborhoods, and city council.







LOUISVILLE

  • $350   =  non-traditional average 1
  • $636   =  average 2BR ÷ 2, or traditional roommate rent 2
  • $1026   =  average 1BR, rented solo 3

37% live within a 10-minute walk of a park. 4
pollen, runaway racers
cheapest rent, hiking, summer recreation, bourbon, horse racing 6
this job will eat your life, retail apocalypse case study, hipster on a budget, the west end wasteland, community leaders and organizers, gentrification battleground, rich people, University of Louisville, the rich gays, metal birds, world of grocery, and obnoxious festivals are the largest hoodmap tags 7

SO, roomiematch.com's Louisville roommate rundown:

Louisville's laidback. And Louisville loves being laidback.

Louisville loves celebrating their historically distinctive cultural offerings while looking to the future . . . but in a very laidback way.

They're even laidback about the accepted pronunciation of Louisville? Even the number of syllables and vowel sounds are a bit arbitrary. Anything OTHER than "Lewis Ville" will probably work.

Along with locally-crafted-bourbon-infused relaxation, Louisvillians also love hosting Kentucky Derby horse racing. That's about two weeks in May, but their love of horse racing is year round.

And they look to the future by making everything else they love a lot nicer too, as fast as development allows. Lately in addition to bourbon and racing they're really loving urban forests, bicycling, and public art.

Louisville already has the largest urban forest in the country, also a National Audubon Society wildlife refuge . . . over 35 miles of trails that also permit camping and fishing.

Also bicycling! They love it and they're encouraging it.

Along with their three major parks that already have dedicated biking lanes, they're working on their City of Parks, an ambitious project to build 110 miles of continuous Louisville Loop for walking and biking in and around their many lovely parklands. Highlights will continue to include the evolving "Emerald Necklace," several flagship parks connected by scenic loops with cycling lanes, offering spectacular views of the city plus fountains and playgrounds and the occasional fossil bed. Big Four Bridge is a refurbished and pedestrianized bridge connecting the newer Waterfront Park with Jeffersonville, Indiana.

And that's the super scenic stuff. More practically, they're also steadily adding bike lanes and bike racks downtown.

Collective love of urban forests, bicycling, and public art? If you're wondering if Louisville likes to put their public art in their urban forests so they can ride their bikes all around it . . . they most certainly do! Sculpture and fountains are already present, additional installations are planned, and there's often eating and drinking opportunities along the way.

That some their enjoy public art with a side of local bourbon is already known. You can drink the country's finest bourbon all over the best spots downtown or select a major whiskey distillery, a smaller craft whiskey distillery, or even a go on a multiple distillery tour. Bourbon is born in the nearby countryside with rolling green hills. If you prefer to take your bourbon with a side of scenic beauty, "Bourbon Country" is lousy with beautiful tour possibilities.

Or would you rather take your bourbon with a Hot Brown? That's a sandwich invented at local Brown Hotel in the 1920s. It's an open face turkey on Texas Toast broiled with bacon, tomato, and mornay sauce.

If you're not into deli meats, you could check out the slow-smoked meat, fried catfish, fried chicken livers, or chicken-fried steak. Probably with a biscuit, maybe cornbread.

For dessert, how about Derby Pie? That's mostly pecan pie with chocolate added. Delicious with bourbon too!

So with a low overall cost of living, low taxes, low roommate rent, and all this local flavor, what's the bad news?

You could say it's extra good news they're encouraging bicycling for many. Because other than their lovely bicycle lanes, plus a few city buses running around downtown, you and your roommates will need a car to go anywhere else. Not driving doesn't seem realistic for most Louisvillians.

While Louisville remains reasonably safe, all of Kentucky has been hit hard by the opioid epidemic. This has led to the expected attendant increase in property crime and homelessness. However, the worst ravages in Louisville have been concentrated in neighborhoods that seemed to be struggling, both before and after.

This plus Louisville being a major transportation hub and UPS Worldwide, there's also a bit of a problem with pickpockets around various transportation stations. Many travelers are briefly moving through, and could easily be all the way out of town before they even notice they've been robbed.

So mind your valuables, and keep your purses and wallets secure whenever you go for a public ride.

Also, if you and your roommates have any airborne allergies, you will probably have to stock up on medication. But if you can manage with medication, that'll likely work.

With Louisville's low cost of living, you'll likely have no difficulty affording it.

The rest of the Louisville roommate lowdown:

  • Louisville is Kentucky's largest city, with about 770,000 in the city, and 1.5 million in the greater metropolitan area
  • in Northern Kentucky along the Ohio River, across from Southern Indiana, on the Indiana border
  • Louisville is at the crossroads of three interstate highways with several railroads, a major port, and a large airport. This makes it within a day's travel of most of the US, and as a result, Louisville is the United Parcel Service's (UPS) worldwide hub.
  • summers are warm and humid, winters are moderate - severe humidity and violent thunderstorms are possible in summer, with occasional freezes in winter . . . but other than that and the very occasional tornado usually the weather is easily manageable
  • major center of American whiskey, about a third of all bourbon whiskey is born here
  • home to several museums, including Frazier History Museum, Louisville Science Center, The Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft, and the Speed Art Museum
  • hosts several colleges and universities, including the University of Louisville, Bellarmine University, Indiana University Southeast, Spalding University, Sullivan University, and Simmons College of Kentucky
  • Louisville has one of the highest pollen counts in the US. You and your roommates with airborne allergies will need to stock up on your medication.
  • College sports are popular, particularly baseball (home of the Louisville Slugger!), basketball, golf, and soccer, including Racing Louisville FC, an expansion team in the National Women's Soccer League
  • Louisville is home to the Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) chain, and you can visit the grave of Colonel Harland Sanders, one of the most recognizable product spokesmen in the world. His grave is marked with a bust designed by his daughter, and he's sporting his iconic white suit, string tie, and goatee. However, locals say for good and cheap chicken you can now get better at quite a few joints that are still actually local. But the Colonel remains one of Louisville's favorite sons.



After you're settled down, you and your roommates should experience Louisville's:

  • Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft: Since 1981, a non-profit celebrating American and Appalachian Folk Art
  • Thunder Over Louisville: the largest fireworks event in North America, part of the Kentucky Derby Festival
  • First Friday Hop: A free bus will drive you and your roommates around several independent art galleries on the first Friday of every month!
  • Bourbon Baroque: Performing the culture and music of the Baroque throughout the year, with a particular emphasis on historically-informed performances of music from the 17th and 18th centuries, often with period instruments
  • Louisville Orchestra: Since 1937! Hundreds of performances a year with many of the same musicians, a local cultural giant. Also their official performance hall is the Louisville Palace, with an ornate Spanish Baroque style.
  • Bardstown Road: Friendly to pedestrians, hosting many locally owned and local favorite bars, galleries, coffeehouses and casual restaurants. You and your roommates may want to wander around, especially in nice weather.
  • Old Louisville: Largest historic preservation Victorian architecture district in the US
  • Louisville Slugger Museum: Home of the Louisville Slugger Bat
  • Kentucky Derby Museum: American Thoroughbred racing, obviously including the Derby. New roommates feeling sad they missed out on previous races can view their "time machine" with a replay of every Derby since the early 1900s.
  • Louisville Mega Cavern: Used to be a limestone quarry under the zoo, now converted into an underground adventure park with an underground bike park, underground ziplining, and an underground rope course.
  • Evan Williams Bourbon Experience: There are quite a few bourbon distilleries doing quite well in Louisville, but this is probably the most famous, as an operating distillery with its own museum. Yes, tastings are included with your tour (you'll need to be legal drinking age with ID), and there are group discounts for you and your roommates. There's also a cocktail loft and a memorabilia store offering bourbon merch.
  • Mint Julep: Locally famous cocktail made from bourbon, sugar, crushed ice and fresh mint. However, most native Louisvillians save this drink for Derby days. They're not nearly as popular during other occasions.
  • Muhammad Ali Center: "Presents and mobilizes Muhammad Ali's legacy of creating change, pursuing justice, and inspiring greatness." Exhibits highlights from his legendary boxing career, world travels, and spiritual journeys. Also showcases his six core principles.


Here's the city of Louisville's official .gov for Moving to Louisville, including info your driver's license, your recycling, your library card, and your pets.







COLUMBIA

  • $500   =  non-traditional average 1
  • $670   =  average 2BR ÷ 2, or traditional roommate rent 2
  • $1177   =  average 1BR, rented solo 3

38% live within a 10-minute walk of a park. 4
Most errands require a car. 5
severe humidity
commutable to more expensive city, cheapest rent, few traffic jams 6

SO, roomiematch.com's Columbia roommate rundown:

Columbia is a traditionally Southern town that's gradually getting more modern.

While previously mostly known for proximity to two larger nearby metros (Atlanta and Charlotte), Columbia is now experiencing growth all on its own. The urban core is now around 500,000, and the larger metro about 800,000.

This modernization is due to overall population growth, increasing industrialization, and all those university students.

So even though Columbia is the capital, the center of South Carolina's government, home to its flagship university, and where a LOT of Basic Training takes place . . . the cost of living for everything except healthcare is still significantly lower than the national average.

Mopeds and bicycles are common, especially around campus. Traffic is rarely a problem anywhere.

So the living is easy . . . if famously HOT.

The rest of the Columbia roommate lowdown:

  • Humid subtropical climate, very mild winters and very hot and humid summers. Columbia's unique topography involving low elevation and sandy soil warms up faster than Southern cities that are higher and more hydrated, leading to one of Columbia's famous descriptive slogans, "Famously Hot."
  • home to Benedict College, Columbia College, Midlands Technical University, Virginia College, and the University of South Carolina
  • home of Fort Jackson, the largest US Army installation for Basic Combat Training. 20 miles east is a major Air Force training base as well, McEntire Joint National Guard Base
  • Most transportation is most people driving their own vehicles most of the time, although downtown and the University area are pedestrian-friendly. There are a couple of bus services, but they run mostly between popular spots downtown.
  • Columbia's recent growth has also spurred new dining options, including a wide variety. But still most fondly known for seafood prepared according to South Carolina Lowcountry specifications, like shrimp and grits and she-crab soup.



After you're settled down, you and your roommates should experience Columbia's:

  • Soda City Market: So you can shorten Columbia to "Cola" which is another word for "soda" so now some have nicknamed Columbia, "Soda City." Then in 2005 an outdoor market aggregated, now featuring about 150 vendors. So that's the Soda City Market, and it's on Saturdays. (No, it's not just for soda. Expect the same amount of soda you'd find at most urban outdoor markets, not especially more than that.)
  • If you're shopping for locally-owned, distinctive and/or trendy, go shopping at Five Points. But if you're shopping for bargains go to Dutch Square Mall.
  • Columbia Museum of Art: 25 galleries, including Italian Renaissance, Asian Art and Antiquities, Roman portrait heads, and Korean ceramics.
  • Three Rivers Greenway: A bunch of connected trails that are popular with everyone: runners, dog walkers, skaters, bikers, etc. Beautiful views along all three riverfronts.
  • Columbia Marionette Theatre: The only one in the whole country that's dedicated entirely to the art of the marionette. You and your roommates could go on a field trip, which would offer you a chance to look behind the scenery, talk to the puppeteers, and touch the marionettes. You can also learn the "principles of shadow puppetry," but you have to make a reservation for that though.
  • South Carolina Statehouse: The dome is made of copper, and bronze stars mark where Sherman's cannonballs smashed. That would be when it got tore up from the floor up then burned down to the ground, during the Civil War. But they obviously rebuilt, and now there's also several monuments and a rose garden.


Here's the city of Columbia's official .gov for their GIS division, including interactive city maps.







TALLAHASSEE

  • $400   =  non-traditional average 1
  • $695   =  average 2BR ÷ 2, or traditional roommate rent 2
  • $1114   =  average 1BR, rented solo 3

46% live within a 10-minute walk of a park. 4
Most errands require a car. 5
summer thunderstorms, swarms of hornets
wildlife refuge 6

SO, roomiematch.com's Tallahassee roommate rundown:

Tallahassee is Creek or Muskogean for "old fields" or "old town." Some say it also proudly signifies "the other Florida." Tallahassee has always been their own thing.

For one, Tallahassee is in the middle of the Florida Panhandle where it's the main thing for hundreds of miles . . . other than forests and lakes and rivers and streams and National Wildlife Refuges and State Parks.

That's about 300 miles away from Disney, and 500 from Miami. It's closer to Georgia than anything most non-Floridians have probably heard about in Florida.

And it's the capital. And this state capital is surrounded by . . . protected wildlife refuge?

So we've got relative geographic isolation, plus legislation.

Then there's the college students, definitely their larger proportion. Tallahassee has around 200,000 residents, with fully 70,000 attending college classes. Unlike Miami and Orlando (both more prominent in the average American psyche), Tallahassee hosts more college students than tourists.

Plus, it's really cold!

For Florida! Not by national standards!

Tallahassee does (sort of) have four actual seasons, though spring and fall are both seriously shorter than outside the South. You can find spring and fall days at all, that's the difference between Tallahassee and most of Florida.

In fact, Tallahassee has been hit by both hurricanes and tornadoes, but only every few years. Summer thunderstorms are like walking through a car wash. But be prepared to lose power.

Warn your roommates that swarms of hornets can happen, especially after a long rain. While most Tally bug bites are more painful and itchy than dangerous, no one likes a vicious biter!

And palmetto bugs want to be your roommates too. Definitely don't feed them.

The rest of the Tallahassee roommate lowdown:

  • Formally established as Tallahassee in 1824.
  • capital city, home of most of Florida's state government, including the Supreme Court of Florida, the Governor's Mansion, and many other state agencies
  • located in the middle of the Florida Panhandle, about 30 miles north of the Gulf of Mexico, and 20 miles from the Georgia border
  • home to about 200,000, about 70,000 are college students
  • home to Florida A&M University, and Florida State University, and Tallahassee Community College
  • climate is very moist, summer is very hot and humid and frequently stormy, winter is very cloudy and rainy with occasional severe thunderstorms
  • no large professional sports teams, but several FAMU Rattlers and Lady Rattlers and Florida State Seminoles teams are very enthusiastically attended
  • no state income tax
  • Regarding public transit, there's StarMetro, or buses that run during the day, less or not at all on nights and weekends. Most of the time you and your roommates will need a car. However, you'll rarely be troubled by rush hour!



After you're settled down, you and your roommates should experience Tallahassee's:

  • Mission San Louis Living History Museum: Apalachee Indian and Spanish houses and other buildings from over 300 years ago. These "archives and ancient soils" are "how we know what we know."
  • Tallahassee Museum: Over 50 acres of outdoor action offering programs and tours for all age groups to learn about the flora and fauna of North Florida. There's a Group Night Prowl, with guides located throughout the trail pointing at nighttime behaviors. This museum features an obstacle course with platforms and ziplines. Also live wolves, black bears, cougars, and panthers.
  • Railroad Square: 10 acres of industrial warehouses turned into funky art district - and there's a First Friday Monthly Festival where everyone is encouraged to come hear local live music while enjoying art for free. You can shop and eat at food trucks too, but that probably costs money.


Here's the city of Tallahassee's official .gov for services for residents, from adopting pets to utilities and urban forests.







NORFOLK

  • $600   =  non-traditional average 1
  • $772   =  average 2BR ÷ 2, or traditional roommate rent 2
  • $1343   =  average 1BR, rented solo 3

78% live within a 10-minute walk of a park. 4
Most errands require a car. 5
flooding, traffic
beaches 6
trash beaches, super slow traffic, old dominion university, stores here don't carry cash, kind of hood, failed attempt at creating a downtown, inexplicably nice library, major flood zone, seamen, and gentrified hipster land are the largest hoodmap tags 7

SO, roomiematch.com's Norfolk roommate rundown:

Norfolk is in the Hampton Roads region of Virginia. Hampton Roads isn't exactly roads. It's both a body of water and the residential areas surrounding it.

With the world's largest naval base, it's also obviously a Navy town. With over 60,000 on active duty on 75 ships and 100 aircraft, it'd have to be. In addition to our nation's defense, there's also a lot of private shipyards with ship building and ship repairing. Again, there'd pretty much have to be.

Water continues to be the biggest deal here, with Norfolk's long history as a hub for military transport. In addition to the waterways, the intersection of a few railway lines with the network of interstate highways makes this especially clever.

Ocean View is their relatively uncrowded beach community on Chesapeake Bay . . . except sometimes in summer when it often turns into a traffic nightmare. Unless you really love people watching, even people experiencing rush hour, you and your roommates will probably enjoy the beaches more when thousands of freshly arrived tourists aren't also. Virginia Beach is nearby and similar.

Norfolk's coastline along multiple bodies of water, with many miles of incredibly desirable riverfront property also attracts tourism in the form of cruises regularly departing from their modern cruise ship terminal.

And don't forget about the massive Port of Virginia.

Tourists are also attracted to the three historical communities of Colonial Williamsburg, Jamestown, and Yorktown, known as "America's Historic Triangle." National Park Service's Colonial Parkway connects all three. They attract a lot of history buffs and a lot of traffic.

And you and your roommates will need to keep an eye on the seasonal tourists and traffic yourselves, at least as much attention as it takes to avoid another historic traffic jam.

The rest of the Norfolk roommate lowdown:

  • Norfolk is the largest metro area in Virginia by population, about 230,000 - larger metro area is the "Tidewater" or "Newport News" with about 1.8 million
  • almost entirely surrounded by water, between the Chesapeake Bay, the Atlantic Ocean, and the waterway known as Hampton Roads
  • mild winter, long humid warm summers, few severe storms due to surrounding waterways
  • cost of living is moderate, and less than most East Coast metros this size
  • the Port of Virginia is one of the best natural ports on the East Coast
  • shipbuilding, fishing, and other seaport-related businesses are dominant
  • home to Virginia Wesleyan College, Christopher Newport University, College of William and Mary, Eastern Virginia Medical School, Hampton University, Norfolk State University, Old Dominion University, and Regent University
  • Public transport includes buses (Hampton Roads Transit), passenger ferries, and light rail. You and your roommates would probably prefer any of those over a traffic jam.



After you're settled down, you and your roommates should experience Norfolk's:

  • Virginia Zoo in Norfolk: More than 700 animals, over 150 species, including white-faced saki monkeys, whip scorpions, slender-tailed meerkats, southern screamers, and Malayan tapirs.
  • Chrysler Museum of Art: Once upon a time it was the Norfolk Museum of Arts and Sciences, but it was renamed after automotive heir Walter P. Chrysler Jr. Fair though, because he donated his collection. The museum now holds over 30,000 works in 50 galleries spanning 5000 years of history. There's also a modern glass studio with free glass demonstrations. If you're into it, you and your roommates could take a class.
  • Nauticus: The National Maritime Center: Theaters, interactive exhibits, aquariums and the USS Wisconsin.
  • Norfolk Botanical Garden: Virginia's largest botanical garden. There are timed entry tickets, check in advance for availability, including the Butterfly House.
  • Norfolk City Hall: Built in 1847, it originally housed city offices. Then from 1918-1960, courtrooms. Then in 1961 the entire interior was gutted and remodeled into a tomb containing General Douglas MacArthur and his wife . . . along with a bunch of his other stuff like medals, swords, uniforms and flags. Also they renamed it MacArthur Memorial after that, understandably so. You and your roommates could watch a 27-minute movie about his life, then observe his famous corncob pipe.


Here's the city of Norfolk's official .gov for services for residents, including trash, utilities, neighborhoods, parking, parks, and libraries.







PENSACOLA

  • $450   =  non-traditional average 1
  • $770   =  average 2BR ÷ 2, or traditional roommate rent 2
  • $1335   =  average 1BR, rented solo 3

85% live within a 10-minute walk of a park. 4
Most errands require a car. 5
encouraging need for speed
sugar white beaches, air shows, stock car racing, military men 6
pilots/fuckbois, fuck this tollway, joggers, active, only tourists or people with summer home, dusty, hurricane catchers, yet folks, and upgraded hood, families are the largest hoodmap tags 7

SO, roomiematch.com's Pensacola roommate rundown:

You won't need your sunglasses anywhere more than Pensacola.

(Literally and figuratively.)

Sugar white sand beaches and low country seafood. A focus on education, tourism, and tradition. All with an air of Southern charm and hospitality.

And military airmen flying over it all, most of the year. They're training!

Naval aviation is the biggest possible deal in Pensacola. Tens of thousands of naval aviators have trained here, including John H. Glenn and Neil Armstrong. The entire history of naval aviation, current trainees, and aviation plans for the future, all here. From vintage photos and manuscripts celebrating our military heritage to IMAX movies, free tours, and symposiums all about our bright naval future.

Pensacola's strong military presence centers the Naval Air Station Pensacola, the home base of the Blue Angels. It also includes the Vietnam Veterans' Wall South, the National Museum of Naval Aviation, the Pensacola Lighthouse, and a number of military landmarks from the Civil War.

The military is the largest portion of the economy. The base itself employs almost 25,000. Many additional naval aviators are periodically present for training.

And a lot of the rest of the economy revolves around what those airmen would like when they're not training. And if you like a lot of the same stuff, this could work out well for you too!

Pensacola is considered a beach city and a military town. And what else could those gorgeous Gulf Coast beaches supply? Seafood!

Gulf Islands National Seashore is our longest stretch of federally protected beach. That means Gulf Coast red snapper, Gulf shrimp, mullet, and catfish. These are often served with grits, boiled with red potatoes and corn, on a po'boy, or in gumbo. There's also a lot of seafood BBQ. Broiled on a roll and deep fried fish and chips aren't unheard from.

Also, beer. Beer is here.

There are many outdoor beer gardens and local micromusic festivals whenever weather permits. One could just stop worrying about pre-planning hopeful fair weather moments entirely. Then merely look around for whomever is entertaining tourists with live music and delicious seafood any day you happen to wake up and both you and the weather feel right for joining in.

Pensacola offers cheaper roommate rent, cheaper bills, and a cheaper cost of living overall. You could have your Floridian beach-focused lifestyle, but for a lot less money than those other beachy Floridian cities, like the one with the huge traditional theme park or the other one with the expensively exclusive adult nightlife?

Here, pecans or peanuts might end up in any food item. Or sweet tea. Or cocktail. Pecans and peanuts make it more "community atmosphere" cocktail, less "expensive exclusive atmosphere" cocktail, you see. But Pensacolians are into that.

Plus other masculine stuff, like fishing and boating. Scuba diving and deep sea fishing are taking place off the coast, because in addition to military airmen, they're pretty much slathered in sunken historical shipwrecks too.

Also a vital part of the tourism industry!

Pensacola also hosts a lot of stock car races along with a lot of racetrack to support them all. You can watch NASCAR, ARCA, ASA, and CARS on tour.

I mean, they're all cars, but CARS stands for Championship Auto Racing Series! Because of course it does! Pensacolians are winning all the time!

So what's not about traditional masculinity and the military and winning all the time that's still worthwhile in Pensacola?

Quite a lot. All that Southern water also means nearby parks, lagoons, marshes, and wetlands . . . which also means rare birdwatching. They feature and maintain nature trails and coastal hiking through some notable habitats.

And if you want to make an effort to find them, you can also see several species of carnivorous pitcher plant, including some endangered natives of the Gulf Coast . . . all thriving carnivorously . . . all in the swampy prairies and subtropical pines of Pensacola.

But you won't have to make any effort when you're already outside to see the Blue Angels. Not all the time, anyway.

You'll know when you should look up.

The rest of the Pensacola roommate lowdown:

  • western tip of the Florida Panhandle on Pensacola Bay, along the Gulf Coast
  • city proper only around 50,000, entire metropolitan area around 500,000
  • The Gulf of Mexico moderates the climate year-round. Unlike other cities along the Gulf Coast, most of Pensacola is sufficiently above sea level, such that hurricane surges rarely cause more than occasional flooding. The Gulf also means hot and humid summers, with most summer days hitting highs in the low 90s, but temps above 100 are rare.
  • short mild winters, snow is rare
  • Thunderstorms are also common in summer, but it rains all year, several inches every month, all seasons. Sudden showers happen, but they tend to be loud and aggressive and over in 7 minutes.
  • home of Pensacola State College and the main campus of the University of West Florida
  • There are bicycle lanes around downtown, but they're not separated and sometimes not that visible. There's also a bus (Escambia County Area Transit) but it doesn't serve most of the city.
  • So you'll need a car, but parking is easy and free almost everywhere except downtown during business hours.
  • Pensacola hosts a number of professional golf tournaments.
  • Along with the rest of Florida, Pensacolians pay no state income tax.
  • Boiled peanuts are raw nuts boiled in saltwater until soft. Some love the slime. Others do not. You should try if you like peanuts otherwise, but brace yourself for a mucilaginous consistency.

    Like slime, but a lil' more gelatinous.

    So don't say we didn't warn you!



After you're settled down, you and your roommates should experience Pensacola's:

  • Pensacola Museum of Art: Many public events and artist talks, workshops for all ages and skill levels, several permanent collections, and traveling exhibitions.
  • Pensacola Crawfish Festival and Pensacola Seafood Festival: You and your roommates could attend either/both, since they collectively feature a lot of low country seafood, non-seafood fried delights, live music, and arts and crafts, all together downtown.
  • Historic Downtown Pensacola: Lots of important history inside a few blocks that you and your roommates can visit for free or cheap, including: Historic Pensacola Village, T.T. Wentworth Jr. Museum, Museum of Commerce, Museum of Industry, and The Old Christ Church
  • Palafox Market: Lively farmers' market in downtown Pensacola, every Saturday 9 a.m.-2 p.m.
  • Great Gulfcoast Arts Festival: Since 1973, the first Friday in November, in downtown Pensacola. Draws hundreds of artists and live musicians. Also a Children's Arts Festival, and a Student Art Show for students from elementary to high school. You and your roommates could compete for prize money with your own art, volunteer or just visit. Free for everyone (because of the volunteers).
  • J.W. Renfroe Pecan Company: Free samples for most! But do chill on the number of freebies requested, then buy at least a lil' pecan log or a piece of brittle or something. Don't make the pecan people cranky!
  • The Largest Men's Krewe Along the Florida Panhandle: Many events including several Krewe of Lafitte Parades: "300 Gentleman Pirates, Twelve Floats, Ten+ Parades, Three Formal Balls, Fellowship, Camaraderie, Goodwill and Community Service!"

    You and your roommates could observe (even wave or cheer) along the parade routes.


Here's the city of Pensacola's official Online Services page, including an extremely wide variety of options, from address lookups to weather alerts and flood information.







JACKSONVILLE

  • $450   =  non-traditional average 1
  • $731   =  average 2BR ÷ 2, or traditional roommate rent 2
  • $1221   =  average 1BR, rented solo 3

35% live within a 10-minute walk of a park. 4
Most errands require a car. 5
rush hour, urban sprawl
local professional sports, nature preserves 6
successful blacks, people who speak in tongues, cruise ships and drunks, hipster hangout, Gotham City, old money, strip malls, kmart wasteland, traffic jam with a side of mall, florida state college, sailors, megachurch hell, The Ditch, more mf sailors, and here be traffic are the largest hoodmap tags 7

SO, roomiematch.com's Jacksonville roommate rundown:

Jacksonville is a land of beaches, bridges, golf courses, and parks.

All their bridges, all seven straddling St. Johns river, are a little bit famous. "River City" bridges are an iconic Jacksonville experience.

As is Southern Rock. Many say Jacksonville is the birthplace of Southern Rock, as it's definitely the birthplace of Lynyrd Skynyrd, so it's the epicenter, so there you go.

And all that's popular with vacationers, college students, and retirees. Many are the same folks at different stages . . . so just good reviews, ultimately.

Jacksonville is a beach town that still feels like a beach town should to many . . . a little more sleepy than completely unaffordable. It's still Sunshine State for sure, but someplace with lower roommate rent.

Beach bunnies love their beaches just as much in Jacksonville as anywhere else, but they're less crowded than in south Florida, and you've got three: Atlantic Beach, Jacksonville Beach, and Neptune Beach. No surf breaks like Hawaii, but you can still catch a wave. Occasionally, you could even sidle right up to a waterside bar with no line ahead of you and get a drink almost immediately. Take that, Miami!

In addition to the abundance of available beachfront, did you know Jacksonville is not just the largest city in Florida by land area (over 870 square miles!), but also largest population within city limits, at almost a million?

Also, it's a serious mecca for golf tournaments. So obviously really nice courses the rest of the year too. Lots of golf and golf tourism, particularly related to the PGA Tour.

Jacksonville's NFL team is the Jaguars. Teal, black, and gold worn all together probably means someone's just a bit Jaguars-obsessed. If you want to get along with that person, you're a fan too. At the very least, you better not be rooting for Georgia.

Jacksonville also has several minor league teams, including a minor league baseball team (Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp) and . . . an NHL-affiliated ice hockey team? In Florida, yes, there they are, with an enthusiastic local ice hockey fan community!

Fans of the Jacksonville Ice Men!

If you'd like to enjoy the great outdoors but less beaches or golf courses or sporting events, perhaps more something with a tree-lined shady vibe? Or something less commercial?

Jacksonville has the largest urban park system in the country, with more than 80,000 acres of parkland over more than 400 locations around the city. You can boat, fish, jetski, sail, surf, swim, or just wander around in green.

So what's the bad news? It's up there already, but in a glass half full kinda way.

All those lovely urban features spread out over all those hundreds of square miles of still affordable real estate allowing those low roommate rents near all those beaches and parks and golf courses?

Glass half empty = Jax sprawls like a suburb.

Even though Jacksonville is actually literally urban, it's still too sprawling and still too suburban.

So traffic is often an issue along major arteries. There's little public transport, and it'll be expensive to improve on that, because there's too much land to cover. You and your roommates will want to plan all your routes in advance to avoid anything resembling a freeway anywhere near rush hour. Your quality of life will rely upon avoiding the wrong traffic (all of it) at the wrong time (whenever there's traffic). It's your happiness at stake.

In addition to rush hour on the interstate, summer's flying insects also frighten many. The mosquitoes and the roaches come super sized!

But summer's air conditioning bills frighten many Jaxons more.

The rest of the Jacksonville roommate lowdown:

  • Jacksonville is in northeast Florida, about 25 miles south of Georgia and about 350 miles north of Miami, 16 miles from the Atlantic Ocean
  • largest deep water port on the southern Atlantic Coast, nicknamed, "The River City" - leading port for auto imports
  • almost a million in the city, greater metro area about 1,730,000, largest city in Florida by land area and population within city limits
  • very heavy humidity, very rainy in July and August, winters are mild, humid subtropical climate, hot and humid summers, warm but mild and more dry winters
  • home to Edward Waters College, Flagler College, Jones College, Jacksonville University, and the University of North Florida
  • 20 miles of fairly available not crowded beaches
  • 20% water, crossing bridges is an iconic experience, seven bridges over St. Johns River. In addition, Interstate 10 and Interstate 95 intersect in Jacksonville. This is the busiest interchange in the region, over 200,000 vehicles per day. Construction of new high speed interchanges and new freeways are under construction to relieve congestion, but it's an ongoing problem.
  • Jacksonville rarely gets a direct hit from a hurricane, few hurricanes have caused severe flooding and knocked out power, but some areas experience periodic flooding
  • more diversified, less based on tourism than a lot of the rest of Florida - banking, healthcare, insurance, logistics
  • military and civilian deep water port - Naval Station Mayport, Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay, U.S. Marine Corps Blount Island Command, and the Port of Jacksonville - third largest naval complex in the country, after Norfolk and San Diego
  • sprawling over a huge geographical area, anything outside downtown, you and your roommates will need a car - over 870 square miles along both sides of the St. Johns River
  • The Trout River (a tributary of the St. Johns) is entirely within Jacksonville.
  • few bus routes, but they're not usually on time, they don't run at night - might enjoy biking or hiking the urban core, enjoy some of the architecture . . . not so much otherwise
  • college sports, especially college football, very popular, number of rivalries including the Florida-Georgia game
  • number of community theaters, including: long operating community, dinner, dedicated to arts education, and on the beach!
  • There's a free monorail operated by Skyway downtown, connecting the north and south banks of the river, and offering a great view of the city. It's fun, it's a great view, you and your roommates should go . . . but it won't take you to the rest of jacksonville, nope!



After you're settled down, you and your roommates should experience Jacksonville's:

  • Friendship Fountain: World's largest and tallest fountain! One of Jacksonville's most popular free attractions, capable of spraying 17,000 gallons per minute, in a park with a nice view of downtown Jacksonville. Frequently lit at night, always near the Jacksonville Maritime Museum.
  • Riverwalk: Scenic walking along the shores of the St. John's River, various attractions including the Friendship Fountain, jogging, biking, socializing, exercise equipment along the trail
  • Riverside Arts Market: outdoor arts-and-crafts right on the Riverwalk, every Saturday from March to December under the Fuller Warren Bridge
  • Jacksonville Public Library: The largest public library in Florida, circulating over 6 million items
  • Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens: Art museum and formal garden along the Jacksonville waterfront - European, American, and Japanese paintings as well as porcelain - free to you and your roommates on the first Saturday of the month
  • Museum of Contemporary Art Jacksonville: Downtown in the historic Western Union Telegraph Building across from Hemming Park - free to you and your roommates the first Wednesday evening of the month
  • Ritz Theatre and Museum: On the site of the 1929 Ritz Theater movie house in Jacksonville's historic African American community, number of exhibits, events, and shows, part of a "scene" known as "Harlem of the South"
  • Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens: > 2000 animals and > 1000 plants!
  • Jacksonville Jazz Festival: second largest jazz festival in the country, more than 40 years, over Memorial Day Weekend
  • Springing the Blues: Free outdoor blues festival, downtown Jacksonville Beach, in April - national, regional, and local blues artists
  • Jacksonville Farmers' Market: Established in 1938, oldest in the state, unique local stuff!
  • Lewis Ansbacher Map Collection: Do you love maps? Would you like to see hundreds of them? Now in the Jacksonville Public Library.
  • Chamblin Bookmine: 23,000 square feet of floor to ceiling books, over 3 million "gently used" books in stock. Since 1976.


Here's the city of Jacksonville's official city website for community services, including animals and pets, garbage and recycling, driver's licensing, traffic information, and local maps.







GAINESVILLE

  • $450   =  non-traditional average 1
  • $719   =  average 2BR ÷ 2, or traditional roommate rent 2
  • $1239   =  average 1BR, rented solo 3

57% live within a 10-minute walk of a park. 4
Most errands require a car. 5
sinkholes, swamps, limestone caverns, alligators, traffic congestion around gametime
live music, nature preserves, air quality 6
downtown hipsters, malaria, food stuff, good parties are here, Santa Fe students, zoo animals, here be gators, crane city are the largest hoodmap tags 7

SO, roomiematch.com's Gainesville roommate rundown:

Gainesville is a lot what you probably already knew, plus a bit of what never-residents still mostly don't.

Gainesville easily lives up to its reputation as a hard partying college town with hard driving varsity athletics, with a massive athletic stadium and a massively large number of college students partying hard around it.

It is impossible to attend the University of Florida at Gainesville without knowing exactly where to go for drink specials and cheap food in a large crowd. And that will be within walking distance.

Gainesville's also known for classic humid subtropical weather. That means all the heat plus almost all the humidity plus the affectionate nickname, "Rainsville." While hurricanes and sudden extreme heat are always possible, winter mostly isn't happening either.

So if you can deal with very hot and humid, you'd call the weather nice most of the time.

And if you can deal, you'd also find Gainesville: both younger and more likely to be happily retired (there are two sizable population demographic bumps), more likely to be single, more likely to rent and have roommates, less likely to be unemployed, and more likely to have a college degree than the vast majority of similar cities.

Because those other cities don't host the University of Florida?

But did you know about the bison, the bats, and the butterflies?

What about the sinkholes, the swamps, and the limestone caverns?

There's also a 120-foot-deep bowl with bones at the bottom! Locals love it!

Because what's not to love about a miniature rain forest complete with ancient fossils conveniently located near the University of Florida?

There are also actual gators. Not enclosed securely, if you didn't already know. Just swimming and sunbathing all over the place including local lakes and . . . campus! It's generally agreed you should keep your distance, but as for how far? That advice varies.

But we'd advise newbies GO WIDE!

The rest of the Gainesville roommate lowdown:

  • Gainesville eagerly embraces its status as college town for the University of Florida.
  • Many inexpensive bars are right around campus, with craft beer spots almost everywhere else.
  • While parking is plentiful, so shall be the traffic during classes and gametime. So you should definitely walk if you're anywhere nearby and it's gametime or classes are in session . . . because nearby roads will be congested.
  • That congestion will definitely include traffic to see the varsity team of the University of Florida, the Florida Gators - with an extremely enthusiastic fandom since 1933.
  • Most citizens of Gainesville have some connection to the University of Florida. It's a huge school and the area's largest employer. The local football economy (Go Gators!) is similarly gator-sized.
  • only about 150,000, but closer to 325,000 in the greater metro area
  • climate is humid and subtropical, meaning long, hot, sticky rainy summers, almost nonexistent winters. Sudden heat and high winds are also possible.
  • sunny almost 300 days a year
  • Gainesville is the least tourist-y metro area in Florida
  • geologically frequent sinkholes, swamps, and limestone caverns
  • home to Santa Fe College and the University of Florida
  • excellent air quality
  • low cost of living - with no state income tax and cheaper rent, Gainesville is one of the most affordable cities in Florida
  • over 30 bus routes operated by the Gainesville Regional Transit System, some with service to outerlying areas, some even late at night (the Later Gator). However, with limited service during weekends, school holidays and most of the summer, you'll need a decent car with air conditioning unless you plan to stay near campus pretty much always and enjoy heat.
  • All city streets are within a grid with four quadrants. Avenues, lanes, places and roads run east to west, while drives, streets, terraces and ways run north to south. This system is less confusing than most for new drivers and anyone new to Gainesville.



After you're settled down, you and your roommates should experience Gainesville's:

  • Devil's Millhopper Geological State Park: There are many sinkholes in Gainesville. Quite a few are reasonably deep, but one is bowl-shaped and about 120 feet! This is such an unusual geological feature it was able to grow its own miniature rain forest right in the bowl. It's a massive limestone natural pit fed by 12 streams . . . it's a literal bowl of rainforest, right in the middle of sandy North Florida. Winding stairs lead downward to the pond full of bones at the very bottom. If you and your roommates visit via one car, as long as you're 8 or fewer, you can all get in for $4. But do not swim with any manatees or fly any drones while you're there, as that is not permitted.
  • The Fest: 3 days, 100s of bands, up to 10 venues, mostly punk.
  • "The Swamp:" Known for being one of the largest and loudest stadiums in the country, in large part due to extremely enthusiastic fans, who also love to tailgate. It's a wide trawl of tailgate all around town, especially on Saturdays during the fall. Circling "The Swamp" before games is a tradition engaged in by a lot of folks dressed in orange and blue.
  • Lake Alice: Do you like bats? Would you like to watch a cloud of bats eating an even larger cloud of insects around dusk? Have I got a lake for you!
  • Florida Museum of Natural History: Quite a bit on South Florida, including much on native plant life along its waterways. But they're known for their Butterfly Rainforest.
  • Ginnie Springs: You and your roommates can float down the natural spring river with a cooler of beer.
  • Paynes Prairie: You and your roommates can watch wild bison and horses while hiking one of the park's eight trails. Possibly during a sunset! What more could you want?
  • University of Florida College of the Arts: Contains smaller colleges like the School of Art and Art History, School of Music, School of Theatre and Dance, and Digital Worlds, and all offer art/lecture/performance/galleries for your enjoyment at little or no cost. Cultural evenings for free for you and all your roommates.


Here's the city of Gainesville's official .gov for local community Programs & Events.







BIRMINGHAM

  • $350   =  non-traditional average 1
  • $738   =  average 2BR ÷ 2, or traditional roommate rent 2
  • $1331   =  average 1BR, rented solo 3

56% live within a 10-minute walk of a park. 4
Most errands require a car. 5
suburban sprawl
cheapest rent, outdoor water recreation, fishing, motorsport mania 6

SO, roomiematch.com's Birmingham roommate rundown:

Birmingham is a relatively popular place to live around and nearby?

Or rather, it's Alabama's largest metro area, in which most of its residents do not properly reside. Most live in the unusually large number of suburbs immediately outside Birmingham. Since the metro population is actually widely dispersed, rent's reasonable everywhere.

Alabama keeps its art in Birmingham. It's home to the Birmingham Museum of Art, the largest art museum in the southeast, as well as Alabama's major ballet, opera, and symphony companies.

Birmingham is also synonymous to many with motorsport mania. There's NASCAR, there's Superbike, and there's a Motorsports Museum.

Or maybe fishing in the "Bass Capital of the World" is more your speed?

Birmingham also has a high population density of both dentists (University of Alabama School of Dentistry) and college athletes (headquarters of the Southeastern Conference). You could easily end up with a dentist or a college athlete or possibly even both at the same time as a roommate.

The rest of the Birmingham roommate lowdown:

  • Birmingham is Alabama's largest metro area, with fewer in the city (about 200,000) and about 1.1 million in the larger metro area.
  • Most of the metro population lives outside the city in an unusually large number of suburbs.
  • Summers are long, hot, and humid, with many thunderstorms, while winters are mild. If you're not interested in experiencing heavy heat with thick humidity most months of the year, you'll need central AC.
  • All that heat and humidity produces a lot of tree pollen most of the year too. If you or your roommates have allergies, don't forget your medication.
  • home of several colleges and universities, including the University of Alabama School of Medicine, the University of Alabama School of Dentistry, and the University of Alabama at Birmingham
  • headquarters of the Southeastern Conference for college athletics
  • home of the Birmingham Museum of Art, the largest art museum in the Southeast
  • home to Alabama's major ballet, opera, and symphony companies including Alabama Ballet, Alabama Symphony Orchestra, Birmingham Ballet, and Opera Birmingham



After you're settled down, you and your roommates should experience Birmingham's:

  • White sauce: Contains mayonnaise, pepper, other (possibly secret) spices, and vinegar, and is a staple at Birmingham's BBQ joints, especially with smoked chicken.
  • The Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame: Inside the Carver Theatre, celebrating the many talented jazz musicians from Alabama. It was created in 1978, moved in 1993, then renovated and refurbished in 2020. It features a museum, concert hall, and radio station you can stream online. It's all non-profit and tax deductible.
  • The McWane Science Center: Features hands-on science, an IMAX theater, and nearly half a million fossils.
  • The Birmingham Botanical Gardens: Over 60 acres and features interpretive, Japanese, rose, and tropical garden styles you and your roommates can tour.
  • The Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum: Contains the largest collection of motorcycles in the world. This makes sense as motorsports are extremely popular here; about a dozen annual motorsport races are hosted here, including NASCAR and Superbike.
  • Fishing, any of it: Birmingham has been named "Bass Capital of the World," as it hosts so very many recreational fishing tournaments which have broken so very many fishing records.
  • Railroad Park: 20-acre urban green space in the middle of downtown connecting Southside and the University of Alabama campus. This area of town was mostly abandoned warehouses, but they've been transforming it into an award-winning Urban Open Space since 2010.
  • City Brew Tour: You could go with your roommates. They provide over a dozen samples, beer knowledge, lunch, and roundtrip transport! However, you MUST wear closed-toe shoes on your tour. No exceptions! Your toes will be safer on the Brew Tour, even in summer.
  • Vulcan, the god of fire, is revered with a 58-foot tall statue towering over Birmingham. He's the largest statue ever made in the United States, as the Statue of Liberty is larger but was forged in France. He's not wearing any pants whatsoever while he honors the city's steel-making industry.


Here's where you and your roommates can request an official group tour of Birmingham . They'll tailor it to your interests.







ATHENS

  • $550   =  non-traditional average 1
  • $749   =  average 2BR ÷ 2, or traditional roommate rent 2
  • $1251   =  average 1BR, rented solo 3

27% live within a 10-minute walk of a park. 4
Most errands require a car. 5
angry bulldogs/UGA fans
dog-friendly, bicycle-friendly, commutable to more expensive city 6

SO, roomiematch.com's Athens roommate rundown:

Athens is about half renter-occupied, with at least half of those living with roommates. It's a very friendly, very cheerful, very reasonably-priced roommate market.

But you must consider college students. Extra especially UGA.

They really severely love their bikes here. Cycling, for enthusiasts, not motorbikes but regular bikes for non. You should probably learn to love biking too, at least watching eco-friendly everyone else! Frequently racing around downtown!

You might survive not LOVING bikes if you love porches and oaks and bulldogs. A lot. A lot of love is required. If not, um . . . check out the other metros? :)

The rest of the Athens roommate lowdown:

  • summers are warm and humid with frequent thunderstorms, winters tend to be mild
  • about 70 miles east of Atlanta - a commute is about 60-90 minutes depending on traffic
  • many roommates live here for the affordability plus smaller town vibe then commute into much larger Atlanta for work or school . . . but that's usually best when you can work from home at least part time
  • about half the total housing in Athens is occupied by renters with more than half of those living with roommates, it's a very friendly roommate market
  • many Athens roommates are students collectively renting houses instead of apartments due to local affordability
  • Athens hosts the University of Georgia, which itself hosts the Georgia Museum of Art, the official state art museum -- Athens is also home to Kennesaw State University, Athens Technical College, the Athens College of Ministry, and the University of Georgia branches of Augusta University and Piedmont College
  • University of Georgia and the Clarke County School District are the major employers, about 15,000 collectively
  • approximately 29 neighborhoods in Athens, with Skyline the most expensive and Beachwood the most affordable for roommates
  • Athens encourages eco-friendly alternative transportation via bike lanes on major arteries, with organizations such as BikeAthens supporting more trail development
  • Athens Transit and UGA Campus Transit provide fare-free service around the city and the UGA campuses
  • despite these alternative transportation options, most roommates will still want a car for commuting or shopping -- but the smaller city size with less traffic overall means you'll rarely get gridlocked or bottlenecked except during UGA games
  • depending somewhat on the season, about 25% of the city's residents tend to be students at the University of Georgia, it's a very college town vibe
  • The university is called UGA -- pronounce each letter -- and the bulldog is called Uga, pronounced "ugh-ah."



