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This past week, I received the following question:

 How long did it take you to find your first roommate? I’ve been up on Craigslist a week and haven’t had a single hit. -Cynthia

First off I want to congratulate you in taking the plunge to renting your spare room. The financial gains will be instrumental. To answer the first part of the question, I think it took a week or two when I found my first roommate.  This was in 2006 so my memory is a little vague at this point.

I want to iterate that my time frame to find a roommate has little or no correlation to how long it will take you to find a roommate.  There are numerous reasons why you may not be getting responses.  Just like one fisherman might catch a fish within an hour of casting out his line, but another one could be waiting for several hours.

It just sometimes depends on luck. But there’s some easy low hanging fruit that one can check as to why you’re not getting the responses that you expect.

  • Your asking rent price is too high.You should do some investigative work and look at other advertisements on craigslist and see what other rooms for rent are going for in your town/city.  If they’re much lower than what you’re looking for, then chances are you’re asking too much for rent.

    I wrote a post about the correct way of setting the rent price here.
  • Your advertisement may not be efficiently written. Potential roommates are looking over tons and tons of advertisements that they’re quickly scanning the headlines. If your advertisement doesn’t capture their attention with location, price or other unique features, then it’s going to get passed over.

    The key to writing an effective advertisement is creating a unique and descriptive headline.  That’s the first thing a potential roommate will read/scan and click on to read the rest of your advertisement.

    The Better Guide to Finding Roommates with the Internet goes in depth about creating a Craigslist advertisement and even includes a template.  The best is, it’s all free, just sign up on the left hand side bar.
  • You live in a place that’s remote from the center of town.  You can’t simply relocate your house.  There are some things you can do such as lower your rental price of offer exceptional value.You can lower your rent price to offer a cheaper place to live than say if you were more centrally located.

    You can also offer other intangible benefits or value like the use of a pool, garage storage for a car. The key here is to be creative.Look at other roommate advertisements and see what they’re offering. Chances are it’s just an unfurnished room with or without utilities.

I offered my advice. Do you have any advice that I didn’t cover?

  • Nikki December 27, 2013, 11:24 am

    Yes, definitely look at other rooms for rent in your town on Craigslist and be sure you’re in the market rent for rooms! Mike’s advice is perfect.

    Also, make sure you have GOOD photos…several photos. Make them clear, good shots that show off the room as good as possible. Also include photos of other features of the house (assuming they’ll have access to it) such as the kitchen, the deck, the living room, their bathroom. Include the room’s dimensions.

    No photos, blurry photos, and photos that only show a corner of the room will turn away a lot of people. You gotta grab their eye right up front.

    Also, use other sites than just Craigslist. It costs a small fee, but Roommates.com has been successful for me. Or if your work has an area either online or on a bulletin board to post things for sale/rent.

  • David S. May 12, 2014, 6:49 pm

    Be careful of overpricing your room[s]. Simply because you think it’s worth $X.00 per month does not mean it’s worth it. Room renters are the most flexible and most price conscientious of all the renters. If they had the financial where with all to rent their own place or purchase a place, they likely would do so. Remember, annual rental income vs. potential monthly income. Mathematically it is often worth it to get in a good 12 month renter at a reduced rate rather than have a vacancy for 1-2 more months.


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