How can I find a roommate who'll deal with my offbeat attributes?

November 16 |
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Allison needs advice:

Do any Homies have advice on finding an offbeat roommate? Or at least somebody who is offbeat-compatible.

I'm starting to look for my first college apartment and most of my friends have already buddied up and signed their leases!

I'm wondering what advice y'all have on the topic — I could really use the insight.

I've been lucky enough not to have to search for many roommates, so I'mma stay mum on this one. What have you guys learned about finding offbeat-friendly people to live with — and I do want to go beyond posting on Facebook and Craigslist!

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  1. I would actually start to use those "friend tokens" that were posted a bit ago….anyone that you randomly meet and think may be a good potential roommate, you can give them a token. That way you'll either get a new friend, and a potential roommate.
    As with anything I think the key is to communicate often, and well. Be up front with the way you are (honesty isn't a bad policy in this case). If they are compatible with you, then yay! Don't be like me and ask them to be your roommate with robot speak ("HeyIreallylikeyouletsberoommateswhatdoyouthink?okgreat!") but do be open to rooming with someone you've never met before. It's almost easier to set boundaries and structure with someone you're just getting to know.

    2 agree
  2. Do you belong to any clubs on campus? If not, consider joining one to meet people that share your interests. If there isn't a club for your interests, start one. Meeting people while doing things you like is a good way to meet people who share some of your offbeat characteristics, and thus might be good roommates.

    However, if it is at all possible, I might recommend avoiding having roommates as soon as you can in college. I had a few good roommate experiences in college, but mostly bad ones. There really is something to be said for having your own space to study and relax, where you can invite people in if you want to, but have it all to yourself if you aren't feeling social. Look for inexpensive one bedroom or studio apartments, if they exist near your college. You might find they don't cost as much as you might think compared to sharing a two or three bedroom apartment.

    Regardless of if you have roommates or not, I'd suggest that you avoid apartment complexes that cater to college students exclusively. The management of these complexes is often inattentive and neglectful about maintenance because they figure that college students don't maintain their living spaces well and don't care enough to complain. Also, they are often no help if you have a noise complaint.

    3 agree
  3. I got good results from putting up non-discrimination disclaimer where you would normally put your ideal roommate description. It was something like, "Sex, race, sexual orientation, or gender identity don't matter." Advertising acceptance like that got a lot of good responses from offbeat and LGBT people who had been discriminated against.

    6 agree
  4. I'm currently living with fantastic housemates who completely line up with my offbeat lifestyle. It's awesome – I can feel completely comfortable being myself in my own home without feeling judged. Our house is decorated with pin-up photos of superheroines, fake Star Wars propaganda posters, and zombie cross-stitch.
    I found my female housemate via Craigslist. I knew we'd get along when I mentioned in an e-mail that I had three pet rats and she responded, "Oh yes, I have one too!" (Our house is now nicknamed "Rathaus) I discovered quickly from some of the questions I asked and just general things about her (the fact that she had gauged ears, tattoos and complimented my studded leather coat), that we had similar offbeat style. This was the first time I'd found someone through Craigslist, but I discovered in weeding through the responses I got that I was really able to tell a bit who might work for me as a roommate and who wouldn't. I found being upfront about my own personality and lifestyle helped
    My male housemate is actually my best friend's boyfriend. We had met before at events and I knew that as an actor, drama teacher and gigantic board game nerd, we'd get along fine.
    I've actually roomed with friends or friends of friends before several times – honestly just putting a post a Facebook has helped me find good ones in the past fairly quickly. Everyone knows someone who's looking for a place to live when they're near college age or in their early 20s, I've discovered, lol. Particularly in Northern Virginia, where I live, the cost of housing is /so/ high that it can be pretty much impossible to live without roommates, so everyone's looking for the same thing.

  5. Facebook. Post that you're looking. Chances are your friends may have other friends who are also looking for roommates. And if you have mutual friends then there is a good chance you might be suited to being friends as well.

    1 agrees
  6. Be upfront, honest, and thorough. When I last posted on craigslist looking for a housemate, I had the longest posting in the category. I explained in which flavors husband and I are offbeat (eco, foodies, etc.) and listed things we like and influence our humor. It was easy to do a first weeding from the responses we got, and then we met the rest before making our choice. Worked out great; we met a few people who were truly awesome.

    4 agree
    • My friend did exactly this after two less-than-spectacular roommates and she ended up with a fantastic match.

      Describe yourself but also describe what you want in a roommate. If I recall correctly, my friend said she didn't want someone who was going to hibernate in their room whenever they were home. She didn't want a BFF but talking over the dinner table and the occasional movie-watching night was required. She wanted a roommate who would do the dishes and be pretty clean but also wouldn't freak out if the apartment had gone two weeks without a deep clean.

      Like the above poster, she got a few really great responses (likely from people who were refreshed to find an interesting craiglist posting) and she and her roommate are very happy together – it's been years now.

      3 agree
  7. One thing I have learned: It's usually a bad idea to move in with your friends. I know there are people who it did work for, but the majority of the time it just sucks and ruins friendships.