After you're settled down, you and your roommates should experience Athens':

  • 40 Watt Club: Popular nightspot that opened in 1978, credited with launching American punk rock
  • AthFest: Nonprofit arts and music festival taking place downtown every summer since 1996
  • Morton Building: Features the theater famous for hosting black musicians such as Louis Armstrong, Cab Calloway, and Duke Ellington
  • Beer: Athens has an active craft beer scene with a number of local breweries and brewpubs including Terrapin, Copper Creek, Cutter's Pub and Trappeze
  • Athens Twilight Criterium: Attracts cyclists from all over the world to race around downtown every spring since 1980
  • Front porches: Everyone loves a front porch here. It's more than just rocking, it's dining, it's music playing, it's midnight partying with your roommates . . . porch life is very real and very Athens.
  • Famous tree: There's a famous "tree that owns itself." It's a white oak granted its own property rights to a plot of land 8 feet in radius that also bears the tree's affectionate official deed.


Here's the Athens-Clarke County Unified Government Housing Counseling (rental housing and housing delinquency counseling) page, which you'll hopefully never need if you choose the right roommates.







RICHMOND

  • $650   =  non-traditional average 1
  • $813   =  average 2BR ÷ 2, or traditional roommate rent 2
  • $1375   =  average 1BR, rented solo 3

80% live within a 10-minute walk of a park. 4
Some errands can be accomplished on foot. 5
mugging, purse snatching, car theft
former Confederacy historical sites, ballet, symphony 6
kevlar vest required, bring your confederate flag, so many breweries, old money, hood rat central, college parties, attention walmart customers, bankers and politicians, art students, where they shoot cops in the face, the motor mile begins, cigarettes, and cute grandpas live here are the largest hoodmap tags 7

SO, roomiematch.com's Richmond roommate rundown:

Richmond is one of the oldest American cities, becoming the state capital of Virginia in 1782. And then a lot of Confederate and Civil War history followed. They now host over 100 registered landmarks described as genteel, in part because Richmond is also the historical home of several iron foundries from a previous century. Most are no longer operating, but their cast-iron architecture remains.

Many residents and tourists also appreciate their historic churches, cathedrals, and synagogues, quite a few also established before the war.

Now downtown still hosts many federal, state, and local governmental agencies as well as courts, legal firms, and the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond. And while Richmond is otherwise easy to navigate, look out for narrow one-way streets in these older parts of the city.

And easy driving is good, as there's little public transportation. Especially if you'd like to leave downtown for the suburbs or even surrounding metropolitan areas, you'll find Richmond's transit focuses much more on getting folks to and from Richmond . . . rather than around?

So you and your roommates will want a reliable car.

But while you can't take Richmond's subway or light rail (because they don't exist), you can tube down its river! The James River running through Richmond offers its own white water rapids, good for rafting or tubing, all surrounded by park. It's urban, but it's also canoeing and kayaking and swimming, right in the city!

James can be unpredictable though, as this river is prone to changing currents with even minor rain. Tell your roommates they should always wear a life jacket, let longer-term locals who know the safer areas introduce you.

More on Richmond worth warning you about: The crime rate is still higher than average, and this has been true for decades. In recent years though, it's mostly localized. The violent crime rate is above average, but some of Richmond's public housing complexes feature both higher concentrations of poverty and violent crime. They're the chief contributors to the statistics. Don't go exploring neighborhoods that seem like they might be struggling late at night, particularly by yourself.

Richmonders also enjoy a lot of live music around Virginia Commonwealth U, the Fan District, and Shockoe Bottom. Your roommates who love music probably will too.

Unfortunately, that might also increased familiarity with Richmond's other above average crime stats on mugging, purse snatching, and car theft. These often take place during shows (cars) or right after closing time and/or end of show. Closing time is when numerous women, some intoxicated, predictably hit the street (purses).

If you need to park near shows after dark, never ever leave anything worth even a dollar visible within your car. Especially if you're alone, seriously consider a monitored garage, not just for your car, but personal security too. If you and a roommate can manage to leave together a little before the crowd does, that'd be clever too. Safety first!

Indeed, safety might mean leaving in time for GWARBar. They're located on a triangular street corner that stays well-populated as long as they're open, so no safety issues there. (GWAR is Richmond's native heavy metal band formed in 1984, still ongoing due to their self-refreshing lineup. When currently active members need a break, other fellow mythological Scumdogs of the Universe rise up to replace.)

Plus GWARbar's late night menu features demoned eggs and a Hail Seitan sandwich.

The rest of the Richmond roommate lowdown:

  • capital city in east-central Virginia, along the James River and near the Blue Ridge Mountains
  • about 225,000 residents
  • hot extremely humid summers, mild to moderate winters - snow and ice happen occasionally, but rarely stick around for long, but beware of flooding during any severe hurricane passing by
  • a little less than 2 hours south of D.C driving on the interstate, some residents commute to D.C. for work
  • historic interest as the former capital of the Confederacy, museums and historic sites abound
  • home to Randolph-Macon College, University of Richmond, Virginia State University, Virginia Commonwealth University, and Virginia Union University
  • Richmond is known to have invented the "sailor" or "Marine" sandwich. It could be offered anywhere in Richmond, but almost always at local Jewish delis. It's hot pastrami, pork sausage, Swiss cheese, and hot mustard, grilled together on rye bread.
  • Richmond is also known as the first place to sell beer in cans.
  • In order to encourage urban density and population growth in downtown districts, Richmond has built a lot of nice town homes with mixed retail and dining on the first level, near major arteries. For many, their location and greater affordability (over detached dwellings) make them structurally and socially superior places to live.



After you're settled down, you and your roommates should experience Richmond's:

  • Virginia Museum of Fine Arts: Since 1936, over 22,000 works. Largest collection of Faberge eggs outside of Russia. General admission is always free. There are also Wednesday Jazz and Friday After 5 Art events.
  • Richmond Ballet: It's the state ballet of Virginia.
  • Richmond Symphony: Leading regional orchestra, founded in 1957, now performing both classical and pop repertoires.


Here's the city of Richmond's official .gov's blog of city news, some of which might interest you and your roommates. There are also online payments.







KNOXVILLE

  • $450   =  non-traditional average 1
  • $854   =  average 2BR ÷ 2, or traditional roommate rent 2
  • $1321   =  average 1BR, rented solo 3

52% live within a 10-minute walk of a park. 4
Most errands require a car. 5
parking during any athletic event
summer sports, water recreation, few traffic jams, love of Christmas, love of Dolly 6
lots of beer and coffee, craft beer, frat bro territory, cyclists & beer, college housing/parties, highschool dropouts, and grad students are the largest hoodmap tags 7

SO, roomiematch.com's Knoxville roommate rundown:

Knoxville is the third largest city in Tennessee, after Nashville and Memphis . . . and that's the way many who've spent time in Tennessee but not in Knoxville tend to think of it.

All 3 Tennessee metros share hot and humid summers, cooler winters, and an enthusiasm for local music and sports. But Knoxville has its own vibe and culture to recommend it that's all Knoxville and nobody else, no matter what Nashville and Memphis have to say about it.

Dolly Parton began her career here, and you can still visit Dollywood in nearby Pigeon Forge. And Quentin Tarantino references Knoxville in all his movies. Are you really going to argue with both of them?

Considered the gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains, as it's about half an hour from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, it's a bit of an understatement to say Knoxvillians have access to great hiking trails. GSMNP for the less experienced, the Appalachian Trail for the very serious. On both the mineral-rich springs and fresh mountain air are thought to invigorate health.

Knoxville is one of the largest cities in the Appalachian region, and a proud repository of Appalachian culture, including music, literature, food, folklore, history and scholarship.

Knoxville is also extremely proud of Big Orange, otherwise known as the "Volunteers" or the "Vols" (the telephone area code for Knox County is 865 or VOL) or the University of Tennessee Volunteers football and basketball teams. Most athletics at UT are incredibly popular and attended by extremely enthusiastic fans. Big Orange has some of the largest on-campus stadiums in the entire world.

The University of Tennessee, with about 25,000 students, is within walking distance of downtown. But the love of Big Orange reaches a lot farther than that. Over 100,000 have attended a single game in Neyland Stadium.

Along with supporting their more mainstream local sports, many Knoxvillians are into some alternative athleticism as well. Like bass fishing, motorcycling, and craft ax throwing?

Nearby Kentucky Lake basin is legendary for largemouth bass fishing. And "America's Motorcycle Road," the "Tail of the Dragon," featurs a severely badass 318 curves over 11 miles. But you can motorcycle a lot of lower key loops as well. Local bikers love just riding through Smoky Mountain National Park or along the Blue Ridge Parkway.

And ax throwing kinda speaks for itself, right? If you're feeling completely horrified, you are intended to receive some preparatory instruction, then throw axes only at agreed upon targets within an approved facility. Let's hope everyone's listening to those instructions.

Knoxvillians also really love Christmas. Well, they love their local special events and festivals overall, but one of their longest and most attended is Christmas in the City. Many popular Christmas events take place at historical sites of interest all over the city, and it's eight entire weeks long, just one event after another, including: Big Ears Festival, Boo at the Zoo, Fantasy of Trees, International Biscuit Festival, Knoxville Hardcore Fest, Rhythm & Blooms Festival, and Volapalooza.

There's also a Singing Christmas Tree. That's a large tree-shaped object with platforms stacked with real human singers! Who sing at all of Knoxville! Because Christmas!

And you and your roommates could enjoy all that's uniquely Knoxvillian inside a diversified economy, with low roommate rent and a low cost of living.

The rest of the Knoxville roommate lowdown:

  • Knoxville is on the Tennessee River between the Cumberland Mountains and the Great Smoky Mountains, in the Great Appalachian Valley. The Tennessee River slices through the downtown area.
  • almost 200,000 in the city, Knoxville greater metro is about 880,000
  • Humid subtropical climate, hot and humid summer, much cooler winters with infrequent snow flurries. It's rarely below freezing, and precipitation is moderate year round. Summers are long, but the mountains ranges shelter it from extreme winter temperatures, and it's sunny about 200 days a year.
  • home to Maryville College and the University of Tennessee
  • Boaters love the Tennessee River, overall and that it runs right through Knoxville. If you're super stylish you could sail past traffic right up to Neyland Stadium for a big game.
  • Knoxville's industries have historically been agriculture, mining, timber, some manufacturing, but in the last few decades tourism and second homes have assumed much larger roles.
  • If you live someplace with a basement or another area that can collect moisture, you have to watch out for mold. There's also a lot going on for allergy sufferers. If one of your roommates suffers from dampness-related allergies, they might need to stock up on medication plus keep an eye on the basement.
  • Parking is easy most of the time, only ever a problem around huge athletic events or right around the University of Tennessee. Pedestrians feel fine downtown, but anywhere else isn't amenable to walking or biking. There is a bus service (Knoxville Area Transit, or KAT) with a beautiful downtown terminal, which often offers special routes for downtown special events. There's also a free trolley that can take you around downtown and the U, especially on Friday and Saturday nights.

    But overall, bus service is infrequent, and sidewalks outside downtown are also mostly non-existent. You and your roommates will need a car to "find your place on Rocky Top."



After you're settled down, you and your roommates should experience Knoxville's:

  • Market Square: Historic downtown square featuring popular local shops and restaurants, fountains, live music, and a statue commemorating Tennessee's fight for women's suffrage
  • Volunteer Landing: Knoxville's riverwalk along the Tennessee River, complete with fountains you and your roommates can actually play in. Yes, we know many dream of playing in human-sized fountains, but so very often that's so disappointingly discouraged! But not at Volunteer Landing!
  • Kentucky Lake basin: Do you like to fish? How about bass? This lake is the most legendary for largemouth bass fishing.
  • Museum of East Tennessee History: History of Knoxville, including Native Americans through Davy Crockett and the Revolutionary War, then the Civil War
  • Great Smoky Mountains National Park: Knoxville is a half hour away from one of the largest parks in the country, featuring hiking on 800 miles of nature trail, plus camping, fishing, horseback riding, and bicycling.
  • University of Tennessee Botanical Gardens: Over 1000 woody and 2000 herbaceous plants over 12 acres. Free since 1982, over 50,000 folks visit every year.
  • Knoxville Urban Wilderness: Over 60 miles of greenway, a nature center, wildlife area, fishing, lakes, quarries, playgrounds, hiking, ziplining, biking, climbing, paddling or just walking around in a 1500-acre outdoor adventure center . . . right in Knoxville.
  • Greenways: Knoxville is in the process of expanding their paved greenways connecting the suburbs with downtown, the University, and the stadiums. These have various names, including: Neyland, Sequoyah, Jean Teague, and Cavet Station.
  • Women's Basketball Hall of Fame: Uniquely dedicated to all levels of women's basketball
  • Knoxville Symphony Orchestra: Since 1935, the oldest orchestra in the southeast, performing hundreds of times a year
  • Grindhouse Video: It's a video store! It's still there! Not only is it "still" there as a video store, but they actually moved to Knoxville in 2022. Because this place has its own cult following. New and used blu-ray, DVD, VHS, laserdiscs, and vinyl - also because when you're such a horror movie buff you require constant access to your favorites, you might have to go with some physical media after all. You can't necessarily rely on streaming services to keep everything constantly available, and more obscure titles possibly aren't available at all.
  • Zoo Knoxville: More red pandas born here than any other zoo in the entire world. They've also got Tonka, the largest African bull elephant in the US, and a 525-pound 150-year-old Aldabra tortoise they call Al.


Here's the city of Knoxville's official .gov for city departments and offices, including community safety, area transit, and parks and recreation.







RALEIGH / Durham / Chapel Hill

  • $650   =  non-traditional average 1
  • $863   =  average 2BR ÷ 2, or traditional roommate rent 2
  • $1307   =  average 1BR, rented solo 3

43% live within a 10-minute walk of a park. 4
Most errands require a car. 5
potholes
Herbarium 6
lots of latino caribbeans, a district filled with warehouses, the hood, potholes, downtown, mexicans, containment area for relocated yankees, hoods and woods, here be rich nerds, RTP boring corporate, generic suburbia, gamers, and NC State are the largest hoodmap tags 7

SO, roomiematch.com's Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill roommate rundown:

Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill are a triad city complex clustered together, often nicknamed The Research Triangle or just The Triangle, for the large research universities in each. They also share an airport and a lot of lab and office space, including the enormous Research Triangle Park.

All three host multiple museums, botanical gardens, and athletic clubs. All three sport multiple suburbs and satellite towns, all spread out with a mostly suburban feel. Everyone drives.

Raleigh is the capital and largest, with the largest state university (North Carolina State University), and a lot of state government. Raleigh is also home to the area's largest performing arts venues.

Chapel Hill grew up around the University of North Carolina. UNC's students love their campus basketball, live music, and all the bars and restaurants catering to them. All three cities are properly college towns, or the whole clump is colossally collegiate . . . but Chapel Hill has a more typical college vibe just because there's less non-college stuff going on, than in the capital and Durham . . .

. . . whose reputation was once a bit dangerous, now just funky.

Durham is still associated with tobacco warehouses and old-fashioned textile mills in the public imagination. They're not wrong, just a bit behind, as Durham shipped its last traditional cigarette back in 2000. Tobacco is still produced in rural areas of NC, but Durham's dominant economic forces are now healthcare, biotech, pharmaceuticals, and advanced textiles.

And while North Carolina is still more smoking-friendly than other states, most of Durham's older tobacco warehouses have been restored and reimagined into mixed use housing, retail, and restaurants.

Durham is also home to Duke University, that owns an entire forest, unsurprisingly known as Duke Forest. It's 7000 acres of lush forest ecosystem, and they've been teaching and researching within it since 1931. They're also keeping a long-term scientific record, and hosting the largest Herbarium in the country.

(Yeah, that was a lot on one destination, but "largest Herbarium in the country" might be an encapsulation of Durham's vibe. If you're thinking "hey that huge Herbarium sounds cool" you'll probably like other stuff Durham does too.)

And anyone in the Triangle likes the whole area's still reasonable real estate plus lower property taxes, especially for someplace this saturated with cultural and educational possibility.

The Triangle has more traditional amenities too, not just ex-tobacco warehouses and prodigious plant catalogs. Remember the athletic clubs? Too many to mention, as again, three large universities, all with dozens of their own teams.

And even though the Triangle plays well together . . . other ways?

There are a lot of enthusiastic college fans here. If you are spending time with one, especially near gametime, one university's team might be angelic . . . while the other team is clearly hellbound.

And exactly who's bound for hell can be hard to know. All three have a huge number of fans and you can't always tell who's who, definitely not by the accent. So if your roommate attended college at one of the most competitive sporting three, and you disrespect their team(s)? They might have to challenge you to a duel at dawn. Or something awkward.

Not everyone here takes college sports so seriously, of course!

But most public places, you'll need to assume some that do are nearby and will hear you talking about them!

The rest of the Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill roommate lowdown:

  • located in northeast North Carolina, 40 miles south of Virginia
  • The three cities together have about 450,000 residents, greater metro about 1.9 million.
  • Winters are usually mild, spring and fall are lovely, summer is very humid (but everything is air-conditioned), and rainfall happens all year. Summer storms bring heavy rain occasionally. Thunderstorms can happen in the winter, but are sufficiently severe to cause problems with traffic or travel only every few years or so.
  • The whole area features some regional transit, mostly buses, and mostly to and from the campuses and other transit depots and destinations like the airport. Some campuses and their immediately surrounding downtown areas are pedestrian-friendly, but they're usually "islands" in that those sidewalks don't connect to much. Meanwhile, the humidity almost always goes to 11.

    So mostly, you and your roommates will be miserable unless at least one of you has a decent car. With air conditioning.
  • home to Peace College, Saint Augustine's College, Shaw University, Meredith College, North Carolina Central University, Duke University, North Carolina State University, and the University of North Carolina
  • There are multiple civil war historical sites especially in Durham, but really all over North Carolina.
  • Carolina Hurricanes (NHL), North Carolina FC (USL), North Carolina Courage (NWSL, and the Carolina Mudcats (Single-A) . . . and then a very large number of smaller professional, collegiate, and enthusiastic amateur clubs.
  • North Carolinian BBQ is one of two versions: Lexington (just the pork shoulder, dressed with tomato and vinegar) and Eastern (whole hog, dressed with only vinegar/"dry").
  • Other delicious foods popular in the Triangle include: biscuits with toppings, cinnamon rolls, grits with red eye gravy, and sweet tea. Southern sweet tea means adding sugar during brewing while the tea is still very hot, so the sugar dissolves better, so they can dissolve more, which allows them to make sweet tea at least as sweet as Coke, usually sweeter.



After you're settled down, you and your roommates should experience Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill's:

  • North Carolina Museum of History: Docent led tours on The Story of North Carolina, African American History Highlights, American Indian Discovery, and The Civil Rights Movement. Also many self-serve exhibits including Moonshine & Motorsports.
  • North Carolina Botanical Garden: Showing you all the native plants in their habitats, including carnivorous plants. Also nature trails, an arboretum, a conservation garden, and multiple nature preserves. You and your roommates could pursue certificates in native plant knowledge.
  • Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts: There's a ballet, opera, and symphony in here.
  • Flyleaf Books: Locally owned and operated independent bookstore, new and used, for adults and children. You can also trade in your own used books for store credit, but they do have standards. Also book clubs, lots of author reading events, and extensive local reading recommendations.
  • Duke Lemur Center: Home to the most diverse population of lemurs on the planet outside their native Madagascar. They're the most endangered primate. DLC is protecting more than 200 representing 13 species. Many conservation biology and educational programs available. But because they have to keep the lemurs safe, you and your roommates need to schedule and prepay your guided tour in advance.
  • Third Friday Durham Art Walk & Gallery Crawl: Usually the third Friday of every month, except for holidays. Over a dozen open studios and galleries, free to view the art, while live music and food trucks are likely also nearby.
  • Varsity Theater: Since 1927, but renovated. Second-run and classic features along with cheaper concessions and craft beer.
  • The Scrap Exchange: "Reuse arts center, thrift store, art gallery, community center, artist market, studio… it’s a whole vibe." You and your roommates can decorate with unique handmade goods from local artists, or get cheap or free reusable goods and do your own designs.
  • American Tobacco Trail: It's a paved over railway line about 22 miles long, and they'd like you to ride your horse upon it. Or bikes are cool too, if your ponies are all booked up.


Here's the city of Raleigh's official .gov featuring an extensive index of local services, which you or your roommates might need.







CHARLOTTE

  • $650   =  non-traditional average 1
  • $1032   =  average 2BR ÷ 2, or traditional roommate rent 2
  • $1594   =  average 1BR, rented solo 3

40% live within a 10-minute walk of a park. 4
Most errands require a car. 5
tea = sweet tea = no kidding
public transit, motorsports 6
outdoors activities for days, new money, super hood, uncle daddy rollin' coal, crackhead dance offs, friendly robbers, where high school football players go to, desis out for their evening walk, country clubs, comfy suburbanites, old money, and more relocated yankees are the largest hoodmap tags 7

SO, roomiematch.com's Charlotte roommate rundown:

Charlotte might primarily be known as "Bank City, USA" because it . . . has a lot of banks? Yup. No, not trying to insult your intelligence. No, not a trick question. Nope. Just a lot of banks.

But you might not already know that's not just a lot of banks, but #2 in banks? After NYC, predictably, but that's still a lot of banks headquartered in a city that's way smaller than #2 in size after NYC, right? Yet there they all are.

However, if you're now imagining a monochromatically concrete downtown, the opposite happened. In between its banks, Charlotte features lots of greenspace with an extensive tree canopy. If you're within Charlotte's city limits, you can always reach out your hands and touch both trees and banks! Even from inside your apartment!

(Just kidding! Not everyone can touch both a tree and a bank from inside their apartment, but more than you'd probably imagine. Banks and residential apartments frequently share buildings surrounded by trees so there you go.)

There's also arguably more motorsports and more pimento cheese than anywhere else. Ever.

The rest of the Charlotte roommate lowdown:

  • humid and subtropical climate -- summers are long and warm, winters are cool, freezing storms rare
  • Charlotte is the most populous city in North Carolina, and usually growing. Within city limits there are almost 900,000 people, with close to 3 million in the greater metropolitan area.
  • Charlotte is "Bank City, USA," the second-largest banking center in the US, after NYC. Many banks are headquartered or feature significant branches here.
  • home to Barber-Scotia College, Davidson College, Johnson-Smith University, Catawba College, Livingstone College, Queens College, Wingate Collge, Winthrop University, and the University of North Carolina
  • More motorsports industry racing in Charlotte than anywhere else, with the US's only Formula One team, NASCAR, NASCAR Hall of Fame, and the Charlotte Motor Speedway. Understandably, most of NASCAR's people live in or near Charlotte.
  • Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) carries over 16 million passengers annually, on light rail, streetcars, buses and vanpools. Many privately carpool as well, and Amtrak is very active here. So while Charlotte is doing well on the public transport and ride sharing front . . . it's still not rated well for walkability. So you and your roommates will probably still want cars if you venture much outside the city center and/or off the main lines.
  • Traveling by car, the central core/Uptown is laid out in a grid, with the streets numbered, and running east-west! Easy for almost everyone! HOWEVER, recent roommate transplants will likely find the outer ring of suburbs more difficult to navigate. They are NOT laid out in a grid. They're not really laid out according to much that'll make sense while driving on them. Also, the names of the streets change at random right in the middle . . . to the same names shared by other nearby streets? Suburban navigation for newbies will necessarily involve a good GPS system plus good directions, get both before you venture out there or prepare to GET LOST.
  • Some of Charlotte is friendly to cyclists with designated bike lanes. The rest, not so much (some say NOT AT ALL). If you want to cycle more safely using bike lanes, you'll probably want to plan your route in advance.
  • Due in large part to North Carolina's long history with tobacco, smoking cigarettes in public is more common here than in most American cities. Smoking is still popular in clubs and concert venues and on outdoor decks . . . but it's also increasingly common to ask others if they'll be bothered before lighting up, especially around food. In short, it's a confusing time for tobacco in Charlotte. If it's important to you to be able to smoke during an event OR that an event is completely smoke free, you should ask in advance.



After you're settled down, you and your roommates should experience Charlotte's:

  • Outdoor Adventuring Opportunities: U.S. National Whitewater Center has man-made rapids you and your roommates could enjoy year round, plus mountain biking and whitewater rafting. If that doesn't float your raft you can hike up some rocks at Crowders Mountain State Park.
  • Uptown Museums: You could visit several within walking distance of each other, including the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art, the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture, the Levine Museum of the New South, and the Mint Museum.
  • Pimento Cheese: Charlotte is considered by many to be the Pimento Cheese Capital of the World. You can order it by the pound. It might be called "salad," it might end up on a hot dog or alongside some BBQ, it should probably end up inside you and your roommates.
  • Cheerwine: Cherry-flavored soda that Charlotte loves. R.C. Cola is also popular. "Sweet ice tea" (or locally, just "tea") is the most popular non-carbonated drink, and is usually served ice cold too but much sweeter than most sodas and colas.
  • Metalmorphosis: A reflecting pool in an office park containing a mirrored head with 40 steel pieces. It rotates. It spits water. You and your roommates will never see anything quite like it, especially in the suburbs (it's in Ballantyne).


Here's the city of Charlotte's listings for Housing and Neighborhoods.







ORLANDO

  • $650   =  non-traditional average 1
  • $976   =  average 2BR ÷ 2, or traditional roommate rent 2
  • $1609   =  average 1BR, rented solo 3

67% live within a 10-minute walk of a park. 4
Most errands require a car. 5
Disney fiends, alligators, lightning strikes, heatstroke
professional sports teams, Disney 6
weird art kids, crime hills, section 8 lol, people with chickens, fun events but you'll get robbed, old apartments, Universal, Chicago lite, disney university, twistee treat, cows again, biggest school in the country, off campus slums, alligators, rednecks, traffic nightmare, and the place where the whale ate that lady are the largest hoodmap tags 7

SO, roomiematch.com's Orlando roommate rundown:

More than most metros, Orlando has a LOT of pros and cons, most revolving around their massive tourism industry.


PRO:   lower taxes, reasonable cost of living overall, no winter weather, discount shopping, lots of lakes, more unique entertainment options than anywhere in the world

CON:   severe heat with heavy humidity, tourist-dense traffic jams, lightning strikes, parked cars, gators


The cultural juggernaut that is Walt Disney World Resort (WDW to locals) overwhelms culturally and economically. In addition to WDW, Orlando (or technically nearby) is also home to a number of other massively popular attractions, like SeaWorld, Universal Orlando, LEGOLAND, Madame Tussauds, Fun Spot America, Cape Canaveral, and Daytona Beach.

All the tourists mean even though there are university campuses throughout, Orlando never feels like a "college town." It literally is. But it doesn't vibe that way.

For most residents, the tourism itself is a mixed bag. Orlando's greater metro area has more theme parks than anywhere in the world, visited by over 70 million every year, many from other countries. It's the third most visited US city after NYC and Miami . . . but much smaller otherwise. That means unlike NYC and Miami, at any given moment in Orlando, there are probably a lot more tourists than year-round residents.

And while summer and Spring Break (that's a few months too) are busier, tourism never slows to insignificance. You won't get as much as one tourist-free week.

Orlandoans must discover their own accommodations for being constantly surrounded. Some love to make new friends. Some make money off the tourists, like feeding, housing, transporting, and entertaining them.

Still others try to steer around them, both literally and metaphorically. Traffic jams happen during rush hours around downtown, and anywhere near a tourist attraction, especially when it closes. Locals recommend the north side as farther away from the most popular destinations, and thus less traffic jammed. But your lifestyle will probably require you head south, at least occasionally . . . right back into a huge herd of Disney superfans.

The take home point is you can't live in Orlando and escape tourism's impact. You must learn to live with it in your own way . . .

. . . along with the severe heat plus high humidity. It's almost year round. You'll be running your air conditioning 10-11 months out of the year. You'll probably get about 6 weeks of unconditioned air that's tolerable. That's it. And don't even imagine you'll survive without AC. You will have AC and you will spend real money on utility bills running it. Otherwise, you'll drop dead.

Never leave any living creature inside any parked car. Even with the windows cracked, even in the shade, the interior temp will rise much faster than most folks new to Orlando would ever imagine. Small mammals could die within 15 minutes, while larger mammals don't have much longer.

In summer thunderstorms happen almost daily, but since they drop temp, most folks find them refreshing. However, if you see lightning, go indoors immediately . . .

. . . especially near water. Or on a golf course. Near water on a golf course during a lightning storm might be the best place to get struck. So if the sky is sparkly, go inside so you won't spark up too.

Orlando is mostly wetlands, low elevation, with many swamps from forever ago. This means dozens of lakes near you, anywhere in Orlando. Plus why their tens of thousands of alligators regard humans as newcomers. Possibly delicious newcomers.

Alligators with all their scary teeth can suddenly appear in front of you anywhere in Orlando. (OK, maybe not a highrise, but we wouldn't bet on it.) They're all over Florida, especially anywhere with lakes, beaches, intracoastal waterways, storm drains, golf course water traps, damp hiking trails, puddled parking lots . . . anywhere at all with water in which they can slosh which is ALL OVER ORLANDO.

Orlando is covered in small bodies of water currently enjoyed by alligators, many of whom are less enjoyably small, in our opinion.

Gators also love suddenly hurling themselves up out of any waterway to murderously chomp cats and dogs and other delicious small creatures walking along its edge. This includes swimming pools.

When you want to swim, pick a non-murky man-made pool you can see through all the way to the bottom, that's either entirely inside and behind locked doors, or completely surrounded by a securely latched gator-proof fence. If a gator drops in anyway, get out immediately.

Then leave it alone. State law prohibits touching, feeding, harassing, or killing alligators. You're not even allowed to pelt them with a hailstorm of golf balls when they're inconsiderately sunning themselves all over your course. And unlike dogs or cats or any other animal anyone sane could love as a pet? If you feed a gator, that ingrate will be MORE likely to eat you.

So make sure you tell all visitors and roommates from out of town. If they've got a dog they walk outside, tell them twice.

Also tell them if they want to visit anything popular but with fewer (still a LOT, but fewer) tourists? Avoid summer and its teeming throng of schoolchildren on vacation in its entirely, plus all the hearty partying of Spring Break. So avoid March-September.

Really, just go after New Year's Eve but before Valentine's Day. You'll spend a lot less time sweating while standing in a long line.

And if you live near attractions out-of-town friends and family want to visit . . . probably to sleep nearby while not overpaying for lodging? You're a superstar!

(Hopefully a superstar with comfy crash-able couches.)

The rest of the Orlando roommate lowdown:

  • east central Florida, about 25 miles from the Atlantic Coast
  • about 2.5 million residents in the greater metro area, about 300,000 in the city
  • deep Southern climate, high year-round humidity, hot and rainy from May until November, winters are mild with lighter rainfall
  • You might need a jacket once a month between November and March. By May it's extremely hot and humid. Orlando is different than most cities on this list in that it does NOT host many summertime outdoor festivals. Orlandoans don't want unseasoned tourists coming to party then immediately croaking. It's considerate, but tell any roommates new to Orlando to keep this summer danger in mind, always.
  • home to Florida A&M University College of Law, Florida A&M University College of Medicine, Full Sail University, Rollins College, Seminole State College of Florida, the University of Central Florida, and Valencia College
  • no state income tax or sales tax on groceries
  • top-rated golf courses by the ton
  • Walt Disney World Resort (WDW to locals) is actually in nearby Lake Buena Vista . . . but that won't affect you and your roommates' life so much, as the rest of the world calls that Orlando anyway.
  • All Orlando's water also attracts all the birds, who in turn attract a lot of birdwatchers. You can see egrets, hawks, herons, ibises, and ospreys.
  • headquarters of LongHorn Steakhouse, Olive Garden, and Red Lobster
  • Orlando is one of the world's top cities for conventions, with huge convention spaces and hotels to accommodate them.
  • Lots of popular sports teams you and your roommates could follow, as it's a very entertainment-focused city: Orlando Anarchy (WFA), Orlando City SC (MLS), Orlando Guardians (XFL), Orlando Magic (NBA), Orlando Predators (NAL), Orlando Pride (NWSL) Orlando Solar Bears (ECHL), and the UCF Knights (college football).
  • Orlando is surrounded by outlet malls, particularly on Vineland and International Drive. If you and your roommates want some famous designer big name brand goods, there are bargains to be found all over these outlets.



After you're settled down, you and your roommates should experience Orlando's:

  • Orlando Museum of Art: Since 1924, Orlando's flagship museum also visited by thousands from all over the world. (Not quite as many as that other attraction, but still a lot.) Special focus on American art from the 19th and 20th centuries, Contemporary art, African art, Contemporary American graphics, and art of the Ancient Americas. You and your roommates could download a mobile guide with a highlights tour.
  • UCF Arboretum: 80 acres of arboretum and botanical garden, 600 species of plants, including natural lands and an organic community garden. You and your roommates can visit during daylight hours for free, but they do accept donations.
  • The Epic McD (how locals refer to it): Normally we wouldn't recommend fast food, particularly fast food almost everyone has already heard of? But if you already love McDonald's, Orlando has one of the largest in the world, at over 19,000 square feet. It features dozens of arcade games, an oversized PlayPlace, and several mostly discontinued menu items rarely seen at smaller locations.
  • Gatorland: Alligator and reptile park that predates WDW, since 1949. From babies to 14-foot monsters. Gatorland advertises itself as "down-home family fun" but . . . if we had children we're not sure we'd want them near live 14-foot monsters? (WDW monsters aren't real, folks. WDW characters hardly ever gnaw off human limbs.) But Gatorland has a lot to say about safety, so the gators here are under control more than . . . everywhere else in Florida . . . probably?

    So, if you and your roommates are super brave, there's a Screamin' Gator Zip Line!


Here's the Florida Statewide Nuisance Alligator Program, with a toll-free hotline (1-866-FWC-GATOR). If you and your roommates encounter any alligator posing a threat to people or pets, you call, they dispatch trappers. Never attempt anything with alligators yourselves. It's illegal, and you could die.







NEW ORLEANS

  • $550   =  non-traditional average 1
  • $1010   =  average 2BR ÷ 2, or traditional roommate rent 2
  • $1578   =  average 1BR, rented solo 3

80% live within a 10-minute walk of a park. 4
Some errands can be accomplished on foot. 5
narcotics, homicide, hurricanes, flooding, alcoholism, fire ants
festivals, museums, restaurants, local professional sports, live music, seafood 6
University, traffic, isn't that where Little Wayne grew up, young New Yorkers w/parents' credit, seafood docks, drugs and murder, hospital gentrification, Tulane students, money district, lots of tourists, stranger danger, getting hip, old confederates, hispanic food heaven, fake rich, and Little Saigon are the largest hoodmap tags 7

SO, roomiematch.com's New Orleans roommate rundown:

You can't talk to a native New Orleanian for long without Hurricane Katrina coming up some kind of way. And that was 2005. The aftermath continues.

Some say New Orleans has mostly recovered. Some say New Orleans will never be the same again.

Though Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans especially hard (along with the harsh truth that a lot of the damage apparently could and should have been prevented) . . . the city nevertheless persisted to remain the largest city in Louisiana and one of the country's top tourist destinations.

But some people and historical places lost to Katrina are really gone forever.

Those losses are concentrated in neighborhoods that had less to begin with, including time before a devastating flood and square mileage above sea level.

While a casual observer might assume most neighborhoods have fully recovered, crime has increased in neighborhoods that tragically, clearly have not. When neighborhoods significantly depopulate, they tend to lose their remaining social services. Without these services they become less functional places to live, often becoming dangerous.

New Orleans is now the homicide capital of the country, with other violent crimes not far behind. While wealthier neighborhoods above sea level doing well before the storm are still doing well now, they received more money to rebuild less damage. Meanwhile, neighborhoods that were struggling before the storm are now even more impoverished.

Finally, impacts from the pandemic have been the most disruptive to already dislocated and understaffed neighborhoods.

All the above is not to scare you unnecessarily, but to emphasize that while safety means knowing where you are in larger cities, New Orleans is even more like that than most. NOLA is Number One in how profoundly your experience of this city can vary by neighborhood. Do not go exploring anywhere new that doesn't feature tourists all by yourself, especially after dark or drunk. When alone or impaired in any way, remain within familiar, well-populated areas.

If you're considering New Orleans but haven't spent much time in the South, please understand you'll be strolling through a steam bath whenever outdoors . . . for most of the year. At some point, the heat gets to everyone.

You'll have to confine your non-AC activities to well after dark through early morning for months on end. Which could be cool (on more than one level), especially if your roommates are nightwalkers too. Inhale the lovely night blooming jasmine!

But your retreat indoors back to blasting AC will be required by 9 a.m. And while most native New Orleanians can tolerate a bit of walking around in the heat of summertime, no one wants to live without AC at any time. Ever. Never ever.

Generally, public transport exists, but you can rarely rely on it? And you can obviously drive a car here if you must, but we wouldn't recommend it. Some of the same persistent problems and lack of civic reliability continue plaguing both.

You can often get rapid transit, streetcars, and buses in tourist-ready areas of town during the day. But after dark or almost always in neighborhoods with few tourists, they're all unreliable. Potholes are extremely common; some roads haven't been repaired at all since Katrina. Street signs are often missing as well. During any festival, parking will be absurdly overpriced, so best to avoid driving that entire day or even week.

Many roads flood, and it won't be marked with any warning! It'll just be you suddenly trying to steer around a pond in the middle of the road. Since it rains all the time, pothole ponds proliferate. Since they're replenished regularly and the humidity remains high, they rarely evaporate entirely!

So other than the sadistic weather and associated travel troubles, NOLA's yet another mixed bag of pros and cons around alcohol, and your relationship with it. You'll never escape how huge drinking is to local culture. Locals say no impatient person could possibly survive New Orleans, and that's largely because that'd mean expecting drunks to work faster. That's a losing proposition at best, sanity-destroying after that. You'll have to make peace with cocktail culture, everywhere in New Orleans, even when you're sober.

You could live life in NOLA while avoiding parties, cocktails, nightlife, and all the festivals revolving around them. But why would you want to?

No really, you might have a reason. But if you're here and not drinking you'll have to remind yourself why on a regular basis. You'll probably also need a strategy for dealing with everyone else, especially when everyone else is drunk as a skunk.

Unlike most American cities, drinking in public is legal everywhere. The French Quarter requires a plastic container to leave, so local bars will pour your drink into a "go cup" so you can keep walking while drinking without bottles, cans, broken glass, and shards of metal littering the sidewalks.

Also unusual is the lack of "blue laws" or legally-required closing times for joints serving booze. That means all day every day, New Orleanians are selling alcohol. There's a party with alcohol and live music going on somewhere near you at all times.

By evening, at least several. Or maybe New Orleans is best understood as one long party with few intermissions.

So many cocktails were invented here, several still popular from the 1800s! So we'll only warn you about the Hurricane, because they tend to be strong - usually lots of rum hidden in sweet fruit punch. It chugs on down just like a sports drink . . . except whoops now you're too drunk to drive. Or walk (if one Hurricane calls its friends and they all end up in your tummy too).

In addition to not being the drunk driver, you also need to avoid getting hit by one yourself, especially on foot. Pedestrians get hit by drunk drivers unfortunately often here. Most areas around bars or festivals feature a perpetually non-zero number of drunk drivers nearby, and safety means assuming it's always your job to avoid them driving into you.

So do we seem too down on NOLA? We do say safety first.

But second we say it's one of the most architecturally beautiful cities in the country with too much imagination going on to list. Possibly equal parts hazardous and fascinating.

You and your roommates could go on inexpensive native-guided tours of museums, plantations, swamps and swamp-dwelling creatures, streetcars, historic cemeteries, antiques and antique shopping, jazz history, jazz music, voodoo, French Quarter history, casino gambling, carriage riding, and Creole cooking.

You can even tour all of that on a bicycle!

If you can learn to love talented locals who never leave NOLA nearly as much as international acts, live music you'll love is all over town, often for free on a sidewalk, often folks dancing along. On Sundays, there's at least one second line. All this in addition to all the famous festivals.

Sometimes the live music is so moving, dancing breaks out in the street. Folks just start dancing. Not even planned. Right there in the street. Where else does this happen?

In addition to the traditional museums, riverboats on the Mississippi are like living museums. Some feature cruises with their own jazz bands. You and your roommates could go on a scenic and historical cruise on a steam-powered paddlewheel with its own jazz score.

Or a river ferry. Ferries usually lack jazz bands, but they're cheaper, with mostly the same scenic views.

So how paranoid would a reasonable and reasonably safe New Orleanian need to be?

Some of the danger specific to New Orleans is weather-related, discussed above. But much of the rest of the danger that exists in New Orleans is like larger cities popular with tourists . . . especially anyplace they get tipsy. Because if we can spot tipsy tourists? Some predators have spotted them too. Tipsy tourists attract predators looking to prey on them.

The only possibly meaningful difference here is you're civically encouraged to drink. At least in theory, you could be more susceptible.

So remember not to be.

Also, avoid dehydration. For real, it has happened here to folks who successfully avoided it everywhere else. Strong coffee plus strong drinks plus sweating in a citywide sauna all day (with dancing!) could dangerously deplete anyone's electrolytes.

So wherever you are now, or whenever you were last in a city interesting enough to attract a lot of tourists? How many safety precautions did you take . . . traveling at night, sleeping in a new place, keeping your possessions secure, etc.?

Notice where your city is relative to New Orleans, especially regarding statistics relevant to parties and crime. Then keep that in mind, especially if that comparison suggests additional caution.

Also if a stranger starts strolling alongside you, aggressively suggesting you "take a bet?"

Don't.

But do party down. The Saints are still marching. Join their number?

The rest of the New Orleans roommate lowdown:

  • New Orleans is in southeast Louisiana, on the Mississippi Delta, about 100 miles from the Gulf of Mexico.
  • about 380,000 in the city, most populous in Louisiana, about 1,270,000 in the Greater New Orleans metropolitan area
  • almost entirely surrounded by water (swampland, bayous, lakes, and rivers), the square mileage of the city itself is over 50% water
  • Most of the city is below sea level.
  • Summers are long, hot, and humid, with heavy downpours occurring quite suddenly. From April to October, it's almost always hot with high humidity. Hot rain can surprise those unaccustomed, as rain typically breaks a heat, rather than making it WORSE.
  • Winters are generally pleasant, but foggy. It very rarely freezes, but if it actually does, stop driving immediately and exit your car until the snow and ice are entirely melted, which shouldn't be long. Most New Orleanians have no idea how to drive in cold weather. Tell new roommates to avoid driving on anything frozen in New Orleans for their own safety and sanity.
  • The mostly flat landscape and mild winters are great for biking. They're working on extending their greenways, particularly after Katrina.
  • home to Dillard University, Loyola University, Our Lady of Holy Cross College, Southern University, Xavier University, Louisiana State University Medical Center, Tulane University, and the University of New Orleans
  • third highest concentration of historically black colleges and universities in the US
  • New Orleans boasts an unusually high percentage of employees walking or bicycling to work - you and your roommates definitely should too if you can!
  • New Orleans is one of the world's busiest ports for oil refining and petrochemical production.
  • Creoles cook with roux (sauteed butter and flour) and the trinity (green pepper, onion, and celery). Some say when you add tomato or garlic it becomes "Creole Italian."
  • The seafood is fresh and cheap. Oysters, crawfish, and alligator are popular.
  • Tourism and hospitality are major to their economy, employing the largest number of residents.
  • Car thefts and bad roads have led to higher car insurance rates than most cities.
  • Not known for good public schools at the pre-University level. Many send their children to private high schools.
  • New Orleans also has a reputation as a "city for adults." This isn't wrong, but families with little kids will be able to find attractions designed just for them, just like any city . . . but here an adult-oriented party will also be nearby. If that's a problem, better shelter those kids.
  • Professional sports teams include: New Orleans Saints (NFL), New Orleans Pelicans (NBA), New Orleans Jesters (NPSL) and NOLA Gold (MLR). Also home to the Big Easy Rollergirls, an all-female flat track roller derby team.
  • "Who Dat Nation" are devoted Saints fans who get together at bars around the city to cheer them on. You and your roommates are welcome to join in!
  • If you think most of the partying is on Bourbon Street or during Mardi Gras or Jazz Fest, you're not yet a professional partier. However, due to all the other tourists and amateurs, don't imagine it'll be easy to find any reasonable hotel room then. If you want to tour for roommate reasons when an even huger than usual percentage of New Orleanians are partying down, you'll have to get creative with your sleeping arrangements.
  • In addition to jazz, New Orleans was funk-tastic in the 70s and 80s, and by the 90s had developed its own style of hip hop, bounce!
  • So much more lovely historical architecture still exists here, much more than most Southern cities. That's because when the Civil War began, the Union defeated New Orleans immediately. No battles were fought in New Orleans, meaning the Union ultimately spared their nicer buildings from battlefront destruction. Unlike several Southern cities (what's up Atlanta!) most of New Orleans never burned down to the ground.
  • Many of the trees are draped with moss, while the cemeteries have above ground crypts. It's very gothic, maybe haunted, if you believe in that sort of thing. Some New Orleanians would say even if you don't.
  • Bungalow: Small house that is either single-story, or has a second story built into a sloping roof
  • Creole cottage or townhouse: Usually has a large courtyard and a balcony, often with decorative ironwork
  • Shotgun house: Narrow rectangle, usually only about 12 feet wide, and usually 5 rooms in a row, no hallway.
  • Beware of fire ants. Be even more aware of the brown recluse. Real precautions may be necessary depending on exact geography, ask native roommates or anyone else who has lived on your same block for a while.



