When looking for a first apartment, many people moving out of their parents’ house soon realize is that they just can’t afford their own place. As difficult as that truth is to process, there is one easy(ish) solution: roommates.
When moving to a new city, however, you may not know anyone in the area. Or, you may have friends who don’t want to leave their own affordable apartments, or already have roommates. If there comes a time when you’re hoping your friend drops out of college just so he can move into an apartment with you, you may have better luck finding roommates on the internet, more specifically, Craigslist or Facebook.
Out of the two, Craigslist is definitely regarded as the less certain, scarier option. Whenever I tell people that I found my roommates through Craigslist, the response is something along the lines of “Wait, people actually do that? Is it safe?” In my experience, however, as long as you are reasonable about your expectations you can find a great long-term housing situation.
When using Craigslist, I have one huge piece of advice: Don’t expect to find a perfect deal. If you find an apartment that’s in a great neighborhood, with low utilities and lots of space, and a roommate who seems like they could be your new best friend, and it’s at the bottom end of your price range—something is wrong. It’s easy to deceive people on Craigslist, and even easier to deceive people who think they have found exactly what they’re looking for. Take a friend with you to check the place out, meet your future roommates at least twice, and don’t pay a single dime until you’ve signed a lease. It’s also helpful to know your neighborhood and what’s normal or expected for rental apartments in that area. For example, if you’re living somewhere with a lot of older buildings and chipped paint, household pests like cockroaches or mice are not just expected, they’re guaranteed.
If Craigslist isn’t your thing, or if you aren’t having any luck and would like to supplement your search, Facebook is one of your better options. In addition to being able to easily broadcast to your entire network that you’re looking for a roommate share or a place to live, and by posting regular statuses and updates, there are housing groups for different types of people, especially in metropolitan areas. If you have recently graduated from college, you can join a housing page for a local university, where current students and recent grads post about needing housing or roommates, and others post about spaces they have available. You can also search Facebook for “[Your City] Housing” and see what comes up. I have had several friends, of all orientations, find apartments and roommates through the DC Queer Housing page, and occasionally people will post links to other queer events or gatherings on that page, so it can also be a good way to make friends.
Keep in mind that meeting someone through a Facebook group is very similar to meeting someone through Craigslist; oftentimes someone posting on Facebook will already have a Craigslist post that they are linking to. The main difference is that with Facebook it’s easier to put a face to the person you’re meeting and you can usually look at their profile to learn more about them before you meet or make any decisions. Still, I would highly recommend bringing a friend with you to check out the place, and try to visit more than once before moving in, just to make sure there aren’t any surprises on move in day (and that the person you’ll be living with is actually someone you can live with).
In short, it’s very possible to find long-term group housing online. I’ve been living in group house I found on Craigslist with six roommates for a year and a half, and I plan on staying in my current home until I’m ready to move to a new city, where I’m sure I’ll turn to Craigslist again.
If you have any questions, or extra advice, be sure to leave it in the comments!
Bonus tip: Get your new roommate relationship going smoothly by checking out Melissa’s advice about 20 Questions to Ask a New Roomie