how to find a good roommate

Don't sell yourself short!

Sharing some details will really help, about yourself and/or the room you're offering. Our profiles make it as easy as possible, but you should still share some additional unique details.

Room seekers like information and appealing features. Neglecting to give them any will damage your response rate. Don't sell yourself short!

Don't remind anyone of their High School Vice Principal.

A lot of homeowners feel strongly that they want their property respected. No damages under any circumstances! This is understandable, and certainly not a problem in and of itself.

However, if "laying down the law" is ALL you have to say, to the total and complete exclusion of ANY other details or features, it can be unappealing.

You DO want to make your needs known and keep your place nice. We get that.

But if all you've got for potential roommates is a litany of what they better not do or else, with nothing friendly or appealing to balance that out . . . well . . . you'll seem like a stereotypical High School Vice Principal.

Potential roommates will not be lining up to see your place, no matter how nice or well-located it is. They'll usually pick folks that seem more relaxed.

If you've got a lot of rules, just get a little levity into the mix. Show them your non-High-School-V.P. side too.

I won't be home much . . .

. . . is not as effective for scoring reduced rent in as many situations as many room seekers seem to think. A notable exception might be those that already own their homes, and can be a little more flexible on the rent they charge. Then, a frequent traveler as a roommate may be appealing. It MAY even result in reduced rent.

However, for those looking to share their rental, it likely doesn't matter.

Fellow renters have a number of non-negotiable bills, and usually need to fill that roommate slot with someone that will shoulder them equally. Your potential non-presence may be appealing, but it won't change their financial situation.

This doesn't mean those looking for a reduced rent to be mostly absentee can't find it. It does mean you should understand this sort of roommate situation will be more unusual, and start looking earlier to allow for the additional time it may take you.

Pay attention to our Roommate Behavior Ratings.

You DO want to determine how compatible you and a potential new roommate will be, BEFORE moving in.

You'll be happiest with roommates with higher percentage matches. How to find a good roommate = get a better match.

Better Roommate Behavior Ratings predict happier outcomes . . . instead of sob stories about roommates from hell. A little attention paid to compatibility NOW will save you major grief LATER.

Usually the best roommate for you is someone that's similar to you on some important Roommate Behavior Rating factors. You may be a very open-minded person. BUT, there's a difference between tolerating or even appreciating folks different from yourself out in the rest of the world -- and having those folks currently disco dancing in your living room when you're a light sleeper who needs to be at work in 3 hours.

Or, vice versa -- you need to disco dance in your living room until dawn but your cranky roommate constantly yells at you to turn it down. Then, extrapolate for practically any household situation: messiness, bill-paying, overnight guests, alcohol consumption, shared items, etc.

Our Roommate Behavior Ratings cover these things and more. If you can't be bothered to care now, you'll most likely WISH you had later . . . when you're spending a lot more time looking again much sooner than necessary, or suffering through a bad roommate choice.

contact desirable roommates ASAP!

Check your email often and contact compatible roommates ASAP!

We keep our database as current as humanly possible, but each day you fail to respond to a good roommate match is a day less likely they will still be available.

Roommate seeking is a "you snooze, you lose" proposition! If you don't stay on the ball, your good roommate match may settle for someone else first.

Many also provide phone numbers, you may want to use those too.

free your mind from tired demographic stereotypes

How to find a good roommate = open-mindedness to as much as possible on basic demographics like gender, age, and sexual orientation. Most of the time, basic demographic details do NOT affect the overall roommate experience as much as less experienced roommate seekers imagine they will.

Do NOT be so open-minded on actual roommate behaviors that are important to you, behaviors that might actually affect YOUR lifestyle and overall well-being.

But you will be better off if you avoid relying on tired, outdated stereotypes on the basic demographics.

For example, some claim they'd rather roommate with women because they're allegedly tidier. Whether or not that's true in any completely average way, those who've actually lived with multiple roommates of both genders usually report some very tidy men and some women whose impact on an apartment was like a small tornado.

If tidiness (or anything else, fill-in-the-blank here) is what you're after, look at that specific question on the profile.

Don't rely on stereotypes. They're often inaccurate and you don't have to rely on them with our Roommate Behavior Ratings.

reconsider "youth" as a restriction

Many roommate seekers insist they'll only consider those who are financially responsible, economically reliable, over the "party hearty" stage when at home, clean, responsible, mature, honest, respectful, independent, quiet, stable, trustworthy, without "drama," etc.

And THEN, after that lengthy list of maturity specifications . . . they also insist they only want to hear from those under 30.

