The Cost of a Private Bathroom When Housesharing
From unsightly messes to the sheer horror of an empty toilet roll holder, public bathrooms are the subject of bad dreams and living nightmares. Even the architecture can be intimidating; just ask any Brit their opinion of the gaps at the bottom of toilet cubicle doors in the U.S. Yet, there are upsides to shared bathrooms, like how they can help students meet and bond in university halls - but when it comes to doing your private business in a shared space, it's no surprise that some people just can't go.
In comparison, our own bathrooms are sacred palaces, a room in which the average person in the UK spends 416 days of their lives. Stacked full of all our home comforts, it sees us through our highs and lows, from elaborate self-care routines and candle-lit baths to unfortunate bouts of food poisoning.
But not everyone has the luxury of having their own bathroom or only sharing the space with their family; many UK adults live in shared accommodation - a number that has risen by 400% over the last ten years - and rooms with desirable en-suites are often more expensive.
So where do housesharers at home and across the pond have to shell out the priciest premium for a private bathroom? And where are you the most and least likely to find a room with an en-suite to rent? To find out, QS Supplies compared thousands of local houseshare listings with and without en-suites on SpareRoom in the UK and U.S.
What We Did
For each of the most populated towns and cities in the UK and the most populated cities in the U.S., we used SpareRoom.co.uk to retrieve the number of local rentals (excluding studio apartments, one-bed apartments and entire homes) and the rental price for rooms with and without an en-suite bathroom. We could then calculate the percentage of room rentals per location that do and don't have a private bathroom, the median price of either type of room rental per location and the price premium percentage for en-suite rooms.
- Stoke-on-Trent renters will pay the highest premium (69.27%) for their own bathroom in a houseshare
- UK housesharers will find the most en-suite rooms to rent in London (52.69% of listings)… but they'll pay the most for them in rent, too (£1,150 per month)
- In the U.S., private bathrooms carry the priciest premium (56.52%) in Jersey City (NJ)
- After Jersey City, San Francisco has the most expensive en-suite rooms for rent ($1,575 per month)
- But you'll find the most en-suite rooms for rent in Washington, D.C. (63.03% of listings)
Housesharers in Stoke-On-Trent Pay the Highest Premium for Their Own Bathroom
In Britain, the average cost of renting a room in a houseshare is £683 - cheaper by far than the average cost of renting a flat to yourself (£906). With this in mind, it's easy to see why Brits of all ages (400% more than a decade ago) are turning to houseshares in the midst of a cost-of-living crisis and stagnated wages. Often converted from single-family units, many houseshares in the UK only have one shared bathroom to offer renters. Rooms that do offer en-suites tend to come at a higher cost.
Based on the percentage difference in local rent prices between rooms with and without en-suites, we've calculated the average premium that a housesharer in each of the UK's most populated cities needs to pay for a room with its own bathroom. Housesharers in the Staffordshire city of Stoke-on-Trent need to shell out the biggest premium of all (69.27%).Click here to view full size
It could be a case of too many people looking for a place of their own, pushing up the price of coveted en-suite rooms. Not only is Stoke-on-Trent a university town (and students tend to privately rent in their second and third years) but the 2021 census revealed that the city belonged to the top 25% most densely populated local authority areas in England. Also high on the ranking are Blackburn (a price premium of 64.14%) and Belfast (51.40%).
After London, Cambridge Housesharers Pay the Most for an En-Suite
London is one of the most expensive places to live in the world, so it's no wonder that a houseshare room in the capital with its own private bathroom carries the biggest median price tag in the country - £1,150 per month. Demand for rental properties in the capital is high, so available rooms with their own bathrooms must be like gold dust to en-suite enthusiasts. After London comes Cambridge (£850), one of the world's least affordable cities in which to find student housing.Click here to view full size
Meanwhile, housesharers in Blackpool (the UK's most affordable coastal town in which to live) and Sunderland only have to pay a median of £495 a month for a room with its own bathroom - the cheapest of any city in the UK. Preston follows as the third-cheapest place (£498.17 a month) to bag an en-suite. Interestingly, all of the least expensive locations in our ranking are located either around or north of Birmingham. Government data shows that some of the most affordable UK local authorities for buying a house are located in the North West or North East.
London Is the Easiest Place to Find a Houseshare Room With an En-Suite
Aside from unaffordable rental costs, another factor that'll stop you from finding an en-suite room in a houseshare is low availability. In London, renting a room with its own bathroom will cost you more per month than any other city in the UK - but it's also easier than anywhere else, being the only city in our analysis where the majority (52.69%) of room rentals are en-suite. Could it be that housing developers and landlords in the capital are adding en-suites because they know the value they add?Click here to view full size
Meanwhile, spare a thought for en-suite hunters in Newport, Wales: only 8.96% of rooms on the market have their own bathrooms (roughly one in a dozen). In late 2022, figures revealed that over 9,000 people in Newport were on social housing waiting lists, with the average person waiting for over two years. A council representative said: "[The council] is dealing with an unprecedented demand for both temporary and long-term housing. The availability of accommodation is simply not keeping pace with demand."
