How to Find a Roommate in Chicago
While you might enjoy the freedom of your own pad with nothing but music, pets, and Netflix for company, most of us don’t have that luxury. It’s that bothersome “money” thing that gets in the way. Taking on a roommate or two is a great way to save on expenses, but it must be done carefully. Making the wrong roomie match can mean the difference between household bliss and crawling back to your parents’ den with your tail between your legs.
1. Use Your Network
Begin with people you know. Friends make great roommate matches since you can trust them, you know their quirks, and you can become much closer. Post a few notices on social media to find potential roommates, but remember to be professional and make the choice that’s smartest. Picking the person who’s the most fun can be a recipe for disaster.
Another tactic is posting notices in places where the perfect roommate might visit in Chicago. Caffeine junkies can tack a flyer to the bulletin board at the local coffeehouse. Bookworms should try the local library or bookstore. Bohemian types can post requests at thrift stores, food co-ops, and dispensaries.
Word-of-mouth is another strategy you should use. Talk to your companions, co-workers, and classmates. These are all people who have things in common with you and are likely a better fit than some stranger. Just keep in mind that you risk destroying a friendship if things go sourly, so choose wisely.
2. Go Online
The internet is a terrific resource. The most obvious website, Craigslist, is definitely the most popular. The problem is, there’s no matching that’s done for you. While it will get you the most exposure, prepare for the labor-intensive task of sifting through responses, cutting and pasting replies, and tracking your top choices.
Many websites and apps specialize in roommate matching. Examples are Padmapper, Roomi, and Roommates.com. Most of them charge a fee, but the time you’ll save makes it worth the expense. If you’re in a big city, you’re probably best off choosing a local service. A quick Google search for “roommate finders in Chicago” should allow you to find what you need. Most big cities have at least a few of these helpful sites.
If you’re seeking someone specific, many sites cater to finding like-minded roommates who fit certain conditions. It’s awesome how specific some of these websites can be — catering to vegetarians/vegans, members of the LGBTQ community, 420-friendly folks, certain religions, and more.
3. Determine Your Compatibility
Once you’ve narrowed down your list, you need to decide which person is the best match. There are a variety of online quizzes to test your roommate compatibility. Think “OKCupid” for roomies here.
Start with the big questions. What budget are you working with? Is gender an issue? Where will you live? Are your schedules compatible? It really helps when you don’t keep the same hours, which allows for more privacy in general, but will their late-night shifts as a bartender become a problem when they get home at 3:30 a.m.?
Next, consider the details. What are your cleanliness levels? How extroverted or introverted are the people involved, including yourself? Decide how common spaces should be used and maintained. Does anyone have pets? Is anyone in a relationship, and do they expect their beau to be able to visit often? What about the use of alcohol and other substances?
4. Conduct Interviews
It may seem stiff, but you need to list everything you’re concerned about and get the answers you need in a face-to-face meeting. Remember, it’s not about raking someone over the coals. It’s about finding a match that everyone will be happy with, including that potential roomie.
Depending on where you live, how well you know the person, and many other factors, it may be smart to do a little snooping first. If you’re friends online, poke around their social media account to get a sense of who they are and what their lifestyle is like. If you know them offline, casually ask around and watch for red flags. You may even want to conduct an online background check. There are services that let you run unlimited searches for a small monthly fee.
If you happen to be the one who is answering that post advertising the perfect apartment, you may have to undergo inspection. Check out That Moment When, part of Eko’s series of interactive films. Step into Jill’s shoes as she attempts to weasel her way into an ideal living situation by passing the roommate interview from hell. Will you face down that stopwatch — and a clipboard-wielding perfectionist — to score that sweet pad or wind up sleeping in a box behind a convenience store?