How to Find a Roommate in a New City

Big cities mean big prices, and if you’re looking at moving to cities like New York or Chicago, sometimes it’s just financially impossible to live on your own. You likely already had a roommate in college, but in the real world, there’s no one to just assign you someone to live with. And if you don’t have any friends looking to move to the same area, finding someone compatible with you can be tough —finding a good roommate can be even harder.

But like any relationship, living with a roommate is a two-way street, and it’s a lot more than just splitting the rent. You’re going to have to do your part to ensure that your roommate enjoys (or is at least cool with) living with you. But first, you need to actually find a person to live with.

How Can I Find a Roommate?

If you’re going into your new city blind, it can be hard to know where to start. Before you set yourself up on a blind meetup through a roommate matching app or a Craigslist listing — take advantage of your network. Put together a post on Facebook or Twitter and let your friends and followers know you’re moving and looking for a roommate. This way, you’ll already have a mutual friend (or connection) in common and be able to get an idea of how the two of you would get along.

If that doesn’t work, roommate matching apps, Craigslist, and even young professional Facebook groups in the area you’re headed can help you find someone to live with.

How Can I Find a Good Roommate?

Now comes the real challenge. You’re not going to get along with everyone, so how can you know if someone is a good person for you to live with? First, accept that no roommate relationship is going to be perfect. You’re going to get annoyed. You’re going to have things that bug you. What matters is that those things don’t annoy you to the point that you avoid going home, cause arguments, or leave you in the middle of a passive-aggressive battle of snide comments because someone didn’t take out the trash.

Once you find someone who has potential for being your roommate, set up a coffee date or meet for lunch. Spend some time getting to know them before you actually put pen to paper. It might only take a couple conversations for you to feel like this was a disaster well avoided — or the perfect person you’ve been looking for. Trust your gut, but make sure you ask these key questions as well.

  • Do you have pets? Any allergies to dogs or cats? – You’ll want to know if they’re going to be bringing a pet along. And if you’re planning on having your pet, you’ll want to make sure they’re cool with it.

  • Are you in a relationship? ­– You’re not trying to get a date here, but this is good information to know. If they’re going to have their significant other over all the time, you’ll want to make sure you set boundaries ahead of time.

  • Morning person or night person? – Are you a disaster in the morning? You might not want to live with a peppy morning person. On the flip side, you might not want to live with someone who stays up until 2:30 playing video games if it’s going to affect your sleep.

  • What kind of movies, TV shows, or music do you like? – This is a great way to find shared interests, and it’s also a good way to understand if there’s going to be times you’re battling for the TV or listening to music that’s going to drive you up the wall.

  • Do you keep your room messy or neat? – Knowing someone’s cleaning habits is a key factor in identifying a new roommate. Whether you create clutter or believe that everything has its place, you’ll want to make sure that person doesn’t clash with you.

How Do I Be a Good Roommate?

Being a good roommate might seem a little obvious, but we all have little nuances that might drive someone else crazy.

When you first start living with your roommate, this is when you’ll want to make sure you’re being the best roommate you can be. You’re laying the foundation for your relationship, and you don’t want to start off on the wrong foot. As time goes on, it’s easy to fall back into old habits, but the biggest thing you can do is be courteous. Keep the golden rule close to your heart. If you wouldn’t want it done to you, don’t do it to them! Here’s a couple rules to live by.

  • Be on time with utility and rent payments

  • Don’t be noisy

  • If you’re hosting guests, be respectful

  • Keep areas you share neat

Above all, make sure you make communication a priority. If something bugs you, it’s okay to say so — if you do it nicely. Be honest about what you expect from the get-go, and you won’t run into a ton of issues in the future. Plus, being open with your roommate gives them the confidence to be open with you, too. That way no one is letting their anger boil over by holding it inside.

Roommates and new cities can be tricky, but with the right attitude and some smart planning you can find someone who gets along with you and helps make moving a little easier to manage.

Kim Hill