If you have an extra room in your home, taking on a roommate can be a great way to cut down on monthly expenses and loosen up your household budget. Finding a roommate can be a real hassle if you don’t have someone in mind though. One of the first and most obvious ways is to go through friends and acquaintances. However, if a suitable friend or a friend of a friend isn’t available, you may have to look into welcoming a stranger into your home. As stressful as this may seem, it can be done effectively with positive results if you prepare a little and know the type of person will mesh well with your lifestyle. If you successfully find someone you know, the process is easier . . . but if you don’t? Where to start when hunting for a perfect stranger to move in?
Where to Start Looking
Just like finding a date, there are good and bad places to find roommates. You don’t want to ask a random stranger at a bar nor someone in an open forum. The notable exception is Craigslist, though you should still be quite wary of the types of people you may meet. If you decide to use public forum avenues to find a potential roommate, use contact info that you are willing to dispose of should you begin chatting with someone that you later do not wish to see again. If you want to set up a phone interview with someone you contact, consider getting an alternate phone number through Google Voice or similar services so that you can use your own phone, but a different number that can be dropped at any time. Also consider making a separate email just for contacting strangers that you can ignore should things go south.
Considering things like reputability, safety, and ease of use, there are good websites you can use that do their best to filter out any scammers or negative people to keep listings honest and legitimate:
Though initial sign-up is free, many of these sites require you to pay for a premium membership to gain access to better features. Some of these features can include actually speaking with potential roommates, so its worth weighing the benefits of their use.
When looking, you should try to provide as much useful information in an online profile as possible, minus your actual contact information or social media pages. You can perhaps save yourself a lot of trouble by telling people what your expectations for yourself and a potential roommate are so that those who decide to respond to your posts are more likely to be someone who will share your values and expectations. Some things you can list about yourself are the following:
- What gender do you prefer, if at all, a roommate to be?
- What your personality type is
- What personality type(s) you prefer in a roommate
- What job type you have and what a potential roommate should have currently (full-time or part time, industry, work hours, etc.)
- School status and schedule
- Any pets you have
- You habits during the day and night
- Do you like having people over seldom or often?
- Do you smoke or drink alcohol regularly?
- How neat or messy do you keep your things?
- What are you willing to share in the common areas?
- What activities do you like to do while at home?
- How often do you like to have people over?
- What are your habits on the weekend?
- How do you like to split general costs other than rent?
You can alternatively ask these questions in a later meet-up with potential roommates. It can also be helpful to submit a decent photo of yourself so people know what to expect if you ever meet with them.
Narrowing It Down
Whatever method you’ve decided to use to find potential roommates initially, you may get one or many responses. What do you do now with all of these people competing for the spot? While it can be difficult to determine if someone is the right fit from their words alone, this is the time to throw out responses that exhibit red flags that you know you are not going to be able to tolerate. For example, if you get a response that tells you that he/she needs to practice at night with their band a few times a week and you value peace and quiet, you can safely disqualify that person from your list.
Depending on how many responses you get, you want to try and narrow it down to 5-10 potentials before you start actually meeting with people face-to-face. When you do meet with someone, always meet in a public place instead of at your place in case the person turns out to be a bad fit or just plain crazy. If the person wants to see the place on this first meeting, bring detailed HD pictures of the interior that does not reveal your unit number or address. The first meeting should work more like a first interview, in which you are judging them as a person to see if their personality and expectations will fit with yours. Always beware of people who do not ask you questions in return, as they may not care to get along with you the same way you do with them.
After your first meeting, you would do well to investigate the person and their claims to make sure there is no funny business going on. Doing a background check, credit check, and other research via social media can give you a better idea of what kind of person they are. Doing a thorough background check on a person may have a few upfront costs, but are miniscule to the costs you might incur should the person turn out to be a bad fit.
Only after an initial interview and some research into the person should you invite them over to your actual place to show them the layout and where they will be staying. At this point, most of the hard questions should be out of the way and agreed upon. From there, you simply need to make a decision on who to bring into your place based on the information you’ve gathered and how you interact with the person. With due diligence and a little intuition, taking someone new into your home can be a great experience for everyone involved.