After you're settled down, you and your roommates should experience New Orleans':

  • Beignets: Say "ben-yays." Little square donuts dusted with sugar that taste great with strong chicory coffee. Cafe du Monde has the most famous (since 1862!) but they're all over the city.
  • Mardi Gras and the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, otherwise known as Jazz Fest: Did we even need to mention? But don't drive to or around. Trying to drive a car through a crowd or possibly even worse, getting swindled for parking, will sour your mood. That might sound unlikely, but driving anywhere fun then just circling it while trying to park for more than a few minutes will poop your party. It's just that annoying.
  • New Orleans Museum of Art: Oldest fine arts museum in New Orleans, includes more than 40,000 objects, from extremely famous European works to local Louisiana artists
  • Ogden Museum of Southern Art: Celebrating work by artists from the Southern states
  • City Park: The world's largest collection of mature live oak trees, some more than 600 years old
  • Dooky Chase's Restaurant: Since 1941. Rebuilt after Katrina, still a meeting place for political and cultural luminaries. Also authentic Creole cuisine.
  • The Art of Dr. Seuss: Other than the children's books, this is some of Theodor Seuss Geisel's other artwork. Paintings, sculptures, mounted heads of various characters. There might be a secret archive or some unorthodox taxidermy.
  • Backstreet Cultural Museum: "A powerhouse of knowledge." Admire the Mardi Gras Indians along with a lot of the rest of New Orleans' African-American heritage at this pillar of the Treme community.
  • Dr. Bob's Folk Art: Dr. Bob says, "Be nice or leave!" So do many of his signs, which are all over town, but you can visit to see his gallery plus works in progress.
  • Louisiana African American Heritage Trail: Trail with 38 sites of cultural interest, as per the state of Louisiana, including plantations, museums, the Cane River Creole National Historical Park, Congo Square, cemeteries, churches, and some surviving slave quarters. Inside the city several are within walking distance.


Here's the city of New Orleans' official .gov for all their services and information, from blight, to business, to streetlights, to recycling.







NASHVILLE

  • $700   =  non-traditional average 1
  • $1057   =  average 2BR ÷ 2, or traditional roommate rent 2
  • $1646   =  average 1BR, rented solo 3

46% live within a 10-minute walk of a park. 4
late night partying at honky tonks
live music, friendly folks 6
lock your car doors, murder kroger, gentrification run amok, MBA school, slaveowners probably, middle eastern food, hipsters, Vandy kids, hipsters in historic homes, taco trucks, smoked chicken, another high crime area, tourists and country music are the largest hoodmap tags 7

SO, roomiematch.com's Nashville roommate rundown:

"Music City, USA" is Nashville's official nickname, and probably most popular.

As the home of multiple record labels, Music Row, and the Bluebird Cafe? And the second metro in country music creation after NYC?

While it's an untrue stereotype that the local music scene is limited to country, what's true is how enthusiastically friendly to country and music and singing in general Nashville truly is.

Other nicknames bring up controversy, at least among some native Nashvillians. There's occasional tension between "Honky Tonk Central" and "Buckle of the Bible Belt."

Nashville is simultaneously regarded as the country music capital of the world and the heart of the contemporary Christian music and faith-based publishing industries, as well as headquarters for several Protestant denominations.

Some would prefer Nashville with less twang, less booze, less focus on late night partying. And then more Bible. However, the honky tonkers and contemporary Christians have co-existed for so long, they seem to mostly get along anyway.

Usually at live music venues! But possibly with different beverages.

But along with Christians making peace with the honky tonk . . . so must everyone else, actually. It's a cocktail-consuming, bar-hopping, party hearty city, and not just for those who recently turned legal. If you moved here, it wouldn't be everyone you know. But it'd likely be all demographics.

If you're social, you'll have friends who'll invite you to honky tonk. Or at least drink alcohol at their favorite bar, which could rotate all over town as there are so many solid options.

Bars and twangy country music are at their most potent in Nashville. Obviously you don't have to go . . . but just to know . . . you could be out there, honky tonking the night away?

We must warn you! Be aware of the honky tonk power!

Another good thing to know with regard to how Nashville is stereotypically friendly is that unfortunately, the stereotype failed on public transit. Decidedly unfriendly.

There is a bus service operating through downtown, mostly during business hours. But late night service is limited, and routes are subject to change, so check with the Nashville MTA to make sure your route is still happening before you plan your day around it.

You can also ride the Music City Star, mostly to and from downtown and a few other geographical landmarks and main arteries. Walking downtown is nice, weather permitting.

However, most of the rest of Nashville lacks sidewalks?

So basically unless you're a student living within walking distance of campus and don't plan to see most of the rest of Honky Tonk . . . you'll be singing a sad song without a car.

But most have a good shot at affording one. Along with the rest of Tennessee, Nashville has an overall low cost of living, and no income tax. There's also no tax on food.

Nashville, even more than other Southern cities, also has a reputation for being interpersonally friendly too?

Maybe it's all those extroverted performers, but we did mean both with and without the alcohol. (The twang was already on the bill.)

I mean, just once in a blue moon, especially if you're having a hard day, you might be startled by someone suddenly belting a song in your nearby vicinity?

But that's still not an UN-friendly feeling . . . is it?

The rest of the Nashville roommate lowdown:

  • Tennessee's capital and largest city
  • about 680,000 within the city, larger metro a little over 2 million
  • on the Cumberland River in the northwest corner of the Nashville Basin
  • warm, humid summers with frequent thunderstorms, weather changes frequently in winter, generally featuring light snow on and off for a few months, with larger storms every few years
  • at the convergence of three major interstate highways - with that and its relatively central location, and traffic and weather in your favor, Nashville is less than a day's drive from Chattanooga, Knoxville, Louisville, and Memphis
  • home to Aquinas Junior College, Belmont University, Cumberland University, David Lipscomb University, Fisk University, Meharry Medical College, Murfreesboro's Middle Tennessee State University, Tennessee State University, and Vanderbilt University
  • Professional sports: Tennessee Titans (NFL), Nashville Predators (NHL), Nashville SC (MLS), and the Nashville Sounds (MLB)
  • lots of Civil War tourism, including battle sites and preserved antebellum plantation houses
  • There are many pollen-producing trees, and the climate can trap the allergens. If you or your roommates have hay fever, you should stock up on allergy meds.
  • Nashville was hit particularly hard by the opioid epidemic. This combined with a decrease in affordable housing has led to a homelessness crisis in Nashville. Hence, violent and property crime rate are both above what you'd expect for a city this size.
  • Nashville's Grand Ole Opry is both a radio program broadcasting since 1925, and a concert hall located in the Grand Ole Opry House, since 1974. Before that it was part of a theme park called Opryland USA, but they eventually tore that down and replaced it with a megamall called Opry Mills.

    Some say the whole thing has always been haunted by the ghosts of country stars that died of death by misadventure.

    Quite a few misadventures.



After you're settled down, you and your roommates should experience Nashville's:

  • Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum: "The house that holds the music." There's a self-guided experience that takes about 90 minutes. Locals say this is THE country music museum. They stay open late Tuesday evenings for special events.
  • Johnny Cash Museum & Cafe: Are you and your roommates hungry for more Cash? For the max Cash, go on the self-guided tour, then Johnny Cash's Bar & BBQ next door.
  • Tennessee State Capitol: Guided tours are free, provided by staff of the Tennessee State Museum. But don't forget your photo identification.
  • Frist Art Museum: 12-15 exhibits at a time, from local to international
  • Nashville Zoo at Grassmere: Go on a "backstage pass" tour of behind-the-scenes animal stuff not visible to all the visitors! You could pat a rhino or feed a giraffe.
  • Cheekwood Botanical Garden and Museum of Art: 55 acres of art museum plus botanical garden. It's like they know you like both, so it's an all-in-one also featuring gardening workshops and outdoor wellness classes.
  • Prince's Hot Chicken Shack: Home of the "original hot chicken." That means good fried chicken, now with cayenne pepper. Since 1945.
  • Goo Goo Clusters: Invented here in 1912. It's like a little hockey puck made out of marshmallow, caramel, and peanuts, covered in chocolate. The name is supposedly the sound a baby makes, because this candy puck is good enough to be loved by babies in addition to adults?
  • Meat and three: Not one location or business, there are many, but the customer picks one meat and three side dishes. It's now associated with soul food in general, but the term originated in Nashville. Wherever or whoever, the term promises soulfully solid comfort food served informally at a fixed-price . . . but it'll be a good value.
  • First Saturday Art Crawl: First Saturday of every month from 5-8 p.m., free art openings and artist receptions all over downtown art galleries. Free and open to everyone, there may even be refreshments.
  • Nashville Roller Derby: Nashville's only women's flat track roller derby team. They play home games at the Nashville Fairgrounds Sports Arena.
  • Tootsie's Orchid Lounge: Nashville's oldest honky-tonk. It's painted purple and behind the Ryman Auditorium. So many famous performers coming through, you can visit the memorabilia all over the venue.


Here's the city of Nashville's official .gov for the most popular services for residents, including trash, recycling, car registration and affordable housing.







TAMPA or St. Petersburg

  • $400   =  non-traditional average 1
  • $1041   =  average 2BR ÷ 2, or traditional roommate rent 2
  • $1649   =  average 1BR, rented solo 3

65% live within a 10-minute walk of a park. 4
Some errands can be accomplished on foot. 5
tourists, snowbirds, sailors
tourists, snowbirds, sailors, local professional sports, the Riverwalk 6
little middle east, elephants and roller coasters, da hood fosho, old cubans, the zoo, rich kid school, drunk people on beach, get drunk and hook up, rich republicans, rich people country club, champa bay, strippers in a UFO, and Spanish people are the largest hoodmap tags 7

SO, roomiematch.com's Tampa and St. Petersburg roommate rundown:

The sun is almost always shining in Tampa. It's hard to be more than 30 minutes from a sandy shore. Or golf course. Or amusement park.

Tampa's massive four-lane Sunshine Skyway Bridge spans southern Tampa Bay - at over 4 miles long, serving 65,000 people per day. Port Tampa Bay is the seventh largest in the nation, the largest in Florida, and the second behind Miami for cruise travelers. With multiple cruise ship terminals, including year round and seasonal ports, many cruise itineraries include Tampa.

In fact, unlike a lot of the country, summer is the most stressful time in Tampa. That's when Tampa's "snowbirds" (retired folks coming from the north for winter) tend to bail. Snowbird schedules vary, but summer's almost always their OFF season.

And yes, summer weather can be stressful. Afternoon thunderstorms bring hail and lightning. And the heat plus humidity? Like walking through a warm car wash wearing snuggly soaking blankets.

Then there might be a hurricane. They do happen here occasionally. But in recent years, if you were inconvenienced by one of Tampa's storms, it was usually a power outage. It'd be clever to stock up for your next one with water, batteries, flashlights, and packaged food at the minimum, plus an evacuation plan including all your roommates and their pets.

Almost everyone sailing through Tampa, from military men to college students to cruising retirees tries Tampa's Cuban Sandwich. Then tell Miami that Italian salami tasted great!

Or you and your roommates are also encouraged to grab some deviled croquettes. That's the preferred nickname for locals! It's not a crab dish, no. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise!

(Just kidding. Locals love their deviled croquettes, Tampa's favorite huge crab hushpuppies, made to be held in one hand, so the other's free for grabbing BEER.)

The rest of the Tampa & St. Petersburg roommate lowdown:

  • large city on the central Florida Gulf Coast at Tampa Bay, with Saint Petersburg to west of the Bay
  • Tampa is home to about 400,000 residents, with the Greater Tampa Bay metropolitan area hosting over 4 million.
  • summers are long, warm, and very humid with frequent thunderstorms, very occasional hurricanes - winters are dry and mild
  • no state income tax
  • hosts the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (NFL), Tampa Bay Lightning (NHL), Tampa Bay Rays (MLB), Tampa Bay Titans (TBL) and the Tampa Bay Rowdies (USL)
  • home to Eckerd College, Florida College, Saint Leo College, University of Tampa, and the University of South Florida
  • South Tampa has been the home of MacDill Air Force Base since 1939.
  • Tampa has some public transport, including buses throughout the county (Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority, or HART). There's also a free streetcar with several useful stops for tourists and convention attenders. And then there's a trolley which is also a diesel bus. But mostly, you and your roommates will need a car to efficiently traverse Tampa, especially if you're going anywhere most tourists probably wouldn't. Upside: Tampa is only known for traffic jams downtown in rush hour or when it rains!



After you're settled down, you and your roommates should experience Tampa and St. Petersburg's:

  • The Florida Aquarium: There's a Wild Dolphin Cruise and a Penguin Encounter - also Evening Tide Talks and Day of Discovery events.
  • Tampa Riverwalk: 2.4 mile walkway connecting attractions like bars, restaurants, hotels, parks, performing arts venues, professional sports and museums, including the Tampa Museum of Art.
  • Tampa Bay History Center: "From conquistadors to cattle ranchers," more than 90,000 artifacts, including a shipwreck.
  • Gasparilla Pirate Festival: A mock pirate invasion parading through Tampa once a year since 1904. Arrgh you ready?
  • SS American Victory: Former WWII ship, now a museum. Close to the Florida Aquarium.
  • Dali Museum: Largest collection of Salvador Dali's stuff outside Europe. Don't miss Aphrodisiac Telephone or Venus de Milo with Drawers (and PomPoms) or Persistence of Memory.
  • Alafia State Park: Reclaimed phosphate mine with more severe elevation changes than most of mostly flat Florida. This terrain is one of the most exciting in the world for mountain biking. Of course, you could also hike or camp.


Here's the city of Tampa's official .gov for new residents, links new roommates might need, from parking to pet registration to neighborhood maps to trash collection.







ATLANTA

  • $790   =  non-traditional average 1
  • $1195   =  average 2BR ÷ 2, or traditional roommate rent 2
  • $1739   =  average 1BR, rented solo 3

78% live within a 10-minute walk of a park. 4
Most errands require a car. 5
gridlock, traffic jams, pollen
live music, dog-friendly, museums, restaurants 6
drinking school w/engineering, gay and proud, murder khouses, hbcu central, "hollywood of the south" t perry studios, people with too much money, perpetual traffic, young thugs neighborhood, atlanta's drag strip, red light district, and pickpocketing central are the largest hoodmap tags 7

SO, roomiematch.com's Atlanta roommate rundown:

Atlanta is the largest, most expensive, and most important city in the South. As such it's much more diverse than many expect, with many different neighborhoods meaningfully more different from each other than most metro areas.

Atlanta also SPRAWLS. Outside of the relatively few hotspots served by MARTA plus a few bus routes, everyone is driving. Many consider the massive ring of suburb around Atlanta "Atlanta" as well, commuting back and forth regularly, causing some of the worst traffic congestion in the country.

You'll want to choose your neighborhood with extra care when moving to Atlanta. You'll likely prefer living near where you work or study to avoid massive gridlock. Alternatively, you can live outside the perimeter and commute to the center if you must, but you will require your own reliable vehicle and you will be miserable if your commute is happening anytime around rush hour.

Atlanta is incredibly rich in black history, featuring an abundance of civil war history and HBCUs, driving tourism.

Atlanta is also incredibly rich in pollen from its lush foliage, driving the purchase of allergy medication. You and your roommates might need to beware or stock up on medication in spring.

The rest of the Atlanta roommate lowdown:

  • state capital and most populous city in Georgia - widely considered the educational and entertainment center for the southern US, with an extremely diverse economy including aerospace, biomedical research, film and television production, finance, healthcare, information technology, logistics, news and media, and transportation
  • summer temperatures are very warm, famously humid, late summer heat is prolonged, winters are mild and thunderstorms are common, abundant rainfall throughout the year
  • now a huge airline hub with the world's busiest airport (Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport)
  • site of most of Georgia's state government and federal bureaucracy, including the Georgia State Capitol, the Governor's Mansion, the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • divided into 242 officially defined neighborhoods, with 3 high-rise districts
  • A very large number of residential/suburban neighborhoods are colloquially considered within greater Atlanta. About 1/2 million live within the city limits, but the larger Atlanta metropolitan area contains about 6 million.
  • The most expensive neighborhoods for roommates include: Inman Park, Buckhead, Midtown, and Virginia-Highland. Less expensive neighborhoods still inside the perimeter (ITP) tend to include most in the south and east, but they're not that much less expensive. For a significantly cheaper roommate situation you'll need to leave the city limits for one of the many suburbs surrounding it.
  • Heavy reliance on automobiles for transportation even downtown has led to traffic and commutes among the worst in the country. Where I-75 and I-85 merge traffic into the Downtown Connector is one of the most congested segments of highway in the United States. You and your roommates will probably be happier if you structure your lives around avoiding major arteries during anything resembling a rush hour. You'll probably be happiest if you can work/go to school as close to where you live as possible.
  • While you can take MARTA rail or public buses some hotspots around the city, and the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition is fighting for more safe lanes, you and your roommates will probably still want access to a car. Atlanta SPRAWLS. Many places are not yet served by any nearby public transport. (Some say MARTA is absolutely the best way to get to the airport and the football stadium. And . . . that is all.)
  • historically the home of the American civil rights movement against racial segregation, discrimination, and disenfranchisement
  • now home to several historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs), including Clark Atlanta University, the first HBCU founded in 1865
  • abundance of universities and colleges overall, including Atlanta College of Art, Clayton State College, Morris Brown College, Reinhardt College, Agnes Scott College, Kennesaw State, Oglethorpe University, Southern College of Technology, West Georgia College, Clark Atlanta University, Georgia Institute of Technology, Emory, Spelman, Morehouse, and Georgia State University
  • Some call Atlanta "city in a forest" due to the lush foliage, featuring magnolias, dogwoods, Southern pines, oaks, and the now ubiquitous Peachtree (the trees as well as streets, buildings, festivals, many other namesakes, etc.). A thick layer of yellow pollen is the result every springtime. Tell your roommates with allergies to stock up on their meds or they won't stop sneezing until winter.
  • dog-friendlier than most American cities, with mild weather, pet-friendly patios, and most parks around the city featuring dedicated dog areas. Many casual bars and restaurants with outdoor areas welcome them as well. Few apartment complexes exclude dog owners accordingly; most are very welcoming for a reasonable pet deposit.
  • according to several surveys Atlanta ranks third (behind San Francisco and Seattle) for largest number of lesbian, gay, and bisexual residents
  • The Beltline is a former rail corridor that was rehabilitated into a series of parks connected by a trail forming a 22-mile loop around Atlanta's core - great for walking and biking and figuring out which neighborhood is best for you and your roommates
  • Most longer-term residents don't pronounce the second T in Atlanta. They say it like it's just another N instead, "Atlanna."



After you're settled down, you and your roommates should experience Atlanta's:

  • Live music: Atlanta has played a major role in the development of various American music genres, including Atlanta hip hop, country, Crunk, indie rock, Southern rock, and trap. Though they originated elsewhere, rap and R&B fans can also find more than enough to love.
  • Tyler Perry Studios, the first African-American owned major studio, and Areu Studios, the first Latin-American owned major studio
  • Historical tourism: Tourism is huge, with much of the tourism driven by historical museums, gardens, parks, and other outdoor attractions including: Atlanta Botanical Garden, the Georgia Aquarium, High Museum of Art, Historic Fourth Ward Park, Martin Luther King Jr. National Historical Park, Atlanta Cyclorama & Civil War Museum, Zoo Atlanta, Piedmont Park, the World of Coca-Cola, Fox Theater, College Football Hall of Fame, Historic Auburn district, Centennial Olympic Park, National Center for Civil and Human Rights, the Carter Center and Presidential Library . . . and the Margaret Mitchell House and Museum, where she wrote Gone with the Wind
  • Restaurants: Atlanta is home to some of the best rated restaurants in the country, with a great diversity of reasonably-priced dining options, including regular emerging chef "pop-ups" around the city. The Ponce City Market is Atlanta's largest collection where you can taste your way through a wide range of local favorites all at one spot. Similarly, there's a robust farmers' market culture.
  • Buford Highway: Lengthy strip of shopping centers filled with cuisine and culture from all over the world - locally considered the best place to get Chinese, Korean, Mexican or Vietnamese food
  • Atlanta Street Art Map: Colorful street murals are abundant. You can visit this map to explore the street art and graffiti from all over the city via their curated neighborhood suggestions.
  • Waffle Houses: "Scattered, smothered, and covered" might refer to what you and your roommates order after a night out involving many cocktails. But only if you're into that sort of thing (most roommates are at least once or twice).
  • Alpaca Treehouse: Nestled in a bamboo forest that's a sanctuary for rescued llamas and alpacas. You and your roommates can even feed them carrots.


Here's Atlanta's page for new residents, with info on neighborhoods, plus licensing and registration, which you'll hopefully never need if you choose the right roommates.







CHARLESTON

  • $550   =  non-traditional average 1
  • $1335   =  average 2BR ÷ 2, or traditional roommate rent 2
  • $2092   =  average 1BR, rented solo 3

51% live within a 10-minute walk of a park. 4
Most errands require a car. 5
mosquitoes, pollen, hurricanes, alligators, snakes
pedestrian friendly 6
half hood half hippie, the slums, rich white people, college of charleston, tourist hell, shoot outs, desperate housewives, gentrified hood, west virginiaaaaaaaa, and the last remnants of old mount pleasant are the largest hoodmap tags 7

SO, roomiematch.com's Charleston roommate rundown:

In Charleston, you'll eat the best seafood surrounded by intense local history and equally intense humidity, almost year round.

When you're between two rivers and below sea level, water everywhere dictates most of the way of life.

So, if you can handle the heat AND the humidity, Charleston is more friendly to renters and more friendly to pedestrians than most cities similarly sized. Almost half of households include renters, and almost everyone walks, at least part of the time, at least during locally-produced events suggesting that many should amble around in the friendliest way (face-to-face on foot).

In fact, most describe Charleston as friendly overall. And all y'all are not lying, nope.

But you'll also have to handle some mosquitoes and pollen. Maybe even an unfriendly hurricane. New residents should ask their favorite long-term locals for ongoing instructions on how to deal.

Which you really should, go there and deal, at least short-term, if you're into it. FEMA says if global warming continues Charleston may cease to exist as we currently know it or in the future . . . shift inward? Which could seriously surprise those inward at present.

But for roommates right now? Probably as safe as other coastal cities, but with lower rent and a greater variety of seafood snacks that will rock you like a hurricane . . . with high winds on a floodplain . . . and free wine.

The rest of the Charleston roommate lowdown:

  • The heart of South Carolina Lowcountry -- featuring historic architecture near the ocean with a lot of interesting art, but affordable rents!
  • Lowcountry gets its name from its low-lying topography, with most of it at or below sea level. 2/3 falls within FEMA's 100-year floodplain. Unique flora and excellent local seafood are the good news. Charleston is known for gumbo, fried oysters, deviled crab cakes, Charleston red rice, shrimp and grits, pimento cheese, and Lowcountry boil.
  • Charleston is a peninsula bounded by two rivers. The Wando, Cooper, Stono, and Ashley tidal rivers display their drowned coastline, with a submerged river delta at the mouth.
  • Humid and subtropical -- mild winters, hot humid summers, and rainy all year long but more summer thundershowers
  • The city of Charleston is home to approximately 150,000, while the greater metro area including Berkeley and Dorchester is over 800,000. That population is expected to rise by at least 25% in the next several years, in part due to the "high tech boom" strongly encouraged by local business leaders. "The Holy City" (many churches, many stunning steeples) is now one of the fastest growing cites in America.
  • several major hospitals located in the downtown area, including Johnson VA Medical Center, Roper Hospital, Trident Regional Medical Center, and the Medical University of South Carolina Medical Center
  • home of the College of Charleston, The Citadel, The Military College of South Carolina, and the Medical University of South Carolina
  • Charleston is one of the best markets for renters, as almost half of Charleston's households are renter occupied, keeping roommate rents competitive.
  • Charleston is more pedestrian-friendly than most cities its smaller size. Some find the historic cobblestone streets challenging, but almost all find them quaint and absolutely all are encouraged to walk on them.
  • 3 things worse in Charleston than most cities: Hurricanes, mosquitoes, and pollen season. Even if you never worried about any of those before, you and your roommates will need to pay attention to all 3 in Charleston.
  • You and your roommates should assume any body of water substantially larger than a backyard pool has alligators and snakes swimming around in it. Keep an eye out for suspicious swimmers in uncovered backyard pools as well!



After you're settled down, you and your roommates should experience Charleston's:

  • Spoleto Festival USA: 17-day art festival featuring hundreds of performances throughout the city.
  • Charleston Food and Wine Festival: Enthusiastic participation by both local and tourists with new cuisine for foodies every single year.
  • Arts Walk Downtown: Is the First Friday of every month. Browse art with free wine!
  • Old Slave Mart: Fully acknowledging Charleston's horrific history of slavery
  • Tavern at Rainbow Row: If you and your roommates would like to buy your booze at the oldest liquor store in the country . . .
  • Sullivan's Island: Some say it's guaranteed you can see a dolphin here. Ask a local for the best view.
  • Bull Island: Y'all refers to one person, singular. All y'all refers to more than one person or an entire group. And all y'all roommates could go stare at a sunbathing alligator on Bull Island.


Here's the Charleston county's list of links for online services, including resources for residents.







MIAMI

  • $700   =  non-traditional average 1
  • $1871   =  average 2BR ÷ 2, or traditional roommate rent 2
  • $2711   =  average 1BR, rented solo 3

88% live within a 10-minute walk of a park. 4
Most errands can be accomplished on foot. 5
climate change, erosion, sinking, parking, the Everglades, Spring Break
beaches, nightlife, professional sports, public transit 6
yoga pants, good luck driving here, leg workout, always raised, best view of downtown, hipsters and beer, people that live in RVs, human made land sinking next to earthquake, smells like fresh bread all day, homes that cost 8 or more digits, parking lot with view, retired grunge community, golf for non-ballers, and can't hear you over these dang planes are the largest hoodmap tags 7

SO, roomiematch.com's Miami roommate rundown:

Miami is a singular experience. Miamians really are their own affair, and they're a lot . . . but ordeal or adventure is up to you!

Miami Beach is nearby, and it's probably the most popular spring break destination on the planet. Because topless sunbathing is, of course, allowed. The crowds are drunk and rowdy. If you love drunken people watching, you might be in heaven. But if you hate crowds, you might have to avoid your favorite beach along with anything vaguely resembling it for a good long while.

In other words, if you roommate in Miami, you'll either gleefully join in, or completely steer clear. No resident of Miami is completely indifferent to Spring Break.

Similarly, this second most visited city after NYC is also known for nightlife, in particular the boutique hotels and expensive clubs in the Art Deco District along Ocean Drive and South Beach. These "exclusive" clubs may or may not contain wealthy celebrities at any given moment, but what you can always rely upon is that everything else will be expensive. It starts with the door charge, then all treats inside cost multiple times more than everywhere else, and finally all staff frequently require large tips.

We're not sure we'd actually recommend most with large door charges but without live music for anything at all . . . except their creative and stunning architectural designs. If they don't sound like the kind of good time you can afford right now, save that experience until you can . . . after which point it probably won't sound like a great idea anymore, but whatever. In the meantime, you and your roommates can patronize one of the many businesses with great food and live music charging no to minimal cover you'll likely find more welcoming. They're definitely out there.

What else is hot or trendy could change between us typing and you reading, because Miami nightlife has been through so many iterations, most revolving around the Miami sun almost never not shining. It's sunny about 250 days a year, and almost always 75-95.

It's rarely a bad day for the beach or boating. Or your bikini pants. Miami's residents have been dramatically depicted in almost all American mass media worshipping the sun. Some depictions are realistic, some are just sensationalistic, and some are crime-fighting TV characters! It's easy to depict Miamians excitingly!

No one even has to go indoors if they'd rather not, not just because of the weather. They don't even have to wear coats.

Not even one sensible sweater!

And we hope the lack of winter along with its outerwear keeps them cheerful in traffic. Along with near constant sunshine, Miami is known for constant traffic, constant crime, constant air conditioning, and a constant Cuban influence. Most appreciate the last two.

There's heavy traffic everywhere and on-street parking is mostly impossible. That's the terrible news, but the good is that Miami has an extensive public transport system covering the city. Almost 20% are on it daily! And since everything is constantly air conditioned everywhere, so is the public transit. Many neighborhoods are walkable as well, depending on how you feel about heat and humidity.

Miami is also known for its high crime rate, yes . . . but most is related to narcotics from South America, or tourists from everywhere. Be aware of pickpockets in any touristy area. Don't leave anything valuable in a car, ever. We'd recommend NOT wearing flashy jewelry or carrying an obviously expensive purse all over town.

Along with arctic air conditioning, Miami also loves its several generations of Cuban exiles. Miami hosts the largest Latin American group outside Latin America. Almost 70% are bilingual, with capability in both English and Spanish. When you switch back and forth in the same sentence, that's often referred to as Spanglish.

And Miamians of all nationalities love their Cuban culinary traditions. "New World," "Nuevo Latino" or hyperlocal "Floribbean" cuisine combines local produce with traditions of the Caribbean and European cooking techniques: medianoche, Cuban espresso, croquetas, pastelitos, Cubanos (sandwiches), empanadas, tostones, and last but not least, killer tacos.

Miami can be a bit of a mess during a heavy storm. Hurricanes are frequently a serious problem. Even though they don't come all the way inland, they often cause heavy rain which causes power outages. You and your roommates will need a "go bag" if you're on a flood plain. The rains are probably getting more severe due to global climate change, so keep that "go bag" on a high shelf.

OR, slightly different source of concern if your house is on sand possibly instead: There are scorpions and a few poisonous spiders. Same climate plus sand that's so great for beaches is also a cozy habitat for some scary creepy crawlies. So if you and your roommates see a unidentified creeper . . . assuming poison fangs are possible is never going to be the wrong attitude to take, you know?

In other exciting environmental news, Miami is the only American city with two national parks!

Everglades National Park is the largest tropical wilderness in the US, providing an important habitat for many endangered species like the manatee and the Florida panther! But remind all new roommates from elsewhere that swimming is completely prohibited. Why?

Well, park rangers probably imagine a variety of reasons but here's just one discussion ender: The alligators and crocodiles might swallow you whole! Or just chomp your leg.

Or guess who else has been chomping legs but usually not swallowing anyone whole as far as they know? That'd be BURMESE PYTHONS. Meanwhile, there's also a few other poisonous snakes that won't swallow you at all, but still have poisonous bites. You could still totally die.

That's good enough for us to say this is not the park for swimming! 100% eager cooperation at all times! Don't even dangle outside the boat!

Of course, you could just go kayaking through the peacefully ancient mangroves of Biscayne National Park instead . . .

The rest of the Miami roommate lowdown:

  • largest metro area in Florida, at over 6 million, almost 500,000 in town, near the southern tip of the Florida Peninsula, and the southernmost metro area in the country
  • covered in causeways
  • Miami has a tropical monsoon climate - hot wet humid summers with sudden downpours are possible June-November - cooler drier winters - but often the threat of tropic storms resulting in floods, in about 40% of Miami. That percentage may grow with global warming. Real estate prices in Miami are already reflecting this concern, with higher elevations commanding higher prices.
  • The little fire ant is an invasive pest.
  • mostly over 90F June-September, severely humid, day and night, in winter it's usually around 75F
  • almost all homes and vehicles have air conditioning
  • good news for drivers: roads in Miami are easy to navigate, as the mains are in a grid system, with most roads numbered based on their distance from the city's center
  • bad news for drivers: traffic is also constant
  • Their public transport system covers the city. Most buses run roughly every 20 minutes, but delays seem always possible so check your routes in advance.
  • Metrorail has almost 25 miles of elevated rail connecting downtown with the airport, Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, Lowe Art Museum, the Miami Museum of Science, and a lot of nearby shopping. Around downtown the Metromover will take you around and connect you back to Metrorail.
  • The airport is both one of the world's largest, and most congested. Allow extra time to do anything at all.
  • PortMiami is the world's busiest cruise port, about 5 million cruise passengers a year.
  • Miami has more sports teams than you could probably properly enjoy, including the Miami Dolphins (NFL), Miami Heat (NBA), Miami Marlins (MLB), Florida Panthers (NHL) and Inter Miami CF (MLS)
  • most important city in the US for Spanish language media, including Telemundo, UniMas, Univision, and Sony Music Latin
  • Miami has the country's largest community college system. Miami-Dade College has over 200,000 students, with campuses all over town.
  • also home to Florida Memorial College, Johnson & Wales University, Trinity College, Saint Thomas University, Barry University, Florida International University, University of Miami, and Nova University
  • There's a lot of golf - over a dozen courses
  • no state income tax
  • Like many other large cities, Miami hosts a number of music festivals. Miami usually takes a break in July and August due to the heat and humidity, hosting their events all the other months. This is mostly the reverse of colder cities who party the heartiest in July and August then calm down for the other ten months.
  • There are many long stretches of beautiful beach, many with different safety regulations. You should ask a local for yours. No, all beach rules are not the same across Miami and at all times, they can differ according to the marine life common to that particular beach, plus today's predicted weather.



After you're settled down, you and your roommates should experience Miami's:

  • Boynton Beach: Sea turtles!
  • The Kampong: "Discover your own relationship with tropical plants." Nine acres of exotic flora. A plant research and education center on Biscayne Bay, in colloboration with Florida International University. Take a self-guided tour or a seminar. You can even take home some plants (during one of their sales, of course).
  • Pegasus and Dragon: This is the 2nd tallest statue in the US, but probably at least the largest horse? It's 110 feet tall. That's a lotta pony. Sometimes there's a laser show.
  • Ocean Drive: Largest collection of art deco buildings in the world. Take a tour during the day, or try to get into the clubs at night.
  • Museum of Graffiti: "The World's First Museum Dedicated to Graffiti" ... they're showcasing their group of artists who "began their careers in the streets."


Here's the city of Miami's official .gov for trolley information, including schedules & maps.







your rent
midwest US non-trad trad 1BR
Wichita 360 486 794
Fargo 350 540 923
Sioux Falls 360 611 1006
Des Moines 400 666 1061
Omaha 350 720 1051
Milwaukee 400 724 1233
Kansas City 550 736 1183
St. Louis 550 824 1175
US national average 919 1482
Madison 500 967 1523
Minneapolis or St. Paul 600 1092 1365
Chicago 740 1689 2459




WICHITA

  • $360   =  non-traditional average 1
  • $486   =  average 2BR ÷ 2, or traditional roommate rent 2
  • $794   =  average 1BR, rented solo 3

52% live within a 10-minute walk of a park. 4
Most errands require a car. 5
wind, tree and grass pollen
cheapest rent, railroads 6

SO, roomiematch.com's Wichita roommate rundown:

Wichita is the heartland . . . the heart of the Great Plains of Central Kansas, about 3 hours drive from both Kansas City and OKC. It kicked off as a trading post serving cowboys on cattle drives from Texas north to the railroads. While it remains popular with cattlemen and the oil industry . . .

. . . lately you'll also find aircraft manufacturers out on Wichita's plains. (They need the space.) Wichita's Western spirit lives on as "The Air Capital of the World," because local enthusiasm for aircraft isn't limited to making them. McConnell Air Force Base is southeast, and the whole town collectively sponsors several large regional fly-ins and air shows.

That "everybody all together" with "small town feeling" is characteristic of Wichita. It's extra noticeable in a city that's actually more substantial than small. The cost of living is still well below the national average. Wichitans invented "small town" favorites like White Castle (1921) and Pizza Hut (1958). It's also the headquarters of Dean & Deluca.

There are special stipulations for survival where it's always this windy. Wichita's sunsets are gorgeous but again, WINDY. Enjoy them while wearing multiple layers.

And Wichita always ranks one of the worst for tree and grass pollen. All that wind sweeping down the plain apparently gathers up allergens from pasturelands. If your roommates are allergic, tell them to bring their pills. If it's asthma or anything requiring an inhaler (especially if they live in a less airborne allergenic area now), tell them to consult a doctor before visiting.

A multitude of social organizations parade through town on major holidays, including Juneteenth and River Festival. Several larger car shows are locally and nationally well-attended too.

In fact, with transportation such an overall focus, you might wonder if it's "ironic" that while Wichita still proudly hosts 4 major railroads, none of them pick up human passengers any longer?

And if you'd like life experience likely to inspire art on the topic of urban ambiguity and the folly of human nature, go wait for one of Wichita's buses.

Wichita's newer bike lanes go far to make the city more bike-friendly, but it's still a struggle to make your bike your main transport if you're leaving your neighborhood / going very far / and/or biking in hot or cold weather.

Because Wichita's spread out, it's fundamentally more difficult for many to bike the whole thing. No matter how many lovely protected lanes there are, a longer route might still be too far. Too far for some at all, possibly too long for others during less than ideal weather.

So mostly: You will need a car to get around Wichita. If you don't already own, you might need to rent, and probably right away until you can pick up something up.

But happy day for drivers: Wichita's streets are laid out in an easygoing grid.

Parking is zero hassle to find, and delightfully free for everyone!

The rest of the Wichita roommate lowdown:

  • in south central Kansas, at the junction of Interstate 35 and U.S. Route 54 - along the Arkansas River, which roughly bisects the city
  • Wichita is home to about 400,000 residents in town, greater metro about 650,000. It's surrounded by suburbs.
  • technically the largest city in Kansas, because Kansas City's split with Missouri
  • Wichita sports a wide range of weather year round, with hot humid summers, and cold dry winters with several inches of snow over the whole season. Great Plains means periodic severe weather, including thunderstorms with large hail and frequent lightning, watch out (go inside during lightning storms).
  • After aircraft and rail, healthcare is Wichita's second industry. Oil is still happening too, but it's clearly no longer the boom period.
  • Wichita's professional sports teams hosted include Wichita Thunder (ECHL), Wichita Wind Surge (Double-A Central), and Wichita Wings (MASL2). Wichita State University sports are also popular.
  • home of Wichita State University, Friends University, Newman University, and WSU Tech
  • 4 major railroads run through the city



After you're settled down, you and your roommates should experience Wichita's:

  • Ballet Wichita: Watch them tour multiple productions . . . or take ballet classes, volunteer to help staff during performances, or take sewing classes for ballet costumes, then do that too.
  • Great Plains Transportation Museum: Do you love locomotives?
  • Museum of World Treasures: Did you know that prehistoric sea creatures once called this city their home? Gigantic fishes all over these Great Plains. Check out the Xiphactinus.
  • Wichita Art Museum: Largest art museum in Kansas; free for everyone.
  • Old Cowtown Museum: One of the oldest open-air history museums. This means a collection of historical homes outside on 23 acres of land, telling the story of Wichita's transformation from the frontier.
  • Mid-America All-Indian Center: The museum for history and culture of Native Americans in Kansas.
  • Starlite Drive-In: It's the only drive-in theater in Wichita. Would you like to see a movie in a convertible under the summer stars near a snack bar? It's priced per car not person, so if you go with more than 2 it's cheaper than other theaters, probably. But you have to supply the convertible.


Here's the city of Wichita's official .gov, the "How Do I . . . " page for residents.







FARGO

  • $350   =  non-traditional average 1
  • $540   =  average 2BR ÷ 2, or traditional roommate rent 2
  • $923   =  average 1BR, rented solo 3

83% live within a 10-minute walk of a park. 4
Most errands require a car. 5
freezing to death in a blizzard, tornadoes, driving in an ice storm
few traffic jams, snow sports, cheapest rent 6
big box commercial sprawl, downtown, stank, really rich, oh you betcha yeah, dealerships, and foreigners are the largest hoodmap tags 7

SO, roomiematch.com's Fargo roommate rundown:

If you can cheerfully cope with life in a freezer, Fargo could be your unexpectedly cool (heh) choice.

But if you're not ready to spend months on end in a parka, snow boots, gloves, plus a serious hat, don't move here! It will be way too cool for you. And then you'll freeze your face off?

Fargo is in the Northern Great Plains region of the US. Due to its distance from mountains and oceans and its very flat terrain, winters are long and brutally cold. Blizzards tend to be legendary.

Summers are frequently hot and humid, while still stormy. Fargo has a whole lot of sky over a whole lot of wind sweeping down the plain. Tornadoes and floods happen too, as North Dakota is the northern end of "Tornado Alley."

January averages 10. 10 whole degrees. That's average. Sometimes it just hangs around zero for a spell. Single digit or even minus degrees Fahrenheit keep those approximately 50 inches of snow per season well-chilled.

Driving is terrible in icy conditions, even more terrible if you lack terrible icy condition driving experience. North Dakotan ice storms have harmed many and inconvenienced more. To limit your exposure, both figuratively and literally, you'll need to pay attention and be prepared.

So for whoever's still reading, why could Fargo be an unexpectedly cool rather than just freezing cold choice?

Fargo features a lot that is low, but it seems it might be working for them. If you too can tolerate Fargo's famously low temperatures and low population density (about 125,000 in Fargo, not many more till Minneapolis) . . you'll be rewarded with a low cost of living and very low crime. Low population density plus low crime often leads to neighborliness, a "small town" feeling.

And Fargo has that, but for that low population density, it's highly blessed with urban amenities? There are relatively more universities, theaters, carnivals, museums, popular live music venues, and golf courses in and around Fargo's rehabbed red brick revitalization.

More of all of that in Fargo than you'd expect for a city this size.

Also more chocolate covered potato chips.

The rest of the Fargo roommate lowdown:

  • Fargo is the most populous metro in North Dakota, but that's only about 125,000
  • warm to hot and humid summers and extremely cold winters, heavy thunderstorms, legendary blizzards
  • you need to know the forecast, always
  • In the worst conditions, if you cannot shelter in one place, make sure you're absolutely dressed warmly enough and observe local weather warnings.
  • Similar to many cities on this list but more than all, you can't live anywhere without functioning heat. Functioning heat during a winter as severe as Fargo's can cost more than elsewhere, you might have to budget.
  • Clothing washer and dryer on site so you can avoid schlepping laundry in a snowstorm is possibly not required but we'd strongly recommend.
  • Unlike many cities on this list and depending on your tolerance of Fargo's fairly short summer, A/C might be optional.
  • home of Concordia College, Minnesota State University Moorhead, North Dakota State University, North Dakota State College of Science, and Rasmussen College
  • Everything is at least a little cheaper in Fargo than most cities, not just rent but also groceries, plus possibly healthcare and education and some retail
  • Fargo is more multicultural than most cities its size, in part due to its three universities.
  • Downtown Fargo has been recently revitalized and rehabilitated to reenergize the downtown core. It's a charming mini-town made of historic red bricks.
  • Fargo's streets form a grid pattern, with streets running from north to south, avenues running from east to west.
  • one of the lowest metro crime rates, particularly very low violent crime, along with a very low unemployment rate
  • many cultural features for a city its size, including the Fargo Theatre, the Winter Carnival, Fargo-Moorhead Symphony Opera, Plains Art Museum, and the Fargodome
  • at least half a dozen golf courses, unusual for a city its size
  • local culinary delicacies: hotdish (pasta casserole), walleye (fresh caught local fish), kuchen (custard pie), and chocolate covered potato chips



After you're settled down, you and your roommates should experience Fargo's:

  • Bonanzaville, USA: It's a village named after the historic larger farms in the area and other buildings that served them, including a church and school.
  • Red River Zoo: Home to over 300 animals, including Red Pandas, Bactrian Camels, Sichuan Takins, Grey Wolves, Pallas Cats and North American River Otters
  • Plains Art Museum: Largest art museum in North Dakota. You and your roommates can view collections ranging from traditional Native art to modern sculpture.


Here's the city of Fargo's official .gov for disaster preparedness, to maximize you and your roommates' disaster preparedness.







SIOUX FALLS

  • $360   =  non-traditional average 1
  • $611   =  average 2BR ÷ 2, or traditional roommate rent 2
  • $1006   =  average 1BR, rented solo 3

62% live within a 10-minute walk of a park. 4
Most errands require a car. 5
isolation, heavy snow
cheapest rent, The Badlands, waterfalls 6

SO, roomiematch.com's Sioux Falls roommate rundown:

Sioux Falls is synonymous with the Black Hills. The Badlands. And national parks, monuments, grasslands, and forests!

It's absolutely stunning outdoors! As far as the eye can see! Along with no state income tax, low property taxes, and a stunningly low cost of living.

The Great Outdoors isn't hard to find here. In more urban roommate cities, it's all about finding and maintaining that fresh air outside access. Here, the access is undeniable. It's kinda hard to escape.

In terms of outdoor fun, the only thing South Dakota lacks is an ocean. Everything else is here, expected summer fun and snowy sporting opportunity . . . along with world class fly fishing! You can catch your way through several species of South Dakota trout swimming in several famous creeks and streams.

As the largest city in South Dakota, and the only urban center between Minneapolis and Denver, the Great Outdoors is in every direction. And you won't have to go very far.

Because anything remotely urban other than Sioux Falls is several hundred miles away. On a highway. And it's more than just fresh air. It'll be downright windy.

Sioux Falls is a conservative-leaning Country Western city, but one of the chilly ones. Just chilly (actually freezing cold) meteorologically, never interpersonally. Dakotans have a reputation for being friendlier than most, and you probably ought return the favor.

You and your roommates should strive to get along with each other! And your neighbors!

Especially during heavy snowfall.

You could get stuck and need a horse.

The rest of the Sioux Falls roommate lowdown:

  • Sioux Falls is in eastern South Dakota, near the Iowa-Minnesota border. It's South Dakota's largest city, with about 200,000 residents.
  • frequent weather changes, humid warm summers with thunderstorms, while winters often bring brutal cold and heavy snowfall
  • home of the University of Sioux Falls, University of South Dakota's Sanford School of Medicine, Stewart School, South Dakota Public Universities and Research Center, and the South Dakota School for the Deaf
  • Food processing has been historically economically important, still largely is, but overtaken by health services, then the financial sector. In part due to a lack of a state corporate income tax, Sioux Falls has become a politically conservative center for the banking and credit card industries.
  • Sioux Falls sports a lot of golf courses per capita.
  • There's a trolley downtown, and some buses during the day. Other than that, you and your roommates will mostly need a car. However, it's unlikely you'll have any trouble with traffic jams or parking!



