She needed to live with a roommate (or two). She didn’t have enough money to rent an apartment on her own. But she was new to town and didn’t know anyone. And living with a random stranger after only a brief meeting might be risky.
“I could check Craigslist,” she said, “but I don’t know what kind of person I’ll find.”
So she brainstormed a few tips that could help her find a roommate in a new city—and might help you, as well, if you’re in the same position.
1. Tap Your Network.
Eheart first tapped her social circle. She wrote a post on Facebook, asking her friends whether they knew anyone in Austin who might need a roommate. She asked for introductions to friends of friends, coworkers—anyone who might fall within a second or third degree of separation.
“You never know,” she said. “I figured someone might have a sister or a cousin living there. Or maybe somebody I went to school with lives there.”
Your network may be able to send you roommate leads, or at least introduce you to someone in the new city who might be able to show you around town, answer questions and help you settle in.
Thinking of using an apartment locator? Before you do, learn some secrets from an insider: blog.sparefoot.com/3712-how-to-find-an-apartment.
2. Reach Out to Your Alumni Association.
Eheart was hoping she might find Facebook friends who had former classmates in her new city.
But you can take this a step further: Reach out to your alumni association. Join its email list, and see whether it has an online bulletin board or forum. Join your alumni group on LinkedIn or see whether your graduating class has formed an official Facebook group.
There’s a decent chance you might meet that quiet girl from chemistry class in your new town. As a bonus, you and your new roommate can spend the weekends cheering for your college football team together. Instant bonding!
Looking for deals on apartments? Read our tips here: blog.sparefoot.com/5752-how-to-get-apartment-deals.
3. Explore the ‘Dating’ World
Here’s another option that Eheart didn’t try, but you can: Join a “dating site” that helps people find roommates.
Never heard of this? Imagine an eHarmony or OKCupid, but for the roommate world. They sort you based on common interests and lifestyles, and help you find an ideal match. Check out Roommates.com and Roommate Express, which offer these matching services.
If those websites don’t work out, don’t be afraid to try Craigslist. True, there’s no vetting on that website. You don’t know what type of people you’ll find there, but you still have the potential to find your ideal roommate.
And if all else fails, you can launch an online find-a-roommate campaign like Hugh Podmore did in 2013 (top photo).
4. Consider a Temporary Sublease.
Can’t find a decent roommate? Overwhelmed with how much else you need to do before you move? Not sure which neighborhood you want to live in?
Search for a sublease situation or short-term housing. The “temporary” section on Craigslist is a great resource; you also could look on AirBnb for a private room in a shared home.
The benefit to a temporary arrangement? If you clash with your new roommates, you can escape quickly. Besides, knowing that you’re not committed might help put you at ease.
Eheart ultimately chose this option. She temporarily moved in with random strangers she found on Craigslist—just to make sure they’d get along. Once they established that they were a good fit for each other, they signed a long-term lease.
For tips on finding a place to live in a new city, check out this blog post: blog.sparefoot.com/4579-renting-an-apartment-in-a-new-town.
5. Rent the Space First, Then Look for a Roommate.
A costly option—and possibly a last resort—would be to rent your ideal space first, and then start hunting for a roommate after you’ve moved in.
Why might you want to take that approach? When you’re choosing a place to live, you need to deal with a litany of variables: price, location, square footage, amenities, lease terms, condition of the property and pet policies. Adding the burden of “Do I like these roommates?” to this list can be overwhelming, especially if you’re already coping with the stress of moving to a new city.
Instead, try splitting this into two separate tasks: First, shop around for your ideal apartment, condo or house. Find your perfect pad, sign the lease and then start looking for a roommate. Be upfront with your landlord, of course, and make sure the landlord approves of your plan.
This approach has a major caveat: You’ll need enough money to cover the entire lease while you’re shopping for a roommate. Stash enough cash to cover the full rental amount for several months (longer than you anticipate). After all, you want the luxury of living with the right person, rather than being forced to rent to the first human with a pulse.
If your budget is tight, skip this step. But if you have some wiggle room, this could be the best choice.
6. To Find a Great Roommate, Be a Great Roommate.
If you decide to rent a space first and then show your place to potential roommates, follow a few tips to make sure your space is presentable:
- Keep your home clean and clutter-free.
- “Stage” the bathroom with towels and soaps to make it look inviting.
- Be conscious of any intrusive odors or smells.
Rachel Weinberg, a real estate agent with Wright Kingdom Real Estate in Boulder, CO, emphasizes that last point.
“Don’t cook bacon in your home the day of a showing,” she said. “Although it might taste great, the smell is strong and lingers for a long time. You don’t want your home to smell like a fast-food restaurant.”