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A roommate is a person who shares a living facility such as an apartment or dormitory. Similar terms include suitemate, housemate, flatmate ("flat": the usual term in British English for an apartment), or sharemate (shared living spaces are often called sharehomes in Australia,). In the UK, the term "roommate" means a person living in the same bedroom, whereas in the United States and Canada, "roommate" and "housemate" are used interchangeably regardless whether a bedroom is shared. This article uses the term "roommate" in the US sense of a person one shares a residence with who is not a relative or significant other. The informal term for roommate is roomie, which is commonly used by university students.
The most common reason for sharing housing is to reduce the cost of housing. In many rental markets, the monthly rent for a two- or three-bedroom apartment is proportionately less per bedroom than the rent for a one-bedroom apartment (in other words, a three-bedroom flat costs more than a one-bedroom, but not three times as much). By pooling their monthly housing money, a group of people can achieve a lower housing expense at the cost of less privacy. Other motivations are to gain better amenities than those available in single-person housing, to share the work of maintaining a household, and to have the companionship of other people.
Who lives with roommates? 
Housemates and roommates are typically unmarried young adults, including workers and students. It is not rare for middle-aged and elderly adults who are single, divorced, or widowed to have housemates. Married couples, however, typically discontinue living with roommates, especially when they have children.
Roommates are a fairly common point of reference in Western culture. In the United States, most young adults spend at least a short part of their lives living with roommates after they leave their family's home. Therefore, many novels, movies, plays, and television programs employ roommates as a basic principle or a plot device (such as the popular series Friends or The Big Bang Theory). Sharing a house or a flat is also very common in European countries such as France (French colocation, corenting) or Germany (German WG for Wohngemeinschaft, living [together] community). Many websites are specialized in finding a flatmate. On the other hand, it is less common for people of any age to live with roommates in some countries, such as Japan, where single-person one-room apartments are plentiful.
There are many different forms of flat shares also, from the more established flat shares where the flatmate will get their own room that is furnished to "couch surfing" where people lend their sofa for a short period.
The change in the cost of housing makes the consideration of roommates more attractive. As the housing market increases, so too does the roommate ratio rate. When house prices drop, the opposite can be expected. This has been seen extensively in cities such as Washington D.C., Phoenix, and San Diego.
Student exchanges are getting more and more popular with globalization and has influenced a lot in the Roommate Boom. The Erasmus exchange program in Europe has contributed as being the biggest exchange program in Europe. Exchange students can live in university residences but a growing amount want to share apartments with other international students in shared apartments.
Roommates and house-sharing are not limited to students and young adults however. American politicians Chuck Schumer, William Delahunt, Richard Durbin, and George Miller famously share a house in Washington, D.C. while Congress is in session.
In Indian universities and colleges it is quite common that students share their rooms with a couple of others. Usually students in the master or doctoral programs are allocated with own rooms.
Sharing an apartment is quite popular by young adults (most of them college students) in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, while sharing a bedroom is uncommon.
Another thing to consider when choosing a roommate is how to divide the cost of living. Who pays for what, or are the shared expenses divided between the two or more roommates. Also, the potential roommate should be trusted to pay their share and trusted to pay it on time. Sleeping patterns can also be disrupted when living with a number of people, so it is therefore important to choose housemates wisely.
See also 
- "Roomie definition". MacMillan Dictionary/Thesaurus. Retrieved 2010-08-13.
- Washington Times – Wanted: Roommates
- Taking Power, Sharing Cereal, New York Times, Jan. 18, 2007; D.C. Lawmakers Share 'Animal House', ABC News, Mar. 12, 2007; Capitol Hill's Animal House is Their Home Away From Home, Boston Globe, Jan. 18, 2007.