After you're settled down, you and your roommates should experience Sioux Falls':

  • Falls Park: Multiple waterfalls flowing over multi-tiered Sioux quartzite. Meditative beauty brought about by thousands of gallons of rushing water.
  • Center for Western Studies: > 37,000 volumes on the American West, associated with Augustana University.
  • Great Plains Zoo: Celebrating the critically endangered Black Rhino, especially during Rhinopalooza. You and your roommates could also schedule a private cart tour and/or up-close encounter with a zoo educator.
  • Butterfly House & Aquarium: "Experience the ocean and rainforest in land-locked South Dakota." Home of the Dakota's only insectarium, where you can be surrounded by over 800 types of butterflies.
  • Sioux Falls Arts & Culture Directory (SFAC): Hub for local artists. You and your roommates could list your artistic work on their site, then attend their events. Lots of receptions, pop up galleries, and open mics.


Here's the city of Sioux Falls' official .gov for resident services, from utilities to recycling to libraries.







DES MOINES

  • $400   =  non-traditional average 1
  • $666   =  average 2BR ÷ 2, or traditional roommate rent 2
  • $1061   =  average 1BR, rented solo 3

73% live within a 10-minute walk of a park. 4
Most errands require a car. 5
driving in a snowstorm, allergic to corn
few traffic jams, bicycle friendly 6
white saviors love it here, drakeland, east village, establishment liberals, white collar stoners, yuppies, and good pizza are the largest hoodmap tags 7

SO, roomiematch.com's Des Moines roommate rundown:

Many describe Des Moines as warm and welcoming. While many Des Moinesians really are warm and welcoming, the relatively small size also makes it easier. It's literally more likely you could end up as neighbors here.

So really, why not? Neighborly vibes!

Agriculture is so huge, this whole capital city also turns into a farmer's market every spring and summer.

And all your neighbors know they better farm stall while they can, because winter is definitely coming.

Transportation, particularly during a snowstorm, can be challenging to anyone accustomed to more public transport and less dramatic weather. Many roommates new to Des Moines were surprised by the severity of seasonal contrast and the possibility of intense weather year round.

Des Moines features a skywalk system with four miles of enclosed walkway residents love . . . but it's only downtown. There is also a bus system operated by DART (Des Moines Area Regional Transit) . . . but it's only buses so it's slow, and it doesn't serve all suburbs.

There's over 800 miles of bike trail including an iconic decommissioned railway line and another iconic 13-story bridge . . . but they all frequently feature freezing winds about half the year.

SO: Most residents drive.

Upside? Despite most residents driving, traffic jams are a no!

In addition to low traffic congestion, Des Moines also boasts low unemployment, low rent, and a low cost of living.

And everything low here . . . is leading to higher population growth?

This home of the presidential primary is growing faster than any other Midwest metro, including Chicago, Milwaukee, and Minneapolis.

The rest of the Des Moines roommate lowdown:

  • Des Moines is Iowa's most populous city and capital, located near its center. That's about 210,000 in the city, and about 700,000 in their six-county metro area.
  • Marked seasonal contrast, with warm and extremely humid summers, and winters with frequent snowstorms and drifting snow. Thunderstorms are most common in spring and summer, but possible year round. Heavy snows (possibly up to 40 inches per season!) that close roads are common in winter.
  • extensive skywalk system downtown featuring four miles of enclosed walkway
  • home of several colleges and universities and their satellites, including Des Moines University, Drake University, Grand View University, Iowa State University, Mercy College of Health Sciences, Simpson College, University of Iowa, Upper Iowa University, and William Penn University
  • home to several art and history museums and performing arts groups, including the Des Moines Performing Arts, Des Moines Playhouse, Des Moines Symphony, State of Iowa Historical Museum, and the Metro Arts Alliance
  • a lot of agriculture, a lot of corn
  • More than 75 insurance companies are headquartered and/or have larger operations here. Des Moines is a major center for the insurance industry in the United States, and has been nicknamed "insurance capital of the world" overall. Iowa doesn't charge premium taxes on health insurance plans, making itself more attractive to insurance companies.
  • ethnic diversity is low
  • cost of living and rents are very low, along with unemployment
  • growing faster than any other Midwest metro
  • Des Moines hosts the first caucuses of the US presidential primary cycle, with many candidates setting up their campaign headquarters here reliably. Many describe Des Moines as the "perfect place to watch politics."
  • In winter, attention to parking rules to avoid being "snowed in" by trucks, plus general attention to possible snow emergency conditions could be crucial. Natives recommend roommates new to the area avoid driving during snow hazards. They also recommend a brush, ice scraper, a shovel and some sand or road salt in your car in case you drive right into a snow hazard anyway.



After you're settled down, you and your roommates should experience Des Moines':

  • Des Moines Art Center: Large collection from the 19th and 20th centuries. Also features a 5-star restaurant, a wing designed by architect I. M. Pei, and the Pappajohn Sculpture Park.
  • Des Moines Botanical Garden: Indoor conservatory with over 15,000 exotic plants, including large collections of tropical, subtropical, and desert-growing plants from the rest of the Midwest. Since it blooms year round it's extra popular in winter, and with a membership, you and your roommates could hang out perpetually! It's also conveniently connected to the Robert D. Ray Asian Gardens via a parking lot.
  • Iowa State Fair: 10 days in August, about 1 million people, and more than 70 items served on a stick. Also more than you can imagine to do with art plus food plus agriculture. Preferably all together and near a beer tent!
  • West End Architectural Salvage: 4-story warehouse with a coffee shop, filled with salvage from around the world. Do you and your roommates need something special for your house? Inventory rotates regularly.
  • The Blazing Saddle: The oldest gay bar in Des Moines, serving gay men since 1983.
  • Adventureland Amusement Park and Adventure Bay Water Park: Over 100 rides including six rollercoasters. If you and your roommates think this one's mostly for kids you could be right BUT there is a bar where you can swim up, order a cocktail, then float away on the longest "lazy river" in Iowa.


Here's the city of Des Moines' official .gov for community services, including city maps, parks, volunteering, and emergency hotlines.







OMAHA

  • $350   =  non-traditional average 1
  • $720   =  average 2BR ÷ 2, or traditional roommate rent 2
  • $1051   =  average 1BR, rented solo 3

82% live within a 10-minute walk of a park. 4
Most errands require a car. 5
blizzards, hail
cheapest rent, beef, Warren Buffett 6
hipsters, you will get lost here, gentrification, tourists, casino, big famous furniture store, Omaha Raceway, home of Warren Buffett, and startup hipsters are the largest hoodmap tags 7

SO, roomiematch.com's Omaha roommate rundown:

Omaha is a bit Wild West, but only in a politely Midwestern kinda way. Stable, successful . . . but low-key about the whole thing?

Maybe it's more challenging to get overheated (literally or emotionally) here, much of the year. Plus heavy snow slows down the horses.

Snow is the most common precipitation in winter. Roommates from the South will have to get used to bundling up more than ever before.

Omaha is also in Tornado Alley, so hail, high winds, flooding and tornadoes are occasionally a threat. Omaha has tornado alert sirens along with local channel warnings, but they're not usually necessary. The occasional blizzard happens in winter too. When it blizzards, you and your roommates will likely be enjoying a lot of each other's company at home. That's because everything else will shut down until it melts.

And we're getting the weather out of the way up top, so if you know you can't stand it, you should pick another city. Because the fact their weather stifles them occasionally might be their most annoying thing.

Unless you're a vegetarian?

In addition to big weather, Omaha is also known for affordable housing, a lower cost of living even in the face of economic success, nature trails . . . and beef!

Billionaire Warren Buffett lives here along with a bunch of his stuff, including two or three or several large corporations. He's nicknamed the "Oracle of Omaha." Meanwhile, Omaha itself is also extremely well-diversified both in terms of number of large corporations and industries represented, especially for a mid-sized city. All of this is obviously related.

Omaha also hosts over 80 miles of hiking and biking trails, including an intersection with the American Discovery Trail and the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail. There are multiple community running clubs, and don't forget the Omaha Marathon. Unsurprisingly, Omaha is rated well for walkability. Trails are respected as crucially important to Omahans!

However, most Omahans' primary transport is still their vehicle. It's hard to walk year round in snow (see above).

Nebraska is nicknamed the "Beef State," and Omaha is definitely its capital. Omahans and the ranchers in the prairies surrounding them love their corn-fed beef.

Omahans also believably claim to have invented cake mix, Raisin Bran, the Reuben sandwich (but that one's controversial!) and TV dinners.

They're also otherwise known for a wide variety of delicious but cheap casual restaurants, most cuisines. And they're all smoke-free indoors. Smoking on the outdoor patio of a restaurant is technically legal if they allow it, but they usually don't.

Most also love steak. Union Stockyards is huge, and this focus on beef obviously continues with multiple renowned steakhouses and a huge food retailer that would love to send their Omaha Steaks right to you and your roommates' front door.

But if you're already in Omaha, it's probably faster just to walk or drive over and get your beef yourselves . . . if it's not snowing.

The rest of the Omaha roommate lowdown:

  • largest city in Nebraska, with about 480,000 residents in the city, and the larger metro area around a million
  • in eastern Nebraska along the Missouri River near the Iowa border, along Interstates 29 and 80
  • Omaha experiences all four seasons with warm summers and cold, harsh, dry winters.
  • Offutt Air Force Base is nearby in Bellevue.
  • home of several colleges and universities, including the University of Nebraska at Omaha, Bellevue University, Nebraska Methodist College, the University of Nebraska Medical Center, University of Nebraska College of Medicine, and Creighton University
  • All electric utilities in all of Nebraska are customer-owned and non-profit.
  • Omaha's streets are laid out in a grid, with numbered streets from north to south, increasing in number going west. It's easy to navigate.
  • No professional sports teams, but several minor league and amateur teams are popular, as is ice hockey.
  • Omahans love their summer festivals, with Jazz on the Green, Shakespeare on the Green, the Omaha Farmers Market, and Taste of Omaha. In winter they celebrate their Holiday Lights Festival.



After you're settled down, you and your roommates should experience Omaha's:

  • Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium: The world's largest nocturnal exhibit and indoor swamp, indoor desert, geodesic dome, and rainforest. That's probably the world's largest group of world's largests for a zoo. Over 160 acres, and Nebraska's most popular paid attraction. You and your roommates can visit any day except Thanksgiving or Christmas.
  • Old Market: Omaha's historic entertainment district, now featuring window shopping, street musicians, art, antique stores, restaurants, brick streets, horse-drawn carriages, and in summer, a Farmers Market. You and your roommates could enjoy any or all.
  • El Museo Latino: Latino art museum, featuring dance, art, music, and both temporary exhibits and permanent installations. Visits are by timed reservation only, so you'll need to plan ahead just a little bit for this one.
  • Lauritzen Gardens: 100 acres of garden, huge variety. You and your roommates could join their Garden Walkers wellness program. You can also bring your dog! (But dogs are only allowed certain times, not at random, so check in advance before going.) This is not a park that allows other forms of exercise like jogging or running or bicycling, it's respectful walking only, and please be respectful of their plants!
  • Omaha Community Playhouse: Very large and active community theater. In addition to all their productions, they offer classes and a variety of volunteer opportunities.


Here's the city of Omaha's official .org including their neighborhood directory, which you and your roommates may find useful.







MILWAUKEE

  • $400   =  non-traditional average 1
  • $724   =  average 2BR ÷ 2, or traditional roommate rent 2
  • $1233   =  average 1BR, rented solo 3

91% live within a 10-minute walk of a park. 4
Some errands can be accomplished on foot. 5
stormy winters, severe snow, barflies in winter
domestic beer, festivals 6
white folks bay, the hood, legit mexican food, bespoke beard wax, hipsters with children, poor hipsters, kite festival, ice skating, white girls take photos here, upcoming area, barrio, and the bridge that separates white and black are the largest hoodmap tags 7

SO, roomiematch.com's Milwaukee roommate rundown:

Cheese. Beer. Snow. Laverne & Shirley.

The first 2 are Milwaukee's most favorite things, or at least serious contenders, creating and consuming!

The third's what they have to deal with a lot. A lot of time spent dealing with a lot of snow. It's up to 50 inches a year. Opinions vary on how annoying (some love their snow sports!), but everyone agrees it's a lot.

The fourth's also a lot of how Milwaukee is popularly perceived, not just in the US, but worldwide.

Laverne & Shirley is an American sitcom which originally played for eight seasons on ABC from 1976-1983. It was about two roommates who work in a fictional but unsurprisingly familiar brewery. Yes, that range of several years back there was from the previous century, yes.

So how could a sitcom from literally last century still be relevant?

Because a lot are still watching it. In fact, "still" isn't exactly the right word, as exponentially more are watching them now in popular syndication over the internet than ever watched any of the original television network broadcasts.

But which brewery was "fictionalized?" Milwaukee was once home to four of the world's largest breweries: Blatz, Miller, Pabst, and Schlitz. Only Miller remains . . . but you can still smell the yeast. Miller and Coors have merged operations here now, and Miller maintains a huge operation on the west side. You and your roommates could go on a beer-tasting tour, including the Miller Inn and Beer Garden.

Miller along with Harley-Davidson are the two brands most associated with Milwaukee's heart and soul.

Miller still employs a few thousand Milwaukeeans, and Milwaukee is Harley-Davidson's international headquarters. They employ a lot of locals and throw a lot of parties, another way to Milwaukee's heart and soul!

Drinking beer here is cheaper than most cities, with craft or imported pints of beer only about $4, locally produced bottles less than that, and possible specials less than both. Meanwhile, cover charges are rare at any bar or club unless there's live music. There are also an unusually large number of "corner bars" and taverns, plus bowling alleys . . . probably also serving more beer!

Locals say if you visit only in winter, you'll know why there are a lot of bars.

But locals also say if you come back in summer, you'll see the party moved outside.

That's because Milwaukeeans must FEST! Milwaukee is an outdoor frenzy of festivals with fermented refreshments. Extra especially in summer, but there are cultural events occurring in downtown parks weekly. Almost always involving cheese and beer, and frequently snow.

Their most famous and most attended (over 800,000) is Summerfest, but with or without that one, you and your roommates could celebrate a favorite festival literally every weekend if you wanted.

So why not move to Milwaukee and drink beer with party people?

If we didn't already make it clear (heh), a lot of social events revolve around beer. If you would rather not be around a lot of beer and beer drinkers . . . you're probably not happy in Milwaukee. Not saying it's not survivable, many ex-drinkers are still here, but most locals would say Milwaukee's a rough ride for anyone struggling with alcohol.

And the beer-centric social scene does have drawbacks you'll want to beware, even if you're not imbibing. The rate of health problems caused by alcoholic overconsumption is higher here than most cities on this list. And whether or not you and your roommates choose to attend festivals or games or drink beer yourselves, you could still have a DUI problem downtown right around that time. Someone else's DUI might drive right into you, as the overall rate of DUI is much higher around events. You should certainly attend stuff that interests you, just beware of drunk drivers if you must drive. For traffic and DUI avoidance seriously consider walking and/or park and riding the bus up to the event. Have a blast (with or without beer) then let the professionals drive you safely away from any and all drunken hassles, easy cheesy.

Which you'll probably easily afford. If you're moving to Milwaukee from most of the cities on this list, you'll find everything from going out to your groceries is at least a little cheaper.

So can you can avoid death by summer mosquito? How about falling into a snowdrift then freezing to death, can you sidestep that too? If yes to both and you're not seriously concerned about your susceptibility to Miller-induced alcoholism . . . Milwaukee might be the High Life for you.

The rest of the Milwaukee roommate lowdown:

  • about 600,000 in the city, about 1.5 million greater metro
  • nicknamed "Brew City" or "The State of Cheese"
  • largest city in Wisconsin, along the shores of Lake Michigan at the junction of three rivers, with smaller rivers also flowing through
  • 90 miles north of Chicago, with rail service to Chicago
  • stormy winters with many severe winter storms, milder summers
  • Because of a bunch of complicated meteorological stuff involving Milwaukee's location in the Great Lakes region right next to Lake Michigan, the weather can be highly variable and rapidly changing. There's also an urban heat island effect, and heavy thunderstorms often delivering high wind plus hail. In particular, beware of flooding during intense rainfall, especially on the ground floor of anything down a hill.
  • Milwaukee has a bus system, the Milwaukee County Transit System (MCTS) which covers about 80% of the city. It's especially helpful to park and ride downtown for a game or a festival. It's less useful to any outerlying area or after midnight, so check your routes in advance to avoid getting stranded outside in the snow.
  • Milwaukee is a nice place to ride your bike when it's not frozen, with quite a few separated bike lanes and limited access paths, with the city reportedly working to increase that number.
  • Milwaukee has one of the best public park systems, with the beaches along the lake in nice weather the most popular. The Parks of Milwaukee park system, including a "Grand Necklace of Parks" of over 140, featuring several with nature centers and performance venues.
  • Milwaukee loves its frozen custard, which is not regular ice cream or regular soft serve NOPE! It's frozen custard! (It's usually denser and eggier than all the other frozen "ice cream" approximations.)
  • Milwaukee (along with the greater Wisconsin area) manufactures over 50% of the country's cheddar, from larger scale operations to micro and artisanal. Some is ultimately transformed into super popular and super squeaky cheese curds.
  • They love their German culture, particularly with a huge German Fest in July and an Oktoberfest in October . . . as well as a lot of popular German restaurants and beer halls available year round.
  • home to Milwaukee College of Art and Design, Alverno College, Cardinal Stritch College, Carroll College, Concordia University, Milwaukee School of Engineering, Mount Mary College, Marquette University, Medical College of Wisconsin, and the University of Wisconsin
  • represented in two of the four major professional sports leagues: Bucks (NBA) and the Brewers (MLB)
  • "Polish flats" were nicknamed for the previously predominantly Polish immigrant neighborhoods in which they originally became popular: a 2-family home or duplex but one on top of the other instead of side by side. This allows separate entrances and a bit more privacy even under the same smaller roof because you're maximizing the real estate/minimizing the footprint for two separated dwellings.



After you're settled down, you and your roommates should experience Milwaukee's:

  • Riverwalk: You and your roommates can explore downtown public art and restaurants while walking alongside the Milwaukee River.
  • Pabst Brewery Complex: Formerly a brewery, now a collection of historic older buildings being renovated into living spaces, retail, and restaurants.
  • Milwaukee Art Museum: There are wings (moving sunscreens) that open and close several times a day. And then the museum flies away! No, not really, but it is the roof of a pavilion. Over 32,000 works, from antiquity to the present. There's also an ongoing exhibit about Knowledge Beings and a Kohl's Art Studio.
  • Milwaukee Public Museum: Their primary natural history museum for 125 years. The largest planetarium in the state. Also a Hebior Mammoth, Apache Playing Cards, and the streets of Old Milwaukee.
  • Discovery World Museum: Interactive exhibits including local environmental science. Also a Caribbean tank with a bamboo shark and some honeycomb cowfish.
  • Milwaukee County Zoo: One of the largest zoos in the country with over 2500 animals. There's also a Sky Safari and a virtual reality Gorilla Trek.
  • Harley-Davidson Museum: In addition to the very large collection of motorcycles throughout the years, there's a riding academy and a parts marketplace.


Here's the city of Milwaukee's official .gov and their Department of Neighborhood Services, including their Rent for Success Program, a free program designed to "educate and empower renters to make safe, healthy choices in their housing."







KANSAS CITY

  • $550   =  non-traditional average 1
  • $736   =  average 2BR ÷ 2, or traditional roommate rent 2
  • $1183   =  average 1BR, rented solo 3

69% live within a 10-minute walk of a park. 4
Most errands require a car. 5
tornadoes
dog friendly, local professional sports, symphonies, BBQ, live music 6
poor grandmas, burnt hair smell, spooky rednecks, overpriced bars, our beloved beer factory, vinyl hipsters, liberal arts students, best hood BBQ, the blues, wedding pictures, expensive homes, and BBQ for whites that are scared of blacks are the largest hoodmap tags 7

SO, roomiematch.com's Kansas City roommate rundown:

Kansas City is right in the middle of everything American. At least the lower 48.

It is America's heartland, especially in the sense that it is the geographic center.

Kansas City spreads across the border of Missouri and Kansas and splits, with Kansas City, Missouri on the east side of the Missouri River, and Kansas City, Kansas on the west. While the Missouri River is not the only separation, most people treat Kansas City as just one metropolis most of the time.

That's a metro that's a major meeting point for several very busy freeways. Four major interstate highways pass right on through.

And all of that is completely surrounded by suburbs.

And all those suburbs are completely surrounded by farmland.

And this whole region is famous for both barbeque and the blues . . . often known as jazz.

Kansas City is so famous for BBQ it hosts the American Royal BBQ Contest. That's the largest BBQ contest in the entire world.

Kansas Citians tend to feel Kansas City has the best BBQ, of course. Their sauce is distinctively sweetened with more molasses and more tomato than thinner sauces. They also celebrate their own "burnt ends," usually the charred edges of beef brisket. But there's even passionate debate over who has the best KC BBQ. With about 100 BBQ restaurants in the KC area, that's quite the contest.

Kansas City has its own large jazz scene with its own jazz style, bluesy and swinging. Dozens of restaurants and clubs feature their own live entertainment, some even nightly.

They also benefit from a diversified economy, and a low unemployment rate coupled with a low cost of living.

So with all that blues and BBQ, what could be bad?

It's unfortunately fair to say Kansas City has suffered significant damage from both storms and sprawl.

Yes, Kansas City is also famous for being in the middle of "Tornado Alley," the area from northern Texas up through the Dakotas where tornadoes are most frequent.

The weather can occasionally be as dramatic as you've been led to believe in the Wizard of Oz. You and your roommates and your little dogs too will need to beware of both tornadoes and ice storms.

Kansas City can be severely windy due to no large body of water nearby. Since there's next to nothing topographic to obstruct air currents, it's a continental climate. That means big swings and extreme changes. Their summers are hot and humid and often over 90F, while snow in winter can exceed a foot. Ice storms can also knock out your power.

Tornado sirens will warn you when a twister is nearby. Make sure you and your roommates have an emergency plan that includes an emergency bag with first aid supplies.

As for sprawl, remember all that highway? Their extensive freeway network has more highway lane miles than most metro areas, including much larger. The upside is less congestion, plus it's great for the local logistics industry.

The downside is the contribution to Kansas City's sprawl, which has been bad historically for areas near downtown.

But Kansas City locals still say all that lonesome highway is still upside, just not completely unqualified. Growth must be handled correctly to avoid asphyxiating downtown, but there's increasing civic motivation plus money behind doing better.

In last decade or so, downtown revitalization efforts have accelerated, with many once abandoned buildings downtown now being rehabbed into condos and lofts. They're also right near all the stuff in the middle you'd probably like them to be near, like downtown restaurants, clubs, performing arts and sports venues.

The rest of the Kansas City roommate lowdown:

  • large city on the Missouri River, most populous in Missouri and largest by area - about 500,000 inside the city, about 2 million in the larger metro
  • Many once abandoned buildings downtown now being rehabbed into condos and lofts, like the Power & Light Building, the Commerce Bank Tower, near the T-Mobile center (sports complex with almost 20,000 seats), and the Midland Theatre
  • major league teams include the NFL Kansas City Chiefs (NFL), the MLB Kansas City Royals, MLS Sporting Kansas City. They don't have NBA, but they do have WNBA, the KC Crossover, and a team in the National Women's Soccer League (NWSL), the Kansas City Current.
  • home to Cleveland Chiropractic College, Kansas City Art Institute, William Jewel College, Avila College, Baker University, Mid-America Nazarene College, Ottawa University (Kansas City Branch), Park College, Rockhurst College, Saint Mary College, U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, University of Kansas, University of Kansas Medical Center, and the University of Missouri
  • A few densely populated neighborhoods are also walkable, but if you're in one that's not or leaving yours, you can ride a bus between tourist destinations in the metro core, which also connects downtown, and with limited service to the suburbs. Anything else you're car dependent.
  • Kansas City is easily navigable, with east-west streets numbered from Main Street, and north-south from St. John Ave in the River Market area.
  • diversified economy, good job market, low unemployment
  • The federal government is the largest employer in the area, including the Internal Revenue Service, Department of Defense, Social Services Administration, and the Department of Veterans Affairs.
  • metro area hosts six casinos, plus riverboat casino gaming on the Missouri River



After you're settled down, you and your roommates should experience Kansas City's:

  • River Market: Restaurants, bars, a farmers' market every Saturday, even in winter
  • Crossroads Arts District: 7-9 p.m. on the first Friday of each month is free entry to most galleries, who sometimes have free crackers, cheese, and wine. Often a whole crowd walking around, visiting food trucks, especially in summertime. Also former industrial spaces, some have now become home design or clothing stores.
  • Country Club Plaza: Covered in fountains, from traditional to modern, some including synchronized jet displays - in large part why one of Kansas City's nicknames is "City of Fountains"
  • Central Business District: Many art deco buildings
  • Sea Life Kansas City Aquarium: Known for their sharks, starfish, and stingrays
  • College Basketball Experience and College Basketball Hall of Fame: Over 40,000 square feet showcasing various college basketball claims to fame, including interactive basketball exhibits.
  • Community Christian Church: Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright
  • Kansas City Irish Fest: Kiss them, they're Irish! Or drink the free-flowing whiskey. Or one then the other, maybe whiskey first?
  • Charlie Parker Memorial at the Jazz Museum: Enjoy the 18-foot tall brass green head of Charlie Parker paying tribute to Kansas City, the Jazz Museum, and even jazz itself. "Bird Lives!


Here's Kansas City's official .gov, with all their departments, from health and housing to parks and recreation.







ST. LOUIS

  • $550   =  non-traditional average 1
  • $824   =  average 2BR ÷ 2, or traditional roommate rent 2
  • $1175   =  average 1BR, rented solo 3

97% live within a 10-minute walk of a park. 4
Some errands can be accomplished on foot. 5
sinkholes and unexpected caves
beer, riverfront, symphony, opera 6
Italians, walking fast looking down, artsy stuff, baseball bros, drunk tourists, good during day but night time is hood time, beer comes from here, free bricks, stumbling home, worst parking lot ever created, robbery bait, one per center freshmen, young families with children, clydesdales smarter than the residents, I love the small town feel, and pretentious brewery territory are the largest hoodmap tags 7

SO, roomiematch.com's St. Louis roommate rundown:

Is St. Louis your Gateway to the West? Or would you rather just stay here?

Framed by the Mississippi and Missouri rivers, thoroughly dabbled with green, and finished with the world's tallest national monument, living in St. Louis with roommates might be your landscape instead.

You could live practically right under it . . . for not that much? The Gateway Arch is on the riverfront downtown near the Federal courthouse, where a whole lot of old factory and warehouses of the past have been revitalized into the living space of now.

All overlooking the Mississippi.

The cost of living in St. Louis is still charmingly low, especially for how populated it is. And how mobile.

MetroLink is the light rail system, with a red and blue lines going to many destinations within the city then onward to a few suburban spots. There are also many MetroBuses. While cars are still the most common way St. Louis gets around, many manage less convenient more crowded places by driving to more convenient Metro stations then riding the rails the rest of the way . . .

. . . to the Opera? Then let them eat cake too. The Opera Theatre of Saint Louis throws one of the country's most famous ongoing summer music festivals, featuring four operas every season, accompanied by the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra.

Gooey butter cake is popular all over, particularly from German bakeries. You'll also love the local soul food, usually with smoked meat. Don't miss the concrete frozen custard, or the foot-long soft pretzels.

And lots of excellent Italian restaurants, especially on the Hill . . . with giant beers? Of course.

St. Louis is a larger city with a small town feel, but more than your average number of beers. And beer opinions. Opinions about brews flow just like the blues pulsing through this heartland.

Probably on a train.

Just beware of sinkholes and unexpected caves.

The rest of the St. Louis roommate lowdown:

  • along the Missouri-Illinois border and the Mississippi River, with about 300,000 in the city, about 3 million greater metro
  • Summers are very hot and humid, extreme temperatures in winter are rare, but it does get cold with occasional snow. Thunderstorms and tornadoes happen, beware of flooding during storms or when a lot of snow is melting.
  • hosts the St. Louis Blues (NHL), St. Louis Cardinals (MLB), St. Louis City SC (MLS), and the St. Louis City SC (MLS)
  • St. Louis was previously anchored in beer and manufacturing, but now features a diverse economy with many Fortune 500 companies, federal agencies, and major research universities focusing on medical and biotechnologies.
  • home to Deaconess College of Nursing, Harris-Stowe State University, McKendree College, Missouri Baptist College, Principia College, Fortbonne College, Lindenwood College, Maryville University, Parks College - Saint Louis University, St. Louis College of Pharmacy, Saint Louis University, Southern Illinois University, University of Missouri, Washington University, and Webster University



After you're settled down, you and your roommates should experience St. Louis':

  • Anheuser-Busch Brewery: You and your roommates can see the historic Clydesdale horses and stables while drinking free beer samples where they're making beer for the whole mid-west. Parts of this place are still here from the 1860s.
  • Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis: More mosaic art here than anywhere. Also burial crypts and sculpture.
  • Forest Park: Almost 1400 acres, offering almost everything outdoors and sporting along with the Saint Louis Science Center, the Saint Louis Art Museum (SLAM), the Missouri History Museum, and Saint Louis Zoo . . . all free admission!
  • Missouri Botanical Garden: National Historic Landmark, plant research facility, and one of the oldest botanical gardens in the country. And, if you and your roommates can show proof of residency you can get in free for Early Morning Walking Hours and Zoo-Museum District Resident Free Hours! But no pets or picnicking, this is a walking only experience. Please don't walk on the garden beds or miss the Climatron.
  • St. Louis Symphony Orchestra: Since 1880, now the second oldest professional orchestra in the country. Variety of ways you and your roommates could get involved (not just buying tickets). They also perform free throughout various communities in various public parks for all.
  • Opera Theatre of Saint Louis: Since 1976. In addition to the summer festival, now offering 50 free seats at every performance during their regular season. First come first served, everyone is welcome, and you and your roommates should feel encouraged to discover your own enjoyment of opera, for free.
  • Eads Bridge: Walk across while the sun sets over the Arch and marvel at the beauty of your city.


Here's the city of St. Louis' official .gov, the services they might provide you, just a complete index right there.







MADISON

  • $500   =  non-traditional average 1
  • $967   =  average 2BR ÷ 2, or traditional roommate rent 2
  • $1523   =  average 1BR, rented solo 3

95% live within a 10-minute walk of a park. 4
Some errands can be accomplished on foot. 5
getting drunk and falling asleep on the ice, pink flamingos
live music, hiking, bicycle friendly, pedestrian friendly, winter sports, ice sports, restaurants 6
rich people with boats, boat owners with problem kids, gentrifying quickly, hippies, biz hotels, ghosts with goals, frat douches, epic employees, drunk ice fisherman, student housing, and ex-milwaukeeans are the largest hoodmap tags 7

SO, roomiematch.com's Madison roommate rundown:

Madison is Wisconsin's capital. Their greater metropolitan area is home to almost 500,000 Madisonians.

And the University of Wisconsin-Madison with over 40,000 students is proudly hosted right in the middle. U of W-M is about 65% of the vibe around here, but it works because they love it.

In fact, Madison has one of the best educated urban populations in the country, along with a very low unemployment rate and an overall neighborly feeling. That's because most moving to Madison are coming to work for the state government and/or the University and/or The University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics system, itself associated with many startup generators and incubation tanks for health and biotech.

In fact, it's doing extremely well for its smaller size. Really the only "half empty" view is that Madison isn't terribly diverse, either demographically or the job base. But you could also argue that's just saying it's smaller, more or less. You trade some diversity for a more manageable size, a lower cost of living, and "that neighborly feeling."

The relative lack of diversity does means not a lot of people move here super casually or just for fun. Most people in Madison who moved here recently did so to work for the government, the largest university, and/or some of the associated healthcare/technology.

One of Madison's many nicknames is "City of Four Lakes," those being Kegonsa, Mendota, Monona, and Waubesa. This works because Madison really grooves on that athletic outdoor lake life, all year round. For transplants from warmer cities, you're not required to spend time on a frozen lake. But know your roommates (probably) and your neighbors (definitely) will.

Outdoor recreation in Madison in the warmer months involves all the lovely and expected walking, biking kayaking, and hiking all over their extensive trail system, with a little sailing on the lakes.

But what's often less expected is the aggressive athleticism that continues crossing their frozen tundra. Does snow or slush stop Madison from cross-country skiing, ice-boating, ice fishing, ice hockey, ice skating, ski jumping, or snowkiting?

Absolutely not. These snowbunnies get even sportier when their city freezes over. And with their low cost of living, Madison goes to 11 on maximizing frozen fun while minimizing expense.

And at all temps they also enjoy racing, roller derby, CrossFit, rugby . . . and sometimes curling.

There's a lot that's sporty and even nourishing and wholesome. Like all the museums, zoos, gardens, concerts, and art installations, so many of which are entirely free!

They just really want you to see!

So is there anything less wholesome going on? Well, in 2009, the City Council voted to make the plastic pink flamingo the city's official bird. You know, those decorations for your yard? They're extremely into them here, so much so that if you have a yard and don't put a pink flamingo on it, they'll charge you a large fine! And charging fines for failure to pink flamingo is perverted.

Just kidding!

Not about the flamingos overall, just about the fine. You and your roommates are on your own decorating your yard, you can flamingo (or not) at will.

Foodily speaking, many also love the James Beard award-winning restaurants, the largest producer-only farmers' market in the country (held around Capitol Square in the summer (it starts outside and moves indoors for winter)), and the local cheese curds and hot and spicy cheese bread.

So if you're considering Madison we hope you love cheese, cheesy bread, and cheesy flamingos, but you probably DO because WHY WOULD YOU NOT?

People who hate all that are probably not very nice or very Madisonian.

The rest of the Madison roommate lowdown:

  • summer is pleasant, fall is temperate, winters are cold and stormy with frequent heavy snow - it can get SLUSHY
  • home to the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison Media Institute, Madison Area Technical College, and Edgewood College
  • many buildings of architectural interest, including some by Frank Lloyd Wright
  • active local music scene, home of many music festivals
  • several performing arts venues including the Madison Opera, the Madison Symphony Orchestra, the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra, and the Madison Ballet
  • number of established "supper clubs," that traditionally serve food during the day, then convert into bars at night, frequently serving live entertainment, always serving a large selection of beer
  • Metro buses cover a bit of downtown, but you and your roommates will need a car to go anywhere else. Street parking is free and plentiful everywhere except downtown and around the University of Wisconsin. If you don't have another plan, you might have to pay to park in a lot, but only those areas.



After you're settled down, you and your roommates should experience Madison's:

  • Wisconsin Badgers: They love their men and women's college sports here, including football, basketball, ice hockey, and volleyball.
  • Henry Vilas Zoo: Still free since 1914! You can even go on a special tour with a zookeeper, possibly with a focus on Wisconsin badgers.
  • Williamson Street: "Willy Street" might be a nice place for you and your roommates to go for a walk, if you'd like that walk to include casual restaurants, a co-op, and some dive bars.
  • UW Arboretum: Students and researchers are focusing on restoration here, but you can visit this man-made reserve for birdwatching and biking! Also just walking, if you'd prefer. Over 1200 acres, right in town.
  • Madison Museum of Contemporary Art: Always free too! Permanent collections focus on Mexican Modernists and Chicago Imagists. Rooftop garden. Or you could enjoy their Art Fair on the Square in July.
  • Overture Center for the Arts: In addition the above, also hosts the Madison Ballet, the Madison Opera, the Madison Symphony Orchestra, and the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra
  • UW Geology Museum: Do you enjoy local rocks? Would you like to view fossils from way back when there were volcanoes in Wisconsin? Fluorescent minerals? Standing under the skeleton of a mastodon? Also free!
  • Concerts on the Square: The Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra performs for free on the grounds of the Capitol. Many mill about on the lawn, some bring a blanket or snacks. Also free!


Here's the city of Madison's official .gov for Live & Work, including community programs, extreme weather, housing & property, and farmers' markets.







MINNEAPOLIS or Saint Paul

  • $600   =  non-traditional average 1
  • $1092   =  average 2BR ÷ 2, or traditional roommate rent 2
  • $1365   =  average 1BR, rented solo 3

98% live within a 10-minute walk of a park. 4
Most errands can be accomplished on foot. 5
largest shopping mall
largest shopping mall 6
eat street of the north, beer and beards, rich hipsters, major gentrification, manic pixie dream girl, high-end burb center, dopest forest in the cities, white gen x dreamworld, constant airplane noise, hispanic hood ara, consciousness raising yard signs, walk everywhere, cool frozen waterfall, and more craft beers are the largest hoodmap tags 7

SO, roomiematch.com's Minneapolis roommate rundown:

There's a giant blue cockadoodledoo statue standing over 20 feet tall, on a 25 foot platform, and together they tower over the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. Folks look and say . . . that's one chilly blue rooster. And also a symbol of pride in courageous prowess . . . despite being frozen?

So with an intentional double meaning (via the tongue-in-cheek title) but also a thoughtful practical warning: Your chickens could freeze here if their coop isn't winterized. And while it's true that most seeking roommates don't have chickens themselves, any day chickens could accidentally freeze, SO COULD YOU!

But for real, warn roommates from less snowy places, freezing to death is terribly awfully possible here. Some deaths are associated with alcohol overconsumption, but certainly far from all, so everyone needs to beware of falling asleep and/or falling down outside!

And is all of that a metaphor for Minneapolis?

Some say so, but maybe also all the blue lakes?

Also that Minneapolis would apparently prefer you walk and bike a lot. Enjoy those healthy outdoor opportunities, get some fresh air! You can also take Metro Transit and there's a Skyway to keep you from freezing to death!

Then you might want to consider comfort food. Possibly later, volunteer work and/or some quality reading.

It's all a bit Dad-like, but in the best possible if aggressive way. Because with these excellent universities combined with still lower cost of living . . . you just know Dad'll insist you go to college too.

Minneapolis means City of Lakes, a combination of the Dakota word "minne" and Ancient Greek word "polis," which is great because they have 22 natural ones within city limits! All with well-maintained walking and biking paths around each!

In fact, Minneapolis has one of the most extensive park systems in the US, many connected by the Grand Rounds National Scenic Byway, allowing walking and biking over most. Minneapolis is approximately 15% park.

They've also invested heavily in bike trails and bicycle boulevards, and off-road routes to cover most of the city. Major bike trails are plowed along with city streets, not left to melt until spring. Currently they have about 16 miles of protected bikeway, plus hundreds of miles of bike lanes and off-street bikeway or trail.

And then there's . . . the Skyway. Almost 10 miles of enclosed pedestrian bridges, including most of downtown. The 2nd floors of many downtown buildings are connected by bridges between them, allowing you to experience all without going outside or stopping for lights. The Skyway includes many stores and restaurants. If you're visiting Minneapolis, you'd probably be happier staying near the Skyway, it's universally adored.

Metro Transit is also huge and well-organized with the Transit Trip Planner, organizing Metro Light Rail. There's about 90 routes, stopping overall thousands of places. There are also lines connecting the Mall of America, the airport, the University of Minnesota main campus, and downtown Saint Paul.

You can get nearly everywhere within city limits, as bus stops are nearly everywhere connected with higher speed light rail BUT some are served much less frequently than others. To get where you're going more efficiently while never getting stranded out in the cold, check the Metro Transit Trip Planner in advance.

Minneapolis has been hosting an unusually large number of AmeriCorps volunteers every year for the last several.

It's also home to an unusually large number of nonprofit literary presses, including the University of Minnesota Press.

So Minneapolitans get a lot of art and culture for their city's size . . . but also a lot of weather.

If you're from anywhere much warmer considering roommates in Minneapolis, you'd be getting a lot for the money in the first category, arts, culture, museums, a Dad-like attitude toward quality parks and cozy downtown skyways, etc.

But you'll also need to seriously consider if you can deal with the latter. More than most (cities and roommates) if you're moving from warmer you may want to visit during winter first. You already know it gets cold and you've accepted it intellectually if you're even able to read this, we already know!

However, all locals have multiple stories about a shocked newcomer's first truly cold winter day in the Twin Cities.

It's viscerally cold in a physically surprising way the first time you experience it. And Minneapolis is just out there kinda unprotected, not guarded by mountains or huge other cities nearby when the wind comes whipping down the plain. You think you know about cold even before your first time just by reading about it, and you really might mostly . . .

. . . but the remaining rest might be OMG WHAT?! Not enough warnings for me!

So if you're concerned you may not cheerfully embrace your new snowbunny lifestyle, great to visit first, then commit to anything more major only after walking around outside (not just the Skyway!) in winter.

With a coat and a hat and gloves and boots, yes! No freezing, bundle up! But still, walk around outside, then decide.

Meanwhile, Minneapolis also invented the Milky Way candy bar! They freeze really well.

The rest of the Minneapolis roommate lowdown:

  • largest city in Minnesota, about 420,000, with the greater metro Twin Cities about 3.5 million
  • capital city, along the upper Mississippi River
  • along with Saint Paul forms the Twin Cities region
  • winters are very long and very cold, temperatures are often below zero, severe storms are common, with at least a few blizzards every season
  • summers can be humid, but still relatively mild
  • Thunderstorms with heavy rain can occur other 3 seasons, along with fog, ice, and sleet. Basically, they're not prone to hurricanes or tornadoes, but all the other weather events are possible here (and why Minneapolitans LOVE their Skyway!)
  • The city streets are on a grid divided into quadrants: North, South, Northeast, and Southeast. Blue signs indicate "Snow Emergency Route" roads, which are supposedly plowed first. Rust signs are east-west, light green signs are north-south, and dark green signs indicate scenic parkways, usually around actual parks.
  • With 185 neighborhood parks and lakes networked together via bicycle and walking paths, variously as the weather permits, they offer: cross-country skiing, ice fishing, ice skating, sledding, and snowshoeing. Also ice-skating, hockey, snowmobiling popular in winter on the numerous lakes that freeze over in winter as the weather permits!
  • Minnesota has no sales tax on clothing, to attract tourists. This tax is a bit controversial as many say this financial strategy is regressive, negatively affecting folks with less money more than those with more. That might be a fair criticism, but it has also been massively successful. There are contenders, but literally no more successful mall than Mall of America. Nope.
  • home to Macalester College, Northwestern College, Augsburg College, Bethel College, College of Saint Catherine, Concordia College, Crown College, Hamline University, Metropolitan State University, Minneapolis College of Art and Design, University of Wisconsin, William Mitchell College of Law, University of St. Thomas, Minneapolis Community and Technical College, and the University of Minnesota
  • Home to the Minnesota Twins (MLB), the Minnesota Vikings (NFL), the Minnesota Timberwolves (NBA), and the Minnesota Lynx (WNBA). They also have the Minnesota Wild, an NHL hockey team, and the Minnesota United FC, a professional soccer team.



After you're settled down, you and your roommates should experience Minneapolis':

  • Mall of America: Maybe not quite as exciting as when it opened, as there are a few more monuments to shopping around the country and up in Canada now . . . but this one still stands out as the largest mall around, by far. Some say it's still the most popular local tourist destination as well, but that's controversial! In addition to a staggeringly large number of retail stores, there's an indoor amusement park, movies (obviously), and the Nickelodeon Universe.
  • Minneapolis Institute of Art: More than 90,000 pieces spanning 5,000 years, particularly Native-American and Asian histories. You and your roommates can go on a guided mobile tour.
  • Walker Art Center: Galleries, shops, cinema, and the Walker Reader, their experimental digital public platform. The Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, one of the largest urban sculpture gardens in the country, is right across the street.
  • Minnesota Hot Dish: Arguably any casserole served warm, but traditionally features some combination of ground meat, veggies, cheese and cream soup underneath, a solid layer of tatertots on top, then baked until bubbly. It's not the most popular at restaurants lately, but you'll definitely find at cookouts, potlucks, bake sales, neighborhood events of that nature. If you want to try and can't find you need to meet more native Minneapolitans!
  • Lutefisk: Cod dried on outdoor racks, then soaked in water, then lye. The lye reconstitutes and re-expands the fish, thus rendering that gelatinous jelly quality, then the lye is soaked out as well. It's like a protein-packed fish jello that takes on the flavor of the sauce served with it.
  • Juicy Lucy: Served at many local bars, many claim it as uniquely Minneapolitan. It's a cheeseburger, but the cheese isn't on top of the patties of meat, it's between two molded together patties that keep the cheese inside sufficiently piping hot to completely annihilate the entire roof of your mouth on first bite! Or you could let it cool off before consuming. Either way.
  • Boom Island Park: Do you enjoy fishing? What about fishing with a side of skyline and century-old remains of a Pillsbury mill? Have I got a park for you!
  • Tower Hill Park: Home of an historical water tower with supposedly the best view of the city
  • Prince's Star at First Avenue: On the right side of the club's entrance
  • Dining clubs, pubs, and bars (various, but usually locally owned): Many compete with each other for the best Happy Hour and other daily specials on hearty British, Irish or German plates. Get familiar with whichever are in your neighborhood and you could rotate around for the best deals, ultimately consuming a lot of comfort food, extra comforting because you'll be getting their best price.


Here's the city of Minneapolis official .gov for renters, including local renter rights.







