How to Find a Roommate: The Safe Way

Folks, I’m originally from a small town in western Montana. There, everyone knows everyone. If you need a roommate you simply tell a friend you need a roommate and within a week or so someone you know (or at least vaguely know) gets in contact with you saying their up for the roomie job. And forget about having to research anyone, you just ask your mutual friends how tough they are to live with. Bam: new roommate.

Most places are a bit different, especially in a new college town. You don’t know anyone, and if you’re planning on living off-campus (which I admit is can be a huge money saver), your roommate search might prove some interesting results. Here’s how to make sure you end up with a good one.

1.) Create a wish list. Before you even start looking you need to get an idea of what you’re looking for. Do you prefer a male or female roommate? Is there a certain age you feel comfortable with? A young college student might be up for partying every night of the week, while a 60 year old woman might prefer you to keep the television on mute after 4:00 in the evening. Are you (or your landlord) okay with pets? Think about these things before beginning your search.

2.) Look everywhere. There are countless places to look for potential roommates, so don’t limit yourself. Want ads in the newspaper, Craigslist, or even places you hang out. Spread the word around your local watering hole that you’ve got an extra room opening up. You also should post an ad (either in the paper, on Craigslist or on flyer’s around the city, whatever you can afford). In it, emphasize the good qualities of your apartment. So what if it’s tiny, does it have hardwood floors? Is it close to the university? Some great pictures (of your well-lit, clean apartment) should be included as well.

3.) Narrow down the responses. Chances are, unless you live in a dungeon (and even if you live in a dungeon), you’re going to get a decent number of responses. Go through and find the ones you think would make a realistic roommate and make a list. Then call them, and talk with them on the phone to narrow down the list further. After that, arrange to meet them in person, in a public place. After your in-person meetings you should have a handful of people that get to see the apartment (not after step 4 though).

4.) Research them. This may seem a little judgmental, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. Google your potential roommate…thoroughly. Check their Facebook page twitter account. What are they posting about? What are their friends posting about? How do they spend their free time? Do they air out their dirty laundry on Facebook or are they respectful of people they know?

5.) Get your deposit. After you’ve found a good match and they agree to live with you, get your deposit. They might not work out, and you can always refund them if they move out, but you need to make sure you’re not stuck with the bill if they decide to do some impromptu remodeling.

6.) Be wary. No matter how much you’ve researched them, your new roommate still might not be a great match. So keep your valuables locked up and stored in a safe place until you really get to know the person you’re now living with.

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