Nope, not saying only those over 30 are "mature" in those ways. Not at all. Also not saying absolutely everyone over 30 is "mature" in all those ways either.

But roommates under 30 that are mature? They're definitely going against stereotype.

If mature behavior is important to you, you'd do best to at least CONSIDER roommates in other age ranges too.

Meanwhile, considering a range certainly won't rule out roommates that are very young AND very mature. You'd just be expanding your possibilities and upping your chances of actually finding a compatible roommate in the near future.

If you want someone willing to live near kids appropriately, you'll do much better to consider all age ranges as well. Same goes for married couples looking to rent rooms.

Even if you're young or very "youthful" yourself, your entire social life doesn't have to revolve around your roommate, you know. Your social life -- as well as the rest of your life -- may prove less stressful if you and your roommates engage in any "youthful" hijinks primarily outside your home.

It may ultimately prove refreshing to come home from your night of carousing and NOT have to wonder why there's a young man you've never met before passed out on your sofa, or half a pineapple pizza in your tub.

Men, don't be CREEPY!

Extra especially if you'd like women to consider roommating with you. Dudes who want to be CREEPY should probably stick with other dudes. (More of an level playing field.)

Almost all women looking for roommates fear the possibility of ending up with a man that would "hit on" them, make inappropriate sexual advances, unwanted sexual comments, etc. In short, be CREEPY.

Most women have endured something like that sometime someplace, some situation where they were repeatedly exposed to some guy who was repeatedly expressing interest they repeatedly did not reciprocate. That situation was uncomfortable and CREEPY.

Women on a roommate site want to avoid that interpersonal hell. If they wanted to be on a dating site, they'd be on a dating site ALREADY, there are certainly enough of them out there. Roommate seeking is entirely different, and they are hoping other roommate seekers will respect that.

Some women are so terrified of even the POSSIBILITY of getting stuck with a CREEPY man that they will refuse in advance to roommate with ANY man.

Other women are a bit less terrified, and will at least consider roommating with a man, but will take that into consideration on a "case by case" basis.

Now then, if you're one of those guys who might like to be considered by a less fearful woman on that "case by case" basis . . . how might it look if you are heterosexual and say you ONLY want to live with women? Or even worse, only SPECIFICALLY HETEROSEXUAL women? What might she think when she reads that? If you're really and truly not planning to "hit on" your roommate . . . why MUST she be a woman? Or even furthermore, a woman AND heterosexual?

For many women, that just won't pass the "smell test."

Women willing to roommate with heterosexual men, even women who WANT to roommate with heterosexual men, will still have their Creep Detector on High Alert. Men should keep that in mind at all times.

Sometimes a guy will say something he considers lighthearted to a woman, just something he thinks will break the ice, etc. “We could share a room to save on expenses, heh heh heh.” That guy will imagine his casual joke was clearly harmless.

Meanwhile, that woman has already hit the delete button on that guy's profile.

He'll wonder why she never wrote him back. She'll not only never write him back, she'll now be wondering if all men should be avoided as roommates.

So guys, don’t even go near CREEPY. Don't even drive by the ballpark of CREEPY.

Stay far, far, FAR away.

(Another common source of female complaint regarding male roommates now discussed here.)

pets as roommates too . . .

. . . will often narrow your options. Some places simply can't accept pets due to landlord rules or the allergies of existing residents. However, we're not suggesting you abandon yours!

What pet owners should do:

  • Start roommate seeking earlier to allow for the additional time it may take you.
  • Realize there may be an additional deposit required, and budget accordingly.
  • Emphasize good stuff about your pet in your profile and when talking to potential roommates, like very well-behaved?
  • Attended obedience school?
  • Very low-maintenance, and/or you'll be consistently available for all your pet's needs?
  • Gets along with others very well?
  • You'll do a great job cleaning up after your pet?
  • You'll accept all responsibility for any damages your pet might cause?

Make it as easy as possible for potential roommates to understand your pet will not compromise their lifestyle or their abode in any important way, and/or that you'll fix it if it does.

Don't drop the ball with poor social skills.

Our detailed profiles make it as easy as humanly possible to describe yourself in a thorough, yet friendly way to other roommate seekers.

However, while we'll carry you as far as possible, we do have to hand off the social transaction when you make contact. You will have to complete the play from there. If you "drop the ball" with your own social skills (lack of?), you'll find it more difficult to score a roommate.

To put this another way, roommate seeking is certainly NOT the same thing as romantic "personals" or dating. (In fact, if we think YOU think roommate = date, we'll delete your profile.)