CHICAGO

  • $740   =  non-traditional average 1
  • $1689   =  average 2BR ÷ 2, or traditional roommate rent 2
  • $2459   =  average 1BR, rented solo 3

98% live within a 10-minute walk of a park. 4
Most errands can be accomplished on foot. 5
heartburn, driving downtown
live music, symphonies, public transit, pedestrian friendly, museums, restaurants 6
former frat guys, angry delicious Korean BBQ, tacos made by white people, den of corruption, mexican families and hipsters, secret gentrification, billionnaires, heroin town, soo many hipsters, industrial feels, Chinatown, stupid tourists everywhere, New-to-Midwesterners, and enhanced interrogation are the largest hoodmap tags 7

SO, roomiematch.com's Chicago roommate rundown:

Chicago looms large, because it is, along with its place in America's imagination . . . blues, jazz, improv comedy, America's largest lake next to a modern art skyline looming large over modern art parks. And some of those parks feature their very own professional sports teams.

Chicago isn't cheap, some neighborhoods now obviously more than others. But for how big it is plus all it features, it should seem cheap-ish? Compared to NYC and San Francisco?

If you can handle extreme weather, you and your roommates will be rewarded with cheaper rent, lower cost of living, and almost everything else you and your roommates could possibly need accessible from "The L." That's The L that makes Chicago one of the best cities to live without a car, The L that connects an astonishingly diverse collection of communities, and The L that is generally beloved.

From all the beachfront still free to browse, to the public transport arriving reliably, to the dive bar food that's delicious, there's so much about Chicago that seems better than it strictly needs to be. So much art, so much history, so much black culture . . . near the most delicious hot dogs and pizza humanly possible.

What's NOT to love? Not much, except how do you feel about riding The L in extreme weather, hot and cold?

Awesome? Or if not all the way to awesome, you can most definitely deal?

This Windy City is for you.

The rest of the Chicago roommate lowdown:

  • Chicago is the hub and most populous Midwestern city. It has about 3 million residents, and an impressively modern art/modern architectural skyline you can see from all the way across Lake Michigan.
  • "Chicagoland" (Chicago plus surrounding areas) includes about 10 million.
  • home to Barat College, East-West University, Elmhurst College, Illinois College of Optometry, Industrial Engineering College, Judson College, Kendall College, Robert Morris College, Trinity Christian College, Aurora University, Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine, Chicago State University, Columbia College, Concordia University, Governors State University, John Marshall Law School, Lake Forest College, Lewis University, North Central College, Northeastern Illinois University, Saint Xavier University, School of Art Institute of Chicago, Adler School of Professional Psychology, Depaul University, Illinois Institute of Technology, Loyola University of Chicago, Northern Illinois University, Northwestern University, Roosevelt University, Rush University, Trinity College, University of Chicago, University of Health Sciences, University of Illinois at Chicago, and Wheaton College
  • There may be other cities as diverse as Chicago . . . maybe? You won't find any more diverse in the United States. Representatives from most global communities live in Chicago today.
  • Navigating Chicago is way easier than most American cities as block numbers and block sizes are standardized, with all flowing from the zero point (the intersection of State and Madison).
  • Metro Chicago residents identify more strongly with their neighborhoods than most cities, with North Side vs. South Side being the most prominent division, but many feel pretty strongly about East vs. West as well.
  • Their massive public transport system makes Chicago one of the best places to live in the US without a car. The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) operates many trains and buses throughout Chicago plus a few suburbs. All the trains together are "The L," and their lines radiate from "The Loop" all over the city. Chicago and NYC are the only American cities with some rail service operating around the clock. Crime on the CTA is low, but if you feel unsafe or need to travel late at night you'll be safer sitting near the driver.
  • Even with severely cold winters, extremely hot and humid summers, and thunderstorms with heavy winds surprising residents year round, Chicago rarely slows down for weather, including city services and public transport. However, the weather is often so severe you and your roommates will need to keep climate in mind when considering any activity almost all the time anyway.
  • Avoid driving downtown if possible. Traffic is awful and parking is expensive while also confusing. Tickets and towing for parking violations afflict many, even more when it's snowing.
  • Chicago's black population is #2 in the US, after NYC. Chicago's larger South Side area is the largest black neighborhood with the largest number of black-owned businesses in the country too!
  • Chicago has a lot of passionate bicyclers, many gathering along the 18-mile scenic lakefront trail or "Hipster Highway," a popular bike route along Milwaukee Avenue.
  • Chicago is one of the best restaurant cities. Is it known for deep dish pizza, Chicago-style hot dogs, Italian Beef sandwiches, jibarito sandwiches, frozen custard, fried chicken, and dive bars and lounges with decent pub food? Yes, it is! But just about everything else is being served somewhere in Chicago too.



After you're settled down, you and your roommates should experience Chicago's:

  • Museum Campus: Chicago has a lot of museums worth visiting, but three of the best are within walking distance of each other and along the lake: Adler Planetarium, Field Museum of Natural History, and the Shedd Aquarium.
  • Lake Michigan: Free (no fees, hardly any private beaches getting in the way) for miles within walking distance of the Red Line. It's the largest freshwater lake in the US, and you can show up, walk around, and swim for free . . . but mostly in the summer and early fall if you want to maximize lifeguards = yes while freezing to death = no. It's beautiful!
  • Offshore Views: In the summer, you and your roommates can enjoy great views for cheap by taking a water taxi around downtown.
  • Loop Art Tour: Free open air art museum of famous modern artists! Their itinerary will guide you along the walking tour that's an efficient route to visit Calder, Chagall, Lewitt, Miro, Moore, Oldenburg, Picasso and many others . . . all this magnificent modernism on display in Chicago's commercial center.
  • Blues and Jazz: As Chicago is considered the home of both, you've got extreme options. Really, so many options it's likely there will be a major music festival most weekends. If you like walking around, you'll likely stumble right into one, eventually. If that's not a "Fest" celebrating one or more musical traditions, it'll likely be a "Taste" or a "Lollapalooza!"
  • Park & Boulevard System: Ring of parks connected by boulevards (streets with wide medians with plants and pedestrian walkways) winding throughout the city, over 25 miles of greenbelt. And then even along those 25 miles there are other connected gardens and lakes. If you or your roommates want to walk longish distances in very green but still accessible and connected spaces, this is a absolute must ramble.


Here's the city of Chicago's list of services for renters and landlords, which you'll hopefully never need if you choose the right roommates.







your rent
northwest US non-trad trad 1BR
Cheyenne 310 536 892
Spokane 400 713 1158
Salem or Eugene 450 725 1198
Boise 520 744 1302
Tacoma 650 885 1460
US national average 919 1482
Salt Lake City 475 927 1411
Portland (OR) 750 961 1523
Seattle 1200 1418 2013




CHEYENNE

  • $310   =  non-traditional average 1
  • $536   =  average 2BR ÷ 2, or traditional roommate rent 2
  • $892   =  average 1BR, rented solo 3

85% live within a 10-minute walk of a park. 4
Most errands require a car. 5
high winds, heavy rain
few traffic jams, air quality, cheapest rent, stars in the sky 6
don't live next to this guy and unfunniest place in the world are the largest hoodmap tags 7

SO, roomiematch.com's Cheyenne roommate rundown:

Cheyenne is cheap and clean and open and gorgeous.

It's also wet, Western, and WINDY.

The pace of life is slow. The cowboys don't hurry much. Or humor vegetarians much.

But they will not charge you taxes much either.

Or roommate rent. All costs of living are low, so you and your roommates should spend whatever's extra maintaining your motor vehicles, which everyone needs to navigate the heavy rain and high winds which you will experience alongside few public transport options.

Cheyenne = Have Good Car.

(No roommates will ever have much fun as exceptions to that rule.)

The rest of the Cheyenne roommate lowdown:

  • Cheyenne is the capital of Wyoming, the most populous city in the state, and its commercial center, located in the southeast corner. But even though it's the most populous, that's still only around 65,000 folks? With the rest of Laramie County, about 100,000.
  • Cheyenne is a small town character for sure, including the low crime rate and less polluted air . . . which also means it's a smaller roommate market. So you can find a roommate in Cheyenne, but best results will mean giving yourself as much lead time as you possibly can.
  • Cheyenne is slow-paced. It's more gorgeous and natural and open than the average American city.
  • Cheyenne is named in honor of the Cheyenne Native American tribe.
  • Many residents are employed by the U.S. Air Force, the Wyoming National Guard, or local ranches.
  • home to the Laramie County Community College
  • Cheyenne weather is extra for most because it's extra unpredictable and extra windy. Cheyenne is even known for dramatically different weather in different parts of the city at the same moment in time. Summer features dry days mixed with severe storms with very heavy rain. Winter features snow. And locals say you can experience all four seasons every spring, often including tornados. But fall tends to be peaceful.
  • Cheyenne is closer than many imagine to Denver, about 90 miles north. Depending on traffic the trip takes about 90 minutes, and high speed rail routes are planned for the future.
  • Cheyenne is laid out simply in a grid, and on-street parking is available! Which will be very helpful to you and your roommates with cars which you hope will be all of them because public transport is just a few bus lines and a trolley. Everyone will want access to a reliable vehicle. Don't get stranded in the proverbial middle of nowhere during a dark and stormy night.
  • With zero income tax plus low property, sales, auto, and state taxes, Cheyenne is one of the "tax friendliest" cities in the country.
  • Cheyenne is long famous for celebrating "true Western" culture. Cowboy hats, boots, and belts are forever welcome and never out of place. They may be seen on actual cowboys driving trucks toward chicken-fried steaks or elk and bison burgers.
  • Meanwhile, Cheyenne is not the nicest place for vegetarians. This is cattle country, and ranching is a way of life.



After you're settled down, you and your roommates should experience Cheyenne's:

  • Cheyenne Frontier Days: Ten days near the end of July known as the largest rodeo festival in the world. In addition to professional bull riding, you can also watch bareback riding, barrel racing, bronc riding, calf roping, steer roping and wrestling, team roping . . . and a carnival with rides! And a parade!
  • Yellowstone National Park: KIND OF. Meaning . . . not really, but if you're brand new to the Northern Great Plains, it's about a 9-hour drive and worth it, but only if you won't mind at least two long drives across the plains. You and your roommates in a reliable vehicle could visit over a very long weekend, MAYBE. But probably better to take the week.
  • The Stars: In the sky. There are a lot, and you can see them in Cheyenne. Outside larger urban areas this activity is called "stargazing."


Here's the city of Cheyenne's listing of Community Recreation & Events.







SPOKANE

  • $400   =  non-traditional average 1
  • $713   =  average 2BR ÷ 2, or traditional roommate rent 2
  • $1158   =  average 1BR, rented solo 3

85% live within a 10-minute walk of a park. 4
Most errands require a car. 5
local forest fires, especially for asthma sufferers
mountain recreation, fishing, golf, bicycle friendly with a skywalk 6

SO, roomiematch.com's Spokane roommate rundown:

Spokane is the state of Washington's second most populated city, but it's not a suburb. Tacoma's near Seattle, while Spokane is far east. That's very near the Idaho border, about 90 miles to Canada, 300 to Seattle . . . over the Cascade mountain range.

So if you'll love living here, you're likely into outdoor mountain-related recreation. Spokane's "Children of the Sun" definitely have that going on, along with fishing Washington's native rainbow trout.

Dozens of golf courses abound near the city center, some award winning, some public, some even both.

And all the sportsmen love a brewpub serving a local ale after all that mountaineering. Or rugged golf. The ones that don't maybe love all the wine tastings throughout the city, focusing on the Columbia, Walla Walla, and Yakima wine regions. But you may need a designated driver. Or just walk?

Spokane Transit Authority operates over 150 buses. There's decent bicycle infrastructure with some protected bike lanes and separated bike trails, and a lot of bike parking downtown. There's also a skywalk system covering about a dozen blocks, making that part of downtown comfy to walk around in colder weather. You and your roommates could attend a local tasting, then just stroll around?

Local forests blanketed with ponderosa pine are still beautiful, but asthma sufferers should beware when they sometimes massively catch on fire. Wildfire events lead to a blanket of smoke over the area, occasionally causing respiratory difficulty.

But at least Spokane also sports all the medical help. Spokane is now an economic hub of health care facilities, including several public hospitals, and the Spokane Veterans Affairs Medical Center. So local focus has shifted slightly away from miners, farmers, and lumberjacks to . . . education and medicine?

But you'll be happy to have a man who's handy with an ax around, when the trees start burning down!

Don't forget to show your love for your native lumberjacks!

The rest of the Spokane roommate lowdown:

  • about 200,000 residents in the city, about 600,000 in the greater metro
  • Spokane's summers are mild, while winters are harsh with some snowfall. The weather is often highly variable even in the course of one day - always bring a jacket, even in summer!
  • home to Gonzaga University, Whitworth University, Washington State University (Spokane), and Sacred Heart Hospital
  • hub of health care facilities in the Inland Northwest, including several public hospitals and the Spokane Veterans Affairs Medical Center



After you're settled down, you and your roommates should experience Spokane's:

  • Centennial Trail: Favorite among bicyclists and runners, runs along the Spokane River, Riverside State Park, Spokane Falls, then to the Idaho border, and they're still expanding even more.
  • Riverside State Park: Over 9000 acres along the Spokane and Little Spokane rivers. Hiking, biking, paddleboating, kayaking, bird watching. Camping and fishing are allowed, and both dogs and horses are welcome!


Here's the city of Spokane's official .org for moving around, including closures, snow removal, potholes, and traffic.







SALEM or Eugene

  • $450   =  non-traditional average 1
  • $725   =  average 2BR ÷ 2, or traditional roommate rent 2
  • $1198   =  average 1BR, rented solo 3

71% live within a 10-minute walk of a park. 4
Most errands require a car. 5
Nike-maniacs
dog friendly, temperate climate 6
great during the day sketch at night, hicks, sailing!, bad drivers, and aging hippies are the largest hoodmap tags 7

SO, roomiematch.com's Salem and Eugene roommate rundown:

10,000 runners in well-designed sneakers are stampeding Salem and Eugene!

All the time!

OK, maybe not all the time.

(They mostly sleep at night.   Mostly.)

But the vibe is all the time. You don't have to run yourself. But you've got to find the sneaker stampede amusing . . . or this might not be the metro for you.

Locals love an outdoor running track under a tree canopy with a festival nearby serving locally crafted beer and wine. That scenario is their soul/sole whisperer.

Shoe giant Nike was founded in Eugene by runner Phil Knight in 1971. And more and more people have been running here since then. There isn't a metro area with more runners per capita or a huger history with running. Several dozen running clubs from amateur to collegiate to Olympic preparatory plus a wide variety of track and field events are hosted here now.

And all runners enjoy the cool but mostly temperate climate, while wearing what must be their ultimate running gear, as they're spoiled for choice. But if you don't love Nike, with all those knowledgeable runners running by, you'll still spot another great apparatus for you. If that exists.

If you don't love to run, lower key jogging would work. Or fast walking. Strolling too, but someone moving faster might leap out of the trees and lap you. This is your warning.

And locals also love the trees they're running around, particularly the cherry. Salem is nicknamed "Cherry City" due to cherries' historical agricultural importance. Also their bus system, Cherriots, and their flat track roller derby league, the Cherry City Roller Derby!

And when you've run up and down and all over town with its fairly flat terrain, more hiking and biking friendly farmland surrounds you. There are a lot of breweries north and west, and the same wineries of the Willamette Valley offering tasting rooms downtown also offer vineyard tours out in the countryside. Between the trees.

Historically, lumber largely built this area. The University of Oregon campus itself is an arboretum, maintaining over 500 species of trees, along with scenic trails in and around them.

Locals even love their trees when there's not even enough room to run around them. Downtown Salem is the home of the smallest city park in the world, measuring 12 by 20 feet. It's just one tree, but it's a giant sequoia currently over 80 feet tall. The plaque says, "WALDO PARK: This Redwood Tree was Planted by Willam Waldo in 1872: City of Salem." Waldo sold his property to Salem with the legal stipulation the tree be preserved, then later additional activism by local Salemites not only maintained the sequoia but gave the tree landscaping and a plaque.

You're also in truffle country, experiencing exponential growth in truffle hunting and truffle dogs. If you and your roommates' dogs hunt truffles too, they can compete in the North American Truffle Dog Championship.

Or if someone(s) aren't quite ready, they can attend Truffle Dog Training and learn the fundamentals of scent training in the forest.

The rest of the Salem and Eugene roommate lowdown:

  • Salem is the state capital, with a relatively recent capital building, completed in 1938. The first two burned down.
  • Salem is about an hour's drive from Portland, in the center of the Willamette Valley alongside the Willamette River running through the city, with a walkable downtown and a waterfront park. Eugene is located at the southern end of the Willamette Valley.
  • about 170,000 residents in Salem, about the same in Eugene, and they both have a similar college town atmosphere.
  • Parking is usually free.
  • The State of Oregon is the largest public employer. Salem Health the largest private.
  • extremely mild climate due to the Cascade Mountains in the east, the coastal ranges to the west, and the proximity of the Pacific Ocean, dampness from October through April, much more dry the rest, some snowfall in winter but accumulation is rare
  • low cost of living compared to the rest of Oregon
  • home to Western Baptist College, Western Oregon State College, Willamette University, and the University of Oregon



After you're settled down, you and your roommates should experience Salem and Eugene's:

  • State Capitol Building: If you love Art Deco, you should definitely take the tour to the top to see the Gold Man. Also, the Oregon State Legislature.
  • Hallie Ford Museum of Art: Museum associated with Willamette University, but open to the public. Many exhibitions on permanent view, special focus on historic artwork of the Northwest and regional traditional Native American baskets.
  • Salem Riverfront Park: 26 acres along the Willamette River, hosts a lot of festivals, etc. The whole park resulted from industrial land restoration. What was once no longer active paper, flour, and wool mills, a junkyard, and a coal plant . . . are now a large park with grassy areas, pavilions, an amphitheater! There's also a dock with access to the river and the Willamette Queen Sternwheeler.
  • Museum of Natural and Cultural History: Lots of adult and community programs and evening talks on a wide variety of cultural issues. Also the state's official repository for paleontological materials with hundreds of thousands of archaeological, geological, zoological, and ethnographic objects.
  • University of Oregon's Knight Library: Largest library in Oregon with more than 3 million volumes.
  • Ballet Fantastique: The Northwest's inventive dance theater, since 2000.
  • Minto-Brown Island Park: Over 1200 acres, larger than NYC's Central Park. Includes 29 miles of trails, picnic areas, restrooms, a fishing dock, and a 30-acre designated-off-leash area for dogs.


Here's the city of Salem's official .net for moving to Salem, which may include stuff new roommates will need, like parking, library cards, and park activities.







BOISE

  • $520   =  non-traditional average 1
  • $744   =  average 2BR ÷ 2, or traditional roommate rent 2
  • $1302   =  average 1BR, rented solo 3

70% live within a 10-minute walk of a park. 4
rush hour, hitting a cow
stunning views, temperate climate, bicycle-friendly, hiking, winter recreation 6
californians, more californians, river tubes, gentrification goin on here, busy road and campus bars, rich people on a hill, street racing, chain restaurants and traffic, and wow look giraffes are the largest hoodmap tags 7

SO, roomiematch.com's Boise roommate rundown:

Boise is Idaho's most populous city, its capital, and its cultural center. Boise hosts Idaho's largest university and most of its museums and sports teams. In short, Boise has all the Idaho.

And all the Idaho is increasingly popular and populated? A lot more students lately, in particular?

Rental options are increasing along with average rent and student density, so many with less to spend may merely need to be more flexible. Renting a room in an owner-occupied home farther away from the trendy center is increasingly an option for many roommates whose income didn't keep up with local demand.

Boise loves to ride their bicycles. Many commute along a network of bike paths including the Boise River Greenbelt. Or you could hike those. Or you could hike and bike them both on your way to the mountains for skiing, snowboarding, and tubing.

What we're saying is the urban outdoorsy here is really on point.

You can't get better urban outdoorsy than Boise, especially for this rent in the Pacific NW.

The rest of the Boise roommate lowdown:

  • Boise is the most populous city in Idaho (about 225,000) and also the capital.
  • Boise manages to be both urban and outdoorsy while maintaining a smaller town cost of living.
  • The climate is generally dry with low humidity, with occasional summer heatwaves and freezing winter storms. Boise has four distinct seasons but the weather is still mostly mild, and outdoor recreation is possible most of the year.
  • Boise has very low crime, particularly for a capital city.
  • Boise is considered the cultural center of Idaho. The Basque Block is downtown, celebrating Idaho's ethnic Basque community, one of the largest in the US.
  • If you and your roommates don't live close to where you work and also don't really enjoy biking, you'll probably want a car. You'll also want to avoid the Boise Connector during rush hour. There's just one freeway connecting downtown with surrounding suburbs, so this smaller city still manages some serious traffic delays.
  • Boise has a large population of bicycle commuters who use the network of bike paths throughout the metro area, including the Boise River Greenbelt.
  • SO while city planners plan improvements soon, public transport isn't incredibly useful here now. So biking is great, walking is often OK, driving is a mixed bag, and public transport . . . not usually.
  • Boise hosts a few professional sports teams.
  • Skiing, snowboarding, and snow tubing are available nearby in the Boise Mountains, and hiking and biking in the foothills north of downtown.
  • home to several museums, including the Boise Art Museum, the Basque Museum and Cultural Center, the Discovery Center of Idaho, and the Idaho Black History Museum
  • home to Albertson College of Idaho, Northwest Nazarene College, Boise Bible, College, and Boise State University
  • If you or your roommates drive, you must not ever hit a cow or you might have to pay a rancher a lot of money. According to the Idaho DMV, the cows have forever right of way, so if you hit one you pay, and they're not cheap. In other words, hitting a cow is always your fault no matter how that happened or where that cow was standing. So help yourselves out by driving Boise with EXTREME cow caution.



After you're settled down, you and your roommates should experience Boise's:

  • Sequoia Tree: Idaho's largest giant sequoia tree can be found near St. Luke's Hospital. It's about 90 feet tall.
  • Gene Harris Jazz Festival: Every spring.
  • Idaho Aquarium.
  • Freak Alley: Said to be the largest outdoor art gallery in the Northwest. It's lots of murals and graffiti in an alley downtown. It gets completely painted over every few years, but it's all photographed and archived first, don't worry.
  • The Black Cliffs of Boise: Towering columns of black lava rock reaching for the sky. The volcanic basalt provides good handholds and footholds so they're very popular with climbers. They were burped up by an ancient volcano.
  • The Treasure Valley Rollergirls: All-female, DIY, flat track roller derby league based in Boise. They were founded in 2006, but became full-fledged members of the Women's Flat Track Derby Association in 2011. They have three home teams: the Sawtooth Sirens, the Owyhee Outlaws, and the Freak Alley Fugitives. You and your roommates could attend an international elimination tournament!


Here's the City of Boise Resident Hub, where you can pay utility bills and get info on neighborhoods and housing for new residents.







TACOMA

  • $650   =  non-traditional average 1
  • $885   =  average 2BR ÷ 2, or traditional roommate rent 2
  • $1460   =  average 1BR, rented solo 3

75% live within a 10-minute walk of a park. 4
Some errands can be accomplished on foot. 5
bridge traffic
commutable to more expensive city, temperate climate 6

SO, roomiematch.com's Tacoma roommate rundown:

Neko Case still sings that "life goes by slow" in the "dusty old jewel in the South Puget Sound" that's Taaaacoooooooomaa.

That song's lovely but not new. So is this still true? Tacoma has grown. It has more stuff. But it still moves slower than Seattle, and that's the most common comparison.

In fact, because they mostly share an airport, some feel Tacoma is properly considered Seattle's suburb. It's only 35 miles south along the interstate. That doesn't take long driving through zero traffic.

But while many Seattle employees live in Tacoma to save money, it's uncommon the other way round. The road to savings is working in Seattle (not overwhelmingly in person) while paying roommate rent in Tacoma - which will be at least half off.

At least!

The reason why this particular trek is not super popular is that if you had to go back and forth every single day, you'd be miserable. There are many urban bridges in the PNW. Other than the middle of the night, traffic jams are happening.

The happiest roommates who feel best placed are strategically managing their jam avoidance. If you move to Tacoma to save on rent just to end up jumping off a bridge rather than wait out even one more jam upon one, that was not your bargain.

Nope!

So don't do that. But if you work in Seattle, not overwhelmingly in person, and can return selectively, never during a rush, it just could. With a reliable car, of course. There are public transport options, like: expresses, shuttles, transits, trains, ferries, links and maybe one or two other Metros between the two. But all they take longer than driving yourself down the interstate.

Inside Tacoma, Pierce Transit offers buses, light rail, and many ferries, along with commuter rail to Seattle too. There's also the newer T Line, light rail serving stations through Tacoma Dome, Downtown, and Hilltop. So if you live and work downtown and/or around the campuses and rarely go anywhere else, you and your roommates could make car-free work.

Otherwise, most of the rest of Tacoma mostly drives. Mostly on a sensible grid of roads, with stunning views of Mount Rainier, Puget Sound, and the Olympic Mountains all over them!

And did you know Tacoma invented the Almond Roca back in 1923? Then Bob's Java Jive came along just a few years later. Bob's is a teapot-shaped dive bar just off Tacoma Way that once hosted go-go girls. Lately it's open mics and community hangout.

So are you interested in some down home native Tacoma candy? Or local coffee? Neighborhood beer?

Or are you immediately craving Starbucks? From a drive-thru?

Tacomans love their Starbucks too! Don't panic!

But if Bob's Java Jive doesn't intrigue you as well, you might not find passion for life in Taaaacoooooooomaa.

The rest of the Tacoma roommate lowdown:

  • medium-sized port city with about 225,000 residents - about 35 miles (south along the interstate) from Seattle, in west-central Washington at the south end of Puget Sound
  • 30 miles to Olympia, the state capital
  • 60 miles away from Mount Rainier National Park
  • climate is mild but cloudy most of the year (just like nearby Seattle's), severe weather is rare
  • major hub for glass art
  • previous home of a lot of shipping, paper, and lumber mill industries - now home to what's still going in those, plus how they've all been environmentally renewed
  • no state income tax
  • home to Pacific Lutheran University, University of Puget Sound, and the University of Washington (Tacoma Campus)



After you're settled down, you and your roommates should experience Tacoma's:

  • Point Defiance Park: The Port Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, Owen Beach, Fort Nisqually Living History Museum and a whole bunch of hiking trails are all in this huge park on the north end. It's about 700 acres!
  • Tacoma Art Museum: > 5400 works focusing on art of the Northwest, including Tacoma native glass artist Dale Chihuly, Japanese woodblock prints, and Northwest fine art jewelry.
  • Tacoma Museum of Glass: If you and your roommates want even more glass after the Tacoma Art Museum, have I got an additional museum for you! It's also the largest and most active glass studio on the West Coast.
  • Dockyard Roller Derby: Tacoma's flat track roller derby league
  • Pacific Bonsai Museum: In nearby Federal Way, you and your roommates can take Bonsai Basics and leave with your own juniper bonsai along with how to take care of it. And/or you can also tour, listening to a tour on your own to going with a group with a docent to see their galleries of trees.


Here's the city of Tacoma's official .org for services for residents, from animal care to utilities rebates.







SALT LAKE CITY

  • $475   =  non-traditional average 1
  • $927   =  average 2BR ÷ 2, or traditional roommate rent 2
  • $1411   =  average 1BR, rented solo 3

83% live within a 10-minute walk of a park. 4
Some errands can be accomplished on foot. 5
"secret" polygamists, altitude sickness
dog friendly, nearby skiing 6
more rich people, lizard headquarters, walking dead, newly wed or nearly dead, really rich people, smog observation point, gay mormons, polygamy, nerd yuppies, sugarhood, fake chinatown, spiritual rich people, crime valley city, overpriced homes, birthplace of the messiah, and must be close enough to smell the canyon are the largest hoodmap tags 7

SO, roomiematch.com's Salt Lake City roommate rundown:

So Salt Lake City equals Mormons in the mountains, supremely sporty in all of SLC's dramatically different seasons.

And SLC's an ultraconservative cowboy pioneering mountain town . . . but with a side of Mormon family values?

Well.

Mormon culture is dominant, and this is their headquarters. So all the above . . . it's not like that's not true. (Because it certainly is.)

But there's more worth looking at too . . . for many. If you're Mormon you already know . . . but otherwise you might not about the stunning outdoors in the high altitude with camping?

Temple Square is the most visited site in Utah, still true. It's five city blocks, with the LDS Church headquarters, a Church Museum, the Tabernacle (home of the Tabernacle Choir), Assembly Hall, a Family History Library, and multiple gardens.

Entering the actual Temple requires a special permit you won't be getting unless you're Mormon, but most of the rest of Temple Square is open to non-Mormons. Tours from staff missionaries called "sisters" are free.

Utah has confused many with aggressive alcohol regulations. They've changed under pressure from non-Mormons in recent years such that Utah's now more like other states except beer sold in establishments with "beer-only" licenses like groceries, convenience stores, and bars without liquor licenses can only be up to 5% ABV.

Anything higher is "heavy" and can only be sold in volume at dedicated liquor stores, mostly run by the government. You can buy heavy beer along with wine and spirits by the drink in restaurants and bars too, as long as they have a restaurant liquor license. But only until 1 a.m.

And coffee is now about as widely available as other cities on this list? So you don't have to be Mormon, fully half of residents aren't, although that's more apparent in some neighborhoods than others.

(We're also not referring to the rest of Utah.)

(But if the Mormons make you mad, you'll feel mad most of the time, and SLC probably wouldn't be a great match. Possibly for you or your roommates. Possibly even if no one is Mormon.)

National parks, ski resorts, the Wasatch Mountains, and the Great Salt Lake, all within driving distance means outdoor recreation in an ideal climate for almost all sports at least a few months every year. Camping, hiking, mountain biking, boating, fishing, and sailing are usually available on the Great Salt Lake, because the high salinity keeps it from freezing solid.

Skiing, rafting, and hiking are available in the nearby Wasatch Mountains, including several large ski resorts.

But even if you don't get sporty in the mountains, SLC is getting more cold and more dry, especially during winter, especially at higher altitudes. Especially in the winter, you and your roommates would definitely prefer to rely on a snow-worthy car.

(Along with some lip balm. Maybe some lotion. Static cling!)

Because all this spectacular altitude can be both good and bad, SLC can offer problems at lower and higher elevations. Possibly both on the same day, but let's avoid that.

Most of SLC is about 4300 feet above sea level, but with nearby mountains many thousands of feet higher. Otherwise healthy folks don't usually experience altitude sickness until at least 6000 feet, more commonly 8000? But most might not be your new roommate, and SLC is high enough to exacerbate medical issues in some. Take home point: If you've not experienced altitude recently and aren't sure how your body will respond and/or have any ongoing issues, please have a check up and mention your intentions to visit SLC at all, but especially its higher elevations.

In SLC, nearby peaks mean there are canyons, lately home to some serious smog.

Winter temperature inversions can cause trouble for anyone with a respiratory condition by trapping pollution in the lower atmosphere (smog). This is worst at the lowest elevations, but if you have asthma you probably don't want to be breathing a lot of air in any valley or low elevation canyon near SLC during smog. Unfortunately, no one can presently say how much smog is coming?

We also find it thematically and practically on point that SLC has a KOA campground? In the city. No, we know, a lot of cities have KOA's or similar outside of town. Sometimes quite a ways outside of town? Like . . . far?

We mean truly in town, not just technically. It's 14 blocks from Temple Square, which is also the center of downtown. Salt Lakers are continuing to celebrate their uniquely American pioneering spirit in other ways too, so this is different, but on theme. Also, the real estate was cheaper back in 1974 when it opened, but it's still impressive that there's still a KOA campground still right in the middle of SLC.

Still!

And they're open year round, with amenities galore. For the more affordable slots you really need a decent RV, but they have cabins that cost more if you don't. Either way, for the same money we'd pick this over a cheap hotel any day. Especially because pets are welcome, as long as they are never aggressive, and stay on leash.

They're also proud to offer a discount to all military, police, firefighters, and first responders.

The rest of the Salt Lake City roommate lowdown:

  • capital and largest city in Utah, with 200,000 residents in the city, and about a million in the greater metro
  • Pioneers led by Brigham Young first claimed this area as the headquarters of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, back in 1847.
  • SLC is in the desert, surrounded by mountains, so it features a very seasonal climate, with both very hot and dry summers and long winters. Light snow happens regularly, but usually doesn't shut much down. If your road isn't plowed, best to wait before driving, it likely will be within hours.
  • home to Weber State University, Westminster College, and the University of Utah. Utah State University and Brigham Young University have campuses here, along with many trade and technical schools.
  • Sundance Film Festival is held every year in nearby Park City.
  • Salt Lake City is the home of the Utah Jazz (NBA), Real Salt Lake (MLS), Utah Warriors (MLR), Utah Royals (NWSL), plus multiple enthusiastic minor and collegiate team fandoms.
  • SLC is known for inventing fry sauce, which is about half ketchup, half mayonnaise, sometimes with extra seasonings added. It's a condiment someone might put anywhere they'd otherwise put either ketchup or mayonnaise. It has since expanded into a few national burger joints.
  • On-street parking is easy to find outside downtown, but driving downtown during rush hour is to be avoided whenever possible.
  • The buses of the Utah Transit Authority (UTA) and their light rail system (TRAX) connect to most tourist destinations, the University of Utah, and the airport, via multiple lines. Most of downtown is in a free fare zone. Bikes are allowed because most transit lines have bike racks. Many major streets have bicycle lanes, and connect to off-road paths and mountain biking trails. However, most lanes aren't separated and car traffic and snow are often problematic.

    You can probably bike your way around SLC most of the year, but you might have to experiment with routes, check maps for alternatives, or ask local cyclists for the best bike routes around town.



After you're settled down, you and your roommates should experience Salt Lake City's:

  • Hogle Zoo: 42 acres with many exhibits, but their newest is Wild Utah, focusing on SLC's native fauna, including mountain lions, big horn sheep, bobcats, marmots, skunks, badgers, gray foxes, red-tailed hawks, and North American porcupines.
  • Clark Planetarium: Exhibiting the Earth, Near Earth and . . . Beyond. Plus IMAX shows and lots of free community programs.
  • Utah Museum of Fine Arts: About 20,000 objects with a special focus on Japanese Art: Adaptation and Transformation, Ancient Mediterranean Art, Ancient Mesopotamian Art, Arts of the Pacific, and American and Regional Art Exploring Westward Expansion. You and your roommates can download an audio guide. Or become volunteer docents yourselves.
  • Gallery Stroll: Usually the 3rd Friday of the month, galleries downtown stay open later than usual to show you their stuff. Free, no reservations required.
  • Bonneville Shoreline Trail: Hiking and biking trail following the shoreline of Lake Bonneville. But it hasn't been a "lake" lake for thousands of years, so it's actually the shoreline of the now extinct prehistoric lake. But this trail beside that situation goes about 90 miles so far, while the proposed future route expansion would grow it to 280 miles.
  • Sugar House Park: Once upon a time the Utah State Prison, now converted into 110 acres of rolling green hills of Sugar House neighborhood. However, please be aware that along with the entirely reasonable bans on vandalism, littering, archery, fireworks, and powered aircraft . . . there's also no selling food or beverages, no consumption or possession of alcoholic beverages, no smoking, no signs, and no off-leash areas for dogs.
  • This Is the Place Heritage Park: Over 200 acres of Utah State Park depicting Brigham Young's vision of the Salt Lake Valley for Mormon pioneers. They celebrate their pioneer spirit with horseback rides and parades and live concerts and celebrations of local history through Heritage Village throughout the whole year.


Here's Salt Lake City's official .gov for parking.. SLC has parking locations and payment integrated with downloadable apps for your phone, you and your roommates might need if you'd like to drive downtown.







PORTLAND (Oregon)

  • $750   =  non-traditional average 1
  • $961   =  average 2BR ÷ 2, or traditional roommate rent 2
  • $1523   =  average 1BR, rented solo 3

90% live within a 10-minute walk of a park. 4
Some errands can be accomplished on foot. 5
unemployed younger might verbally harass you
public transit, bicycle friendly, pedestrian friendly, temperate climate, food carts 6
Paul Bunyan lives here, good places to trip acid, rich forest people, community fridges, slow-roll gentrification, parking hell, sketchy safeway, bicycle rights, man!, strippers, med students, college kids, terrible drivers, yuppies & retirees, sketchy greyhound station, felony flats, horrible drivers, shhh it's quiet, city of Nike, sketchy freddies, and stabby hobo forest are the largest hoodmap tags 7

SO, roomiematch.com's Portland (Oregon) roommate rundown:

The largest city in Oregon flows along the Willamette River downtown with many beautiful bridges spanning it. And it has become known as an oasis for leftist and eco-friendly political activism.

Portlanders enjoy an outdoor-centric lifestyle within a climate kept mild and green by the nearby Pacific Ocean. Despite the PNW latitude, precipitation is usually drizzle rather than storm and snow is rare.

Summers are warm, with Mounts Hood and Saint Helens overlooking the Douglas firs and native roses covering Portland's abundant parks and gardens. Year round.

All that gorgeous green and local green devotion inspired many athletic and outdoor gear companies to build here, including: Nike, Adidas, Columbia, LaCross Footwear, Dr. Martens, Keen, Merrell, Hi-Tec Sports, and Under Armour.

(Yes, your sportier out-of-state visitors will want to go on a shopping spree. Along with the rest of Oregon, you can get all the above with no sales tax.)

So what else has Portland's lefty environmental consciousness wrought? Limited urban sprawl!

Limited urban sprawl invites walking, biking, and public transit.

Meanwhile, driving is structurally discouraged.

Lack of sprawl makes everything more accessible via walking and biking, because everything is less spread out. Walking and biking are more tenable the more places you could hit in an hour. Along with sprawl = no, extensive bike paths = yes!

There are many bike lanes and some separated bike streets running alongside major arterials. Bike racks are frequent, including on public transit. Some transit stations even have bike lockers.

Portland also has a lot of public transport, including a lot of different transit companies. There are buses, light rail, commuter trains, and a Portland Streetcar. Also a few boat lines, some with tourist cruises.

All that adds up to a huge number of routes and lines and trips and trams along with various competing discounts offered via all the payment methods. And then you get a free transfer! Maybe!

Really, just walk or bike whenever possible. Otherwise, ask your roommates how they'd get from A to B on public transit. Once you've taken their route, ask longer-term locals already at your destination how they took transit to get there too. You likely now have several choices to get from A to B and then maybe C and even D, including info on speed and cost. Pick your favorite.

Driving is structurally discouraged . . . unless you're exiting the city limits ASAP in order to ferry fresh organic produce back from one of the many farms surrounding Portland. Downtown is usually congested, and parking is expensive. It might even be cheaper to take a ride share. It's always cheaper and sometimes even faster on a bike, especially if you have to search for car parking as well as pay for it.

All that walking and biking means more food carts than any other city in the world, definitely per capita, maybe overall. And locals wash it all down with the best beer and coffee. Along with sidewalk snacks, they might be winning on the per capita microbrewery and microroastery fronts as well.

Or would you like to drink either while enjoying retro revival films? "Brew and view" theaters are perpetually Portland too. They also host a dozen or more beer and brewing festivals throughout the year - surprise!

So can everyone live the "dream of the nineties" in Portland?

For a while it seemed the dream of Portlandia really was for everyone. And it still is for many . . . but the dream is facing an upper limit on how many more without income already in the bag it can onboard.

Locals frequently voice concern about Portland's large unhoused population, which has grown substantially since the pandemic. The increase is mostly younger who moved here recently. In addition, PDX's native twenty-somethings are still at home with their parents now a lot more often, for lack of employment lucrative enough to pay rent locally, coupled with refusal to move anywhere else.

With that as the backdrop, more folks in their twenties are still moving to Portland than there are jobs to support them, often for political reasons.

SO: Even though it's still cheaper than many other cities on the West Coast, it's probably not wise to move to Portland right now without your roommate rent secured. Freelance work you can dip in and out of to keep paying rent pretty easily even though your priorities are elsewhere is still available here. The kind of jobs your student friends in their twenties probably want? Portland's still got them.

But lately, you're also more likely to find folks in their twenties already occupying them.

Many younger still haven't found the sort of employment they'd hoped for, but refuse to leave. So now they're either unemployed periodically, or gigging freelance in ways they might not in other cities. This adds up to a higher percentage of younger people already in the freelance economy and in competition for fewer gigs.

Some analysts call this "chronic underemployment."

And some congregate downtown. If you walk downtown too, particularly through major intersections, you will likely be solicited or panhandled. If no is your answer, just say no. Many passersby are randomly subjected to unwanted political commentary, sometimes insultingly, but few are physically assaulted. Just stick with refusing unwanted personal engagement politely with merely "no" or "no thanks," while continuing to walk toward your destination.

Portland is in the eye of Portland's beholder. Meaning, whether the above reads as a dire warning or instruction manual is mostly up to you.

Feeling turned off by the City of Roses? You'd rather float down a lazier river with fewer youthful folks aggressively scarfing down all freelance gigs? That's good to know, preferably in advance of a big move, right?

Or will you gather that figuring out roommate rent in advance of moving to Portland is best? PDX'll be so much better for you, now that you know. Enjoy Stumptown!

The rest of the Portland OR roommate lowdown:

  • in northwest Oregon, at the confluence of the Willamette and Columbia rivers, near the Washington border
  • many bridges spanning the Willamette River along downtown
  • about 600,000 in the city, about 2.5 million greater metro
  • summers are mild and pleasant, winters are cool, cloudy, and rainy, sometimes sleeting
  • Portland's climate is ideal for growing roses, hence the official nickname, "City of Roses."
  • good public transit with one of the nation's best light-rail systems and intercity rail service
  • about a 3 hour drive or 4 on a train to Seattle
  • skiing is available nearby in the Oregon Cascades and Mount Hood, and watersports are popular on the Columbia River
  • cost of living is moderate for a West Coast city, and there's no sales tax
  • home to Western States Chiropractic College, Concordia College, Lewis and Clark College, Linfield College, Reed College, University of Portland, Warner Pacific College, George Fox College, Oregon Institute of Science & Technology, Oregon Health Science University, Pacific University, and Portland State University
  • hosts the Portland Trail Blazers (NBA), Portland Timbers (MLS) and Portland Thorns FC (NWSL)
  • Oregon has a lot of non-self-serve gas pumps. If you drive into a station with both self-serve and non-self-serve pumps, you have a choice to pump your own gas or pull up to a non-self-serve and wait in your car for an attendant.



After you're settled down, you and your roommates should experience Portland OR's:

  • Eastside Esplanade: You and your roommates should go on a scenic walk along the Willamette River. Parts of it are floating, so watch your step.
  • Portland Aerial Tramway: It's an aerial tramway that most cities do not get. Make the most of Portland's!
  • Powell's Bookstore: Legendary local independent bookstore, new, used, and hard-to-find. Three locations in Portland, but the flagship in the Pearl District has over a million books and a Rare Book Room.
  • Portland Rose Festival: Several parades for several weeks in summer, for over a hundred years now. Also a carnival, fleet week, a popular treasure hunt, and a Clown Prince.
  • Portland Art Museum: More art than anywhere else in the city. Special focus on Northwest and Native American art.
  • Portland Saturday Market: Largest continuously operating outdoor arts and crafts market in the country, since 1974. Everything is handmade and sold by artists, so you could meet them too. Items must be presubmitted for review for standards.
  • Portland Japanese Garden: 12 acres with 8 separate garden styles, including a tea house, stream, walkways, and a view of Mount Hood. Honor your connection to nature and find peace in the universe.
  • Portland World Naked Bike Ride (PDXWNBR): An annual bike ride that "highlights the vulnerability of cyclists everywhere and decries society’s dependence on pollution-based transport." These nudies want you to know they're into goofy fun but not the folly of oil dependency.

    The ride organizers want to encourage motorists to get out of their cars and onto a bike too, so they ask cyclists represent their cause well by never drunk-biking into anyone ever. (PDXWNBR wants you breezy but sober.)

    They also recommend a helmet for safety and big tube socks for warmth. If necessary, you could put the socks on your arms too, plus any other place a sock might fit.

    Also, nudity is legal, you won't get arrested unless you're also "lewd," so make sure you're not. You can be nude but never lewd in public in Portland. It's the law.


Here's the city of Portland's official .gov, including this helpful "Find a Park."







SEATTLE

  • $1200   =  non-traditional average 1
  • $1418   =  average 2BR ÷ 2, or traditional roommate rent 2
  • $2013   =  average 1BR, rented solo 3

99% live within a 10-minute walk of a park. 4
Most errands can be accomplished on foot. 5
traffic jams, winter's darkness
temperate climate, museums, local professional sports, outdoor recreation, hiking, water recreation, ferries, fresh seafood, stunning views 6
sketchiest McDonald's on earth, best asian food variety, best view of downtown, OG Starbucks, Yachterranean, boat rentals for that IG pic, cell phone cameras, leg workout, scandinavians, actual forest, Grey's Anatomy ferry, can't hear you bro these damn planes, college kids on dad's boat, and retired grunge community are the largest hoodmap tags 7

SO, roomiematch.com's Seattle roommate rundown:

Are you outdoorsy? Would you like to be outdoorsy almost all the time, including when you can't see the sun?

Seattleites love their healthy outdoor fun. An invigorating outdoor stroll plugs a hole in your soul you didn't even know was there! Until you're enthusiastically hiking it all away . . . while sipping delicious coffee from your travel mug. You're surrounded by mountain ranges and water and trees, all staying Emerald City green forever. With Lake Union and Green Lake within, and Lake Washington and Puget Sound around, kayaking and recreational boating abound.

And there's little you can't do year round.

There's not enough snow in summer for skiing and snowboarding in the Cascades, but you can always hike those mountains instead. Along with the forests, coastlines, and ship canals. You can hike and bike and paddleboat your way through the rest of Seattle's lush undergrowth as well. The trails go through the inspirationally large acreages of park, with longer urban trails connecting it all, all seasons of the year.

Like the Burke Gilman!

Or if you're feeling lower key, you don't have to be so athletic. You could just walk around instead! That's perfectly respectable!

As Seattle weather hardly ever stops anyone from anything, festivals and street fairs are also year round. And then summer, the only time that's reliably sunny, is like one much loooooooonger fair. And, they all need an audience!

