Many people who want to rent an apartment with a roommate don't know anyone who might be compatible. If you're in this situation, there's no need to feel stuck. Online roommate-matching services offer you the opportunity to add your information to a large, searchable database of others who also want a roommate but are short on leads.
Several renters have succeeded in finding the right roommate through online roommate-matching services, and you can, too. But before you sign up for one of these services, here are some pointers to keep in mind:
- Be patient. Perhaps even more so than finding the right apartment, a search for the right roommate requires time and patience. You don't want to room with just anyone, and picking someone who's compatible from a pool of strangers can be a tall order. Fortunately, the Web makes this order more realistic to fill, with so many success stories. Remember to exercise at least the same patience in looking for the right apartment as in finding the right roommate.
- Compare services. Visit the websites of online roommate-matching services and check out the number of listings in your area –- not just overall. Compare the sites' features, look-and-feel, and find out about free trials and cancellation policies. These services typically let you sign up and use the service for free short of being able to read e-mails you receive from matches. So, use the time when you're not being charged to decide whether the service is for you. If you have a friend, co-worker, or other acquaintance who had a good experience with a particular roommate-matching website, talk to that person and take all recommendations into consideration.
- Be honest about who you are and what you want. First, make sure that having a roommate is what you want. Too often, renters move into an apartment with roommates for seemingly valid reasons, such as to save money, but ignore the fact that they would prefer to live alone.
If you're one of the many renters who prefer to live with a roommate, make a commitment to honesty, since that's what you expect from others. When creating your profile or ad, don't succumb to pressure to put what you think would paint you in the best light. For example, don't lead others to believe that you like to party often if the truth is you rarely attend informal apartment parties or don't really like them. If you present an accurate portrait of who you are and what you want, you'll attract potential matches that are likely to fit the bill.
- Follow all reasonable leads. If you find potential roommates who meet your criteria, reach out to them. If you've been trying to find a roommate for a while and it hasn't worked out, don't get discouraged. Remember that it takes time to find the right person, and you'd prefer to spend the time accomplishing this now than move in with someone who proves to be a disaster. Each new lead is a new person, and so each one has the promise of being the right one for you.
- Check your account regularly. A roommate search, like an apartment search, requires a steady commitment of time and energy in order to achieve your goal. If your searching yields new potential roommates that meet your criteria, be proactive and contact them. Many of the Web services offer automatic e-mail notification. If you use a service that offers this option, make sure you've selected it.
- Take full advantage of the service you use. Consider taking advantage of all the features a service offers. At the least, add a photo or two of yourself to put a face to your profile. According to EasyRoommate.com, ads with photos get up to three times more attention on that site. If you site like Roommate2Go.com that lets you upload videos, consider doing so.
- Protect yourself. If users contact you who don't match your search criteria, you don't need to pursue them. But if a user harasses you or appears to be engaging in a scam, report it to the site's administrators promptly by contacting customer support. Asking for a large sum of money upfront or pressing you early on for personal details are common red flags.