But while seduction isn't the goal, don't go entirely too far in the opposite direction either.

It IS still a personal interaction where you will be judged on roommate-related desirability. You do need to try to be at least a LITTLE bit appealing. If you fail to impress other roommate seekers that you'll be at least tolerable interpersonally, they'll pick someone else.

You'll likely be more successful if you "mind your manners."

Present yourself in as flattering a light as possible. Be friendly, nice, and polite. Profanity or other vulgar language may be perfectly acceptable to you, but understand it may NOT be to others.

Use proper spelling, grammar, and punctuation to sound as intelligent, educated and sane as possible.

Make your initial communication as interesting and detailed as possible, something that would likely invite a response. "hey i saw yer ad and im writing cuz i need a room," may not qualify as inviting for many.

First impressions mean a lot to many people. To the extent you do not make a good one, your response rate will suffer accordingly.

the cool friend = great roommate pitfall

. . . can be seriously bad news. Why we have the Roommate Behavior Ratings, to help our subscribers keep reality in focus when choosing roommates.

You shouldn't roommate with anyone whose freetext repulses you. No way. Nor should you roommate with anyone if you absolutely despise anything else on their profile. Certainly not.

But a lot of roommate seekers make the mistake of picking people who just sound "cool" or "fun" to them, someone with whom they think they'd like to barhop.

Unfortunately, cool friends don't necessarily = great roommates.

Behaviors you enjoy or tolerate in fun friends may NOT be the same ones you really need from a roommate. Many now ex-roommates found this out the hard way, and many friendships met harsh deaths as a direct result. Even if you'd be friends otherwise, if you're not compatible as roommates, it's not likely you'd end up friends anyway.

It's more likely you'll end up hating each other's guts.

Failure to pay the electric bill? Everyone's in the dark now? That carefree lack of responsibility that's so hilarious in a non-cohabiting acquaintance can suddenly seem much less so when you're now also in the dark at the end of a long day.

You may party like there's no tomorrow when you actually choose to go out on the town, but require your homebase be more peaceful when you finally return and need a little sleep. That friend you thought was such a riot during your last pubcrawl? You may find them substantially less hysterical when they bring the party and all the party people home on a night you'd hoped to relax.

Or, conversely, if you want bring home whoever whenever on whichever impulsive whim, a roommate with a conservative lifestyle is going to cramp yours.

The best roommate relationships work well due to ROOMMATE-related behavioral compatibility. Many roommate relationships that work well as roommate relationships often eventually lead to good friendships as well.

If you and your new compatible roommate form a great friendship TOO, that'll just be bonus.

But if you don't get along AS roommates, the home life will eventually suck. And you'll end up hating your roommate. Really. A lot.

Pay attention to the Roommate Behavior Ratings, at least on the stuff you care about the most.

tobacco smoking vs. roommate seeking

Smokers who insist on smoking indoors at the collective abode will usually take longer to be successfully matched. True for those with places to share as well as those looking to move.

If you smoke and need a new roommate as quickly as possible, we recommend willingness to smoke outdoors only at the residence, if you think that's possible for you. (And also indicating that on your profile to get more matches.) If not, please realize it will probably take longer, as you will have fewer options.

Some roommates will rule out ANY tobacco smoker, so smokers will never be matched with them.

But a larger group, including many non-smokers, won't care nearly as much if you're willing to keep the smoke outside only -- porches, balconies, yards, fire escapes, etc.

roadmap with roommates ahead of time

Many inexperienced roommate seekers describe themselves as easy to get along with, chill, easygoing, laidback, etc., and looking for similar.

However, their views on exactly what that consists of are rarely shared by as many as they initially imagine.

Before finalizing any new roommate arrangement, have a detailed discussion about the issues most important to you. We recommend our roommate roadmap.

Draw up a written agreement about conduct on those issues, have everyone sign a copy, and keep it handy. This will lay the groundwork for getting along longer-term.

It's also a red flag if someone balks at making such an agreement, or if you have extreme difficulty working out what the collective rules should be.

It is a lot easier if you're compatible in advance on most roommate behavior issues, and that's the reason for our Roommate Behavior Ratings. However, even if you are quite compatible, it's still best to make things extra clear before taking yourself off the roommate market.

Vague may seem like the easygoing way to be in the beginning, but in the end usually just leads to massive roommate-related misunderstandings.

It's also harder to justify dissatisfaction that one of your expectations was not specifically met if it turns out you never bothered to specifically state it.

Don't assume everyone is on the same page.

Find out.

It's best to be clear on the important rules and expectations in advance, rather than get upset later about what was left vague.