Between May-September, you probably won't get one single solitary weekend without something educational or enlightening presenting itself as a possibility. And something is probably free, including the resident watching . . . but all under gray depressing skies?

Sometimes! The stereotype of Seattle is the sky is always gray. In winter, FAIR!

But spring through fall, not at all. In summer, daylight often remains from sunrise around 5 a.m. until almost 10 p.m. Contrary to public perception, Seattle features less precipitation than most cities in the East and Midwest. And despite the northern latitude, the Pacific Ocean moderates the climate, so precipitation is almost always rain, not snow, unlike on the other side of the mountain range.

So the rain is overstated, but the cloud cover is not. It could drizzle any day . . . just not a lot, if it's not winter. So especially if you walk in and out frequently, best to wear layers, so you can vent or bundle back up, as you will. And you will.

(Also, locals don't use umbrellas, they wear hoodies, and don't appreciate pokes with spokes.)

Cruising on boats is another low key love. All the boats; it's a seaport. Luxury ocean cruises take off for Alaska and western Canada. Local cruise lines offer tours of Seattle, usually with local commentary plus drinks and snacks. Or you could just ride a ferry. Most of the views from ferries are stunning, mostly less than ten bucks.

And if you've got a commute, and ferry is a choice, best to take it. Most of Seattle's public transport isn't bad, but their rush hours are, and traffic often bottlenecks around the bridges. There are a few.

Also a lot of buses, electric trolleys, streetcars and ferries, plus water taxis, and they're expanding the light rail. Seattle is bicycle-friendly in parts, if you don't mind hills. It's mostly King County Metro and Sound Transit and RapidRide. And there's an online trip planner, to help you find your quickest route, with real time vehicle locations and alerts.

Meanwhile, it's not impossible to drive around Seattle, but it's really not recommended where it's dense. There's nowhere to park for free downtown or Capitol Hill, and paid parking is very expensive and often fills up quickly. You can drive in the suburbs, but to and from Seattle around any rush would be worse. And medium density neighborhoods like Fremont and Ballard are in between . . . you could park a car but it's kind of annoying for everyone.

Mostly, you and your roommates will enjoy Seattle the most while walking around, whenever possible. Especially if it's not a dark and stormy night in the middle of the day!

If winter darkness gets you down, get a coffee. Because yes, another stereotype is true too. Seattle has an absurd number of coffeehouses. Inventing Starbucks brought Seattle's reputation for heavy coffee consumption to a boil, along with caffeine-related snobbery. Wherever you are in Seattle, there is a Starbucks near you.

But do so many Starbucks mean fewer not-Starbucks coffeehouses? NOPE!

Coffeehouses here tend to beget even more coffeehouses in a cascading chain of caffeination. Starbucks will be right on the same street as multiple independent coffeehouses too. There are multiple Starbucks across the street from each other. Also three Starbucks in the same strip mall. If too many Starbucks is upsetting to you, you can't move anywhere near Puget Sound, as it is Starbucks saturated.

While coffee remains the drink for most, bubble and boba milk tea are increasingly popular. But Seattle didn't slow down their coffee consumption in favor of adding some tea, nope. They just added these tea drinks too, like on top. So Seattleites are SUPER FOCUSED!

Seattle also gets the best seafood at the best prices on the West Coast. Along with the excellent salmon, clams, mussels, oysters, and Dungeness crab, the Sound specifically loves its locally harvested geoduck (pronounced "gooey duck"). That's a saltwater clam with a neck up to 6 feet long, weighing around ten pounds, with a shell as large as a football. Not popular with most Americans, outside Seattle, they're usually exported to Southeast Asia, where many regard them as an aphrodisiac.

They live about 140 years . . . if you don't eat them. But in Seattle, where they definitely do, locals recommend you stir-fry or hot pot with spicy chilis! You can also eat them sliced raw, with wasabi and shoyu.

But that'll be a fairly crunchy experience.

The rest of the Seattle roommate lowdown:

  • northernmost major US city, about 100 miles south of Canada
  • largest city in the PNW, an isthmus between Puget Sound and Lake Washington
  • about 800,000 in the city, about 4 million in the surrounding metro
  • Seattle is covered in trees that mostly stay green, lending the nickname, "Emerald City"
  • climate is mild but cloudy a lot of the year, severe weather and snow are both rare
  • bustling seaport, gateway to Alaska and the Yukon
  • outstanding public library system
  • hosts the Seattle Seahawks (NFL), Seattle Sounders FC (MLS), Seattle Mariners (MLB), Seattle Seawolves (MLR), Seattle Kraken (NHL), Seattle Storm (WNBA), and the Seattle Reign FC (NWSL)
  • over 100 wineries a few miles away, mostly in Woodinville
  • home to Cornish College of the Arts, Antioch University, Bastyr University, Seattle City University, University of Washington, Seattle Pacific University, and Seattle University
  • headquarters of Amazon and Microsoft, still plenty of jobs for programmers
  • motorcycles get preferred parking many places downtown, along with preferred boarding on ferries
  • Washington has no state income tax, and Seattle has some of the highest minimum wages in the country, with tips in addition on top. They find funding via their higher sales tax of 10.25%, but you don't pay it on groceries or prescription drugs. Some products like liquor are also subject to higher taxes.



After you're settled down, you and your roommates should experience Seattle's:

  • Seattle Aquarium: On the downtown waterfront since 1977. The otters are extra frisky.
  • Seattle Symphony Orchestra: Founded in 1903, they provide a lot of enthusiastic educational resources encouraging music appreciation along with concerts and tickets.
  • National Nordic Museum: Celebrating the Nordic history and heritage of many local residents. There's a Northwest Trolls program, and you and your roommates can get in free the first Thursday of every month.
  • Columbia Center: Tallest building in the PNW. You can view the city from their observation deck. It's not 360-degree-wraparound and it doesn't revolve like the Space Needle? But you can still see far on a clear day, and it's free.
  • Fremont Fair: Live music and locals getting drunk on microbrews. Then a nude bike ride!
  • Pike Place Market: Along with lots of fresh flowers and produce stands, home of the country's most famous fish market and the original Starbucks Coffee.
  • Beth's Cafe: Seattle's no frills breakfast-all-day diner since 1954. There's a 12-egg omelette.
  • Twice Sold Tales: Used bookstore and cat sanctuary.


Here's the city of Seattle's official .gov for newcomers, covering stuff new roommates might need like utilities, pets, community resources, and driver licensing.







your rent
southwest US non-trad trad 1BR
Tulsa 400 560 960
Oklahoma City 460 587 932
College Station 600 607 1214
Tucson 450 677 983
Albuquerque 390 679 1076
San Antonio 600 708 1108
Colorado Springs 550 748 1378
Las Vegas 500 797 1265
Reno 625 818 1331
Phoenix or Tempe 600 872 1392
Houston 700 893 1329
US national average 919 1482
Sacramento 760 986 1613
Austin 850 1141 1712
Santa Fe 500 1147 2052
Dallas or Fort Worth 700 1151 1564
Denver 800 1247 1840
Boulder 725 1253 1830
Orange County 860 1525 2147
San Jose 1300 1570 2426
San Diego 1100 1622 2378
Los Angeles 790 1774 2397
San Francisco 1500 1952 2922




OKLAHOMA CITY

  • $460   =  non-traditional average 1
  • $587   =  average 2BR ÷ 2, or traditional roommate rent 2
  • $932   =  average 1BR, rented solo 3

42% live within a 10-minute walk of a park. 4
Most errands require a car. 5
tornadoes, guns, urban sprawl
dog friendly, few traffic jams 6
tornado alley, yoga pants and wind surfers, car lots everywhere, gayborhood, rich democrats, come out to the gun show!, and the mall everyone in Edmond is afraid of are the largest hoodmap tags 7

SO, roomiematch.com's Oklahoma City roommate rundown:

Many residents of OKC insist their city is a unique character . . . while others cheerfully describe that character as "An Extension of Texas," or "Little Dallas North."

Little Dallas North is accurate in terms of how residents of both tend to zip back and forth between. For work, for school, for entertainment, for whatever's clever.

(It is about 3 hours away, which isn't exactly just down the road? But both OKC and DFW drive a lot.)

How else is OKC like DFW? While both feature most of the cultural amenities you'd expect from their sizes, there's a special focus on cowboy boots and country music, along with residents that are rated a bit more friendly. Proud locals say both cities feature a "small town atmosphere," even though neither are literally small.

DFW and OKC are both more conservative and Christian than many other metros on this list. Both are Bible Belt, with more than the national average of religious residents. In particular, a significantly higher percentage of self-declared Christian adults.

Meanwhile, if you're in OKC, out and about on a Sunday, but not at church? You'll quickly realize there are many others not in church too. And they're fine? Not like they're getting hassled or anything; not going to church is obviously allowed as well.

But if you'll be offended just hearing about church from your roommates or neighbors, OKC might not be the best fit for you.

Also like DFW, you can live a somewhat simpler lifestyle with a lower cost of living. Simpler in part because you can drive most places for free, or at least extreme parking fees are relatively rare. And that's the glass half-full version.

The glass half-empty version: In both, can drive actually means you'll have to drive if you require a reasonably wide range. Downtown OKC sort of pretends it has public transport? But in truth, it's really limited. There are buses around downtown, to the airport, and a few other attractions. Mostly you'll need a car.

Still like DFW, OKC is also not walkable due to massive size. At 620 square miles (!), it's the nation's third largest city geographically . . . which means it SPRAWLS. You will need a reliable and reliably air-conditioned car to be anything like comfy driving across it.

Helpfully, OKC's streets are laid out in the simplest possible grid, with named streets running north and south, and numbered streets east and west.

Like DFW, great BBQ and steakhouses abound.

And the parkland is abundant!

But back to its own unique character, how is OKC not DFW?

OKC features an even lower cost of living, mostly because many OKC homes are less expensive. Dallas has a reasonably low cost of living as well, but housing costs are so dominant that just that one factor makes OKC more affordable for most roommates.

Oklahoma has even less restrictive gun laws. Reflecting their even more gun enthusiastic culture? It is easier to carry handguns in OKC than most places in the country in terms of lenient gun laws.

OKC faces more extreme and unpredictable weather. It's the largest city in Tornado Alley. That means it's one of the most tornado prone cities on the planet. Running for your life is not out of the question, but hopefully you won't need to if you pay attention to the tornado sirens and reliable local media.

So you're getting that OKC is windy? Famously so!

It's cold and extremely windy in the winter, then hot and extremely windy in the summer. Violent thunderstorms, frozen hailstorms harsh and heavy enough to take down power lines, and occasional earthquakes due to fracking happen occasionally. All this extreme weather also creates extreme potholes, so watch out for those!

Unlike action movie stars, you probably can't outrun or outdrive a tornado. Even if it seems you're getting away, tornados often move faster than you could ever drive safely, and change direction suddenly. Get out of your car and take shelter, just like the tornado sirens and all the local media will strongly encourage you to do.

Accordingly, storm shelters add significant value to a home, and are sometimes tax deductible.

Otherwise, the safest place is the interior (no outside walls or windows) of a basement.

But those are just a few tips, you would actually need a whole tornado safety plan, including the best place to seek shelter when you must, starting from school or work or home and/or any other place you'll likely be when the sirens go off.

Having an advance plan will make it more likely you'll know how to maintain . . . when the wind comes sweeping down the plain? (Terrible?)

So OKC is full of friendly reasonable people living with some of the least friendly, least reasonable weather? Is that insane?

But then when you get to know some locals, inevitably you'll find long-term residents. On one level, maybe it's insane. But then so many succeed in spite of the weather . . . so?

It's also hard to find gridlock, hardly anywhere in OKC, hardly ever. Downside of massive urban sprawl = it's tough to live here without a car. Upside = you're more likely to accidentally drive into a muddy pothole than a traffic jam.

What's less subjectively insane though? Speeding in OKC. It's dangerous! OKC really disapproves of speeding, or they're just rustling up some dough for those potholes. Or both! Take home point: OKC patrols are known for giving out lots of tickets, and repeated speeders may face jail time.

Safety first!

The rest of the Oklahoma City roommate lowdown:

  • capital and largest city located near the center of Oklahoma
  • 620 square miles, third largest in land area (behind Anchorage (#1) and Jacksonville (#2))
  • about 650,000, greater metro about 1.4 million
  • founded in the Land Run of 1889
  • largest city in the Great Plains, located in the Southern Plains . . . not flat and treeless (like High Plains) but rolling hills with low trees, shrubs and grass
  • A few neighborhoods are reasonably bicycle-friendly, but they might not connect.
  • OKC hosts a lot of petroleum-product industries, featuring a number of active oil fields.
  • home to Langston University, Oklahoma Baptist University, Oklahoma Christian University, Oklahoma City University, Oklahoma State University-Oklahoma City, Southern Nazarene University, University of Central Oklahoma, University of Oklahoma, Oklahoma City Community College, and the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center
  • hosts Tinker Air Force Base, the largest US military air depot
  • Three large lakes: Hefner, Overholser, and Stanley Draper
  • July and August have average highs in the 90s, but the humidity is lower than the nearby Deep South. Almost everything is air-conditioned. Winter rarely snows more than a few flurries, but if more should happen while you're driving, pull over and stop immediately until the snow stops completely!

    That's because everyone will not stop acting crazy until then! Don't get in a wreck!
  • at the intersection of two of the country's longest interstate highways, I-40 and I-35
  • on historic Route 66



After you're settled down, you and your roommates should experience Oklahoma City's:

  • Oklahoma City Museum of Art: More Chihuly glass than anywhere in the world, including a 55-footer in the atrium. Also a restaurant and theater with a variety of foreign and classic films.
  • Oklahoma City Zoo: Many natural habitats including Cat Forest and the Herpetarium, plus an amphitheater with concerts in summer.
  • American Banjo Museum: No, probably not for everyone, but for those for whom it is? More than 400 banjos along with all associated instructional materials, historic ephemera, and Halls of Fame. This is the largest display of everything crucially banjo on the planet.
  • Myriad Botanical Gardens: 7 story botanical garden and urban park - water sculptures, trails, a carousel, interactive exhibits, and a koi pond.
  • SKELETONS: Museum of Osteology: Would you and your roommates like to see 450 real skeletons from all over the world? Also Forensic Osteology. (That's humans.)
  • National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum: "America's premier institution of Western history, art, and culture." Home to the Hall of Great Western Performers.
  • Cattleman's Steakhouse: Would you like some "lamb fries?" (Important Tip: Not made of lamb.)
  • Stockyards: Whole neighborhood revolving around one of the largest cattle markets in the world, and stores selling everything Western you'd ever need.
  • First Americans Museum of Oklahoma: On the banks of the Oklahoma River, honoring the 39 distinct tribal nations now inhabiting Oklahoma, not by choice but now interwoven. Wide variety of cultural programs including IndigiPopX, bringing IndigiNerds together. Also the Winter Holiday Art Market features a curated selection of some of the best First American artists in the country, some available for gallery viewing or purchase.


Here's the city of Oklahoma City's official .gov for residents, here linking to their storm shelter registry. You and your roommates could help or be helped in case of an emergency.







TULSA

  • $400   =  non-traditional average 1
  • $560   =  average 2BR ÷ 2, or traditional roommate rent 2
  • $960   =  average 1BR, rented solo 3

65% live within a 10-minute walk of a park. 4
Most errands require a car. 5
sunburn, urban sprawl
museums, cheapest rent, ballet, opera, symphony, bicycle friendly 6
ma & pa kettle, weed corner, where former hipsters live, old oil money mansions, poor rednecks are the largest hoodmap tags 7

SO, roomiematch.com's Tulsa roommate rundown:

Tulsa would like you to know that it's the smallest city on here with its own ballet. Also an opera, a symphony, over 135 parks, a world class zoo, and several lovely museums.

Tulsa is where the Great Plains meets the Ozark Plateau, with rolling hills of green instead of dust bowl. With sunshine over 220 days a year.

Once upon a time, decades ago, Tulsa's economy was mostly Big Oil . . . but they've since seriously diversified. Tulsa's grown into finance, high tech, aviation, and education.

Some Tulsans are trying to make public transportation a thing. It mostly hasn't caught on . . . but they're still trying. Most Tulsans drive everywhere. It's legitimately more difficult to get around this town than many without a car.

Because Tulsa just spread out all over the place! It sprawled! Don't even expect sidewalks in many parts of town.

Upside though: Tulsa's streets are mostly within one grid, with most major streets one mile away from each other. Easy to navigate!

Also very navigable is Tulsa's bike trail system, involving several official trails traversing the city. You can download trail maps, and it's recommended to plan your route. If you want an easy route, don't pick anything hilly (like the Creek Turnpike Trail). Also assess whether you'll want to deal with bike routes at all during summer (zero judgement, many athletes dislike exercising through heat).

But if you're a summer warrior please don't forget to hydrate. And wear a hat.

Tulsa also loves its local Taco Bueno, Braum's Ice Cream (Oklahoma's own fresh from local farms), BBQ smoked meat, and any decent steakhouse. Tulsa features almost all the cuisine categories you'd expect to find in larger cities. But don't forget you're in beef country.

Then take a walk in a public park, or stop by one of several popular live music venues . . . possibly to hear some TULSA SOUND: Fusing country, blues, rockabilly, rock & roll, and swamp rock!

The rest of the Tulsa roommate lowdown:

  • second largest city in Oklahoma, with about 390,000 residents in the city, about 920,000 in the greater metro
  • located in northeastern Oklahoma, along both sides of the Arkansas River, at the foothills of the Ozark Mountains
  • Summers are hot, but humidity is low. Winters are mild, with just a few inches of snow per year. Tornado season is normally spring through summer, but all four seasons have featured some.
  • home of the University of Tulsa, Rogers State University, Tulsa Community College, NSU-Broken Arrow, and a few campuses of Oklahoma State University
  • Older neighborhoods are typically art deco style, now of nationally registered architectural interest, including zigzag and streamline styles.



After you're settled down, you and your roommates should experience Tulsa's:

  • Woody Guthrie Center: His legacy lives on, including here. Check out Woody's Footsteps, Woody's Dust Bowl Ballads, the Music Bar, and the Lyric Writing Station.
  • Philbrook Museum of Art: Welcoming you to Tulsa as its "most welcoming and engaging cultural institution," including an historic home, art museums, and 25 acres of garden.
  • Gilcrease Museum of Art: > 350,000 items including > 350 years of art, the largest collection of Western and Native American art in the country. Since 1939.
  • Mohawk Park: Tulsa's largest park and one of the largest in the country at 2800 acres. Includes hiking trails, picnic grounds, and restrooms. Also the Tulsa Zoo, Oxley Nature Center, and Mohawk Park Golf Course.


Here's the city of Tulsa's official .org for services for residents, A - Z.







COLLEGE STATION

  • $600   =  non-traditional average 1
  • $607   =  average 2BR ÷ 2, or traditional roommate rent 2
  • $1187   =  average 1BR, rented solo 3

77% live within a 10-minute walk of a park. 4
Most errands require a car. 5
summer heatwaves
few traffic jams, pedestrian friendly 6
Old Geezers, It's called "STUDYING," College Students, Decent Housing, Sorority Girls, basically a cult, alcohol, always under construction are the largest hoodmap tags 7

SO, roomiematch.com's College Station roommate rundown:

College Station is a college town.

No really, it's a college town even more than most college towns that cheerfully take that label. A dominant majority of everyone living here has some important connection to the flagship campus of Texas A&M University.

They're happy Aggies! Because this is Aggieland! So you better show your Aggie Spirit!

No really, you better. But this is not a bad thing?

College Station is like a densely populated walkable suburb with a lot of nice parks. "Like" a suburb even though it's not really a suburb of anything at all? It's not actually close enough to anything other than Texas A&M to qualify as adjacent or meaningfully nearby?

But the vibe is like a suburb that's much more walkable than most, extra especially to and from campus and all those nice parks. Take care during a summer heatwave, but otherwise you're free to roam!

College Station is also a college town in that the cost of living and the average age of your roommates and your neighbors and your neighbors' roommates will likely be lower than average.

(Because they have a strong tendency to be college students. Because this is a college town.)

The rest of the College Station roommate lowdown:

  • College Station and Bryan make up the metro with a population of about 275,000 most often referred to as just "College Station"
  • known as "Aggieland," because it's home to the flagship campus of Texas A&M University System
  • College Station is halfway between Dallas and Houston, about 60 miles east of Austin
  • low cost of living overall
  • winters are mild, but summer heat is intense, most months feature frequent thunderstorms
  • You and your roommates should keep in mind that parking is free throughout most of College Station, except campus OR sometimes around campus on game days too, but NEVER park facing traffic.



After you're settled down, you and your roommates should experience College Station's:

  • Sam Houston National Forest: About 30 miles east
  • Northgate: Large area north of the university encompassing many restaurants, bars, churches, and other live music venues and apartments for the students living near them. Many well-known musicians, especially several associated with Texas country music have been performing in this area for decades . . . maybe even Lyle Lovett!


Here's the city of College Station's official .gov for new residents, including pets, recycling, and neighborhoods.







ALBUQUERQUE

  • $390   =  non-traditional average 1
  • $679   =  average 2BR ÷ 2, or traditional roommate rent 2
  • $1076   =  average 1BR, rented solo 3

91% live within a 10-minute walk of a park. 4
Most errands require a car. 5
sunburn, tarantulas, rattlesnakes
cheapest rent, stunning views, few traffic jams 6
hipsters eating in shipping containers, equestrian people, daddy bought my car, amateur wine connoisseurs, great area for a sunburn, overpriced but good views, and old people smoking in casinos are the largest hoodmap tags 7

SO, roomiematch.com's Albuquerque roommate rundown:

You'll breathe excellent quality air while enjoying gorgeous natural scenery. Just make sure to stay safe, stay out of the sun, and steer clear of those tarantulas and rattlesnakes.

Roommate rent is so low due to the abundance of affordable housing - approximately 40% renters. Albuquerque is more affordable for roommates than other major southwestern markets such as Dallas, Denver, Las Vegas, and Phoenix. It's one of the few southwestern cities left where having a pony could still be remotely affordable!

With or without a pony you'll probably still want a car. But commute times on both are next to nothing for most.

Albuquerque is unusually surrounded by retirees gambling in casinos. If that's a negative for you, just don't go there then?

Spend more time enjoying the unusually delicious and nutritious chile peppers instead.

The rest of the Albuquerque roommate lowdown:

  • popular with first time home buyers as median home prices and property taxes are below the US average (more affordable for roommates)
  • largest city in New Mexico - mid-sized city and a college town overall, attracting student roommates to the University of New Mexico, Central New Mexico Community College, Southwest University of Visual Arts, and Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute
  • depending on when you want to find a roommate weather might be a consideration, very high temperatures in summer, winter temps usually in the 50s. Some say Albuquerque has two weather conditions: sunny or stormy
  • rated above-average for walkability and bike-friendliness, with about 400 miles of bike lanes and walking paths. However, the public transportation options are more limited. ABQ Ride serves neighborhoods inside the city during the day, but for alternative schedules or frequent commutes roommates will probably want their own vehicles.
  • tarantulas are abundant, with some state park employees giving guided tours of tarantula migrations



After you're settled down, you and your roommates should experience Albuquerque's:

  • De Anza Motor Lodge: Once a run-down hotel that would have been torn down if not for the priceless Native American murals in the basement. So the property was redeveloped as a luxury apartment complex, and you can still visit the one of a kind murals.
  • Nearby Sandia Mountains: The most visible geographic feature, which occasionally get enough snow for skiing. "Sandia" is Spanish for "watermelon" and is thought to suggest their bright pink and green sunset. Sandia Peak Tramway is the country's longest aerial tram, and can take you to the 10,378-foot-tall summit for amazing views and nature trails and/or restaurants.
  • Red and green chile peppers: Staples of Albuquerque cuisine, which fuses Native American and Spanish flavors
  • International Balloon Fiesta: During which > 500 hot air balloons are launched over 9 days every October - hot air balloons are sighted year round in fewer numbers
  • Gathering of Nations: During which >550 tribes from the US and Canada travel to Albuquerque to participate in singing and dancing competitions
  • Indian Pueblo Cultural Center: Where you can learn all about the region's indigenous tribe, along with the Pueblo Montano Chainsaw Sculpture Garden
  • Petroglyph National Monument: Over 7200 acres of carved images left behind by the area's first settlers
  • National Museum of Nuclear Science and History: America's official atomic museum
  • Cliff's Amusement Park: Featuring greasy tasty treats along with your choice of scary roller coasters or calmer carousels and trains
  • Rattlesnake Museum: Live snakes, snake skeletons, snake art and of course, snake souvenirs


Here's the city of Albuquerque's official .gov for housing services & programs, which you'll hopefully never need if you choose the right roommates.







TUCSON

  • $450   =  non-traditional average 1
  • $677   =  average 2BR ÷ 2, or traditional roommate rent 2
  • $983   =  average 1BR, rented solo 3

64% live within a 10-minute walk of a park. 4
Most errands require a car. 5
car theft, heatstroke, snakes, scorpions, dust storms, monsoons with flooding, mosquitoes immediately after
cheapest rent, Sonoran spicy snacks, hiking and biking trails, Saguaros, festivals 6
real housewives of Tucson, pensionville, land of the dipshit drivers, more tweakers, affordable post-midcentury, fancy christmas lights, nice zoo, Little Mexico, taco trucks on every corner, cool planes flying, rob you not shoot you, engineers with a feeling of superiority, and fancy Christmas lights are the largest hoodmap tags 7

SO, roomiematch.com's Tucson roommate rundown:

Tucson is the second largest city in Arizona, but seems to get less than second place when it comes to Arizona's attention. Tucson deserves more attention as a roommate destination. It might deserve yours as well . . . as long as it doesn't kill you?

So what follows is a list of reasons you might want to live here, followed by instructions to hopefully avoid death while you do.

And the weather's in both.

GO! Tucson costs less than most cities on this list, rent as well as groceries and utilities.

Such a low cost of living to live near the best spicy snacks. Along with the expected fine tacos and Southwest-Mex cuisine, including mole, chile rellenos, and albondigas (Mexican meatballs), Tucson invented the Sonoran hot dog and the "Eegee." A Sonoran hot dog is a regular one wrapped with bacon, grilled, then served on a Mexican baguette with pinto beans, tomatoes, onions, and jalapenos. Mayo is optional but probably fiery too. Eegees is the name of the place and their drinks, which are frozen slushies with real fruit added. Adding tea = Teagee.

More GO! Winters are famously mild, which appeals to many. It rarely dips below 60F, staying almost always dry. The cool dry air appeals on other levels too, like lessened suffering from respiratory ailments. A lot of classic car restoration is happening as well, usually after sunset.

And then there's the snowbirds, or winter-only residents increasing the population seasonally. Some extend their stays by purchasing second homes, and some of those enjoy populating their extra rooms with new roommates.

Winter's also right for biking Tucson, including "The Loop," which is separated from traffic and circles the city. That's over 130 miles of route through parks and along river beds, that you should absolutely bike upon. In winter.

You should absolutely bike Tucson through the lovely weather of winter.

OH NO!!! is that Day One for any new cyclist should not be during summer, if you're not already extremely experienced with cardio in heat. It stays about 100F during the day all summer long . . . not a high of 100F periodically, it's just stuck there till fall. The bright sunshine and high UV coupled with low humidity bring sunburn and windburn for many, and heatstroke for some. Sunscreen won't cut it entirely, you'll need protective clothing. And if you go walking in a desert park (much less an actual desert!) take a lot of water, a couple of snacks, and a charged cell phone with location software.

In addition to dehydration, you'll need to seriously watch for snakes and scorpions. And dust storms. Please avoid driving into a dust storm, especially out on the interstate.

And if any of your roommates think the above might not apply to them? Locals know if you imagine yourself invulnerable to danger, that's just another risk factor . . .

. . . including during the monsoons. Tucson gets actual monsoons with heavy rain, thunder and lightning, and flash floods frequently happen too. Never drive into a flood or a road with a barricade, even if you can't see the flood right there. Tucson passed a "stupid motorist" law. So if you drive merrily where signs said you must not, in addition to your towing expense plus possible repairs, there will be an extra fine. And another one on top of that if they have to send a rescue team?

That's four different ways a flood could cost money, all adding insult to injury, huh? So don't drive like a dumbass in Tucson, it'll get expensive fast. Or you could actually drown! (OH NO!!! don't do that either.)

And sometimes after a monsoon, the mosquitoes come out. Do not drive into a swarm. Seriously, just stay inside until the coast is really clear.

Locals have learned to let Tucson pick their outdoor moments for them. When the weather's walkable, aggressively enjoy that. When it's not, take shelter. Resistance will not end well.

More OH NO!!!: In addition to when you drive your car, you need to pay more attention to where you park. While violent crime is usually gang-related, Tucson consistently suffers from one of the highest rates of car theft in the country, mostly due to proximity to Mexico. Theft of cars left downtown or in mall or Walmart parking lots is common. If you spend the day shopping with your car left unsecured in any unmonitored location, it might end up across the border.

Maybe before you're done shopping.

So if Tucson's GO! sounds good enough to risk OH NO!!!, you could also spend a little contemplative time staring at one of the most important plants on the planet, the keystone species of the Sonoran Desert, the symbol of the American West, the Saguaro cactus. This superstar is found only here and in a small part of California, as it thrives on the shifting between wet and dry unique to the Sonoran desert.

Saguaros store 85% of their body weight or up to 200 gallons of water. This supports at least 100 other creatures. That's part of why they're conserved in their officially protected wilderness of nearby Saguaro National Park . . . which you and your roommates could visit.

Or you could just look at the Saguaros in town! No need for a mule train.

The rest of the Tucson roommate lowdown:

  • located in south-central Arizona, on the Santa Cruz river, about 60 miles north of Mexico
  • about 500,000 residents in town, greater metro around a million
  • hot summers and mild winters typical of the desert, but with the high elevation moderating the desert heat, about 340 days of sunshine per year
  • due to the desert climate and high elevation, the danger of sunburn here is greater than almost anywhere else in the country
  • home to the University of Arizona, Pima Community College, and Arizona State University's College of Public Service & Community Solutions
  • slight majority of residents are bilingual in both English and Spanish
  • hosts the Tucson Roadrunner American Hockey League (AHL), and the University of Arizona's teams are enthusiastically attended
  • The University of Arizona is the largest employer.
  • home to Davis-Monthan Air Force Base - US Army Intelligence Center Fort Huachuca is also nearby
  • Public transport is mostly the metro bus system (Sun Tran), with a streetcar route from the University of Arizona through downtown.



After you're settled down, you and your roommates should experience Tucson's:

  • Tucson Museum of Art: Regional contemporary art as well as a focus on Latin American and pre-Columbian art, and the museum itself is within a group of historic adobe dwellings. You and your roommates can also schedule a guided group experience with a docent.
  • Philabaum Glass Gallery: Arizona's only all glass art gallery, featuring handmade glass art in all forms including blown glass vessels, stemware, and jewelry. At this gallery since 1985.
  • All Souls Procession: One of Tucson's largest festivals based on "Dia de los Muertos" (Day of the Dead), with 3-miles of colorful parade of floats and memorials and costumes at dusk. First Sunday in November.
  • Tucson Mountain Park: Would you and your roommates like to hike or ride a horse up to the saguaro cactus stands? All the gorgeous sunrise and sunset views are free.
  • El Charro Cafe: Classic Southwestern food with Sonoran influences, served at the oldest continuously-operating locally-owned Mexican restaurant in the country, since 1922.
  • Trail Dust Town: Outdoor shopping mall built from the remains of a western movie set.
  • University of Arizona Poetry Center: Founded in 1960, now one of the largest collections of modern poetry in the country, with over 70,000 items. Many educational programs you and your roommates could attend for free, including readings, lectures, contests, and classes. Or you could just walk around and read, as the collection is non-lending (everything stays on the premises) but open to the public.
  • Tucson Symphony Orchestra: Founded in 1929, the oldest still running performing arts organization in Arizona. Now with a special focus on Arizona's cultural history, their music hall was recently renamed The Linda Ronstadt Music Hall.
  • Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum: Part zoo, part botanical garden, part natural history museum. Go learn about the Sonorasaurus.


Here's the city of Tucson's official .gov for new residents, from community safety to resident resources to utilities to emergencies.







SAN ANTONIO

  • $600   =  non-traditional average 1
  • $708   =  average 2BR ÷ 2, or traditional roommate rent 2
  • $1108   =  average 1BR, rented solo 3

51% live within a 10-minute walk of a park. 4
Most errands require a car. 5
summer heat and humidity
The Riverwalk, local festivals, commutable to more expensive city,  6
alamo whites, really rich people, gentrification, trying to be Austin, gunshots and takuaches, the police won't go here, 18-wheelers and warehouses, good gun club, little india, apartments & more apartments, and mexicans with mortgages are the largest hoodmap tags 7

SO, roomiematch.com's San Antonio roommate rundown:

Some folks imagine San Antonio merely some sort of suburb of Austin. And you could make the drive one-way in about 90 minutes in the middle of the night. That's good enough for some (who really love driving), so it's not NOT true.

But while Austin's larger tech boom has received more press in recent years, San Antonio is a whole scene on its own, growing steadily too.

San Antonio is the oldest city in Texas with the largest majority of Hispanic residents in the United States, about 65%. That'll seem self-evident to anyone new, as it's most of San Antonio's energy. Festivals, fairs, and parades showcasing culture alongside music and locally produced refreshments are almost always, lending San Antone a friendlier feel.

And downtown is much more entertaining. With warmth woven in, no other city reflects its Mexican heritage better. We mean their hospitality, but it's almost always their forecast too, with sunshine year round. May-September is probably often in the 90s or 100s, and very muggy. Winter is cool and rainy. You might even need a jacket.

San Antone might be warmer or more "welcoming" financially speaking too. Unlike most similarly-sized cities where higher population translates to higher cost of living, San Antonio is still cheaper. From roommate rent to utilities to groceries to eating out, your money's worth a little more here. And like the rest of Texas, there's no state income tax.

San Antonians also enjoy an unusually large number of military bases. And military men. And tubers on innertubes. Floating around and around and around.

Getting around otherwise could mean VIA Metropolitan Transit, the bus system and downtown trolley service. And there are bicycle lanes in a ring around the city connecting to the parks, and walkable areas, mostly tourist attractions and campuses. This includes the Greenway Trails System, about 100 miles of trail winding its way through natural landscapes, including creeks and rivers, then connecting to the rest of the greenways!

However, these eco-friendlier transport options usually work better for fun than anything less flexible, because thus far, they're poorly connected. You could have a good time on a nice day just biking or walking, but if you need work-related transportation the trails might not go there. With heat most of the year plus lower density urban spread, most San Antonio's roommates will want a reliable car.

And last but absolutely not least, there's the San Antonio River Walk, which advertises itself as "the #1 attraction in Texas." It's beautiful, it's walkable, it flows through 15 miles of downtown San Antonio. It's magically delicious.

There's lots of ways to spend money that'll likely tempt you. But it's free to visit, often with free entertainment. Walk right up to colonial missions, the Zoo, theaters, multiple museums and halls of fame, and many riverside restaurants and bars. All the holidays get a bash with large decorations. Some spots are open 24 hours. You can also walk your dog on a leash. Some restaurants even have pet menus.

The River Walk even hosts a place to get married, "Marriage Island!" (You would need a reservation.)

You can also go on barge and boat tours (instead of just strolling along like most), but because of the boats, along a lot of River Walk there is no fence between the sidewalk and the river. If you're with little kids, pets, or drunk adults, you'll need to proceed with caution sufficient to prevent them from plunging in.

Swimming in the River is illegal, plus you'd probably swallow some scary bacteria. Much of the River Walk is lined with decorative planters, suggesting you remain beside rather than in the water. However, sometimes they just hop on in, all by themselves.   (Yes, we're blaming the planters. Why point the uncertain finger of blame at anyone else?)

The city drains the River every few years or so, removing "shipwrecked" planters.

But in between, anyone diving those murky green depths might smack their skull right into some terra cotta!

The rest of the San Antonio roommate lowdown:

  • San Antonio is the birthplace of Texas liberty, and the famous home of the Alamo, where the Battle of the Alamo was pivotal in the Texas Revolution in 1836, now a sacred memorial to Texas Liberty. Unlike the rest of Texas, it's also famous for what most tourists say after seeing it for the first time, "I thought it would be bigger."
  • located in south-central Texas, south of Austin
  • summer heat is intense, but the winters are mild and cool - thunderstorms are common year round
  • about 1.4 million in the city, about 2.4 in the surrounding metro
  • The military employs the largest number of San Antonians, with many military bases, including Fort Sam Houston (inside the city limits) and Camp Bullis, Camp Stanley, Lackland Air Force Base, and Randolph Air Force Base. It's also home to U.S. Air Force Basic Military Training.
  • home to Texas Lutheran College, Incarnate Word College, Trinity University, Our Lady of the Lake University, St. Mary's University, and the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio
  • hosts the San Antonio Spurs (NBA), San Antonio FC (USL), San Antonio Brahmas (UFL), UTSA Roadrunners (NCAA), and San Antonio Missions (Double-A Central)



After you're settled down, you and your roommates should experience San Antonio's:

  • Fiesta San Antonio: 11 days long event held every April, with over 100 different events full of music, fresh food, dancing, floats and festival royalty. Musical stages include mainstream, country, and Tejano.
  • Aztec on the River: Movie palace from 1926 restored into current popularity as a live performance venue. Decorated with reproductions of Meso-American artifacts.
  • San Antonio Zoological Gardens and Aquarium: 56 acres that host over 3500 animals representing 750 species. You can also go on Twilight Tours at dusk, zoo camps for adults, a train, and/or a wide variety of animal feedings.
  • McNay Art Museum: 22,000 works of art, with a special focus on American Modern Art, Art of Mexico, and prints and drawings of the Southwest. Free admission for you and your roommates every Thursday.
  • San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo: It's a whole rodeo, annually. Many competitive livestock events, fairgrounds, and country music.
  • San Antonio Museum of Art: Formerly the Lone Star brewery! Now four floors of permanent collections, frequently changing exhibits, many tours and live events with artists. You and your roommates could even join a group doing yoga next to art.


Here's the city of San Antonio's official .gov for community, from Animals, Pets & Wildlife to Volunteering.







COLORADO SPRINGS

  • $550   =  non-traditional average 1
  • $748   =  average 2BR ÷ 2, or traditional roommate rent 2
  • $1378   =  average 1BR, rented solo 3

78% live within a 10-minute walk of a park. 4
Most errands require a car. 5
mowed down by an ATV or competitive skater, altitude sickness
air quality, winter sports, dog friendly 6
tech companies, so many tourists, doggo heaven, rich gated community, people hiking the Incline, get run over by mountain bikers, hell and crackheads zone, Golf Preps, tourists and exceptional athletes, it's all military down here, urban ATV park are the largest hoodmap tags 7

SO, roomiematch.com's Colorado Springs roommate rundown:

Colorado Springs is on the eastern slope of the Rocky Mountains, about 70 miles south of Denver.

So attractive mountain scenery abounds. And all that stunning scenery is covered in wildflowers in summer! The pretty goes to eleven, for sure.

So do the military installations.

Many have described the culture of Colorado Springs as "strong military presence." What does that mean, exactly?

There are almost 50,000 active-duty troops and more than 100,000 veterans in Colorado Springs. They've all variously served at the Cheyenne Mountain Space Force Station, the Peterson Space Force Base, the Schriever Space Force Base, Fort Carson and/or The United States Air Force Academy. Many defense corporations and The Space Foundation are here as well, along with the Olympic Training Center!

Basically, many military installations and educational institutions vitally important to the defense of the United States are all right exactly here.

So how does that influence the culture? You could say the military gets what the military wants in Colorado Springs . . . but that was probably obvious already, right? (Because they're the military.)

But what might be less obvious is that folks associated with all the military listed above equal half of everyone here. Half is a high percentage, that's the notably outlier statistic.

So a lot of military folk, who attract a lot of high-tech corporations who want to work with them as well. They're all working together right now in Colorado Springs.

There's also a LOT of figure skating. SO many skating championships and a museum and an arena and a club! You and your roommates could skate on through!

(If that appeals even though you can't yet figure skate, no worries, as there's a training center for figure skating too! And that's just . . . not at all surprising, is it?)

The rest of the Colorado Springs roommate lowdown:

  • home to U.S. Air Force Academy, Beth El College of Nursing, Colorado College, and the University of Colorado
  • 2 professional baseball teams
  • Almost 500,000 folks live here one mile above sea level. You and your roommates (from lower altitudes) may need up to a week to adjust, but it's hard to say for sure because it's individual. (If you suffer from any breathing or circulatory issues please consult a doctor before traveling to Colorado Springs or other higher altitude areas.)
  • Colorado Springs experiences mild weather compared to the rest of Colorado. It does snow here, but with all the intense sunshine and all the intense snow plowing roads are usually clear again within hours. But if you and/or your roommates insist on driving in an unplowed snowy situation, you'll want snow tires and all-wheel drive, for sure.
  • The air is clean and crisp, but extremely dry. Feels nicer outside than heat plus humidity, but many raisin folk didn't know in advance that's also dehydrating. Make sure to remind any new-to-Colorado-Springs roommates to drink more water to avoid elevation sickness and raisinhood as well. OK, no actual raisin folk, that was just a metaphor, but folks do get dried up here for real.
  • Similarly, due to the dry air and high elevation, the temperature can swing widely in a matter of hours. If it starts bugging you, seriously consider dressing in layers.



After you're settled down, you and your roommates should experience Colorado Springs':

  • Pikes Peak: About 10 miles away is the peak that inspired the song, "America the Beautiful." If you don't feel up to hiking to the summit, they also allow driving and there's a train that goes all the way up (Cog Rail).
  • Garden of the Gods: It's a city park around a series of dramatically different sandstone formations.
  • Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame and Museum of the American Cowboy: Their name already speaks volumes, but this museum also features live rodeo events and a Cowboy Ball.
  • Trails: Many that are interconnected, mostly gravel, some stretches paved. Motor vehicles are not allowed but you can ride your horse on them all the way to Fountain, Colorado.


Here's the city of Colorado Springs official .gov where you can learn about biking, including The Bike Master Plan.







LAS VEGAS

  • $500   =  non-traditional average 1
  • $797   =  average 2BR ÷ 2, or traditional roommate rent 2
  • $1265   =  average 1BR, rented solo 3

74% live within a 10-minute walk of a park. 4
Most errands require a car. 5
gambling, alcoholism, dehydration, ATM fees
theater, live shows 6
it stinks right here, bezosland, lock your doors and watch yo kids, little mexico, locals be gamblin', actual culture, golf for old men, hood walmart, china town, sin city goons, you'll get robbed, north town, high profile golf people here, tupac got shot here, ethiopia, hendertucky, educated professionals, the olds, mormons and really old people are the largest hoodmap tags 7

SO, roomiematch.com's Las Vegas roommate rundown:

Las Vegas is the largest city in Nevada, in a basin in the Mojave Desert. It's the driest metropolitan area in America.

Common nicknames include: Sin City, Entertainment Capital, The Brightest Spot on Earth, Disneyland for Adults and . . . Wedding Capital of the World.

They've also got a very famous slogan, "What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas."

And some of that is true. Some's more hype than reality.

With regard to boozing in public, walking around the Strip with an open container of alcohol is allowed. And it's always cocktail hour in Vegas. For someone. Who's probably just getting off work, possibly from her strenuous job performing, so there's a more freewheeling attitude toward partying 24/7 than anyplace else.

Gambling is legalized. Many gaming options exist all over the city.

And many Vegas stage shows are sexually suggestive.

And . . . that's about it.

Meaning, other than their unusually permissive attitude toward the previous, you still can commit crimes in Vegas that will get you in just as much trouble as anywhere else.

There are even places you can still get arrested for drinking alcohol from an open container on a public street. Usually not the Strip (if you're not obnoxious or obviously over your limit) but as other areas are possibilities, partiers need to know where they are.

And both drinking while driving and driving while intoxicated are definitely illegal here too.

But not to be negative, just constructive: If you and/or one of your roommates is new to Vegas, of course you're going to want to take a walk on the Strip. Go for it!

But locals warn that casinos are usually farther away from each other than they initially appear to be, due to their looming size within their own landscape. In addition, the extreme heat on asphalt during the day may make walking more exhausting for newbies unaccustomed to extreme heat. Heatstroke is happening in Vegas, more often than most new roommates imagine.

Take care to avoid both dehydration and overheating, especially when walking outside with alcohol in your system. Even after dark! Many casinos are connected via underground tunnels or air-conditioned shuttles. Many thought they were too hardy to bother with tunnels or shuttles, then sweatily turned back a short time later after outdoors felt like a furnace.

Las Vegas in general but particularly the Strip attracts pickpockets . . . just like most larger tourist destinations. So keep your wallet in an inner pocket and/or your purse securely closed and strapped to your body, or consider stashing purse valuables in inner pockets too.

Also FYI, casinos have security cameras over every square inch of their property, plus both uniformed and plain-clothed security officers constantly patrolling. No one should behave in any way that's against their rules and expect to get away with it, that's unlikely. But if someone is bothering you it's very easy to get them to stop.

But all that security still won't save pedestrians from being hit by cars? Yes, the Strip is uniquely dangerous to pedestrians. Some drivers become mesmerized by the gorgeous displays of music, water, and light. And some drivers become drunk by free cocktails.

Anywhere in Vegas, especially near a casino, pedestrians need to assume all drivers are out to mow them down like they're all triple jackpots. Pedestrians in Vegas need to keep THEMSELVES safe.

And in a car? Most locals avoid driving longer distances anywhere near the Strip or downtown, especially on weekends, it's almost all gridlock. Locals either park their cars nearby, then get out and walk to their final destination (when heat allows), or use nearby lesser-known streets to get almost all the way there, joining the gridlocked herd for as little mileage as possible.

