Moving to a new city on your own is often an exciting and momentous occasion, but it can also be full of challenges. That’s especially true if you don’t really know anybody and need to find a roommate.
Sharing a home with a complete stranger is a scary thought for many. But sometimes it is the only way to afford an apartment where you want to live. You might try Craigslist, but that method is so 2001. And it can be hard to separate real posters from scammers.
If you happen to be in a situation where you need to find a roommate fast, here’s a rundown of the different ways to find one that won’t drive you completely crazy.
1. Tap Your Social Network
Start with your social circle. Write a post on Facebook or Instagram to ask your network whether they knew anyone in your new city who might need a roommate. Ask for introductions to friends of friends, coworkers—anyone who might fall within a second or third degree of separation. This is a good way to begin since you’ll hopefully have the benefit of having a roommate that is vouched for by someone you know.
2. Try Roommate Finder Apps
Finding a roommate can feel a bit like dating. Hopefully you get matched up with someone you get along with right? It’s no surprise then that many roommate finding apps are similar to dating apps like Tinder. Create a profile, swipe through other profiles, and eventually find your perfect roommate match.
But first you’ll need to pick a roommate finding app, or several. Here are some of the most popular ones to try. Keep in mind that most offer a free version, but you’ll have to pay to get unlimited access.
- Roommates.com: One of the oldest (since 2001) and most trusted roomie finding websites out there. Start a basic profile for free and get matched with potential roommates based on mutual criteria.
- Roomster: Offers a free to use app, but requires a subscription to get the most access to users profiles and social media accounts.
- Circle: For those most concerned about safety, Circle is a good choice as users must verify their driver’s license and pass a background check.
- Roomi: Roomi is great if you are looking for a place that is move-in ready. People who have a room to rent or sublet can list their place for free. Using this site is more like using Airbnb than a dating app.
If those don’t help you find what you’re looking for, here’s a few more roommate apps worth trying:
3. Reach Out to Your Alumni Association
If you are a recent grad, 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!
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.
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 potential roomies. 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.”
7. Watch Out For Red Flags
When considering prospective roommates, make sure to look for certain red flags. This requires doing your due diligence instead of jumping blindly into the first living situation that comes up. Take a moment to ask some important questions first.
- Why did their last roommate move out?
- What is their daily routine like?
- How would they describe their lifestyle?
- How will cleaning duties be divided?
If the answers don’t sound right to you, then it is probably a sure sign that the living arrangement isn’t going to work out for you.
8. What About COVID-19?
Naturally, one big question you may have at the moment is how your prospective roommate is handling the COVID-19 pandemic situation. If they take the coronavirus less seriously than you do, then you might have a problem.
It is important to get on the same page as your future roommate before you move in. Reach an agreement as to what your protocols will be regarding social distancing, mask wearing, sanitization and visitors.