As you may already know, I am currently looking for a new roommate. I placed advertisements on craigslist and roommates.com. Both of which I have used in the past. These sources of find potential roommates have their differences, the biggest difference being the cost – craigslist is free. Since roommates.com is not free, it doesn’t mean it should be ignored as second rate.
I’ve had actually very good luck in finding reliable roommates using the paid service. And No, I am not getting paid by roommates.com to write this post. I’m just offering my honest opinion about it. There is a flaw with roommates.com, which of course I will share.
Roommates.com and other Roommate Subscription Sites
With paid subscription sites such as roommates.com, you create a profile whether you’re offering a place to live or looking for a roommate. This offers a chance for you to pre-screen profiles to decide whether a person is a fit. When you find a profile that seems like a likely fit, you can then contact that person to inquiry more information.
However, to contact another member, you need to pay for a subscription. Otherwise, it’s completely free to create a profile and browse other profiles, but there are limitations on what you can see in another person’s profile without a paid subscription.
Since roommates.com is not free, you’re going to get people that are generally interested in looking for a place rather quickly because of the length of the subscription period.
Assuming you didn’t pay for a subscription, when you receive a message from a potential roommate, you get a notification in your e-mail saying “You Have New Mail.” At this point, you can either pay for a subscription or ignore the e-mail. This is when I generally start a new subscription so that I can read my new messages. So, after paying for the subscription service to read my new messages, I see nothing in my inbox – Rip Off.
I contacted roommates.com about this issue and their explanation was that the message was a scam e-mail and they take precautions by deleting the message before the intended reader reads it and falls prey to it. Okay – fair enough, if that’s the situation, I should get an updated e-mail stating that there is no new message in my inbox rather than having me sign up for a paid subscription only to find nothing in my in box.
I have advertisements on the “shared room” section on Craigslist. I like Craigslist because it’s free and gets a lot of page views. However, with craigslist being a free service, there can be some real craaaazeeee people out there.
Another thing I absolutely love about craigslist is being able to split test roommate advertisements.
Split testing, what’s that?
Split testing involves running multiple postings (usually two) for your available room for rent with slight variations. The main objective behind split testing in this case is to determine the optimal layout, rental price. This can extremely useful for someone that is unsure what kind of rent to charge.
This go-around, I was able to get a little more than what I normally get because I was able to increase the perceived value of my place. Some of you may think this is scheming; some of you may think this is clever. Let me remind everyone, the choice is entirely up to the prospective roommate to move in and pay the advertised rental price.
Craigslist Scam E-mails
A few days ago, I received an e-mail from a scammer posing as a roommate. The number of scammer is huge on craigslist. If you’re not careful, you can fall victim to scammers. I’ve run several dozen craigslist posting and can pick out a scammer’s e-mail from a genuine one. A screen shot of the said e-mail is shown below.
Being skeptical of the e-mail from the purported roommate, I replied to the initial inquiry asking if we could talk over the phone. The person evaded answering the question by stating more about themselves, thus trying to appease my apprehension of letting the purported roommate to move in.
Also note how the purported roommate is asking how much it will cost to secure the room and where to send the money to in BOTH e-mails. This is the biggest tip off that it’s a scam. The purported roommate is indifferent to the area and amenities and only cares about securing it immediately. I have since then deleted this e-mail. I thought this would be a great opportunity to educate readers what a scam e-mail looks like.
Despite the gripes I have about roommates.com, I still will continue to use it as a source for finding roommates.
I like Roommates.com over other roommate subscription sites because it ranks pretty high on Google key word searches so it gets good reach even for the suburban area where I live. In a more urban area say the Greater NYC or Boston roommates.com should turn up more potential roommates than I would find for my area.
Craigslist is also valuable medium being a free source and the number of page views it receives. Be wary of e-mail that does not contain your post title as the subject line. Lastly, I did not go into detail on how I run split test as potential roommates maybe googling my name and thus reading this post right now.
Happy Roommate Hunting!