As a pedestrian and in a car, you and your roommates will need similar traffic-avoidance strategies if you plan to spend much time near the casinos but would rather not spend an equal amount of time in a massive traffic jam. Basically, you'll need to figure how to go where you need to go in air-conditioned comfort while avoiding most everyone else doing same.

Figure the best route possible, maybe even involving free hotel shuttles that often cheerfully transport non-guests, even those living nearby that never stay in the hotels. Hardly anyone cares as long as you're polite. Don't behave in any way to make that free (to you) shuttle difficult or unpleasant for the hotel customers actually footing its bill, and it's unlikely anyone will boot you.

As for Las Vegas being the Wedding Capital of the World, well, that's the only nickname mentioned so often UNenthusiastically? At least for many, depends on who you're asking, but Las Vegas' legitimate reputation as Wedding Capital of the World is paired with its also legit rep as Divorce Capital of the World.

And yes, if you regard marriage as a sacrament, too many might seem sacrilegious. To you. But you might want to refresh critics on a few details: Many do get married same day in Vegas, even by Elvis impersonators, yes it's true. But unlike what's popularly imagined, you still do have to apply for a marriage license with valid government ID. While the Las Vegas Wedding Bureau is open most of the time (including holidays), and no blood test or waiting period is required, it's not happening within a half an hour or less, definitely nope.

You can actually get turned away for drunkenness too . . . though that's unreliable.

So it's amusing that some negatively judge Las Vegans for facilitating all that marrying and divorcing, because they didn't choose the participants, did they? So if anyone's making fun of Vegas for helping out, you could point out that sure, that's happening, but everyone else involved is usually coming from out of town?

This is probably a good time to point out that all these warnings are necessary because SO MANY go to Las Vegas TO HAVE FUN. And judging from repeat visits, most succeed. All the warnings are necessary because sometimes adults have a little more fun than they can handle and need to take a few more precautions.

But you wouldn't need all the precautions around all that fun if fun wasn't happening in the first place. You and your roommates should just Vegas safely.

While Las Vegas can feel more like an oven outdoors several months out of the year, the winters make everyone jealous. And while many leave it to the winters for outdoor exploring, some braver souls go year round, particularly in campervans.

Within a day's drive in your campervan are several climbable limestone canyons and peaks, plus national parks and preserves, to explore on their own, as well as for overnight stays.

Hiking, camping, rock climbing, mountain biking and skiing are all available in the nearby mountains. Red Rock Canyon and Valley of Fire State Park are particularly stunning.

Given the high temps, many are also surprised that ice skating is popular? On the other hand, if you can have all those fountains on the Strip outdoors in the heat, why not indoor ice skating rinks?

They have an NHL ice hockey team (Vegas Golden Knights), and a Las Vegas Ice Center, inviting all levels, from family skate to figure. A few hotels also feature rinks, particularly for seasonal presentations.

It's really the vibe of Vegas that it is Christmas year round. Along with always time for a cocktail.

Even though it's never actually cold enough for even ice cubes to last outside, perhaps you and your roommates should do Christmas year round in Sin City too.

The rest of the Las Vegas roommate lowdown:

  • 6th most visited city in the US, with almost 3 million visitors annually, more stuff open 24/7/365 or very close to it than anywhere else
  • about 630,000 live in the city, 2.2 million in the greater metro
  • in a basin in the Mojave Desert, surrounded by mountain ranges, rocky deserts, occasional flash floods due to monsoons in July and August
  • home to the University of Nevada, College of Southern Nevada, Nevada State College, the Desert Research Institute, and Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts
  • famous for casinos and mega-resorts, usually lavishly decorated and neon-lit, replicas of famous architecture from around the world
  • Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) fights are their most popular in Las Vegas
  • So are really elaborate fountains.
  • typical desert climate, extremely long, hot summer, cools off at night, winters are mild, about 310 sunny days a year
  • with very low humidity and temps often exceeding 100F, newbies will need more sunscreen outdoors than many initially imagine
  • Vegas charges more absurd transaction fees than almost anywhere else, so avoid withdrawing cash from any ATM inside a casino or nightclub, they often charge ridiculously high fees. Instead check with your bank to determine where you can withdraw for free.
  • There is a Nevada state law that all gamblers must be at least 21 years old, with current government-issued ID saying so. If you look underage and have no ID saying otherwise, you will be asked to leave. Local police may also give you a ticket (probably not) but if someone under 21 wins a jackpot all by themselves they probably won't collect, as their bet will be voided as illegal. So anyone with roommates under 21 should warn them that even if they somehow sneak their way in without proper ID and win a jackpot, they probably won't actually collect.
  • Downtown Las Vegas, The Strip, Henderson and East Los Vegas are neighborhoods that are saturated with casinos. West of I-15 and North Las Vegas are mostly residential and suburban.
  • The Las Vegas economy is heavily gaming (gambling), tourism, and conventions, which in turn drive retail. The University also contributes substantially.
  • There are frequent buses on the Strip connecting to downtown. The Las Vegas monorail goes to several Strip hotels and the Las Vegas Convention Center. It'll give you a slow-moving tour of the back entrance to all the Strip hotels. But since it doesn't go very far, not even connecting to downtown or the airport, it's not practical for much else.
  • Las Vegas has been the leading entertainment hub for adults since Nevada legalized gambling in 1931. Las Vegas has no competitor in terms of amount of US gambling. Also no competitor in terms of Southern Californians crowding I-15 every weekend going back and forth.
  • Las Vegas' buses are all air-conditioned. Tickets are only 2 bucks, and there are convenient ticket vending machines. You can also buy passes. They're great for recuperating and cooling off.
  • The hotel gift shops and convenience stores near the Strip tend to be outrageously overpriced. There are no major groceries anywhere near the strip, not for a few miles away. You and your roommates should plan to do your grocery shopping elsewhere or overpay.
  • Most of the hotels in Vegas are famous for their buffets. Most feature a spread, but going for breakfast or lunch will usually be a much better value.



After you're settled down, you and your roommates should experience Las Vegas':

  • World Series of Poker: June and July, almost all top poker players attend
  • Las Vegas Aces: WNBA team that relocated from San Antonio, now their arena is inside the Mandalay Bay casino
  • America's Party: New Year's Eve, every year. The Strip is closed to cars so the crowd and the fireworks can commence. If you'd like to ring in the New Year in the middle of a massive mob doing same, this is the party for you. If NOT, definitely avoid anyplace in Vegas near any casino. You could get swept up in festivity against your will.
  • Mob Museum: Otherwise known as the National Museum of Organized Crime & Law Enforcement, its mission is "to advance the public understanding of organized crime's history and impact on American society." Experience artifacts like wiretap recordings, Bugsy's sunglasses, one of Nucky Thompson's suits, and a valise with hidden flasks.
  • Pinball Hall of Fame: Not far from the Strip, many you can play for only 25 cents, a few cost more, and there's over 200.
  • Cactus Joe's Desert & Garden Nursery: Voted Best Garden Store/Nursery by the Las Vegas Review - Would you and your roommates like some succulents or cacti to decorate your home or yard? Seven acres, including outdoor furniture, yard sculptures, and cholla skeletons. There's also a chapel, a koi pond, some yoga gatherings, and a gift shop with Indigenous pottery. Since 1989.
  • Neon Museum: Neon signs from Las Vegas' retro modern, burlesque, and kitschy iconic past remain in this storage yard. Tours are offered daily, and if you and your roommates go on yours after sunset you can see some of the signs light up.
  • KISS by Monster Mini Golf: 13,000 square feet of KISS memorabilia, including a giant Gene Simmons head. You can play a round of miniature golf and renew your wedding vows in their "Hotter than Hell" wedding chapel, all to the sounds of a live DJ spinning KISS nonstop.
  • Electric Daisy Carnival: Rave in mid-May with the world's biggest DJs. Interactive art, dancing for days, and you can chill out in between events in a "shift pod." You and your roommates should use the buddy system, and newbies need to remember to avoid getting so high you dehydrate or require medical intervention for another reason.

    Wear lightweight clothing and comfortable shoes, and don't forget your water bottle for the free refill stations.

    Then don't forget to actually use the free refill stations, then drink from your water bottle.


Here's the city of Las Vegas' official .gov for new residents, including registering to vote, local maps, neighborhood services, natural gas, and the DMV.







RENO

  • $625   =  non-traditional average 1
  • $818   =  average 2BR ÷ 2, or traditional roommate rent 2
  • $1331   =  average 1BR, rented solo 3

76% live within a 10-minute walk of a park. 4
Most errands require a car. 5
casinos
casinos, rodeo, desert landscape, nearby skiing 6

SO, roomiematch.com's Reno roommate rundown:

"The Biggest Little City in the World" is Reno's seemingly beloved nickname.

Reno certainly does a lot XXXXL . . . especially for a city of about 250,000 (barely M). Their well-deserved cowboy reputation as mostly miners mostly in the past has morphed into outdoor sports and gambling.

Casinos are their most popular attraction you and your roommates might not want to overlook, as long as you have no problem with gambling: spiritually, personally, financially, etc.

Even if you don't gamble yourself, Reno's casinos host bargains on restaurants and entertainment, not just the traditional buffet & booze combo (although you can certainly find those too), but brewpubs, steakhouses, coffee shops, and sushi bars. Also comedy clubs, theaters, special cinema screens, go karts, mini golf, arcades, and bowling alleys.

In the casinos, we mean. All inside that last paragraph inside the casinos of Reno. Usually cheaper than similar somewhere else? Many casinos here say they're more "family-friendly" than Vegas. But that's as family-friendly as gambling can get, we suppose? If you don't have a problem, etc. . . . enjoy the bargains!

Other seriously cowboy stuff looms large in Reno, much of it taking advantage of their seriously seasonal weather and incredibly rugged landscape.

Would you like to climb things? Like walls and cliffs and rock faces and sheer drops? Reno is very competitive in both natural and artificial "climbing walls." Superior rock climbing offers itself along the granite faces around Reno. For the less experienced and daring (as an alternative or to get ready?), there are many indoor climbing gyms.

The open desert terrain surrounding also offers smooth to really rough mountain biking.

There are also classic car and motorcycle gatherings, and martial arts and combat sporting events. On Reno's three lakes in summer, kite flying and wind surfing abound, with skiing, snowboarding, snowmobiling in winter. Along with ice hockey and soccer. Plus multiple golf tournaments along with roller derby teams.

And there is an actual rodeo, well attended.

And that seriously seasonal weather? Seriously roommates, you could seriously die. So be awesome and don't. For any outdoor sporting activities (including driving!) in and around Reno, keep a watchful eye on your own hydration, and if you're overly hot or way too cold, all more than usual.

Reno is mostly about 4400 feet above sea level. Along with mystical-looking high desert geological features and temperatures above 100 alternating seasonally with snow . . . altitude sickness is also possible.

Reno is on the low side of the altitude range likely to cause illness in healthy individuals, as most who come down with any altitude sickness first start noticing symptoms between 6000-8000. However, extended athletic activity in Reno might still cause a problem in someone not used to altitude but otherwise very fit, at least initially, at least until they become accustomed. Meanwhile, they might not even understand right away that it's altitude sickness. Tell all your athletic roommates to keep it in mind.

We also need to warn you it's about an 8 hour drive to Vegas. Yes, even at night, and that's when things are going well. A lot of gambling fans want to gamble in both. That's understandable and you certainly can, because it's legal in both.

But again. It's about 8 hours to Vegas. And that'll be across an almost all desert landscape, with long stretches between any town large enough to provide food and gas.

In the nearby mountains, driving gets dodgy in the winter when it snows, especially if you don't have tire chains and four-wheel-drive. Driving in the desert outside of Reno in the summer can be dangerous too, and the heat is hard on your car.

Along with archaeologists who played a role in the mining boom and the pioneers who settled the Truckee Valley, today's Renoites are still mining for gold.

In casinos, sure, but also literal gold.

Reno and surrounding areas are still a significant contributor to the world's gold supply . . . along with other valuable rocks and beautiful fluorescent minerals.

Reno roommates need to remember not to croak out there in the desert doing seasonally dangerous things with rocks, valuably sparkly or massively rock face or Burning Man rock n'roll or otherwise. Safety first!

The rest of the Reno roommate lowdown:

  • Reno is in western Nevada, 15 miles east of the California border, near the northern shore of Lake Tahoe, at the base of the Sierra Nevada mountains, and in the Truckee River valley.
  • With several world-class ski areas nearby, ski season brings Reno a lot of weekend tourists.
  • home to Sierra Nevada College, Truckee Meadows Community College, and the University of Nevada
  • There is a transit system, mostly buses, called RTC Ride. It's mostly for the dining, gambling, and shopping needs of tourists as it serves multiple downtown destinations including casinos and the airport, but you can also go a mall or two, the University of Nevada, and downtown Sparks. (Otherwise you and your roommates will need a car.)
  • Reno is the closest major city to the Burning Man festival (Black Rock City, but Reno is the next major city), so many Burners stop off for a while along the way.



After you're settled down, you and your roommates should experience Reno's:

  • Nevada Museum of Art: The four-level building is inspired by the topography of Nevada's Black Rock Desert. Special focus on Art of the Greater West, Altered Landscape, and the Work Ethic in American Art.
  • Rancho San Rafael Regional Park: The whole thing started off as a cattle ranch back in 1890, now 580 acres of most of the stuff you'd expect in a park along with a horse pasture, an arboretum, a botanical garden, trails, picnic pavilions, disc golf, and the Great Reno Balloon Race!
  • Idlewild Park: Along with a horseshoe court, a skate park, and its own train, this park also hosts Reno's Municipal Rose Garden.


Here's the city of Reno's official .gov for "How Do I ..." from community engagement to reporting issues, which you and your roommates might need.







PHOENIX or Tempe

  • $600   =  non-traditional average 1
  • $872   =  average 2BR ÷ 2, or traditional roommate rent 2
  • $1392   =  average 1BR, rented solo 3

49% live within a 10-minute walk of a park. 4
Most errands require a car. 5
heatstroke, your air conditioning bill, haboobs, snakes, spiders, mountain lions, stabby Saguaros
Saguaros, golf courses, professional sports 6
ptown world, impatient drivers and driving, roosevelt row arts district, pretty much mexico, slums, sketchy, buy here while you can, wealthy historic, civic center, go suns, good luck, disgusting sewer called a "lake," overpriced nightclubs, suburbia, and good hiking are the largest hoodmap tags 7

SO, roomiematch.com's Phoenix roommate rundown:

Phoenix is extremely popular with college students, tourists, and retirees, and their economy revolves around all three. They undulate in waves just like the heat.

But unlike many similarly popular cities, summer is no one's favorite?

Because it's too hot. Even for natives who love living here. They love staying inside all summer long, "hibernating" in air conditioning well into fall . . . at least as much as possible.

It gets HOT. Like the highest average temperature of any major metro in the country, up to 120 degrees F hot. Like the most sunshine of any major metro in the world, with an average of about 110 days over 100 degrees F hot. Like very little rain except for monsoons hot.

Like monsoon rains with flooding, with lightning and dust storms also happening hot. Like haboob hot.

What's haboob hot? A haboob is a dust storm carried along on a weather front. No one likes sand blowing in from the desert, especially when it cuts off power. However, this is a feature of monsoon season in hot desert climates like Phoenix.

The extreme dry heat of summer also means high UV and a risk of sunburn almost whenever the sun is out. All your roommates should wear sunscreen to avoid becoming crispy critters. If they think they're the special exception? They're extra especially not. Water and a hat are clever too.

Phoenix's arid ecology is also habitable to different flora and fauna than anyone not from a desert has likely experienced . . . and we need to warn you about some of them too. Not as much inside the city limits, but definitely suburbs surrounding!

The following are possibly dangerous to humans, often lethally dangerous for outdoor pets:

Coyote, javelina, bobcat, mountain lion, Western diamondback rattlesnake, Sonoran sidewinder, Sonoran coral snake, Gila monster, Arizona bark scorpion, black widow spiders, brown recluse spiders, giant desert hairy scorpion, Arizona blond tarantula, and tarantula hawk wasp!

All Phoenicians have to slightly beware the cactus spines, particularly the giant saguaros'. It's not like they're going to reach out and grab you, but folks get stabbed anyway. Yes, many are large enough to hug! But definitely don't.

(There are a lot of other sharp-spined succulents. And some less spiny succulents as well, along with many lovely native trees.)

So why so popular, what with all that sizzling danger?

It's all about winter in the Valley of the Sun!

In summer, everyone avoids outdoors as much as possible, but in winter, visitors live for it! Wealthy "snowbirds" from colder parts of the country often spend winters in Phoenix, attracted to the mild winters and lower cost of living.

And there are many outdoor attractions for them, all winter long, including over 200 golf courses.

And it's also all about the college students, year round. Downtown Tempe is a college town with that expected night life, and you can take light rail to and fro. Most of that's revolving around Arizona State University, the region's largest higher institution of higher education, but several other campuses are here too.

All that studying and traveling leads to snacking in the sunshine. Mexican cuisine is well represented, along with pizza for the perpetual college students. But also get ready for burritos the size of newborn babies, fry bread, steakhouses, street tacos, quesadillas, and . . . hot chilis on anything and everything.

No, it's not paradoxical to eat hot chilis in the hottest weather. Nope!

The rest of the Phoenix roommate lowdown:

  • capital of Arizona, located in Arizona's Salt River Valley, about 150 miles from the Mexican border
  • about 1.6 million residents, about 4.5 in the greater metropolitan area, which involves many suburbs
  • natural vegetation is sparse without a lot of green, as the terrain is mostly desert, but some tree and citrus growth
  • typical desert climate, including low annual rainfall, low humidity, very long intensely hot summers, and mild winters, surrounded by low mountain ranges
  • about 42% of the population is Hispanic
  • There are many major-league sports teams in or near Phoenix: Arizona Rattlers (IFL) Phoenix Suns (NBA), Arizona Cardinals (NFL), Arizona Coyotes (NHL), Arizona Diamondbacks (MLB), Phoenix Mercury (WNBA), and Phoenix Rising FC (USL). In addition, several additional baseball teams and a few popular college teams also have very enthusiastic fans.
  • home to American School of International Management, Arizona State University, Grand Canyon University, Maricopa Community Colleges, Ottawa University, University of Arizona, and Western International University
  • Mesa has a Mormon Latter Day Saints Temple.
  • You can rent e-scooters to ride around downtown. There's also a bus system that connects to a light rail line. You can purchase day passes to go between downtown and various city buildings.

    Otherwise, you'll really want a car. Phoenix sprawls, urban area itself over 500 square miles, suburbs adding substantially to that.
  • City roads are easy to navigate, based on a grid and numbered from the city center. Numbered roads go north-south, avenues east-west. Everything is spread out (another reason you'll need a car, in the heat).



After you're settled down, you and your roommates should experience Phoenix's:

  • Heard Museum: Native American culture and arts, especially from Arizona and New Mexico. From baskets to beadwork to textiles to pottery to their famous Hopi Katsina dolls. Also an exhibit on the 19th-century boarding schools to which some Native Americans were subjected. Open most days of the year, and there's a mobile app.
  • Phoenix Art Museum: Over 20,000 works in nine galleries, including art from around the world, modern, contemporary, fashion design, and photography.
  • Phoenix Symphony Hall: Home to the Arizona Opera, Ballet Arizona, and the Phoenix Symphony Orchestra
  • South Mountain Park: Largest municipal park in the country, more than 16,000 (!) acres, over 50 miles of scenic trail for horseback riding, hiking, or biking. Features three mountain ranges and Dobbins Lookout, at 2330 feet.
  • Phoenix Zoo: One of the largest non-profit zoos in the country, over 400 species and over 3000 animals, including chevrotains, fennec foxes, komodo dragons, cactus ferruginous pygmy owls, masai giraffes, toco toucans, and Arizona walking sticks. You can also ride horses.
  • Desert Botanical Garden: 50 acres of desert plants, with an emphasis on how plants are used to survive in arid lands. You and your roommates could learn about desert landscaping with self-guided or daily docent tours. They're a global leader in cactus horticulture.
  • Japanese Friendship Garden of Phoenix: "A beautiful, serene, Japanese garden within the heart of downtown Phoenix." There's a stroll garden, a tea garden, and a dry garden. Also pottery and bonsai exhibits, and a koi pond. Your serenity is intended.
  • Musical Instrument Museum: "Instruments played by the heroes of folk, blues, and bluegrass music." Instruments from all over the world, including mechanical. Regular concert series plus hands-on exhibitions. There's an octobasse.
  • Roosevelt Historic District First Friday Art Walk: Since 1994, now the largest monthly artwalk in the US, celebrating hundreds of local independent artists and the local businesses showcasing them.


Here's the city of Phoenix's official .gov, including upcoming major events, some may interest you and your roommates.

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HOUSTON

  • $700   =  non-traditional average 1
  • $893   =  average 2BR ÷ 2, or traditional roommate rent 2
  • $1329   =  average 1BR, rented solo 3

61% live within a 10-minute walk of a park. 4
Most errands require a car. 5
urban sprawl, traffic, flooding, heatwaves, humidity, mosquitoes, swamps
parkland, shopping, symphonies, museums, restaurants, nature preserves, local professional sports teams, fresh seafood 6
Devil's Crossroads (aka traffic), gentrifying rapidly, habla espanol, trinity gardens, young rich professionals, good bar scene, still hood, trap trail, moms with cadillacs, south park mexican listeners, little mexico, huge old rich houses, doctors, gay friendly, and here is where you go for breakfast tacos are the largest hoodmap tags 7

SO, roomiematch.com's Houston roommate rundown:

Houston is the most populated city in Texas (about 2.3 million) over a sprawling metropolitan area. It's one of the nation's largest metros geographically. It's more than twice the size of Rhode Island.

So large in large part because their real estate development SPRAWLED. Many say Houston's lack of zoning kept it affordable, with a low cost of living for a large city in Texas - lower than both Dallas and Austin.

However, it also keeps spreading out (and out, and out again), virtually ensuring Houstonians remain automobile dependent. Much was built on forests, marshes, and swamps, with mostly flat terrain and four bayous passing through. Houston now has over 650 square miles of developed gulf coastal plain and prairie, some now prone to flooding.

Most Houstonians feel their highway system makes driving around Houston relatively easy, except for construction (somewhere, always) and rush hour (7-9 a.m. and 4-6 p.m.). During rush hour, traffic often crawls to a halt.

Other than a few limited areas near downtown, Houston isn't friendly to pedestrians and bicycles. However, a number of non-profits are working on changing that. You can bicycle in Houston on 160 miles of dedicated bikeway, so far. Which is not enough to bicycle through any meaningful percentage of Houston . . . right now. But stay tuned.

Houston also has a reputation as hot and dangerous. Both the weather and the Houstonians.

The reference to crime could be described as both deserved and undeserved. While their violent crime rate is high, it concentrates a lot in neighborhoods known for gang activity. Generally, it's best to be aware where you are at all times, don't explore areas new to you all by yourself after dark, and stay out of deserted areas entirely.

But with regard to the weather? Entirely deserved.

Well. The weather in Houston from October to April is usually pleasant. Other months locals just shake their heads at heat-exhausted newcomers. "No, it's NOT a dry heat."

It's often extremely hot, but with a thick and enveloping humidity. It exceeds 90F most days from June to September. Until you're used to it or perhaps forever, limit your time outside in the summer between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m., protect your skin (clothing/sunscreen/hat/all of the above) when you are outside, and hydrate at all times. Consider heatstroke an ongoing threat.

So you and your roommates will need a car to leave your immediate Houston neighborhood, almost always. And it must be air-conditioned. You need air conditioning indoors most places during the day as well. These things are all true most of the year. Newbies to Houston: Don't even argue or you might just die.

You also need to beware of hurricanes, flooding, and mosquitoes.

But hey, Houston also distinguishes itself with over 70,000 acres of dedicated parkland, for a grand total of 337 parks. Not even going to list all, but even 25% would be way more park than you could manage to explore anytime soon. You move to Houston? You're set for parks! (but go on a cooler day)

There's also the Big Thicket. That's the name given to over 100,000 acres of heavily forested Houston/Southeast Texas, recognized as containing several of its own ecosystems plus incredibly high animal and plant diversity. Some say it's the most biologically diverse area in the world! It's also now recognized as its own biosphere and national preserve. You and your roommates probably don't require the Big Thicket for anything practical, but you should probably go look. Just to experience it.

Because how many get a Big Thicket as interesting as all that? Near(ish) where you live inside a real city, even?

Only Houstonians. Everyone else can visit, but the Big Thicket belongs to Houston.

The rest of the Houston roommate lowdown:

  • 50 miles inland from the Gulf Coast
  • Houston is predominantly Hispanic or Latino, and also home to a number of large immigrant Asian communities.
  • mild winters, intense summer heat and humidity, foggy year-round, frequent thunderstorms, hurricanes possible
  • Houston currently has excessive ozone levels, or smog, which means some air pollution.
  • both oil and international immigration have continued to bring Houston new citizens, now the 5th largest metro area
  • Houston is a worldwide leader in oil, natural gas, medical research, and aerospace and aviation
  • growing in tech startups including renewable energy
  • over 50% occupied by renters
  • Houston's extensive and rapid real estate development over a lot of flat terrain has led to flooding of the prairie land, which can become overwhelmed during storms, even with Houston's extensive drainage system. Houston has experienced significant property loss from floods during storms.
  • Houston is the third most Christian metro area by % of population, with about 75% of Houstonians self-reporting Christian affiliation, second to Dallas. Lakewood Church has been reported as the country's largest Christian megachurch, with approximately 40,000 weekly.
  • Houston sports a team for every major professional league except hockey. Houston Astros (baseball), Houston Texans (football), Houston Rockets (basketball), Houston Sabercats (rugby), and Houston Dynamo and Houston Dash (men and women's soccer). There are also several enthusiastically supported college teams, some golf tournaments, a Motocross, a Grand Prix, and IndyCar Series, and an Art Car Parade.
  • Long known for excellent Tex-Mex, Cajun, BBQ, and Texas steakhouses, Houston now offers almost every ethnic restaurant option, many ranging from fine dining to food truck. Houston is also known for fresh produce and Gulf seafood, in particular crawfish and oysters from Galveston Bay.
  • home to University of Houston, Houston Baptist University, Houston Christian University, Prairie View A & M University, Baylor College of Medicine, Rice University, Texas Southern University, University of Texas Health Science Center, and the University of Saint Thomas
  • Houston's Texas Medical Center is the largest medical center in the world. It represents dozens of non-profit medical organizations and employs almost 75,000 people in virtually all health science capacities.
  • no state or local income tax in Houston, but the combined state, county, and city sales tax is 8.25%
  • Houston is hot and humid and built on swampland. That means serious mosquitoes. Outdoor parties with food mean you need insect repellent.
  • Have a disaster plan and share disaster supplies with your roommates. Does your home have a disaster preparedness kit if you encounter severe weather there? If your home floods and cell service goes down, where will you meet? Do you have go bags?



After you're settled down, you and your roommates should experience Houston's:

  • Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo: World's largest annual livestock exhibition and rodeo show. 20 days in March.
  • Houston Galleria: Largest mall in Texas, 9th largest in the United States. Almost 400 stores and 2 hotels.
  • Museum District: 19 museums, most are free for you and your roommates on Thursdays
  • Houston Theater District: 17-block area with 9 major performance arts organizations and 6 performance halls - also an entertainment complex with restaurants, billiards, bars, movie screens, and live music
  • Downtown Houston Tunnel System: Largest underground pedestrian tunnel system in the US, 7 miles of air-conditioned tunnel, linking offices plus various downtown shops and restaurants, walk to all before resurfacing
  • Art Car Parade: Annual event for "rolling art." Quite a few different vehicles have been spotted, including 2-wheelers and human-powered, but probably most loved for classic cars and highly modified, creatively decorated lowriders
  • Space Center Houston: Visitor center for NASA's Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center
  • Hermann Park: 440 acres of pedal boats, nature trails, sculpture gardens and the Houston Zoo
  • Smither Park: Mosaics from more than 300 folk artists working with various broken objects - you and your roommates are invited to walk around and enjoy a picnic - park continues expanding as more artists contribute!
  • Rothko Chapel: Part chapel, with interior walls featuring the art of American Abstract painter Mark Rothko, and all work of art. Windowless building designed as a place of worship or meditation for any denomination or religious tradition. Since 1971.
  • Houston hip hop: While Houston hasn't been as celebrated for its music scene as Austin, it holds its own with Southern and Southern Texas styles such as blues, country, dubstep and Tejano. Houston has also pioneered its own choppily remixed hip hop style, now claiming itself as the birthplace of many successful Houston hip hop artists, including Destiny's Child and Megan Thee Stallion.


Here's the city of Houston's official .gov for residents, with links to most city services.







SACRAMENTO

  • $760   =  non-traditional average 1
  • $986   =  average 2BR ÷ 2, or traditional roommate rent 2
  • $1613   =  average 1BR, rented solo 3

84% live within a 10-minute walk of a park. 4
Most errands require a car. 5
thick fog (drivers beware)
commutable to more expensive city, urban forest of bicycle paths, temperate weather 6
old money, kinda hood, south sacraq, new SF, vanilla ice blocks, high end luxury hotels, don't come here at night, gay men in slippers walking chihuahuas, the hood, super hood, indians, houses built in a flood plain, trolls, upcoming area, and little mexico are the largest hoodmap tags 7

SO, roomiematch.com's Sacramento roommate rundown:

From Sacramento's Gold Rush of yore until . . . about a decade ago? Most still believed Sacramento was nothing but a podunk cowtown. Many hadn't noticed it's California's capital, probably imagining L.A. or San Francisco or maybe even San Diego instead?

But Sacramento appeals to many roommates lately for its lower cost of living, the lowest for any major metro in California. And while government is still the largest employer, education, healthcare and medical research have now proliferated locally as well. Tech is increasingly popping up too. Some companies are enjoying proximity to the Bay Area for less rent.

You can drive to San Francisco in decent traffic conditions in about two hours. Some do this regularly, called "super-commuters." They're super tolerant of such a long commute, or they super love driving? Both? Might be worth it you go in once a week and already have your parking squared away. Otherwise, if you have to search for a space after you arrive, that's another two hours.

Sacramentans do tend to be more relaxed, and somewhat slower paced than Californians in other large cities. Extra especially the outdoorsy bicyclists. They're really in the zone.

Sacramento is an urban forest. Along with an extensive network of parks (about 5000 acres), this city loves commuting via bicycle on dedicated bicycle paths. And local urban bike paths eventually connect to the 32-mile American River Parkway, which itself connects with several other parks and beaches and other trails all the way to Folsom. You can even ride in the dark as long as you wear a forward-facing light visible from 300 feet away. Helmets are also encouraged, but motorized vehicles and skateboards are not. And you can walk your dogs too, as long as they stay on their leashes.

Along with milder weather and relatively flat terrain, Sacramento's bicyclists love how many of their bike paths are lined with gorgeous green trees. They started long ago, planting cottonwood and eucalyptus to dry out some swampland, then diversified into several other varieties, including willow, palm, and fruit.

Now they've nicknamed themselves "City of Trees" and claim more trees per person than anywhere in the world. Downtown is definitely tree-lined, making urban walking more pleasant too.

But if you'd like your outdoorsy more badass than walking or bicycling, Sacramento (or nearby-ish, within reasonable driving distance) has you covered too. If you're into anything mountainous, the nearby Sierra Nevada range is excellent. Tahoe's ski resorts are close too.

Sacramento really only has a couple of frequent environmental hazards. #2, the monsoon clouds of summer. They can cause flooding, so be wary at lower elevations during warmer storms with a lot of rain.

#1 is the fog that often makes driving hazardous. There are many entire days driving in Sacramento is a lot more dangerous than usual, merely due to heavy fog hanging around. Fog is possible all year, but usually happens in winter. We'd recommend looking at severe fog like a Southern "snow day," where you'd consider driving just too hazardous to be sane.

So you and your roommates would avoid driving altogether by staying home or walking, at least until the fog lifts. Or bicycling, but sloooooooooooowly, and only on car-free trails and separated bike routes.

But otherwise, if you can tolerate some unpredictable water, and life near but not at all within the Bay Area sounds promising . . .

. . . enjoy your friendlier urban forest inside California's increasingly buzzy capital.

The rest of the Sacramento roommate lowdown:

  • in Northern California at the base of the Sierra Nevada
  • about 520,000 residents inside the city, about 2.5 million in the greater metropolitan area
  • summers are very hot but dry, winters are mild but damp and foggy, often foggy enough to severely reduce visibility, especially bad for driving
  • Sacramento's streets are mostly numbered and lettered and laid out in an easily navigable grid.
  • Sacramento Regional Transit District (Sac RT), is the bus and light rail system. Service is best along three lines to major destinations.
  • Sacramento is hosting California's state government, along with the rest of their county and Sacramento, the city. This means a whole lot of state and other governmental and municipal agencies are nearby.
  • Most of Sacramento is moderately flat.
  • home to University of the Pacific, California State University, University of California (Davis), and Los Rios Community College District
  • home to the Sacramento Kings (NBA), and the Sacramento Republic FC (USL)
  • Sacramento is home to about 100 community theaters. Sacramentans love their community theater.



After you're settled down, you and your roommates should experience Sacramento's:

  • Crocker Art Museum: Special focus on Native American Ceramics and American Art after 1945, several guided tours are available. You and your roommates could also attend ArtMix, with DJs, food and drinks, and art-making activities. It's only about once a month though, confirm before heading over.
  • Old Sacramento: Once a riverfront pioneer town, now an historic tourist destination. Horse-drawn stagecoaches, cobbled streets, preserved historic buildings, a Riverboat, the Railroad Museum, steam locomotives, and carriage rides are all periodically available.
  • Sacramento History Museum: From the Gold Rush days to now, you can visit native cookbooks from previous centuries, mannequins wearing the seasonal attire of the River People, or their lowrider exhibit, Boulevard Dreams.
  • California State Fair: Yes, a lot of states have fairs, but this fair's ongoing since 1854? Also it's California, so it's XXL. Agricultural awards, commercial wine and cheese contests, homebrews, rabbit challenges, a cavalcade of horses, and the CA State Fair Cannabis Awards.


Here's the city of Sacramento's official .org for bicycle advocacy, making the whole city cleaner and healthier by "enabling more people to choose a bike for everyday travel."







AUSTIN

  • $850   =  non-traditional average 1
  • $1141   =  average 2BR ÷ 2, or traditional roommate rent 2
  • $1712   =  average 1BR, rented solo 3

70% live within a 10-minute walk of a park. 4
Most errands require a car. 5
heatstroke, sunburn, your air conditioning bill, traffic jams, pollen, scorpions, fire ants, cockroaches
live music, stunning views, water recreation, bicycle trails, bicycle-friendly, museums 6
girls wearing oversized tshirts, rich liberals, what used to be the hood, overpriced shops, hipsters climbing on things, kids with teslas, organic hipsters, fighting off gentrification, single people with dogs, grackle alert, and rich drunk UT kids are the largest hoodmap tags 7

SO, roomiematch.com's Austin roommate rundown:

Austin deserves its reputation for funky fabulousness, but new residents are usually shocked by the summer heat. There will be entire weeks that are 100+ degrees in the afternoon. Most spring and summer days remain warm until well after dark. This also means allergy season never ends, and expensive air conditioning is essential at least half the year.

If you live in Austin with multiple roommates, chances are excellent you'll run into UT students and "tech bros," which could be the same folks before and after graduation. Some resent the "tech bros" for driving the population growth which led to the rising rents which rendered Austin inhospitable to most of the "hippie artists" with less money living there before. Whatever your feeling on this issue, since Austin has become a high tech center populated with abundant computer science and engineering grads fresh from UT, it's not likely changing anytime soon.

But if you can afford it, since most of Austin rents and everybody knows it's not cheap, it's typical to have roommates at any age.

Bikes are extremely popular. Bike lanes exist around UT Austin and the middle of the city. Walking around downtown or the UT Austin campus is also popular. Public transport is not, and parking (for a car, not a bike) in the middle of town is expensive and hard to find. Moving around central Austin for most means walking, biking, or paying to park your car at least periodically.

Once upon a time, for most Austin residents, the favorite thing was live music at night, with chips and queso, plus a margarita or a Shiner. Austin has expanded so extremely in the last several years, a wider range of recreation is certainly available. But live music at night, with chips and queso, plus a margarita or a Shiner is still your best bet.

The rest of the Austin roommate lowdown:

  • college-town atmosphere, yet also the capital city of Texas, with just under a million people - The Texas State Capitol is extra famous for its pink granite exterior and being the largest state capitol in terms of square footage
  • Hand signals involving the index and pinky sticking up probably aren't advocating for Satan or heavy metal music. Here those usually mean you're a Texas Longhorn fan. Hook 'em Horns!
  • There are several hotter places in the US, but Austin is the southernmost state capital in the contiguous 48 states. SO MUCH bright sunshine is common all seasons here.
  • Summers are very hot and humid, winters are mild, with lots of rain in spring and fall. Most residents appreciate the lack of winter but new residents are usually shocked by the summer heat. Most indoor places have central air to cool you off, but it can be unexpectedly challenging to exist anywhere during summers where many days are 100+ degrees.
  • Another challenge associated with the weather is that allergy season never ends, as all seasons feature pollen.
  • The weather that's so awesome for producing an abundance of wildflowers also produces an abundance of wild insects, including scorpions, wasps, fire ants, spiders, and possibly truly excessive cockroaches. What sort of precautions you should take depend on exactly where in Austin (soil, sunlight, elevation, moisture) and in what style building, but you will likely have to deal with some creepy crawlies. You and your roommates should just go ahead and emotionally brace yourself for this creeping eventuality.
  • home to several universities, including Austin Community College, Concordia Lutheran College, Huston-Tillotson College, the Seminary of the Southwest, Southwestern University, Texas Health and Science University, the Acton School of Business, St. Edward's University, Southwest Texas State University and the largest campus of the University of Texas, one of the largest universities in the US
  • Austin is distinct from the rest of Texas in that it's considered a "liberal oasis" in an otherwise conservative state.
  • There is no state income tax.
  • Most people in Austin drive; and as a result, many surveys have ranked Austin the worst for Texas traffic jams. Bicycles are popular, especially commuting to the UT Austin campus or around the middle of the city (where parking is expensive and limited). If you can manage to walk, bike, or use the very limited Metro System in town at least some of the time, you'll likely be happier. Unless you're living and working/going to school downtown or near UT Austin you and/or your roommates will probably want a car.
  • In the last decade Austin has become a major center for high tech, including chip manufacturing and defense electronics - in part supplied by the thousands of engineering and computer science graduating every year from UT Austin. If you live in Austin with multiple roommates chances are excellent one will be a "tech bro."
  • The downtown skyline has dramatically changed in recent years with downtown growth and high rise construction. The central business district is now home to the tallest condo towers in the state.
  • Austin became popular as a place for artists to create due to its low cost of living . . . but that's not as true anymore, mostly due to the tech boom leading to a sharp rise in population growth which led to a sharp rise in typical rents. Some subsequently nicknamed Austin "Silicon Hills."
  • About 60% of Austin rents and since it has become more expensive in recent years, it's an extremely popular city for roommates. Most expensive neighborhoods in Austin for roommates include Downtown Austin, West Austin, Tarrytown, and Galindo. More affordable neighborhoods in Austin for roommates include Heritage Hills, Windsor Hills, and University Heights. Basically, the center of town tends to be more exciting and more expensive, while as you move outward it gets cheaper.
  • Some even commute all the way from San Antonio to save rent money.



After you're settled down, you and your roommates should experience Austin's:

  • South Congress: Popular shopping district, not only for its majestically unobstructed views of the Texas State Capitol but also its eccentric coffee shops, vintage stores, and food trucks.
  • "Live Music Capital of the World:" Many live music venues as well as the PBS series Austin City Limits. There is a virtually constant large live rock-country-blues music scene, much located within a walkable downtown.
  • South by Southwest: Yearly conglomeration of music and other media festivals, abbreviated as SXSW and colloquially referred to as "South By"
  • 6th Street: The downtown core hosts more bars than anywhere else in the US. If your roommates enjoy consuming alcohol in a "party hearty" atmosphere they'll need a ride home from 6th Street at least a few times.
  • Food Trucks: Not just for fast food or junk food (although you can get plenty of that too). Austin is well known for its Texas barbeque, Tex Mex, breakfast tacos, and queso. It's also home to an unusually large number of food trucks and a huge craft beer scene, with over 50 microbreweries.
  • Serious Outdoor Water Recreation: Available year round on the city's several lakes, rivers, and waterways, including Lady Bird Lake, Deep Eddy Pool, Zilker Park, and Auditorium Shores - more than 50 public pools and a 7 mile Barton Creek Greenbelt featuring limestone cliffs, dense greenery, and more water - not just swimming, but kayaking, cliff diving, paddle boarding, and tubing
  • Hippie Hollow Park: The only public park in Texas where clothing is officially optional.
  • The Austin FC: Austin's first major professional sports league
  • All the Museums: Lots of local museums to explore with your roommates including: Texas Memorial Museum, the George Washington Carver Museum and Cultural Center, Thinkery, South Austin Museum of Popular Culture, the Mexic-Arte Museum, the Blanton Museum of Art, the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum, The Contemporary Austin, the Elisabet Ney Museum, and the Harry Ransom Center
  • Austin Film Society: In part due to the influence of the UT Austin Radio-Television-Film department and its influence on several local film festivals, Austin has been the location for many movies. The Austin Film Society converted several airplane hangars into Austin Studios, used by many feature film and video projects.
  • The Austin Public Library system Central Library: SIX STORIES! It features indoor and outdoor event spaces, reading porches, a bicycle parking station, a cafe, an art gallery, and a "technology petting zoo" featuring next-generation gadgets.
  • Mexican Free-Tailed Bats: Over a million reside inside the Ann W. Richards Congress Avenue Bridge. Many residents gather to watch the bats emerge to hunt insects every sunset, until they migrate to Mexico in the winter. It's the largest urban bat colony in North America.

    No, they won't get tangled in your hair, IF you have a crewcut.

    (Anyone with longer hair should stay far away from the bridge!)

    (Just kidding!)

    (You and your hair can view bats safely, just ask locals to direct you to the best vantage point.)
  • Mount Bonnell: A large open area with about 100 steps leading up. Since it's the highest point in Austin, there's a spectacularly sweepingly unobstructed view of the whole city. However, at 775 feet, it's actually a tall hill.
  • HI, HOW ARE YOU: There's a friendly frog mural greeting all who pass by the corner of Guadalupe and 21st Street. Daniel Johnston, the artist, was a beloved singer-songwriter popular in the lo-fi and alternative music scenes for decades before dying in 2019. The mural, called "Jeremiah the Innocent Frog," was commissioned by the owner of the local record store (Sound Exchange) inside that building, and features the text, "HI, HOW ARE YOU." The building has changed hands multiple times since then, but the mural has been preserved. In 2018 the Mayor declared January 22 "Hi, How are You" Day for mental wellness. Fans still visit and pay their respects. You and your roommates can visit too.


Here's the City of Austin Household page, including info on utilities, trash and recycling, conserving water, and adopting pets.







DALLAS or FORT WORTH

  • $700   =  non-traditional average 1
  • $1151   =  average 2BR ÷ 2, or traditional roommate rent 2
  • $1564   =  average 1BR, rented solo 3

73% live within a 10-minute walk of a park. 4
Most errands require a car. 5
car malfunction out on the urban sprawl prairie
restaurants, local professional sports, parkland, museums 6
conservative white evangelical money, nothing special but gay cowboys, expensive apartments, adorable old couples, more white liberals, the better airport, bail bond blvd, from compton to portlandia, let's pretend we're in Austin, danger zone, strollerwood, super sketch, and most Republican precinct in Dallas are the largest hoodmap tags 7

SO, roomiematch.com's DFW roommate rundown:

If you've never visited Dallas or even the great state of Texas . . . Dallas (DFW, the greater Dallas/Fort Worth metropolitan area) is probably larger than you think.

Like quite a bit larger.

Greater DFW is larger than Connecticut and Rhode Island combined, and larger than New Jersey.

Dallas/Fort Worth is one of the largest metro areas in both Texas and the US, with about 1.3 million in the city and 7.5 million in the greater metro.

Since 1/4 of all Texans now live inside the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, it has a very diverse population. Almost all ethnic and religious backgrounds are represented to some extent in Dallas.

Meanwhile, about 20% of the overall area of Dallas is parkland - the Trinity River Project Land Use Plan, about 10,000 acres? And it's lovely.

But weirdly, there's not a lot of trees elsewhere? But as the Trinity River canopy spreads, that may continue to change.

The expansively successful local economy along with the vast expanse of land that Dallas has consumed has been referred to as "Silicon Prairie." Which makes sense, because you're really going to need a reliable air-conditioned car to be anything like comfy driving across it.

As Texas has been described as a "car culture" and Dallas has so much urban sprawl, most Dallasites drive everywhere. It has been suggested that not only are many native Dallasites unable to assist you with navigating their public transport system (DART), they may not even know it exists at all.

You must drive a decent car to deal with Dallas.

And keep that car maintenance in check.

There's much celebration of DFW affluence . . . more retail stores per capita, more luxury hotels, fine dining, exclusive posh retail shopping, larger homes in larger lifestyle communities, golf courses, high end air travel (from one of the world's busiest airports) and fancy cars . . . which have in and of themselves literally driven Dallasites toward their own urban sprawl.

BUT in the meantime, the rent is still relatively affordable . . . in large part due to aforementioned urban sprawl. All of those exciting options are really spread out!

That also means a whole lotta land that's all Dallas with roommate rental options all over it. Many roommate options. In so many neighborhoods with different vibes.

Just not the option to access most of them easily without your own reliable car.

