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Jen, Navarro
As you may or may not know, I’ve been looking for a roommate for the past 4 weeks and have yet to find one.  To step up my search, I enlisted the help of a blogger friend, Paula who blogs over at  http://AffordAnything.org to share her thoughts on finding a roommate.

Paula rents out units in her duplex so she definitely has her own perspective on creating an appealing craigslist advertisement.   So, it’s fitting that I ask her for help add some flavor to my current roommate advertisement.  And now she’s offered to share her thoughts on writing a craigslist advertisement in this post.

### Enter Paula ###

This might shock you: I love having roommates. Truly.

Maybe its because I grew up as an only child on 7 acres of land in Ohio, where my only companions were animals and books. Maybe I’m just an uber-social person. Or perhaps I’m secretly a homebody who loves that I can socialize with others without having to leave my living room.

But whatever the reason, having roommates makes every day feel a bit like a slumber party. Coming home to people is so much more interesting than coming home to an empty house. I live with my boyfriend and he feels the same way – we’d drive each other crazy if our home consisted of just the two of us.

But as anyone who has ever had a roommate knows, finding the RIGHT person is essential. Otherwise, you’ll end up with a roommate who will keep the TV blaring all night long and leaves dishes on the counter for days. Conversely and just as bad, you could end up with a roommate who holds you to impossible standards of cleanliness and quiet, enough that you feel like you’re living under a strict parent.

There’s tons of advice floating around on how to communicate and compromise with your roommate, but to me that’s only the last 20 percent of the Ideal Roommate Formula. The first and most significant 80 percent of the roommate formula is picking the right person from the start.

I search for the right roommate by carefully constructing my Craigslist ad to describe exactly the type of person I’m trying to find.


Broad adjectives like “clean” or “mature” aren’t enough: everyone thinks of themselves as clean and mature.

It’s better to be specific by listing true-life situations. Here’s an example:

Searching for a roommate who tends to go to bed around 10 pm on weekdays – or at least, who doesn’t move around the house, watch TV or play music after that time.

If someone thinks that sounds uptight, it’s better that they don’t move in. For every person who reads that sentence and thinks, “gee, that sounds early,” another person will read it and think, “that’s exactly what I’m looking for, too!”

Alternately, you could describe yourself and your own habits:

I’m a professional with a stressful job who goes to bed at 10 pm on weekdays. I’m also a light sleeper, so I would prefer a roommate who has a similar schedule and doesn’t move around the house or make noise after that time. I wake up around 6:30 am Monday through Friday and I need to be well-rested and alert all day.

Don’t be embarrassed to write if the converse is also true:

I tend to leave dishes piled in the sink for 3-4 days and then do a huge stack of them all at once.

It might seem awfully specific to say this in an ad, but this is the type of information that your future roommate should know upfront.

The more specific and detailed you are in your roommate ad, the more likely you are to find someone with a similar lifestyle and similar values.


Warning: it’s illegal to give someone housing preference based on religion, profession, gender, age and other such attributes. Never say that you’re looking for “a Christian roommate” or that you “don’t want to live with a student” – this is discriminatory.

You CAN, however, say that you prefer a roommate who won’t throw parties or bring lots of strangers to the house, which is probably a more accurate representation of what you mean, anyway.

If you ever have doubts about what’s legal to say and what’s not, default to describing yourself. This is safer than making a statement about the person you’re trying to find: there’s nothing illegal about stating facts about yourself.

For example: you can’t write “I want a Christian roommate,” but you can say “I go to United Methodist every Sunday morning.” You can’t say “I want a Jewish roommate” but you can say “I keep my refrigerator and dishware according to kosher rules.” You can’t state a sexual orientation preference in a roommate, but you can say “I am a 28-year-old gay male in a serious relationship.” Just state the facts, and let the reader decide whether or not to contact you.


Thanks Paula for Sharing your insights.  After a few potential roommates I met on rommates.com fell through, I re-listed my craigslist advertisement with Paula’s insights and it resulted in two inquires.  Today, I have a meeting/showing with a potential roommate.  Thanks Paula.

Creative Commons License photo credit: Vagabond Shutterbug

{ 1 comment }
  • Elizabeth September 10, 2011, 10:20 am

    Hey, I just wanted to say that I really love your blog and you give out great information. Your blog has helped me so much. Thank you!


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