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Felines, fire and a phantom: SoCal tells its roommate stories

Normally, May is hotter than April, April hotter than March, but in many locations around Southern California, we had a cooling trend the deeper we got into spring this year. (Stock photo: The Los Angeles skyline is shown during
Normally, May is hotter than April, April hotter than March, but in many locations around Southern California, we had a cooling trend the deeper we got into spring this year. (Stock photo: The Los Angeles skyline is shown during "June gloom.")
Stock photo by Dhrupad Bezboruah via Flickr Creative Commons

Owning your own home or just being able to pay for your own place is seen as the ideal situation for anyone, especially here in California.

Then you see how expensive it is. According to the Legislative Analyst’s Office, the median California home costs 2.5 times higher than the median national home. As of 2015, the typical California home costs $437,000, easily beating out Massachusetts or New York (only Hawaii had pricier housing).

Rent isn’t much easier, either. Across the state, the median rental price for a two-bedroom apartment is about $2,400, the third highest in the country, according to the Zumper National Rent Report from August of 2017.

This is where roommates come in. 

More and more young people in Southern California (and some who aren't so young) are dealing with rising housing costs by pairing up with someone else.

And, as pretty much everyone knows, living with a roommate can have its challenges.

KPCC asked listeners to share their roommate stories. Here are some of the best: 

A (cat)astrophic Craigslist roommate 

By Monica Koslowski

About two years ago, I had a roommate that I met on Craigslist in Hollywood. 

She wasn't the cleanest roommate or the quietest roommate, but things were fine until she asked to bring her cat from Wisconsin. I'm a cat lover, so I said "fine." 

She went on a trip to Europe and then brought her cat home soon afterward. That very same day, I saw on social media that she was going to Las Vegas for the weekend. 

I had to text her myself to ask, "Hey, is someone watching your cat?" 

She was completely oblivious and was like, "Oh, yeah. Could you watch her for me?"

And that was just the beginning of almost two years of me being her surrogate cat owner. Whenever she went out of town, which was often, she would also change the cat litter every three weeks. She would let the water bowl go dry. This poor cat just wanted love and attention. 

When she did finally move out, I had friends and family tell me to just keep the cat and not let her take it, but of course, I couldn't do that. 

Currently, my ex-roommate is traveling Europe, and her new roommate is watching her cat for like six months. I really hope that cat's doing okay now. 

'Pyro Roommate'

By Thy Merritt

About five years ago, my boyfriend and I lived with two of his friends in a house in San Dimas. 

It wasn't an ideal situation, but it was what I could afford at the time, and I thought, "Eh, what could possibly go wrong?"

One of the roommates was an EMT. A few months into living with him, I quickly discovered that he was a little scatter-brained. 

If he was close by after finishing a call, he would come home and make himself some food. The first time he left the stove on, I chalked it up to him most likely getting a call from dispatch and him just running out the door. No big deal, I brought it up to him, he was apologetic, and I thought, "Cool, he'll be more mindful next time."

Next time just so happened to have the same outcome. He left the stove on again, and we were unsure of how long it had been on because the rest of us were gone for the majority of the day. There was a good a chance that Pyro Roommate may have stopped by early in the morning for a snack. 

This time, I brought it up to the other roommate who also happened to own the house we were living in. To my surprise, the owner of the house was pretty nonplussed about the open flame left on all day. In fact, instead of resolving the issue, he pivoted to another concern, which was: who was throwing toilet paper and Q-tips in the bathroom waste basket. 

After that, my boyfriend and I decided to move out because the roommate tensions were getting a little high. No one in the house could agree on what was the more egregious crime: Stove-gate or Q-Tip-gate.

Now, I live in a small apartment with my boyfriend and one furry roommate who doesn't cook. I hear through the grapevine that that old roommate has kept up his tradition of leaving the stove on, well after I left. 

The roommate that wasn't 

By Rhonda Smart

I had met this guy at a coffee shop. We'd been hanging out. He was in a band. After a few weeks, he was like, "Hey, my roommate and I are looking for a new place to live because our rent's going up. We're looking for a third roommate if you wanna move in with us."

So I said, "Sure."

We get to the apartment, and the other roommate's name is also Rhonda. She lived in our apartment for at least two years, but I never met her. 

[She] always paid her rent; never saw her. She moved out while I was at work. 

It turns out, the only reason she had the apartment was that she wanted her parents to think she was living by herself instead of with her boyfriend. 

Responses have been edited for clarity. Click on the orange play buttons near the top of each of these stories to hear them out loud.