Craigslist Roommate Hunt: Flyby Advises

Rebecca J. Margolies

You've sent out an imploring message over every house and interest group email list, to no avail. You still need a roommate. Good thing Craigslist has more to offer than serial killers and casual encounters. We know finding someone to physically live with through the virtual world can be daunting, but luckily Flyby is here to help you with a few trustworthy tips.

Adjust Your Expectations:

You're (probably) not going to find a best friend. Aim for someone who won't eat your last can of chicken noodle soup when you have a cold.

Market Rate:

Look at enough postings until you get a sense of the market rate. The only way to get much lower than that price level is to share a room or sleep in the living room/kitchen/pantry. None of which are bad options compared to a moldy den in a house of vegan girls run by a male landlord who won't get off his La-Z-boy.

Make a Form Letter and Email, Email, Email:

We recommend: "Hi, my name is _______. I'm in my _____ year at Harvard/college in Boston. I am clean and quiet and not a pervert or a jerk. I also love to  ________ (insert clean, quiet hobby)! I am very interested in your listed housing and would like to see your place and meet the roommates."

Once you have a form letter ready to go, send it out to every post that interests you, but make sure not to confuse the places you're emailing. The process is already awkward enough without your making it clear that you're playing the roommate field.

Meet People:

Remember the best way to describe yourself: "I am clean and quiet. I am clean and quiet. I am clean and quiet." Today you may be scrubbing the mold out of your MicroFridge and apologizing for the screaming at 4 a.m., but tomorrow you are "clean and quiet."

Safety:

If you can, bring a friend when looking at a place; not for safety as much as for a second opinion, so that you don't wind up in a mildew-infested garage. At least tell someone where you are—and that you'll need drinks after a long day of house or room hunting.

Don't Ignore Your Instincts:

How do you feel? Can you imagine coming home to this person or people night after night? If you recoil at the thought, maybe move on.

Logical Thinking:

If things were bad, how long would you be stuck there? If you did want to leave is there somewhere you could go? If you're not on the lease, you forgo many legal rights (and it may be illegal) but you could probably get out more quickly. A year-long contract warrants more thought than a three month, under the table sublet.

Ultimately, finding a good living situation involves taking a leap of faith. But, if you follow these tips, you have a better chance of making an informed decision and finding hapiness among perfect strangers.

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