College Advice Blog

Jan 22, 2013

How to Ease the Dreaded ‘Roommate’ Search Dilemma

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For those of us who watched the movie ‘Single, White, Female’ years ago, we anxiously witnessed the inherent dangers of finding a potential nightmare for a roommate, and of course, in this Hollywood version of a harrowing roommate hunt, it always seems to present a worst-case scenario.  Truth be told, looking for a roommate is a cumbersome task and often fraught with a certain amount of stress and anxiety.  So what can you do to help alleviate these worries?

Let’s take a look below at a few steps to take so that you can find that perfect roommate and help melt away your initial worries into perhaps a lifelong friendship:

  • Advertising: Before you pin that ‘roommate wanted’ ad on your local grocery store community board, you may want to rethink about the fallback from this outmoded method.  Chances are you may get a host of prank calls at a minimum and a potential pool of problems at worst.  Nowadays, there are much better ways to reach your perfect roommate.  Online ads are of course, convenient and cost-effective.  Logging onto Craigslist is easy to do; you can post gender-specific criteria as well as rent amount, pictures and locations.  Leaving a personal phone number is completely up to you; however, using the reply email is perhaps the safest feature.  Word of mouth is also a great way to find a new roomie, if your mother’s best friend’s son is graduating from college and looking for a new home, at least you’ve got a good idea of who he is and his family.  When you do have a potential roommate arrange a time to see the home, make sure that you are not alone when they arrive.  Use common sense in your roommate hunt.
  • References: This is of course, is a critical piece in completing your roommate quest.  Make sure that you have valid contact information and that they in fact are legitimate themselves.   If they seem confused about the person with whom you are inquiring about, that should be a big red flag.  References should also be someone other than family as in an associate or coworker, professor or coach.
  • Background Check: Let’s say you met an ideal candidate; he’s a graduate student who works odd-hours and has a list of stellar references, who laud his praises.  Looks great, but be careful, looks can be deceiving, you can try running their name on different websites to get an idea of who they truly are. This can help either alleviate the worry or cause you to rethink having this person living with you.
At the end of the day, roommates can be a great asset; they can help offset rent and utilities expenses, help provide comfort and company as well as added security if living alone is a little worrisome.  But finding the right roommate is essential in keeping the roommate/tenant relationship humming along.  Following these basic steps can help alleviate some of the initial woes when in your search and could potentially end up providing a wonderful friendship for the long run.  Remember it’s much easier to eliminate them from the pool earlier rather than later, after all, there’s nothing worse than having to go through issues like bounced checks and/or boundary issues if you could have thwarted it from the get go. 

About the Author
Colter Brian is a former private investigator turned freelance writer. When he writes, he contributes to sites such as Online Searches. Some of Colter's hobbies include hunting whatever is in season and perfecting his pasta recipes.

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