There’s no denying the fact that finding a roommate or a place to live is a lot of hard work. It doesn’t seem to matter whether we’ve moved to a big city or a small college town, we all have a story about how difficult it was to find a home.
For over a decade, Craigslist has remained one of the most widely used housing search websites and one of the first destinations for home and roommate seekers everywhere. More recently, people have also turned to Facebook and Reddit to help with their search with some housing groups or subreddits boasting tens of thousands of members.
Yet, while we all visit these websites and pages with hopeful optimism during our search, it seems we are often disappointed by how difficult it still is to find a place to live.
This is why we set out to learn exactly where the problem lies and come up with some actionable advice that you can use to save time and increase your chances of finding a home and the roommates to share it with.
In a recent survey, we found the top responses for the worst aspects of finding a roommate or a place to live are:
- It’s time consuming
- Not receiving responses from landlords or roommates
- Writing the same message over and over again
I’m sure these answers don’t come as a surprise for most of us. We could spend hours each day scouring listings across the internet, tailoring messages to each and every post, and scheduling viewings. Despite all our hard work, it can be rare to receive any response from landlords or roommates, other than the ones that are “too good to be true.”
So what can we do to save time and increase our chances at finding housing?
Here are a few simple yet effective tips that will help you solve both problems and virtually guarantee that you’ll have more success during your home search:
1. Bring your search into the 21st century
Thanks to the internet and technology, there are several tools out there to help make your search much easier. Rather than being glued to your phone or computer screen at all hours of the day to check Craigslist, Facebook, Reddit, etc. for listings, try setting up some alerts for new posts.
You can be notified you by email about new Craigslist postings from a search you’re interested in, receive push notifications from Facebook when there’s a new post with a keyword in a housing/roommates group, or be notified as soon as a Reddit post matches your search term.
By using the right notifications, you’ll free up hours of time for yourself since you’ll still “searching,” even if you aren’t constantly in front of a screen. The less time you spend looking for housing, the more time you’ll have to get excited for your move and look for restaurants, bars, events, and great places to sightsee. Plus, it’s important to always keep up-to-date with new posts so you don’t miss out on something by replying a few minutes late (because trust me, I’ve personally experienced this before).
2. Use a “Roommate Resumé”
As our survey results showed, home seekers want to find ways to save time, receive more responses, and stop rewriting the same messages. Using a “Roommate Resumé” will help you achieve all three at the same time.
Try thinking of your housing search like finding a job. Whenever you send in a job application you would never forget to attach a resume and/or your LinkedIn profile. You should take the same approach when “applying” for the position of being a roommate or tenant.
So what is a Roommate Resumé?
A Roommate Resumé is something you can attach or link to all of your housing messages, giving landlords or potential roommates a way to find out some basic information about you, your interests, and your housing search.
It’s important to find ways to stand out among other applicants and a Roommate Resumé gives you an easy and effective way to do this. When making yours, be sure to include the following information:
- When and where you’re moving to
- Your housing and roommate search preferences (budget, gender, etc.)
- Your living habits (how messy are you, do you smoke, do you go out, etc.)
- A picture of yourself
- A personal description and a reason for why you’re moving
- A few of your interests or hobbies
The more effort you put into your Roommate Resumé, the more of a benefit you’ll receive. Be sure to express yourself, be honest, and have fun since the person who reads it could be someone you share a majority of your time with and (hopefully) becomes a great friend.
3. Use Pre-Written Message Templates
Now that you’ve created your Roommate Resumé (or at least, you will as soon as you’re done reading!), the next step is to write a message template you can use every time you send an email or comment on a post.
Since you’ve already included most of the introductory information a potential landlord or roommate would need to know on your resumé, there’s no need to repeat yourself. Keep it short, simple, and if the person you’re messaging wants to know more about you, he/she can get in touch with you.
Here’s a template that I’ve used in the past to message potential roommates that has worked for me. Feel free to use it as much as you’d like:
I’m interested in being your roommate! Here’s the link to my roommate profile, which will tell you a little bit about me and what type of place I’m looking for:
(Your Roommate Resumé URL here)
Feel free to message me if you want to get in touch.
Copying and pasting a pre-written template, combined with your Roommate Resumé, will save you from writing dozens (or maybe hundreds) of individual messages. It will also making it easier for recipients, by eliminating the need for lengthy emails, while still giving them more than enough information to decide whether or not you’d be a good fit. A win-win for everyone!
4. Use Your Network
As the saying goes, “It’s all about who you know.” This is particularly true when looking for a place to live.
Whether it’s a friend, a “friend of friend,” or a “friend’s mom’s neighbor’s coworker” who helps you, using your network can greatly increase your chances of finding housing.
The best way to use your network is by simply asking for help!
Use social networking sites (like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.) to make a post announcing your move to your friends and family and ask if they know anyone who needs a roommate or if they have an available place to rent.
By taking advantage of your personal network, you’re much more likely to get a rental offer they wouldn’t give to anyone else. You may be lucky enough to receive a “friends and family” discount on rent too!
5. Expand Your Network - Ask for Random Acts of Kindness
People are generally kind and will offer to help you if they’re able to. It’s not just the fact that I’m currently living in Denmark, “The happiest country in the world,” that’s made me think this way - I’ve experienced random acts of kindness by complete strangers to help me find a home around the world.
A few years ago, I was extremely desperate to find a place to live in Paris for my fall semester exchange. I had already written everyone I could find on several sites without receiving a positive response and was just two days away from being “homeless.” I decided to reach out to anyone else I hadn’t messaged whose listing was out of my budget or the wrong size to ask if they had another available rental property or if they knew anyone in their network who did.
Someone I messaged happened to be a property manager who had some tenants moving out that weekend. He offered to show me and my roommate the apartment before listing it online. The apartment was the perfect size, within our budget, and at the right location, so my roommate and I moved in the next day!
In short, don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and ask for help from anyone. This will greatly increase the size and effectiveness of your network. As always, be as safe and cautious as you would be normally be when talking with anyone you don’t know!
A Helpful Tool and Closing Thoughts
If you’re looking for a website to use that will help with nearly everything I’ve talked about in this post, be sure to check out Findroommate.com. On Findroommate, you can search for rooms, shareable listings, and roommates (just like you would expect from any other housing site).
One of the best features of Findroommate is that you can use the link to your profile as your Roommate Resumé. You can upload pictures, write a description about yourself, choose interest hashtags, integrate your Instagram feed (coming soon!), and even share your profile through Facebook and Twitter to receive endorsements and recommendations from family, friends, and ex-roommates. If you want to see an example of Findroommate’s Roommate Resumé in action, you can take a look at my profile here.
Some people are able to get lucky and have an amazing roommate experience after meeting on Craigslist, Facebook, Reddit, or any other website for that matter. But in today’s ever more competitive housing market, it’s important to “make your own luck.” This list of simple productivity hacks will increase your chances of finding a home or a roommate and save precious time before your big move.
Best of luck!
If you loved what you read or learned something new, we would really appreciate it if you would like or share this post so other people can too :)
If you thought of a tip that should be on this list or if you’re looking for more advice to help with your housing search, feel free to send us an email anytime!