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New Orleans
  • $550   =  non-traditional average 1
  • $989   =  average 2BR ÷ 2, or traditional roommate rent 2
  • $1558   =  average 1BR, rented solo 3
  • (traditional vs. non-traditional roommates)
  • (the rest of the  southeast US)

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.





Notes

1.   The non-traditional roommate rent average for this city we've experienced over the last 3 years. We can't predict future rental availability, because we're neither in control of any rental market nor psychic, sorry!

But in most cities most of the time, the recent and relatively recent past are the best predictors.


2.   This idea came from smartasset.com's ranking of what a roommate saves you in 50 cities. They ranked where roommates will save you the most money, based on the average cost of a 1BR as opposed to a 2BR ÷ 2. Unsurprisingly, the more expensive the city, the more you can save, but the savings are significant in all larger metros. So we got the data for the rest of our cities from Zumper too.

This is really the minimum you could save, as you could live with more than one roommate, split more services, share food or other supplies, etc. More sharing tends to lead to more savings too, as per our roommate roadmap.

As per the rest of the description at the top of this page, we're calling this "traditional" roommate rent.


3.   From zumper.com.


4.   Directly quoted from the Trust for Public Land's parkland rating system.

"The ParkScore index awards each city up to 100 points for acreage based on the average of two equally weighted measures: median park size and parkland as a percentage of city area. Factoring park acreage into each city’s ParkScore rating helps account for the importance of larger “destination parks” that serve many users who live farther than ten minutes’ walking distance."

While each city's rundown already includes their individual ParkScore, nature lovers might like to see all roommate cities ranked for parkland.


5.   Directly quoted from Walk Score's Cities and Neighborhoods Ranking. They've ranked "more than 2,800 cities and over 10,000 neighborhoods so you can find a walkable home or apartment."

While each city's rundown already includes their individual Walk Score, dedicated pedestrians might like to see all roommate cities ranked for walkability.


6.   From various lists here on our own best roommate cities.


7.   From hoodmaps.com: a collaborative map where residents use tags describing social situations you're likely to find. Other users can thumb up or down, so the largest tags have been thumbed up the most.