    Start off your relationship with your room/house mate as just that. If you become friends, awesome. If you don't, whatever. But really, don't move in with your friends.

    14 agree
  8. Honestly? Get out and meet people. I found the place I'm currently living in purely by chance–a woman was looking for another roommate and I was planning to move out at the same time. We frequented the same kink-friendly munch in town so we already have the most potentially awkward part of ourselves out in the open.

    If you want to find like-minded people you have to go places where those people are and get to know people. I push more for face-to-face meetings rather than online because I want to know who these folks are from jump.

  9. I always use kijiji / craigslist. Just be really honest in your ad, and put down a list of potential attributes. It's good to put something like "not all are required" etc.

    I never asked people to actually respond to how they meet the criteria but i found we got a lot of responses, because a lot of the ads that are for "roomates" are for "rooming houses" where they don't care if the people within are compatible or not.

    you could also use a line like "must be compatible with xyz…" so even if you don'T want your roomate to have a xyz fetish, you want them to be comfortable with yours. Just be honest. If you get too many responses, ask them to answer a few questions as well.

    I agree with not moving in with friends, but Friends of Friends are fair game. And don't become TOO friendly with your roomates either, you don't want to start only hanging out with your roomate and ignorning your friends. I've found that the best situations are where we have our own friends for most of the time / own lives, but do share some activities (grocery shopping, hangover brunch, laundry are good ones)

    2 agree
  10. I agree with everything said thus far about Craigslist. I found the most amazing roommate when I was bailed on by friends in college. Her ad mentioned that a potential roommate must be ok with 420, booze, bikes, and living with a social worker. I met her once before signing the lease, and although the apartment was the size of a shoebox for two girls with very big emotions, it was amazing. Be honest, post an ad you think represents you, and remember what you can and cannot live with.

  11. Because it seems like you want a long-term roommate, perhaps discuss having a four-month trial period to see if it will work, at which time whoever has the least amount of furniture will move out (or something like that). I say this as a follow-up to previous comments about finding someone on kijiji, since I've had quite a bit of luck either responding to other peoples messages about looking for eco-friendly houses, or putting up my own posts. The university sublet website is also good, if you have access to one.

    If you aren't getting any bites from the Internet, try putting up postings at places you frequent such as comic book or organic food stores, yoga studios, adult entertainment boutiques, whatever strikes your fancy!

    Over a period of a year our house will have been lived in by eleven different people – three throughout the entire time, and two rooms rotating every 4 months. It's been good in that some of our friends or friends of friends have been less than stellar housemates, so for them to move out after 4 months it means that our friendships were not ruined, despite any roommate drama that might have happened if they'd stayed longer. And it's been great for making new friendships with a few people who just needed temporary lodging, and it's likely that the friendships will actually flourish post-moveout.

  12. I think every idea you guys have come up with is amazing. I've started drafting the posting and doing a little searching on craigslist myself. I think the friend tokens might just work too. Thank you all so very much!

  13. My current roommate put out a craigslist post that was something like: "Want to live with a nerd?" My boyfriend and I were like yeeeessss, we skyped, and it was magic. Basically be open about who you are and what you do and you'll find other like-minded people!

  14. The asker probably has long since sorted out that particular living situation, but for anyone else who comes across this post with the same kind of question…there's nothing wrong with the standard routes of looking for roommates, like posting an add on craigslist, but you should be as frank and up-front as possible about who you are and what you want in a roommate relationship. Pretend it's like a dating site, and you have no time to sift through people who listen to Top 40 (insert your particular turn-offs here). Then meet up in person (I highly recommend this, over speaking on the phone or via the internet) to basically have a roommate version of a job interview or first date. Be blunt, honest, and bold in asking any and all questions that you should get out of the way BEFORE living with someone! I did this with the best roommate I ever had (he did the same to me), and we had the (my) ideal roommate relationship: we gave each other loads of space and basically ignored each other for weeks at a time, but at least once a month, when we happened to wind up in the kitchen at the exact same time, we'd wind up pouring drinks and chatting on the balcony for HOURS. Then passing like ships in the night for a few weeks again until our next porch date. ­čÖé
    *** I'd like to add one caveat to what a lot of people here are saying about living with friends. I have lived with friends with no problem on two occasions. Granted, to be frank, both situations were short-term (six months or less), but the key to living with a friend is just compatibility and maturity. In other words, I wouldn't even consider moving in with a friend unless 1) we'd spent a lot of time in each others homes and were already intimately familiar with the other's housekeeping style, standards of privacy, etc, and 2) it was someone that I knew (from observing their relationships with other people as well as their relationship with me) was capable of talking through disagreements, compromising, etc…like I said, it can't work unless you are both basically decent, mature, considerate people; you also would just need to be on the same page (or at least the same chapter) about what constitutes a "good" roommate.
    All that said, I would agree with the general opinion that in *most* cases, it's better not to risk the friendship, and I think a lot of people make that mistake because it's always intimidating to look for a new place to live, and a new roommate, and they just kind of gravitate to the short-term comfort of moving in with a friend.

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