417: Sharing Bedrooms

A Thousand Things to Talk About
417: Sharing Bedrooms

Have you ever shared your bedroom?

Show notes and links:
US Census (PDF)
SF Guides
Chicago Tribune
The Atlantic

Full episode script

When doing research about the painting-your-bedroom episode recently, I discovered a few articles discussing two paired — but diametrically opposed — trends. One was a Chicago Tribune article from 2016 talking about parents who are choosing to have their kids share rooms, even if they have enough bedrooms for the kids to each have their own space.


While the U.S. Census Bureau doesn’t track how many children share a room, the New York Housing and Vacancy Survey found that in nearly two-thirds of homes with two children under age 18, the kids share a room.

Though, to be fair, that is in New York, which is famous for tiny apartments. Federal and California occupancy rules usually lay out that a one-bedroom apartment could likely fit three people – two in one bedroom and one in a common space configured for provide sleeping space for a third.

The second article that I found was from the Atlantic in 2014, talking about the rise of the “super single” residency option in college dorm rooms, where rooms that had previously been configured for a pair of roommates were instead set aside for just one person, a part of the apparent arms race in college housing.

“Learning about different cultures and experiencing the breakdown of one’s stereotypes are important lessons that can be learned through having a roommate, says Dalton Conley, dean of social sciences at New York University. But there are also more mundane aspects of learning to live with someone: how to make do when the other person in the room snores, or likes the window open at night, or is messier than you would like. “Roommates simply teach us to be tolerant and adapt,” Conley says. “In our increasingly customized, digitized, on-demand world, there are not many experiences that provide this sort of socialization.”

One thing that quickly becomes clear about sharing living space, when you’re looking at the statistics, is that we generally are doing less of it. The US Census Bureau has a report that tracks the number of one-person households — and it’s gone from just under 15 percent in 1960 to just under 30 percent in 2016.

This script may vary from the actual episode transcript.