Roommate Listings Nearly Double in Downturn

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Whether you are a retiree with a cracked nest egg or an upside-down homeowner with a room to spare, many people are looking to a roommate situation to either supplement their income or to find a cheaper living arrangement of their own.

According to a Craigslist spokesperson, roommate listings are up 160 percent over the past two years.

The math is fairly straightforward: If you can get between $500 and $1,000 a month in rent, that's an additional $6,000 to $12,000 in annual income.

In a recent article in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, a 55-year-old widow took on a boarder who is half her age. "I just love her," Lori Gordon said. Both women have dogs, and find time to share one or two meals a week, plus occasional bike rides, wine, ice cream and "American Idol."

One major plus in this situation is that it's intended to be short term. While Mrs. Gordon may say she wants her roommate to marry one of her sons, they may be sick of each other before too long.

Roommate arrangements that drag on for an indefinite amount of time have a tendency to take on more of that "SWF" vibe.

In this column, advice columnist Carolyn Hax addresses the eternal question of the sleeping over boyfriend, which tends to plague otherwise healthy roommate relations.

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