The rest of the Dallas - Fort Worth roommate lowdown:

  • Dallas has been surveyed as the Most Christian City in the nation with the highest percentage of self-declared devoted Christian adults in the metro area
  • Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) is a light rail network with connected bus routes. They go most places in the greater urban area, but are slow and frequently unreliable.
  • Greater DFW is often referred to as "Silicon Prairie," with its concentration of banking, telecommunications, internet technology, energy, logistics, and transportation, including a large concentration of Fortune 500 companies
  • Typical American South climate, with mild winters, very hot and very long and humid summers, and a spring that tends to get wet and stormy. Frozen precipitation is relatively rare - Dallas can but usually does not experience any extreme weather
  • Dallas is home to Northwood University, Paul Quinn College, Amber University, Criswell College, Dallas Baptist University, East Texas State University, Southern Methodist University, Texas Women's University, University of Dallas, University of North Texas, and the University of Texas SW Medical Center
  • Fort Worth is home to Southwestern Adventist College, Texas Wesleyan University, Texas Christian University, and the University of North Texas Health Science Center
  • All roommates moving to Dallas: If you want to go along to get along, you'll learn to love the Dallas Cowboys, possibly even prior to your arrival. Also probably the Dallas Texans, the Dallas Mavericks, and the Dallas Wings as well . . . but get your Cowboy fandom going first, then you can deal with the others after that.



After you're settled down, you and your roommates should experience DFW's:

  • Dealey Plaza: Site of the assassination of JFK. Dallas feels so badly about any part it may have played that there are Xs in the road marking each time JFK was hit, and the Grassy Knoll has been restored to resemble its appearance that fateful day. Many local conspiracy theorists continue conspiring nearby. Plus there's a museum and a Memorial Plaza.
  • Dallas Museum of Art: World-class museum featuring art from ALL historical periods. General admission is free!
  • The Ann & Gabriel Barbier-Mueller Museum (The Samurai Collection): It's a small museum overall, but with a relatively large collection of Samurai arms and armor! Also free!
  • Beltline Road: Said to host more restaurants per capita than anywhere else in the US. You can probably find whatever food you like best right on this road.
  • Half-Price Books: Popular and beloved used bookstore chain. The flagship is in East Dallas, with several other locations in the area.
  • Mesquite Championship Rodeo: It's a rodeo. It's in nearby Mesquite.
  • Southfork Ranch: The ranch from the TV show "Dallas." You can still get a tour any day except Christmas.
  • White Rock Lake, Joe Pool Lake, and the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden: Reservoirs, water features, and places to chill after navigating/boating/rowing water features beloved by locals
  • Dallas Zoo: Texas's largest at 106 acres - Since 1888!
  • Deep Ellum: Hipster haven for college students with tattoos, plus music and dancing and even more tattoos for everyone else. Home to about a thousand artists in lofts and studios and bars and pubs. Named after being on the far ("Deep") end of Elm Street ("Ellum").
  • Arts District: Northern section of downtown, largest geocontiguous arts district in the US, including: Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas Symphony Orchestra, Dallas Wind Symphony, Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center, and the Nasher Sculpture Center
  • Cowgirl Hall of Fame: In Fort Worth, they "celebrate women, past and present, whose lives exemplify the courage, resilience, and independence that helped shape the American West, and fosters and appreciation of the ideals and spirit of self-reliance they inspire."
  • State Fair of Texas: This state fair lasts three weeks! Along with the expected fried delights (including fried peaches, fried Jello, and fried Dr. Pepper), there's a 55-foot-tall cowboy named Big Tex, who smiles and waves. There's also a car show, a rodeo, many games and rides, livestock demos, and pig racing!
  • The Texas Woofus: Also, in Fair Park and originally created in 1936 for the Texas Centennial Exposition - a mythical chimerical creature made of different parts of the main animals of Texas: a sheep's head, the neck and mane of a horse, a pig's body, a duck's wings, a turkey's tail and finally . . . a pair of Texas longhorns!

    (The original mysteriously disappeared back in 1941 and was never recovered. But a replacement Woofus was supplied by David Newton and the Friends of Fair Park in 1998, who continues to preside today, while spouting water from his nozzle.)


Here's the city of Dallas's official Resident page with lists of community resources







SANTA FE

  • $500   =  non-traditional average 1
  • $1147   =  average 2BR ÷ 2, or traditional roommate rent 2
  • $2052   =  average 1BR, rented solo 3

57% live within a 10-minute walk of a park. 4
Most errands require a car. 5
altitude sickness, sunburn
temperate climate but with local skiing in the mountains, museums, high desert, horseback riding in the forest 6
too poor to live in LA proper, second homes, office worker housing, rich hipsters, the white reservation, good beer and a farmer's market, and third homes are the largest hoodmap tags 7

SO, roomiematch.com's Santa Fe roommate rundown:

Santa Fe's the least populated city on our list. We'd usually consider < 100K too small or a suburb instead, without the density required for realistic roommate matching all by itself.

But Santa Fe is a lot more expensive than most cities of a similar size. It remains New Mexico's state capital. It's also at the foot of the spectacular Sangre de Cristo Mountains, so it's mostly 7300 feet.

That's officially high altitude! And a lot of stunning high desert, in which you and your roommates could go hiking and biking and horseback riding on all the trails almost everywhere you look in and around town. Some all the way to the Santa Fe National Forest. And then you could ski, starting at 10,000 feet above sea level. Then the lifts go thousands of feet higher.

So yes, again with the altitude. > 10,000 isn't the namby pamby warning, it's The Big One: If you or your roommates have any hint you might suffer respiratory difficulty or are prone to altitude sickness, please see a doctor and specifically mention your plans to hit the top of Santa Fe. This elevation can cause problems for anyone just up from sea level. If you're athletic, you're somewhat less likely to suffer, but it's still possible. Altitude sickness surprises sporty people all the time.

The height also increases most folks' sensitivity to alcohol, at least a little. That and the dry air both contribute to sunburn and dehydration. You should never be without water and sunscreen in Santa Fe. Best to keep your overall activity level low until you're certain you've adjusted . . . like for the first day or five.

You could say Santa Fe is also high . . . on their own supply?

As in seriously into their own art, architecture, and food! Santa Fe mostly thinks Santa Fe is the very best place to be! That's why Santa Fe is popular among affluent older folk who can choose exactly where to spend their time. This continues to mean many artists, subsequently followed by many tourists, all meandering enjoyably in and out of all the adobe at this ancient crossroads.

Santa Fe means native Pueblo, Mexican, Spanish, and American influences continuously swirling together in community fairs, festivals, celebrations, fiestas, seasonal markets, commemorations, walks, shows, dances, processions, revelries, parades, feasts, plus one or two rodeos.

And all those cultures also merge together into one hell of a breakfast burrito. If you think that's too reductive, you've not yet developed the appropriate appreciation for breakfast burritos . . .

. . . which would usually feature Hatch green chilies, their most celebrated and delicious crop, as they should, because they're the most delicious and nutritious food on the planet! So get some on top of your stacked enchiladas, frito pie, cheeseburger, pizza, cactus fries, and carne adobada. Then get them in your chile relleno, and mixed into your chile con queso. Also as a topping for your sopapilla frybread and your calabacitas.

And it's always more haute Southwest with a fried egg on top. That's not even considered controversial, just true . . .

. . . but what is controversial is whether or not Santa Fe should be considered a "tourist trap." We say it should!

Because it gets crowded with tourists every summer, then many refuse to leave! (bah dum pum?)

But that's not what most calling Santa Fe a "tourist trap" are mad about, nope. They're worried about what is authentic vs "tourist junk" . . . and what's valued at what amount for now vs what might gain value later.

Historic central city is authentically covered in ancient mission churches and Pueblo Revivalism . . . but some say some of the art for sale is of disputable origin. In addition, some markets claim artifactual status or healing properties associated with their items as well, rendering the entire local art scene really gorgeous and locally vibrant and culturally invigorating but occasionally for some . . . a little scammy?

But you and your roommates won't suffer any scammy insults from Santa Fe if you assume all the art you encounter is authentically . . . art. Just art. Nothing more but nothing less.

SO: Whether it's good or bad is now entirely up to you. Assume authentic artifacts are almost always in museums (which Santa Fe has too), not on sale for cheap at a market. It would be surprising if anything you scooped up on sale in Santa Fe ever severely appreciated. No, that advice isn't changing depending on which market, actually not.

This means all you need to know about local art is whether or not you love it, can easily afford it, and have someplace to properly enjoy it (whatever that means for you). If so, you should buy it and enjoy! If not, then no. If that's all you need to know, it truly follows that nothing is or is not "tourist junk."

Just art. Nothing more but nothing less, so no more need to worry?

Except whether you would like a decidedly laid-back, low key style of partying down in a friendly community amongst a lot of adobe? (Like, a LOT of adobe.) How about New Mexican style green chile-covered foods, probably near a generational mix doing Karaoke?

If you could call that your nightlife and love it, Santa Fe might be your Land of Enchantment.

The rest of the Santa Fe roommate lowdown:

  • Santa Fe is New Mexico's capital city, in north-central New Mexico
  • cool, dry, pleasant summers and crisp, clear, sunny winters, low humidity year round
  • population only about 85,000
  • it's the American state capital at the highest altitude
  • New Mexico chile is their largest agricultural crop. The distinctively hot dry climate (mostly in the Hatch Valley in the south) renders the deep green color and flavor, ranging from mild to very hot.
  • The historic central city area gets crowded with tourists every summer, touring the oldest surviving mission churches in the country, along with hundreds of art galleries and museums.
  • Santa Fe's economy features more tourism than industrial or commercial employment. Many residents obtained money elsewhere, then moved here.
  • home to College of Santa Fe and St. John's College
  • Santa Fe's downtown is walkable, you probably want to park your car and walk, particularly in summer, extra especially if you'd enjoy meeting some tourists. Otherwise, you and your roommates will want a car.



After you're settled down, you and your roommates should experience Santa Fe's:

  • Santa Fe Opera: An Electronic Libretto System offers instant translations on a small display screen. All under a starry sky.
  • Museum of New Mexico: You and your roommates can buy a shared pass for access to multiple museums featuring Folk & Indian Arts & Culture.
  • Museum of International Folk Art: Over 130,000 artifacts from around the world, including ceramic, textiles, carvings, and papier-mache masks.
  • SITE Santa Fe: Since 1995, classes, exhibits, lectures, admission always free.


Here's the city of Santa Fe's official .gov for "living here," from utility bills to city maps to recreation.







DENVER

  • $800   =  non-traditional average 1
  • $1247   =  average 2BR ÷ 2, or traditional roommate rent 2
  • $1840   =  average 1BR, rented solo 3

92% live within a 10-minute walk of a park. 4
Some errands can be accomplished on foot. 5
altitude sickness, urban sprawl
local professional sports, museums, snow sports, summer sports, bicycle friendly 6
yoga pants strollers, angry geese, huge home tiny lot, art walk, hipster bars, the best asian and mexican food, Little Mexico, Casa Bonita!, shorter line for best ice cream, puffy jackets always, future hipsters, strollers and solars, not even rich, tesla town, safe but gritty, weed church, hipster milennials are the largest hoodmap tags 7

SO, roomiematch.com's Denver roommate rundown:

Denver or "Menver" or "The Mile-High City" is HIGH.

Living here is an officially high to very high altitude experience. But this hunky beefcake of a metro is also sky high on its love affair with beer and outdoor sports.

Denver is more manly than most US metros. Literally, in that there's 102 single men for every 100 single women, leading to the nickname "Menver." Denver's proud of its cowboy and miner past, and its present is pretty high on manliness as well.

Avalanche! Barbarians! Broncos! Mammoth! Nuggets! Pioneers! Rapids! Raptors and . . . Rockies!

Is that an early warning system announcing an invading horde precipitating an environmental disaster via a calamity of their masculinity? No! Those are the names of the most popular local sports teams!

Denverites love a ruggedly adventurous life outdoors. They also love sports, especially outdoor sports.

So how much do they love their local outdoor sports teams with ruggedly adventurous names? SO MUCH.

Hopefully you and your roommates will like at least a team or two too, because sports aren't easy to avoid in Denver. They are ruggedly year-round.

And how about some buff beers with those high scores? The Denver metro produces more beer by volume than any other US city. This is notable for beer loving roommates in two ways: From award-winning artisanal micro to extreme macro, it's all right here at its very fresh best.

It's also being served at high elevation, which can exacerbate some possibly dangerous effects, especially for roommates moving from lower.

Meanwhile, high elevation plus winter outdoor sports plus beer have lead to UV overexposure via subsequent failures for many to keep up with their sunblock/hats/longsleeves or even just their clothing. This warning has surprised many roommates previously living at sea level who were previously sunburnt only in summer?

But in Denver, sky high + burnt to a crisp = many in December, too.

So if you're not already a merry mountain man, do GO . . . just get your manly buzzes on SLOW.

The rest of the Denver roommate lowdown:

  • Denver is the capital city, commercial, financial, industrial and government center for Colorado.
  • most populated in Colorado, with over 710,000 people, almost 3 million in the greater metro area
  • on the eastern slope of the Rocky Mountains, surrounded by 3 mountain ranges
  • changeable climate, extremely hot or cold temperatures tend to be brief - you could actually walk around in a parka at one moment and a short sleeved shirt comfortably during another on the same day . . . but all four seasons are generally low humidity and sunny!
  • One of Denver's nicknames is "The Mile-High City" as its official elevation is 5280 feet above sea level. Many say most of Denver is somewhat higher than one mile, but that's not as cute. Take home point: It's more or less a mile above sea level and that is officially high to very high altitude in terms of any health warnings.
  • home to Metropolitan State College, Regis University, Colorado School of Mines, University of Colorado, and the University of Denver
  • About 90% of Denverites live within walking distance of a park. Denver is also low crime, especially for its size. We imagine most should imagine this correlation extremely meaningful too.
  • about 1/3 of residents are Mexican-American, making Denver one of their largest populations among US cities
  • Denver's Cinco de Mayo celebration is attended by over half a million. Huge numbers also gather to celebrate Dia De Los Muertos, El Grito de la Independencia, and Denver's annual Lowrider show.
  • Urban sprawl has become a problem along with the traffic and pollution that often come along with, but Denver is aggressively attempting to address the problem with its newer light rail.
  • Regional Transportation District (RTD) operates light rail supplemented with buses, some with the nation's first "Green Fleet" public transports using alternative fuels - eight rail lines you can take from Downtown to many suburbs
  • Denverites love their large local active bike culture and their network of trails all over the city, sometimes dedicated, sometimes merging with car traffic. Most drivers are respectful, but like most cities with a lot of cyclists, you need a good bike lock.
  • Also legally in Denver, you can get pulled over for running a light or stop sign on a non-motorized 2-wheel bicycle too . . . but they usually target motorized vehicles
  • The Denver metro produces more beer by volume than any other US city.
  • You are not allowed to smoke within any bar or restaurant except outdoors on the patio. Has to be outdoor patio or against the law.
  • Denver is large enough to feature at least a few top notch versions of dishes popular from most regions, but the local vibe cuisine calling itself "Western" might be beef, or it could be buffalo, which tastes like beef. Or it could be rattlesnake or cutthroat trout or Rocky Mountain oysters. Rocky Mountain oysters taste like beef too. Many thought they didn't after their first bite? Then later understood that in an important way, they still did taste like beef.



After you're settled down, you and your roommates should experience Denver's:

  • The Money Museum: Ever seen $30 million in cold hard cash in person before? Would you like to make that happen? If you answered no then yes, have I got a museum for you!
  • Denver Art Museum: Huge. You'll need the whole day to see it all. Discounts and free admissions available for students and seniors all the time, everyone else the first Saturday of the month.
  • Denver Museum of Nature & Science: Is it planetarium time for you and your roommates? It really could be, any day of the year except Christmas.
  • City Park: 330 acres near downtown, featuring playgrounds, a golf course, the Denver Zoo, the Museum of Nature and Science and . . . two lakes. This one park gets two whole lakes. And to think that some urban parks don't even get one lake, much less two! You and your roommates should consider yourselves lucky. Also probably go.
  • Denver Zoo: Open every day, but hours vary, so check first. Uniquely featuring Bear Mountain, Primate Panorama, and Pioneer Train, the first US zoo train running on natural gas.
  • Grizzly Rose: Western saloon! It's large, with line dancing and live music and yes, a mechanical bull. But you and your roommates don't have to ride it. Or even dance, if you rather not, that's optional too. What's not is watching others do all of that to country music, sometimes live, sometimes not, and then sometimes inebriation sometimes not. Whoo hoo?

    (No really, if inebriation is really the wrong environment for you, probably no, but if it's not a problem perhaps you plus roommates should saloon?)
  • Red Rocks Amphitheatre: Stunningly beautiful concert stage, but live music isn't all you can see. There's almost 740 acres in total in Red Rocks Park, with many geologically significant nature trails featuring the stunning rocks of this unique transitional zone where the Great Plains meet the Rocky Mountains at 6450 feet above sea level. Along with its flora and fauna. Also art galleries, two halls of fame, and an historical Trading Post that even on its own has its very own nature trail.


Here's the city of Denver's official gov.org for community programs, including activities and events, animals, arts & venues, housing, neighborhoods, getting around, and online services.







BOULDER

  • $725   =  non-traditional average 1
  • $1253   =  average 2BR ÷ 2, or traditional roommate rent 2
  • $1830   =  average 1BR, rented solo 3

93% live within a 10-minute walk of a park. 4
Some errands can be accomplished on foot. 5
commuters surrounding you on all sides
commutable to more expensive city, winter recreation, snow sports, stunning views, bicycle-friendly, parkland, nature preserves 6
that brewery you found, techies with families and dogs, paragliders, rich af white people, middle-aged startups, popular hiking spot, quiet stoners, rich marxists, flatirons, and best sandwiches ever are the largest hoodmap tags 7

SO, roomiematch.com's Boulder roommate rundown:

Boulder is its own college town with a unique vibe that's also more or less a suburb of Denver.

Because of all the folks commuting back and forth from Denver? And then also all the folks commuting back and forth from Boulder too?

Meaning, the commuting is somewhat two-way, but more from Denver because Denver costs more.

Shorter version: If you're a commuter, you probably just gotta do what you gotta do, this advice is not for you. If you're NOT a commuter, figure out when commuters tend to be on the roads near you. Then avoid them for the entire duration.


What else is different about Boulder?

1. A bunch of dudes tends to plunge into a reservoir. Nude. On New Year's Day.

2. Then, a bunch of dudes that we can't prove aren't the same dudes tends to run around buck naked except for shoes on their feet and pumpkins on their heads. On Halloween.

3. Boulder always sports an unusually high percentage of college students as residents.


Are #1, 2, and 3 all saying the exact same thing about Boulder, but from different directions?

There's a case to be made.

The rest of the Boulder roommate lowdown:

  • small college town, about 100,000 - Boulder's roommate population is younger and better educated than the national average because it's always some large percentage college students.
  • Boulder is 25 miles northwest of Denver, at the base of the Rocky Mountains and more than a mile above sea level. Boulder's scenic snowcapped mountain views are so prized it's illegal to mess with them as they enacted an ordinance to limit the height of new buildings back in the 1970s.
  • There's a whole lot of commuting, mostly back and forth from Denver. If a Boulderite doesn't work or study in Boulder, they probably drive to Denver, it's about 30 minutes. Similarly, about 1/2 the jobs inside Boulder are filled by folks commuting from outside it, usually from Denver. The take home: If you don't like being on the road, avoid all of these commuters while they're causing heavy congestion.
  • Boulder is a little over an hour's drive from several of the top-rated ski resorts in the country.
  • Boulder is more bicycle-friendly than most towns, now well known for their grade-separated bicycle paths integrated into a network of lanes, tracks, and on-street routes including pedestrian underpasses.
  • Boulder is home to the main campus of the University of Colorado (the state's largest university), Naropa University, and Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts.



After you're settled down, you and your roommates should experience Boulder's:

  • Nature Preserves: Boulder is surrounded by thousands of acres of nature preserves featuring mountains, rivers and forest. Opportunities abound for hiking, mountain biking, rock climbing, and wildlife watching.
  • The Bolder Boulder: Hosted every year since 1979, during which over 50,000 joggers, runners, walkers, and wheelchair racers compete in the 5th largest road race in the world.
  • The Plunge: Hundreds of citizens plunge themselves into the freezing Boulder Reservoir every New Year's Day since 1983. Rescue workers armed with hot tubs will be standing by to revive you and your roommates.
  • Every Halloween between 1998 and 2008, several dozen folks ran around downtown Boulder buck naked except for shoes on their feet and pumpkins on their heads. Then in 2009 the whole Naked Pumpkin Run was threatened with legal repercussions. Many reboots have been attempted, so nude dudes with hollowed-out pumpkins on their heads are still considered semi-normal . . .

    . . . but only on Halloween.

    If you and your roommates go naked pumpkinhead native you should never run by your fellow Boulderites on Thanksgiving too as that would not be socially acceptable.


Here's the city of Boulder's Landlord, Tenant, and Roommate Resources, which you'll hopefully never need if you choose the right roommates.






ORANGE COUNTY

  • $860   =  non-traditional average 1
  • $1525   =  average 2BR ÷ 2, or traditional roommate rent 2
  • $2147   =  average 1BR, rented solo 3

45% live within a 10-minute walk of a park. 4
Some errands can be accomplished on foot. 5
tourists
beaches, volleyball, temperate climate 6

SO, roomiematch.com's Orange County roommate rundown:

Orange County is a bit unusual for this list, because it's not one city, but about 34 smaller ones clustered together? Also, their cluster is still a part of the extended Los Angeles area. But Orange County and L.A. are both sufficiently populated, including many roommates with a preference for one or the other, that it makes sense to match them separately.

(But many moving roommates consider both, normal too if it works for you!)

Orange Countians are diverse except for how they're all entirely about enjoying warm weather year round. On a beach. Preferably in a beachside community.

O.C. also loves surfing, sunbathing, sand volleyball, sailing, skateboarding, swimming, fishing, outdoor shopping, outdoor dining, outdoor bars, and theme parks that are also beach-y.

There's Huntington Beach, Laguna Beach, Newport Beach, and Seal Beach.

And those aren't all the beaches. There are other beaches in other O.C. towns that aren't even named (Something) Beach. But they have a beach anyway!

So it's a popular tourist destination. Or a collection of many. Disneyland is here, along with Knott's Berry Farm. You can also whale watch or take a ferry to Catalina Island. Or Balboa Island.

Not much public transport if you're going anywhere other than back to Los Angeles, an airport, or Disneyland. This means O.C. is sporting an abundance of beachside bars that are unfortunately not near bus stops, subways, or rail stations. If you and your roommates want to get your drink on beachside, please consider picking a bar near home, then walking safely together, round trip.

Also don't forget your hat with brim, sunglasses, sunscreen, and reflective muumuu.

The rest of the Orange County roommate lowdown:

  • along the southern California coast, about 30 miles south of Los Angeles
  • about 3 million residents
  • very mild climate, warm year round, some smog
  • commuting to Los Angeles to work is common
  • home to California State University, Chapman University, Christ College Irvine, Pacific Christian College, Southern California College, and the University of California, Irvine
  • Lots of restaurants with different cuisine (like any geographic area with 3 million people), but O.C. is particularly known for Fatburger, In-N-Out, and Original Tommy's. (Those are 3 popular burger chains not found in most of the rest of the country, but huge here.)



After you're settled down, you and your roommates should experience Orange County's:

  • Orange County Museum of Art: 53,000 square feet, with a focus on living artists and economically stable design. Admission is free for everyone, at least for the first 10 years, no reservations required. We're still within that window, yes.
  • Sherman Library & Gardens: Extensive botanical garden and research collection on everything Pacific Southwest. There's a Bromeliad Garden, a Fern Grotto, and a Koi Pond. You and your roommates could watch the koi ravage a bunch of bananas.


Here's Orange County's official .gov for residents, with a long list of community resources.







SAN JOSE

  • $1300   =  non-traditional average 1
  • $1570   =  average 2BR ÷ 2, or traditional roommate rent 2
  • $2426   =  average 1BR, rented solo 3

80% live within a 10-minute walk of a park. 4
Some errands can be accomplished on foot. 5
drive close to San Francisco, but leave your car outside it
temperate climate 6
if u don't know anyone don't come here, always traffic guarantee, nanny land, mean rich people, boomer central, dealerships, donuts, way more chill than SFO, paypal HQ, expensive housing, nice basketball courts, apartments on apartments, OG King Eggroll, families in overpriced townhouses, wheeeee, shark tank, priced out normal people, and where Teslas are as common as a Camry are the largest hoodmap tags 7

SO, roomiematch.com's San Jose roommate rundown:

San Francisco and San Jose are the two Bay Area cities. Unlike our other metros with obvious reasons to be matched the way they are, these two could have gone either way, matched together (as one Bay Area) or separately.

But most roommates prefer we treat SF and SJ like everyone treats parts of NYC, like they're the two "boroughs" of The Bay Area.

Mostly because NYC and The Bay Area are the country's most densely populated metros, so they better support the distinction by the numbers. Many homeowners prefer the distinction as well, even though many roommates looking to move are open to both, rather than just one or the other.

So a lot of the same stuff applies . . . particularly our recommendation some subset might consider the "trial run" described in San Francisco, above?

San Jose is about 55 miles south of San Francisco, and you can Caltrain back and forth all you like, with two trains per hour most of the day. It'll take about an hour to get there. You can bring your bike too if there's enough room, but people take priority.

And people do. San Jose now bills itself as "Capital of Silicon Valley," meaning tech here boomed as San Francisco's did too . . . because some scooted over to San Jose . . . just to get a bit of elbow room? Because San Francisco is only about 50 square miles, and since it's surrounded by water, it can't grow. At least, not geographically.

Meanwhile, at 180 or so? San Jose's square mileage allowed more growth, so enterprise did.

As a result, there are now thousands of high tech, engineering, computer and microprocessor companies within San Jose's city limits, even more in surrounding areas. Exact numbers remain volatile, and there's ebb and flow, but a lot of tech has been in San Jose for decades.

Tech companies are definitely San Jose's largest employer of extremely well-educated roommates.

And where do they move? While many moving from across the country or farther prefer to move as close as possible to full-time employment, roommates that work and school part-time at multiple locations sometimes pick based on their love of public transportation. In that San Francisco's is absolutely stunning, while San Jose's is . . . not.

San Jose might appeal more if you do want to own a car. That's not completely insane here.

But the downside might be extra time spent driving, as SJ is spread out. There's a downtown that's walkable, along with many designated bike lanes, and about 15,000 acres of protected parkland within city limits!

But other than that, most of San Jose mostly drives around. Just don't drive inside San Francisco!

The rest of the San Jose roommate lowdown:

  • San Jose is on the south end of San Francisco Bay, about 55 miles south of San Francisco, and home to about a million residents within its city limits.
  • Summers are clear, dry, and sunny, with some smog - winters are typically mild if rainy, but usually less rain than San Francisco because it's them fronting the Pacific Ocean.
  • home to Cogswell College, National Hispanic University, San Jose State University, Institute of Transpersonal Psychology, California University of Management and Technology, Pacific Graduate School of Psychology, Santa Clara University, and Stanford University
  • hosts the San Jose Sharks (NHL), San Jose Earthquakes (MLS), and San Jose Barracuda (AHL)
  • San Jose invented In-N-Out Burger. Also, creative Cal-Mex flavor combinations, maybe served in a Burritozilla!



After you're settled down, you and your roommates should experience San Jose's:

  • San Jose Museum of Art: Special focus on art from the Bay Area, the Beat, Funk, and Pop eras, and Social Commentary. College students and teachers with ID get in free.
  • San Jose Municipal Rose Garden: Since 1927, exclusively roses, now more than 4000 of them across 5 acres. Free and almost always in bloom.
  • Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum: More ancient Egyptian artifacts than anywhere in the US, including "Women of the Nile." You and your roommates can download a smartphone app and take yourselves on a self-guided tour.
  • Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library - Integrating San Jose State University's library system with the city of San Jose, now over 1.5 million items. Special focus on John Steinbeck and Ludwig van Beethoven. No ID needed to browse, checking anything out requires a library card that's free for residents.


Here's the city of San Jose's official .gov for residents, including recycling & garbage to parks to animals to emergency preparedness.







SAN DIEGO

  • $1100   =  non-traditional average 1
  • $1622   =  average 2BR ÷ 2, or traditional roommate rent 2
  • $2378   =  average 1BR, rented solo 3

81% live within a 10-minute walk of a park. 4
Some errands can be accomplished on foot. 5
urban sprawl, rip currents, raging wildfires
summer sports, temperate climate, surfers, the United States Navy 6

SO, roomiematch.com's San Diego roommate rundown:

San Diego is ground zero for SoCal surf culture. Surfing's a lot of the local vibe, even for folks that don't. Because they still love life on the beach.

There's about 70 miles of it, from white sand to serious surfer spots to nude - or clothing optional. Some fishing, some boardwalk, some for dogs. If you include the Bays, some snorkeling and scuba, some kayaking, some windsurfing and jet skiing, and some with some combo. But you might need a permit, check with your beach. Or bay. Or with your roommates who've already been.

San Diego also hosts the Pacific Fleet of the United States Navy. Downtown along the waterfront are two museums devoted to maritime, both the San Diego Maritime Museum and the USS Midway Museum, a decommissioned aircraft carrier now open for tours. Also sailors on leave.

Along with multiple world class facilities conducting medical research, along with the universities, merging health with higher biotech.

So you and your roommates could go for any of the above, or birding?

San Diego's park and preserve-laden canyon topography offers birders a wider variety than any other city in the country. Hence, locals are never surprised to see new birders who are often retirees or tourists, along with the surfers and supporters of the Navy.

Because all of them already know San Diego is always sunny and 75 degrees.

Which is great timing for craft beer and happy hour specials with snacks to match. Better all together, often on a beach! Or sometimes downtown.

You're also right across the border from Tijuana, obviously influencing San Diego's perpetually available traditional Mexican food delights. Locals love healthier tacos too. Like still delicious and definitely filling, but wholesome! Nothing suspicious!

So tacos based on a culture based on the assumption that all San Diegans are always on the verge of surfing?

Like the carne asada burrito, remove the usual rice and bean filler, it's just steak and guacamole with pico. Or the California burrito with the usual (carne asada, cheese, pico, sour cream, guacamole) along with a few fries wrapped up inside!

Less stellar might be San Diego's transport. San Diegans have public transport. It is true. They do. It's just that low population density does not always mean low population overall. In San Diego's case, it means urban sprawl. Everyone is spread out over about 50 neighborhoods which are themselves variously sprawled over seemingly endless hills and valleys and canyons.

And this topography suggests their issues will be difficult to resolve for structural reasons.

In other words, San Diego will remain car-centric for the conceivable future.

You can take a bus or trolley moving around downtown or areas immediately around. But outside that range, the bus has to deal with sprawl too, plus the the bus route won't be your direct route, plus traffic jams . . . so transit takes even longer than most to reach most destinations.

Bicycling is recommended in some neighborhoods, particularly near beaches. Beachfront communities have wider streets that tend to be flat, along with many other residents also bicycling, making the area more fun on a bike for everyone.

But other neighborhoods, usually the older ones farther inland, usually offer more difficult crossings. Like freeways, narrower streets, and steep hills that might daunt anyone other than determined bicyclists.

And even though the weather will be awesome? The sprawl still means even when there is a bike-friendly route all the way from A to B? If it's not in your neighborhood or immediately adjacent, it's likely still FAR.

So you and your roommates should surf sometimes or maybe not ever in San Diego, along with your delicious fresh fish tacos!

Just beware of rip currents, the Santa Ana winds, raging wildfires, and ever leaving anything at all in your car.

The rest of the San Diego roommate lowdown:

  • San Diego is located along the Southern Californian coast, about 20 miles north of Mexico.
  • Climate is warm but generally pleasant year-round, with low humidity, warm dry summers, mild winters, and some fog.
  • about 1.3 million residents in the city (largest in California after Los Angeles) and about 3.3 million in surrounding San Diego County
  • hosts the San Diego Padres (MLB), San Diego Wave FC (NWSL), San Diego FC (MLS), San Diego Gulls (AHL), and the San Diego Loyal SC (USL)
  • home to California State University, Coleman University, National University, Point Loma Nazarene College, California School of Professional Psychology, San Diego State University, U.S. International University, University of California, and the University of San Diego
  • Old Town and Mission Valley are the historical districts, neighborhoods around the preserved missions of San Diego's Spanish and Old Western heritage



After you're settled down, you and your roommates should experience San Diego's:

  • San Diego Zoo: Over 100 acres, featuring many more natural-seeming animal exhibits in Balboa Park. Also includes the newer Danny Sanford Wildlife Explorers Basecamp.
  • Balboa Park: Home of the San Diego Zoo . . . and also The San Diego Museum of Art, the Museum of Us, the San Diego Air & Space Museum, the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center, the San Diego Natural History Museum, and the San Diego Model Railroad Museum. Also the Old Globe Theater and beautiful open spaces and lovely gardens and arboretums.
  • San Diego Safari Park: 1800 acres about 30 miles north, with huge exhibits of "African" savannah where the animals roam.
  • Scripps Institution of Oceanography/ Birch Aquarium: Massive kelp tank


Here's the city of San Diego's official .gov for Resident Resources, from neighborhoods and parks to parking.







LOS ANGELES

  • $790   =  non-traditional average 1
  • $1774   =  average 2BR ÷ 2, or traditional roommate rent 2
  • $2397   =  average 1BR, rented solo 3

63% live within a 10-minute walk of a park. 4
Some errands can be accomplished on foot. 5
Scientology, freeways, traffic, broken Hollywood dreams
local professional sports, museums, restaurants, live music, temperate climate, gourmet food trucks, beaches, surfers 6
secret hippie enclave, prius/granola moms, waiting for CalTrans, arts district, the scientologists are watching you, affordable colorful neighborhoods, beautiful black neighborhood, little mexico, warehouses, mexicans, mariachis, mexican stronghold, warehouse parties, new hipster area, broken dreams, and white people moving into the hood are the largest hoodmap tags 7

SO, roomiematch.com's Los Angeles roommate rundown:

Los Angeles is a LOT.

It's actually #1 at a whole lot. Then after that it's just huge.

To start, L.A. is totally huge . . . the #1 largest city in California in terms of population (almost 4 million in the city) and geographical size (over 500 square miles, about 44 miles north to south and 29 east to west).

And it's in a bowl. An extremely sunny basin surrounded by mountains - ridiculously sunny, and almost always warm.

It only rains about 35 days a year!

Los Angeles is long famed for almost always pleasant weather, along with show biz, which are obviously intertwined, along with all the beaches leading to all the surfers contributing to a much larger surf culture!

With boating and beach recreation among the world's best. Obviously.

And Angelenos are still known for all of that, absolutely. But it's fair to say they're more diverse than that now?

For one, they're now also #1 at traffic jams. And worst rush hours. Those are intertwined too!

They're #1 at freeways that turn into parking lots on a regular basis during rush hour which is also #1 worst in the world and possibly happening anytime other than 11 p.m. - 4 a.m. The other 19 hours could all end up rush hour!

Assume a mammoth mob is laying in wait for you and your roommates to leave your house before they simultaneously speed to whatever road you're on and . . . you're not exactly wrong?

Severe traffic jams are possible whenever, so you will want to plan one or more alternate routes, then check conditions before takeoff! Always take the least gridlocked. And if you absolutely positively cannot be late, you're least likely to end up jammed between 11 p.m. and 4 a.m.

Yes, that is the middle of the night, yes. So get there early! But then watch out for drunk drivers and off-peak construction.

Los Angeles does have considerable public transport options, especially considering its very large size, but the largeness is a large part of the problem right there. Even with routes optimized, it can still take a large amount of time to cross L.A.. Unfortunately, it's very difficult most times of day to avoid all ground traffic via any type of ground transport.

But do monitor via a smartphone with a traffic app that can reroute you when necessary. Hopefully!

Many Angelenos spend a lot of time in their cars.

And many live mostly without one, preferring public transport and/or remaining within one neighborhood for longer periods to minimize travel.

The happy medium might be car ownership, but optimizing geographically such that leaving your larger neighborhood is only necessary for special events . . . definitely not work or school several days a week, please no.

There are some nice L.A. places public transport doesn't go at all, and it rarely goes anywhere in a hurry. If you want to see the sights on the periphery of the city and/or would love driving around doing all your errands stunningly efficiently at 2 a.m., you'll definitely want a car.

You may have noticed motorcycle riders are bureaucratically incentivized to continue riding in LA, via the break on carpooling, plus a few other fares and privileges.

So you may want to ride L.A. too, but if you're not already experienced, please practice somewhere other than LA freeways first. Someone may split lanes with you. And bikers love the canyon roads, but locals warn first-timers they're even twistier than you think.

(That was a lot about traffic, but if you read all about it, hopefully you won't spend most of your days in it.)

Los Angeles is also #1 at America's film industry!

Hardly anyone isn't at least a little fascinated with Hollywood, which has been most of America's film industry for over a century. Hollywood will wow you with L.A.'s glamorous side, then warn you about its grittier grottier fringe cultures. There's a tension between have and have less that animates many movies, which is just like L.A., because it's just like the movies shot here, because they're also in L.A., etc., and back and forth forever.

More exciting #1ness: #1 largest cannabis market, #1 busiest US port, and the #1 largest number of Mexican or Mexican-American folks in the US! Also third in the world, after Mexico City and Guadalajara.

There's also a reasonable case to be made that L.A. is #1 in live music.

Because Los Angeles' local music scene has everything all the time. OK, not literally, but there's nowhere that's more true. There's nothing major it doesn't feature regularly, probably in larger scale halls (even Bowls) plus more intimate venues.

And there might be a gourmet food truck!

The rest of the Los Angeles roommate lowdown:

  • Los Angeles is a huge city on the Southern California Coast, south of the San Bernadino Mountains. North of Los Angeles are the San Gabriel Mountains. And then the Mojave Desert. And surrounded by the Pacific Ocean and the Southern California Coastal Mountain Ranges.
  • Mediterranean climate - Dry summer, very mild winter, rarely freezing or over 90, used to have a problem with smog but have been cleaning that up really aggressively the last several years.
  • The legendary Santa Ana winds blow hot dry air from the desert into coastal areas, significantly raising temps and risk of fire.
  • Geologic faults cause periodic tremors, and quite a few minor earthquakes happen, but they're usually harmless. Mostly beware of anything that could fall on your head, indoors or out. If you're in a car get out of traffic, if on foot move away from power lines and anything large attached to the side of a building . . . trees, street lights, glass . . . then shield your head and neck with your arms.
  • Because of earthquake risk, the city has sprawled outward rather than upward. Extreme dependence on the automobile and population density have caused serious traffic problems.
  • Apartments built more recently cost more. For this and many other reasons, Los Angeles has a large population of folks renting rooms in their homes.
  • Parking tends to be expensive, especially downtown or before an event, parking fees are very high. Some residents drive to a train then take that the rest of the way, it could easily be cheaper and faster.
  • Only enter carpool lanes at the permitted places, don't cross the double yellow lines, and don't enter at all with out at least two people (car) or you can do one on a motorcycle.
  • Los Angeles has a number of public transport options: Metrolink (regional rail), Metro Rail (subway and light rail) and Metro (their main bus system but there are several). Three different systems plus several smaller ones, both faster than a large traffic jam . . . usually. Most neighborhoods in LA are accessible via one or more of these lines, but there are many options for public transport that intersect confusingly, plus they're very spread out.

    Basically: Many roommates new to LA have accidentally gone many miles in the wrong direction, so double check your routes.
  • L.A. is famous for some extremely wealthy neighborhoods, but these are unaffordable for most. But don't despair, as so many more are much more accessible. There are neighborhoods that definitely feature more of some demographic groups than others, but everyone is everywhere by now, it's just relative percentages.

    Like: Chinatown, Little Tokyo, Koreatown and Little Armenia. Historic Filipinotown, Little Ethiopia, Tehrangeles, Little Bangladesh and Thai Town

    And: West L.A. (Indian, Pakistani and Japanese), East L.A. (Mexican), South Central L.A. (African-American), West Hollywood (gay men)
  • L.A. has a reputation as high in crime due to gang activity, and this reputation is not undeserved. However, LA's gang activity is mostly in a handful of neighborhoods the typical tourist never visits. Basically, if you don't have business in a neighborhood with which you're not already familiar, don't go exploring it all by yourself after dark by foot or by car. Maybe not even during the day, not all by yourself.

    If you want to avoid going into a neighborhood likely high in gang activity, it won't be difficult if you stay aware where you are and stay where you're familiar.
  • home to Claremont McKenna College, Pitzer College, Pomona College, Scripps College, University of West Los Angeles, Antioch University, Art Center College of Design, California Institute of the Arts, California State Polytechnic University, Cal State University, College of Osteopathic Medicine, Harvey Mudd College, Loyola Marymount University, Mount St. Mary's College, Occidental College, Otis College of Art and Design, Pacific Oaks College, Samra University of Oriental Medicine, Southern California Institute of Architecture, The Masters College, West Coast University, Whittier College, Woodbury University, Azusa Pacific University, Biola University, California Institute of Technology, California School of Professional Psychology, California State University, Claremont Graduate School, Pepperdine University, University of California, University of Laverne, and the University of Southern California
  • If you live in L.A. you have access to pretty much all foods, possibly even absolutely all if you're willing to follow a local food truck and participate in their fandom?

    Or not, if that's too much, but don't always fear the gourmet food truck! If you're worried their hygiene isn't up to par, read a recent review or two, or ask some friends, make sure no one's food poisoned, check them out for sure . . . but don't automatically say no to the truck.

    Many hang around a good long while and serve some of the best food for the money in L.A.!



After you're settled down, you and your roommates should experience Los Angeles':

  • Union Station: Mission Revival architecture, large waiting room, courtyards, some shopping. And you could get on a train.
  • Los Angeles Zoo Botanical Gardens: Along with a large variety of native and local flora and fauna, they've got a garden of rare bootleg cycads, an ancient gymnosperm or palm specimen dating back millions of years that's . . . not really supposed to be there?
  • Heritage Square: Life in LA for over 100 years
  • Highland Park Bowl: L.A.'s oldest still operating bowling alley that's also kind of like a speakeasy. Since 1927, more recently restored but retaining a lot of original historical charm.
  • Amoeba Music: If you love vinyl, locals say they're the best.
  • Tournament of Roses Parade: Dozens of marching bands in front of floats and they're all before the Rose Bowl football game
  • Chinese New Year: Would you like to celebrate in February with a dragon parade and fireworks? That's in Chinatown, along with live music and lots of food.
  • Fiesta Broadway: Largest Cinco de Mayo festival complete with pinatas in the world?
  • Getty Museum: Above the city on the Santa Monica mountains, many say it's one of the best European art collections in the world
  • Aquarium of the Pacific: One of the best aquariums in the country
  • Musso and Frank Grill: Oldest restaurant in Hollywood since 1919. Fettuccine Alfredo was invented here, and the menu remains old-fashioned, with classic favorites like chicken pot pie, sauerbraten, Bouillabaisse Marseillaise, and Lobster Thermidor
  • Venice Beach & Santa Monica: They share a pier, amusement park, and a beach that gets very crowded in the summer. Fantastic people watching or overcrowded nightmare? You and your roommates decide!
  • Hermosa Beach: Known for its extremely popular surfing and volleyball competitions! But most are just watching, you could too.
  • Los Angeles Dodgers: famous baseball team
  • Los Angeles Lakers: famous basketball team
  • Los Angeles Sparks: WNBA, they play in same area as the Los Angeles Clippers and Los Angeles Kings (National Hockey League)
  • Angel City FC: Started the National Women's Soccer League in LA in 2022


Here's the city of Los Angeles' official .gov for housing services, including rights for renters & homeowners, free home repairs for seniors, building permits & inspections, and neighborhoods.







SAN FRANCISCO and Bay Area

  • $1500   =  non-traditional average 1
  • $1952   =  average 2BR ÷ 2, or traditional roommate rent 2
  • $2922   =  average 1BR, rented solo 3

100% live within a 10-minute walk of a park. 4
Most errands can be accomplished on foot. 5
empty office buildings, tent cities, drug addicts committing property crimes
public transit, pedestrian friendly, bicycle friendly, temperate climate, stunning views, movie locations causing many severe nostalgia all over the city (for some, most blocks!) 6
naked gay people, a LOT of tourists, no actual treasure, a new millionnaire neighborhood, ancient ruins, chinatown, filipino heaven, active wear mandatory, offices, SF State, traffic, and front-line of gentrification war are the largest hoodmap tags 7

SO, roomiematch.com's San Francisco roommate rundown:

These two things are true of more roommates signing up for San Francisco than any other city:


ONE:   They're possessed by a romantic dream for themselves in SF that is no longer realistic.

TWO:   Even if they realized their romantic dream against all odds, they'd still pass out from sticker shock at the roommate rent required to sustain it.


And some hope finding roommates will totally fix TWO. But in San Francisco, roommates aren't necessarily struggling, or wondering how they'll make rent next month. Living with roommates/family/both is more common than living alone. Many college-educated adults employed full-time in careers for which they're well-suited still need roommates. Again, true for many in all cities on this list, but San Francisco the most.

Roommates don't mean you're struggling.   They're the new normal.

SF is so affectionately depicted in so many movies and books that've stuck around, folks get charmingly brainwashed into thinking stuff that's no longer tenable. Thus, we've read a lot of roommate profiles that want to live in San Francisco 25 years ago . . . starting two months from now.

SF has seen severe flux, lately enough to surprise even long-term residents. The local economy is driven by tech and finance. Those industries have been volatile, and SF went on both their rocky rides.

Even after the dot-com boom busted a bit, well-educated and well-paid professionals in tech and finance continued moving here, continuing to raise real estate prices . . . while San Francisco did a terrible job providing housing for anyone else. Affordable housing is definitely not keeping up with demand, causing lower-income residents to struggle.

Meanwhile, since the pandemic, SF's new flux is empty office space. Many tech workers sw