How to Find a Roommate in the Digital Age

July 19, 2022
How to Find a Roommate in the Digital Age

Pretty much everyone you meet will have a roommate story—some are fond memories, while others...not so much. Worst Roommate Ever, anyone?

All jokes aside - making the choice to live with someone is a very serious, personal decision. So, if, and when, you find yourself looking for someone to share a lease with, you should choose your new roommate carefully.

Luckily in today’s digital age, there’s no shortage of online sites that will help you find potential roomies. But how do you know which site to choose? And how do you find the right roommate for you? Don‘t worry, we’ve got you covered.

Read on to learn more about how to find a roommate effectively, and most importantly, safely.

Where to Find Roommates Online

When you first start your roommate search online, you’ll come across roommate finder sites. These are exactly how they sound—sites that help you find roommates, and they work similar to dating apps. You’ll answer some questions, fill out your profile with information about yourself, and upload some photos.

From here, every roommate finder is different. Some will match you with potential roommates based on compatibility. Others will let you scroll through other profiles and figure out who you prefer on your own while others allow you to create an ad for your available room or a profile to talk about who you are as a roommate.

Success with roommate matching sites depends on your location. If you’re looking for a roommate in a highly populated major city, like New York City, you should have plenty of options to look through. However, if you live in a more rural area, you might have a tougher time, and it may be worthwhile to resort to an alternative method like using social media (more on this later).

Prepare for Your Roommate Search

Before you dive in to your search, you should take some time to consider the type of person who would best suit you as a roommate. Consider your lifestyle and what your typical day looks like—Do you work from home? Do you go out a lot? Are you a college student that requires a quiet place in the house to study? You’ll want to have a good idea of what will and won’t work for you in a living situation before you try to find your perfect roommate.

Spoiler: there is no such thing as a perfect roommate. Whether it’s a total stranger or your best friend, sharing a living space with someone comes with its own set of challenges. No one person should feel more entitled to the space than anyone else and therefore everyone’s preferences and opinions should be weighed fairly, so compromise is absolutely key when it comes to roommates. With that being said, you should know what your non-negotiables are. For example: if you are sober, and you cannot have alcohol in your living space, then someone being a big partier, who likes to pre-game at home is going to be a dealbreaker.

It can be helpful to write out a list of your non-negotiables and the qualities you’d like in a prospective roommate. Once you have a good idea of what will and won’t work for you, you can then choose what roommate finder site you’d like to use.

Which Roommate Site Should You Use?

There‘s plenty of options for finding roommates online. Some sites are more reputable and legitimate than others, so let‘s take a look at the few of the most common ones and breakdown their differences.

Roommates.com: Roommates.com has been around since 2001 and offer a unique matching algorithm to help you find the perfect roommate. Their site says they verify users through various methods to help prevent fraudulent profiles.

Cost: Creating a profile is free, but if you want to use a majority of the site’s features, you’ll need to pay. Their pricing options range from $5.99 for a three-day trial, $19.99 for 30 days, and $29.99 for 60 days.

Diggz: Diggz was founded in 2014, so it’s one of the newer roommate finder sites and it’s coverage is limited compared to some other options. It currently caters to 18 U.S. cities according to their website. They also claim to protect against scammers through A.I. and human vetted profiles.

Cost: It’s free to create an account on Diggz and you can send 5 messages without having to pay, but if you need more than this, there’s an option to purchase additional messages as an add-on. You can also pay for Diggz Premium, which is $23.99 a month, or $14.99 a week, and offers additional features.

Roomster: Roomster is one of the few global roommate finder sites, with listings in over 192 countries. The site lets you connect your social profile as a means of ID verification (not totally reliable, but helpful if you want to learn more about someone.)

Cost: Roomster accounts are free to start, but if you want to send messages, you’ll need to purchase a subscription. A weekly subscription is $14.95, and a monthly subscription is $29.95.

Roomi: Roomi is a roommate app and website that lets you find rooms for rent or roommates to fill spare rooms in over 25 countries and hundreds of cities. Roomi has a priority focus on safety and transparency, and it is also the only roommate finder on this list that offers background checks to help you make safer decisions about potential roommates.

Cost: It’s free to create an account on Roomi, and you can message up to 5 people per day without having to pay. However, if you want to take full advantage of Roomi’s features, including their safety features, like ID verification and the ability to background check other users, you’ll need to upgrade to weekly or monthly. The weekly plan is $14.99 and the monthly plan is $29.99. Both include the safety bundle, which lets you verify your identification, unlimited messaging, and credits for free Garbo search credits so you can use Garbo’s background check platform to see if prospective roommates have a history of harmful or violent behavior.

Alternative Methods to Finding Roommates (Craigslist, Social Media, etc.)

Another option for finding a new roommate outside of roommate finder sites is to utilize online marketplaces as well as social media platforms.

If you live in a more rural area or you’re looking in a very specific area, social media may be well suited for your roommate search. Facebook groups that are dedicated to helping locals find roommates can be very helpful especially for smaller towns/cities and for college students looking exclusively for other college students to live with. Aside from social media groups and discussion boards, you can also take advantage of your own social following by announcing on various profiles that you’re looking for a roommate. Who knows—you could have a Linkedin connection that may also be looking for someone to share a lease with.

Many people also use online marketplaces, like Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace to find roommates because they‘re free and easy to use. These sites (Craigslist especially) are pretty notorious for being a haven for scammers and bad actors looking to cause harm. We definitely do not recommend resorting to online marketplaces for you roommate search, but if they’re your only option, please be sure to read (and follow) our safety tips coming up next.

Roommate Search Safety Tips

  1. Be on the lookout for scammers, catfishers, and fraudulent postings. Make sure you’re aware of the common red flags when it comes to online scams, so you know what to look out for. A good first way to vet someone is to search social media and search engines.
  2. If you plan to meet up with a potential roommate before agreeing to sign a lease, always do so in a public place. If you can bring someone with you, that’s best, but if you must go alone, make sure a friend or family member knows where you’re going and who you’re meeting up with.
  3. Use a site, like Garbo, to run a background check* on a prospective roommate to make sure this person doesn’t have a history of causing harm. Most searches on Garbo work with just a first name and phone number, making it super easy to search someone you meet online.

*Disclaimer: Garbo can not be used for tenant screening purposes.

Tips for a Good Roommate Relationship

A great roommate relationship starts with setting clear expectations  and boundaries while establishing preferences up front. This is where a roommate agreement comes in. A roommate agreement is essentially an informal contract between you and the person(s) you live with that details what you both can and cannot do while living together. It’s an opportunity to establish important boundaries and guidelines, like whether or not there should be set quiet hours, whether or not it’s okay to have guests stay over, and who will be responsible for which household chores. All renters should have an equal say in this roommate agreement and while there is likely to be compromise, everyone should feel satisfied with what is agreed upon. If you don’t discuss these things upfront, you’re likely to run into a tense roommate situation that may lead to an argument.

A roommate agreement may be intimidating at first since it can feel very formal, but trust us, it’s key to having a good roommate relationship in the long run. If you’re looking for a template, you can search “roommate agreement template” on your favorite search engine and many will appear to help guide you in the right direction

Now that you have our best tips for finding a new roommate, you’re ready to start your search. Best of luck and remember to prioritize your safety above all else!

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