Looking for a good roommate?

Having a roommate can bring life to your apartment and save you upwards of $500 a month on rent and utilities. However, sometimes it can feel like a roommate is causing you $500-worth of headaches and dirty dishes as well.

If you want to save money and live comfortably, you’ll need to find a roommate who you can co-exist with. Here’s how:

Start Looking Early

If you know you’re moving into a new place in a couple months, start looking for a potential roommate.  However, your search should really start when moving day is one month away, because that’s when most tenants put in their move-out notices and landlords start looking to fill apartment vacancies.

Don’t wait until you find an apartment to start looking for a roommate, though.  If you wait until the last couple weeks, you will feel rushed to take the first person you can find.  This is a tried-and-true way of ending up with a bad roommate.

Ask Around

The easiest way to find a roommate you’ll probably get along with is to find a friend of a friend.  The reasoning is simple: if you like your friend, you’ll probably like their friend.  If your friend or coworker knows of a person who is looking for a place to live, you should ask to meet them.

It’s also a good idea to post your need for a roommate on your social networking sites, like Facebook and Google+.

Put Out an Ad

Most people won’t have a friend or a friend of a friend to fall back on.  They’ll need to find a truly random person to live with.  Fortunately, this sounds more risky than it really is.  By putting out a well-focused ad on Craigslist or in the local newspaper, you can increase you chances of finding a trustworthy and reliable roommate.

What to Include in Your Ad:

  • Your Bio – Short bio about yourself (age, sex, job, pet peeves, activities)
  • Rental details – Include the price, location and type of unit.  If you don’t have a spot lined up yet, detail your price range and desired location(s).
  • Qualifications – Lay out the type of person you’re looking for and any restrictions you have.
  • Specific Questions – If a person can’t read a short ad and respond directly to a question or two, you probably don’t want them as a roommate.  Don’t make them write an essay, but have them respond to a couple specific questions, like “what’s your favorite thing to do in San Francisco,” or “how do you like to spend a Tuesday night?”  Tailor your questions to weed out those who you know you don’t want, like drug users or excessively messy people.

Respond to Ads

Other people looking for roommates will be putting out ads as well. Some will be looking for someone to fill a vacancy in a house or apartment, others will be looking for someone to lease an apartment with.  Their ads are worth checking out and responding to.

Meeting & Background Checks

Once you find a roommate who sounds good, meet them in person.  Coffee shops and restaurants are good spots to meet up.  Avoid meeting late at night at bars or in rushed situations, like on a street corner.  You want to have time and mind to talk and get to know the person.

Even if your meeting goes 100% perfectly, get some references from your potential roomy. Ask if you can contact a previous roommate of theirs or their employer, and don’t be offended if they ask you for the same.


If you and your roommate both join a lease, the lease will almost certainly cover all concerns you might have.  However, if you are moving into a house or if someone is moving into your place, you’ll want to both sign a simple contract detailing:

  • Rent & deposit amounts
  • Due date of rent
  • Move out date or required notice of moving out
  • Any other issues, like when overnight visitors are okay, smoking, and how utilities will be divided

Once you’ve found a roommate, learn how to be a good roommate yourself.