How to find a roommate

Get the right person to share your space

Author pictureAuthor picture
Author picture
Written by
Author picture
Edited by

Where are you moving to?

two women chatting happily

Finding a roommate can be both an art and a slog. You need to find a person you get along with  — and with whom you share similar living habits.

Harrison Stevens, now the vice president of marketing at TurboTenant, didn’t always have it so easy where roommates were concerned. In his twenties, while living in a house with four other guys, one roommate, without asking, let his girlfriend move in for four months. It bred resentment, Stevens recalled, noting how the roommates continued to split the rent, utilities, cleaning supplies and available parking spaces four ways.

It cost him about $200 over the months she was there, but that was not an insignificant sum at the time. Stevens advised those seeking roommates to let potential cohabitors know in advance what type of living environment they wish to have (e.g., noise level after a certain time in the evening, degree of cleanliness and policies about overnight visitors, to name just a few). You can even consider writing these items into a lease.

While it can be tricky to find a good match, with some effort, the right searching tools and good instincts, finding a compatible roommate with whom you can live comfortably is definitely doable.


Key insights

Look for a roommate with whom you can communicate effectively if problems arise.

Jump to insight

Find someone who you are compatible with in terms of living habits.

Jump to insight

If you choose to room with friends, choose wisely and talk about expectations and boundaries upfront.

Jump to insight

Research potential roommates online and consider a background/credit check if possible.

Jump to insight

Qualities of a good roommate

It’s good to have an idea of what qualities you do and don’t want in a potential roommate prior to starting your search.

Are you the type of person who cares about if a roommate’s significant other spends the night? Does loud music at night bother you? Are you OK with leaving dishes in the sink overnight or do you want to take care of them right away? Make a list of the qualities that you do and do not want in a roommate and refer back to it as you go through your search.

Ask family and friends

Once you have an idea in mind of what type of roommate(s) you want and what factors are important to you, it’s time to begin your search. A good place to start is by asking your family members and friends if they may know of anyone looking for a roommate. Harlan Cohen, author of “The Naked Roommate: And 107 Other Issues You Might Run Into in College,” offered us the following suggestions.

  • Company groups: If you are employed, see if your company has a roommate matching program, Cohen suggested.
  • Friends of friends: Friends can cross boundaries sometimes so they don’t always make the best roommates, but friends of friends is a “great way to go,” Cohen said, so see if any of your friends’ friends are looking for roommates.
  • Local college: If you’re in your early twenties and working, consider checking out local colleges and use their networks to search for a roommate.
  • Social media networks: Discord servers, Facebook groups, or any forum made up of similar people in similar life stages are a good place to go to hunt for potential roommates, Cohen said. Reddit is also a good thought, added Seamus Nally, CEO of TurboTenant.
  • Alumni groups: If you are part of a local alumni chapter of your college or graduate school, this could be another avenue to try to tap into to find a roommate. Doing so can be a good way to potentially find a roommate with less worry about the situation being a scam or the person not being a good fit for you, Nally told ConsumerAffairs.

Look online

Taking your roommate search online is probably a good idea.

“These days, people primarily find roommates online — and there are tons of different sites and routes of doing it this way,” Nally of TurboTenant told ConsumerAffairs. There are many online sites and apps that can help you find a roommate. Consider checking out the following:

  • Roomi: With this service, you answer questions about yourself and then Roomi uses an algorithm to best match you up to a compatible roommate.
  • RoomieMatch: This website says it offers protection from roommate scams. It reports it is “human-reviewed,” that the IP address and actual location are verified, and that there are no “AI-generated fakeouts.” As a member, you can specify your gender, lifestyle choices and pet-friendliness in order to match with potential roommates.
  • BunkUp: On this app (only available on Google Play), fill out your details and what qualities you want in a roommate and allow the app do the rest. BunkUp also says it has agents that can help you and a roommate find an apartment.
  • Diggz: This website promises to help you find roommates and rooms. You can register for a free account.
  • SpareRoom: You can use this app to fill a room, find a room or find a roommate. The site says administrators screen and verify the ads.
  • Roomster: You can look for roommates and rooms in 192 countries (and search for those who speak up to 18 languages). Roommates match based on interests, keyword searches and personality traits. This service lets you link to your social media and then you can connect through the app’s mailbox.
  • Craigslist: You can use this service to find a roommate in many different cities.
  • Rainbow Roommates: The site helps connect LGBTQ+-friendly roommates.

Always be vigilant when searching for a roommate online. Author Harlan Cohen also recommends being honest when filling out surveys on roommate-finding apps or programs.

