How to Find a Roommate in a New City

Getting a roommate is a great way to save money on rent, utilities, and other living expenses. However, finding a roommate in a new city can be challenging. As a stranger, you have a limited to nonexistent social circle, so finding trustworthy people willing to share an apartment with you can be tricky. However, it’s certainly not impossible. Follow these tips to find out how to find roommates in a new city and avoid the time-wasters.

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How to find a roommate

Looking for a roommate in any situation, whether or not you’re new to the area, can be an undertaking. Knowing how to tackle the challenge and find someone whose energy matches up with yours could help you create a harmonious environment. Follow these steps to find a roommate:

  1. Know what you’re looking for

    Before you start looking, you’ll need to take some time to think about what your ideal situation would be. Make a list of must-haves and deal-breakers to help you narrow down your search. Once you have a good idea of what you’re looking for, you can start your search. Some things to consider include:

    Cleanliness
    Whether your potential roommate is social or quiet
    Whether you or your roommate smokes
    Your income and a roommate’s income
    Whether you or your roommate is okay with pets
    Dietary restrictions or allergies
    Your budget for rent and utilities

    Additionally, ask yourself whether you are comfortable living with a roommate of the opposite gender. Also, could you live with someone who works different hours than you? Understanding what makes a good roommate could help you weed out people who aren’t a good fit.

  2. Ask your family members, friends, and colleagues

    Once you know what you want in a roommate, chat with your family members, friends, and colleagues to see whether they know anyone local who may want to live with you. These personal recommendations can be great leads in your search. Plus, your friends and family know you and your lifestyle. They can make an honest judgment about whether you’d get along with their recommended roommate. That makes your search a pinch easier.

  3. Hit up your socials

    Now that you’ve exhausted your real-life contacts, it’s time to go online. Post on your social network pages to ask whether anyone knows of another person searching for a roommate in your city. Friends of online friends can make great roommates because you’ve already got someone vouching for their character. If your online friends like your potential roommate, you might too. Also, ask your online friends how they know the person they’ve recommended, as online connections can vary. Remember to vet all potential roommates thoroughly, especially if your online friends haven’t met them in real life.

  4. Meet up before signing a lease together

    It might go without saying, but you may want to grab a cup of coffee together before signing a lease with someone. Schedule a casual hang-out with your potential roommate to learn if you get along. Your roommate doesn’t need to be your best friend, but you probably want your home to be somewhere you can relax comfortably with someone you enjoy being around. See if you have common interests and learn if you communicate well.

  5. Ask questions and pay attention to red flags

    Many people jump recklessly into the first roommate relationship that comes along because they’re desperate to make rent, and they ignore the red flags. However, deciding to live with someone isn’t something to take lightly.

    When meeting a potential roommate for the first time, ask questions about their lifestyle and daily habits. The answers will give you an idea of whether this person is compatible with you. For example, if you’re a morning person who likes to start the day with a run, you might not get along with a potential roommate who says they party all night and sleep until midday. Also, find out if your potential roommate likes to entertain guests often and how they feel about inviting guests without notice.

    In addition to asking questions, pay attention to any red flags during the conversation. If your potential roommate seems evasive when answering questions or makes you feel uncomfortable, it’s best to move on.

Tips for searching for roommates in a new city

Finding a roommate after making a big move presents its own unique challenges, but it’s definitely not impossible. Here’s our top tips when launching the roommate search in a new city:

Take advantage of mutual connections

Before you start reaching out to strangers, utilize your existing network. Before you move, ask your friends, family, colleagues, and acquaintances if they know anybody in the area you’re moving. Even if these recommendations don’t pan out, your new contact might know other potential roommates for you or become a good friend in your new home city.

Get on the apps

Searching for a roommate can feel like dating at times. You meet with many candidates, but nothing happens beyond your first meeting unless you can feel the right spark. Surprisingly, you can take a similar approach to your roommate search and get on the apps. Like dating apps, roommate-search apps let you set up a profile and view the profiles of other people looking for the same thing you are. Many apps for finding a roommate in a new city are intuitive, matching people based on their interests and personalities.

Apps and sites designed to connect roommates are often safer than the more general apps like Craigslist because users must verify their identities. This requirement increases the chances that people with profiles are legitimately searching for a roommate. Fraud detection tools keep out the spammers and scammers, so you can feel confident anyone you like is legit. Some of the best apps for finding roommates in a new city include Roommates.com and Roomiematch.

Post on offline and online community noticeboards

Target your search area by posting on community noticeboards. The old-school approach of making a poster and taping it to a community bulletin board or utility pole can still work. This option also lets you walk around your new city and get a feel for it. Post in places where you think people like you will hang out, such as bookstores, coffee shops, and music venues. Make sure you ask the owner of any establishment whether you can hang your poster before displaying it. Chat with any responders and assess their character before deciding to meet.

Posting in a social media group is like posting on a community noticeboard but online. Join groups focused on your new city and make a post asking whether anyone wants a roommate. While there are general city groups, look for groups incorporating one of your interests. For example, you might find groups for local foodies or local cosplayers. When you connect with people in these groups, you’ll know you already have something in common. Check the profiles of people who respond and have a conversation over direct messages to see whether they’re genuine people before meeting up.

Whether you’re meeting strangers you connected with offline or online, always keep safety front of mind. Choose a public place for your meeting. Let a trusted friend know of your whereabouts, and check in with them before and after you meet with a potential roommate. That way, your friend will know you’re safe. Also, if your new city isn’t too far away, your friend might go with you.

Connect with alumni from your school

If you attended college, chances are your alma mater has an alumni community you can join. This could be an excellent way to meet people in your new city and connect with potential roommates with whom you have some shared history, even if you didn’t know each other during school.

You could also connect with people from more niche alumni groups, like people from a Greek life organization you were part of or graduates who also participated in a cappella groups on campus. You can often find these groups on social media or by contacting your university.

If you didn’t attend a college or university, you might still be able to learn if any former classmates or alumni from your high school live in the area. Search social media to learn if there are alumni groups from your graduating class you could post in to find people in your new city.

Signing a year-long lease with someone is a big commitment. If you’re struggling to find somebody you connect with right away, try finding short-term housing while you continue searching. Subletting a room for a few months or staying in a vacation rental in your new city buys you time to start building a network there. 

This gives you time to make friends and get to know more about the area. During your short-term lease, frequent local spots to make friends, widening your circle and improving your chances of meeting a great potential roommate. Here are some places you might visit in your new city to make friends:

  • Local bars, cafes and coffee shops
  • Parks
  • Religious institutions, if applicable
  • Events like open mics, mixers, and festivals
  • A local gym
  • Concerts, theater performances, and art galleries
  • Museums

Final thoughts

Finding roommates when moving to a new city doesn’t have to be too hard. Utilize technology and social media platforms to connect with potential roommates. Join relevant internet groups or post on community notice boards in your target area. Be sure to ask plenty of questions and trust your instincts when meeting people. With a little effort, you’re sure to find the perfect person with whom to share your new space.

For a quality apartment in your new city, visit Zumper. Our convenient search engine lets you filter listings for multi-room apartments with enough space for you and a roommate. Browse our up-to-date listings via our website or the Zumper app, which puts a real estate agent in your pocket.


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