In your search to find other people to share a space with, you've probably seen the terms roommate and housemate thrown around. So, what's the difference? Is there even a difference?

Roommate vs. Housemate

housemates in room
If you're sharing a house, are you roommates or housemates? │ Photo credit: Kaleidico

In technical terms, a roommate is someone you share a bedroom with, while a housemate is someone you share a house or apartment with.

However, in the United States, people often use the term roommate, or roomie, to refer to anyone you share a living space with, even if you're not sharing a bedroom.

In America, the term "roommate" can apply to all of the following:

  • A college student you share a dorm room with at a US university
  • A person you share a house with, even if you both have your own bedrooms
  • A flatmate you only share a living room and kitchen with
  • A suitemate at a university residence
  • A significant other you share a bedroom with
  • A best friend you play video games with in your shared bedroom

Confusing, right?

At Kopa, we use the term housemate to help alleviate some of this confusion. This term refers to anyone you share a living space with, whether or not you share a bedroom.

What to Keep in Mind as a Renter

bunk beds in room
Remember to ask if you'll be sharing a bedroom. │ Photo credit: floeschie

When you're thinking about your future living arrangement and calculating your cost of living, it's important to keep in mind how people often use the terms housemate and roommate interchangeably. Just because someone says they're looking for a new roommate, don't assume you'll be sharing a bedroom. At the same time, if someone says they're looking for a housemate, it's a smart idea to check whether or not you'll be sharing a bedroom.

So, if you see someone advertising that they're looking for the perfect roommate, it's worth checking to see what they're really looking for. Are they looking to share a bedroom, or are they just looking to share a house? If you don't follow up with potential roommates, you might miss out on finding a great person to share your living space with.

Remember, when you're looking for housing in a new city like San Francisco, Los Angeles, or New York, one of the most important aspects of your living situation is your housemate/roommate relationship. While you don't have to find a roommate who you want to hang out with 24/7, it's a smart idea to find someone who you're compatible with.

After all, you'll be living in a shared house where everyone's opinion matters. And if you just pick a random person, you could be in for a bad time.

Unclear? Just ask.

So, we've cleared up the differences between roommate and housemate. However, remember not everyone has read this article! If you're unclear of what a person is referring to when they say "I'm looking for a good roommate," just ask them to clarify.