Meeting the potential roommate

Once you’ve found a potential roommate, it’s important to strategize where to meet up in person and what questions to ask your potential roommate when you do. Consider the following tips:

  • Keep one eye out. Always be skeptical about people you meet online. Go in with questions in hand and be prepared to drop it if something feels off.
  • Find a neutral place. Meet potential roommates in a safe, neutral place, preferably during daylight hours and while sober, Cohen suggested. Consider bringing a friend or family member along with you when you meet them.
  • Ask pointed questions to find out if you’re compatible. Find out if you’re on similar sleep schedules, and ask about their cleanliness preferences and what their lifestyle is in terms of sobriety, Cohen recommended. Ask about their employment status and what activities they’re interested in. Don’t forget to ask about their past living situations: “If they’ve had seven roommates and they hate them all, chances are you are going to be the eighth roommate they hate,” Cohen said. Also ask about how capable they are of communicating when they’re uncomfortable — talking through discomfort is crucial for roommates.
  • Pay attention during the meeting. Watch for how your potential roommate interacts with you during the meeting. If they show up late, they might be late in paying rent and utilities, according to the personal experience of Harrison Stevens, VP of marketing at TurboTenant.
  • Watch how they listen to you. If they tune you out during your meeting, it’ll probably be the same situation if you ever encounter problems as roommates, Cohen explained. You need someone who you can talk to and who will listen and work through any issues with you.
  • Vet and screen potential roommates. After the meeting, if you like the person and want to pursue rooming with them, ask for references like past landlords and past roommates. Consider paying for a background check — one site Cohen likes is Beenverified.com. Also consider getting proof of employment and running a credit check. Cohen also suggests checking their social media accounts and doing an online search with their name in quotes to refine results.
  • Put agreements in writing. Once you’ve selected a roommate, write an agreement that determines how the two of you will share various common expenses (e.g., rent and security deposit). Also consider writing up a contract on non-monetary issues, suggested Stevens. These could be on guest policies, how to share cleaning supplies, etc. Make sure the lease is in both parties’ names, not just one, Cohen suggested.
If they’ve had seven roommates and they hate them all, chances are you are going to be the eighth roommate they hate. ”
— Harlan Cohen, author of “The Naked Roommate: And 107 Other Issues You Might Run Into in College"

Red flags

There are a few things you want to avoid when it comes to roommates:

  • Friends as roommates: Finding roommates through friends of friends can be a great path, but be more careful of rooming with actual friends. Living with a friend can be great, but it can also be a nightmare, according to Cohen, because friends tend to push boundaries and they don’t always listen. If you do choose to live with a friend, be very clear about your expectations and discuss upfront how you’ll communicate if something uncomfortable comes up (e.g., one roommate has a significant other over all the time or is incredibly messy).
  • They refuse to put utilities in their name: This is a bad sign, Cohen said. It’s helpful to have a roommate who is in a stable place in their life. This is a person you are going to be sharing a lot of expenses with and if you don’t have a relationship with them, “it’s setting yourself up to be in a bad place.”
  • They can’t communicate: If you meet a potential roommate and they don’t communicate well during the meeting, that’s likely how they’ll act as your roommate, too, Stevens of TurboTenant explained.

» MORE: How to make friends in a new city

Where are you moving to?

FAQ

What is the ideal number of roommates to have?

This really depends, according to Harlan Cohen, author of “The Naked Roommate: And 107 Other Issues You Might Run Into in College.” Some personalities are suited to living with ten people, he said, but if you’re living in close quarters, one roommate is “more than enough.” In general, the “more personalities, the more potential problems.” (Cohen offers more tips on his TikTok and Instagram.)

A rule of thumb: One person per one bedroom is the way to go, according to Harrison Stevens, VP of marketing at TurboTenant.

Should you select a family member as a roommate?

Listening and maintaining strong boundaries can become “really muddy” when you select a family member as a roommate, Cohen told us. If you want to live with a family member, make sure both parties are clear on boundaries and expectations upfront.

Consider it an experiment that you will watch and weigh over a certain amount of time, Cohen recommended. Also, know that if you have past issues with this family member, those won’t “magically” go away when you live with them.

What are some of the worst roommate situations?

The most difficult thing is when a roommate is just in such a bad place that the other roommate becomes a caregiver, Cohen explained. It then becomes your job to make sure your roommate is safe and OK, because you want to do the decent thing and you’re worried about them.

Bottom line

Finding a roommate takes diligence and effort, but by being honest in filling out your online profiles and/or answering questions, asking the right questions, diligently checking a potential roommate’s references, having honest conversations, and being selective and in tune with red flags, you are likely to find an excellent and compatible roommate.

» RELATED: Best moving companies

Did you find this article helpful? |
Share this article