Finding Roommates

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So you've decided you need to move, but there's just one thing missing: You need someone to help you pay the rent. Don't fret, by completing just a few simple steps you'll be well on your way to finding a compatible roommate.
Just do a little planning and read on.
Scout Your Location
Before you make a single move, make sure that you know what you want. Do you

So you've decided you need to move, but there's just one thing missing: You need someone to help you pay the rent. Don't fret, by completing just a few simple steps you'll be well on your way to finding a compatible roommate.

Just do a little planning and read on.

Scout Your Location

Before you make a single move, make sure that you know what you want. Do you want to live in a house or apartment? What's your budget? How many roommates do you want? Do you have a particular location in mind?

Know what kind of setup you're looking for before you begin your search. Once you know what you need and want, it's time to actively start looking.

Just make sure to begin searching at least a month or two before you need to move, since you need to give yourself time to find a roommate and verify references (more on this later.)

Talk to Friends

Don't underestimate the power of word-of-mouth. You've heard of six degrees of separation. While it may not be easy to pinpoint the degrees that separate you and Oprah, it's a little easier to see that you could be close to finding your new roommate.

Before you spend money or begin a more detailed search (that's coming later) make sure you let your friends, family members and coworkers know that you're in the market to find a roommate. If you find a roommate through word of mouth, you'll also have the chance to verify a bit of information about your new pal.

Give yourself a few weeks to let the word spread, and make sure you're specific about your needs. If you've already settled on a place, and you just need someone to share it with, talking to friends and family members is a great option. This strategy also works if you're looking for a house or apartment that's already occupied.

You never know. Your cousin's friend's sister may be the person who will share your new home.

Peruse Your Local Paper

So you've talked to friends and family, and you haven't made a connection? You should extend your search by checking the classified section of your local paper to see who's looking for roommates. If you're not the news "paper" type, check any available newspaper listings that are available online.

Look into Online Services

If you're not having any luck with your local newspapers, take things a step further and go straight to an online connector source. Roommates.com allows you to post a profile in addition to browsing and contacting potential roommates for free, and its service spans across the country.

Also, don't forget the roommate hunter's best friend: craigslist. Whether you're looking for a short- or long-term roommate, you have a good chance of finding someone in your local area through this online community connection.

Take Advantage of Local Resources

Even though you're checking out potential roommates on the Web, there's nothing stopping you from doing a simultaneous search in a manner that's a little less tech-savvy. You've probably seen flyers scattered about your neighborhood that advertise all sorts of events, items for sale and new hot spots in your area.

Take a page out of this (old-fashioned) book and create a little flyer to post in an area that gets lots of traffic. You can post a note in your local library or grocery store for example, just check with management to make sure that your posting is approved.

When you're advertising to find a roommate this way, just give the basic details, whether you're looking to move in with a person who has an existing place or looking to find a new place with your new roommate. Give your first name, a good contact telephone number (making sure you have voicemail so people can leave you messages) and a valid e-mail address. Remember to check your spam folders frequently so you don't miss any potential new pals.

Talk to Potential Roomies

If you carry out a full-pronged search, you should be able to get a few bites of interest within your timeframe. Once you have a few potential candidates, you should sit down—in person—and have a heart to heart talk about your expectations and habits.

Make sure you do this with every candidate. It doesn't matter if someone is referred by a friend or found on the Internet. If you don't have an existing relationship with your potential new roomie, you need to verify that this person is financially responsible and that his or her habits are compatible with yours. And, even if you're rooming with someone you know, make sure you have a serious conversation about your habits and financial responsibilities before signing any leases.

In addition to verifying that your roommate is gainfully employed and can afford to pay the rent each month, you should also ask some additional questions such as:

  • What time of day do you wake up and go to sleep?
  • What are your preferences about noise?
  • How many visitors do you typically have during the week?
  • Do you participate in any illegal activities? (Although this may seem like an odd question, the truth is that in many areas, if your roommate is caught doing an illegal activity, you also could be implicated.)
  • You also need to establish a cleaning schedule and how the bills (e.g., utilities, groceries) will be split. Whether you're dealing with one roommate or more, make sure to draw up an agreement -- in writing -- that you all agree on. This signed document can prove helpful if you ever have legal issues with your future roomie.

    Finally, when you've finally found a roommate, and verified that your habits are compatible, make sure that your personalities also are a match. Since most people sign leases for the term of at least a full year, you really want to make sure that this new person is someone you'll want to spend time with.

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