Jersey City Housesharers Pay the Highest Premium for En-Suites
The United States is a bathroom-happy nation, with the number of bathrooms per American doubling in the past fifty years - but it's likely that a fair few of the 79 million adults who live in shared households still wish there were more. However, it's housesharers in Jersey City (NJ) who'll shell out the highest premium (56.52%) for their own bathroom, the second-most populated city in the sixth-most expensive state in the country for renters.Click here to view full size
Chicago's (IL) housesharers pay the next highest premium (50.87%) for a room with its own bathroom. It could be that private bathrooms are especially valuable in a city where jobs are growing, but new housing can't keep up with demand. Seattle (WA) follows (a price premium of 43.14%), a city facing a similar problem to Chicago; as Hannah Krieg of The Stranger writes: "Developers only built one new unit of housing for every 2.6 new jobs in Seattle during the recent tech boom."
After Jersey City, San Francisco's En-Suites Are the Most Expensive to Rent
We know that Jersey City housesharers pay the highest premium for a room with an en-suite, and that translates to the highest median monthly rent ($1,800) for one, as well. For comparison, an entire one-bedroom apartment in South River (a town less than an hour's drive from Jersey City) costs some 63% less a month. San Francisco (CA) offers the next priciest monthly rent for an en-suite room ($1,575), the country's third-most expensive city in which to be a renter.Click here to view full size
But a room with an en-suite is not a pricey pipe dream for renters in other cities across the States. In the two Texan cities of Houston and San Antonio, the median cost per month of a room with its own bathroom is just $800 - less than half of the median rent advertised in Jersey City. Maybe there's simply enough accommodation to go around; both of these metropolitan areas in the Lone Star State rank among the U.S. locations building the most new homes.
Washington, D.C., Offers the Most Rooms to Rent With Private Bathrooms
In Washington, D.C., 63.03% of rooms for rent have their own bathrooms - more than any other city in the U.S. Abundant in private, but not so much on the street: public restrooms in the city were considered so few and far between in recent years that the council was pushed to open new facilities for the public. Charlotte (NC) ranks third (60.53%), one of the country's top cities when it comes to generously sized apartments. Could it be that there's just more room for bathrooms?Click here to view full size
The situation is much different in Boston (MA), where 77.27% of rooms for rent only offer a shared bathroom. Over a third of rental units in the city are two-beds, so it's likely many local renters don't have to share a loo with more than a couple of housemates. Similarly, in New York City (NY), only 43.08% of room listings include an en-suite. Historically, buildings in New York City were built with communal bathrooms; en-suites and private bathrooms, therefore, are something of a modern idea.
Keeping Your Cool in a Shared Bathroom
Sharing a bathroom with other people is not everyone's cup of tea, but for more and more people in the UK, it's a necessary reality. It doesn't have to be an intimidating experience, though; there are plenty of ways to keep your cool in a shared space. If you're strict about other people using your shower gels and shampoos, you could invest in an easy-to-clean caddy to ferry them to and from your bedroom. Keeping your own clean towels and a dressing gown in your room will stop them from being used by mistake (or on purpose) too.
When it comes to cleaning, nobody wants to do more than their fair share of the work, so drawing up a rota for cleaning different areas of the bathroom can be a great way to make sure everyone stays on top of and accountable for their own tasks. The same is true for buying shared essentials, like toilet paper and hand soap; you and your housemates could take turns to nip to the shops and stock up.
Perhaps most importantly, any shared space relies on manners. Made a mess of the bathroom getting ready? Make sure to clean it up before you leave. Have a habit of taking long baths or showers? Take the time to clear it with your housemates first, so they won't be desperate for the loo while you're in there (and don't use up all the hot water, either). Replacing the loo roll when it's empty is also a surefire way not to make enemies of your flatmates.
How We Did It
To find out the cost of a private bathroom when housesharing, we analysed Spareroom data for the 70 most populated towns and cities in the UK and the 100 most populated cities in the United States.
For each location, we scraped details on the number of rentals + their price for rooms with and without an 'en-suite' bathroom - excluding studio apartments/one-beds and entire homes from our sample.
Then we calculated the median price and price difference for either type of room rental - private bathroom vs no private bathroom - per location.
Finally, we calculated what percentage of room rentals per location have vs don't have a private bathroom; and the price premium between room listings that include a private bathroom vs rooms that don't include one by calculating the % difference of the median price between both types of rental.
After applying thresholds requiring a minimum number of listings per city (50 in the UK and 35 in the U.S.), our final sample of cities is equivalent to 55 in the UK and 27 in the United States.
The data for this research is correct as of August 2023.
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