Looking for a roommate online can be a scary and nerve-wracking prospect if you’re doing it for the first time. But it can also be a rewarding one, allowing you to make friends for life if you find someone who matches your personality.

While you’ll find many websites and apps online that help you find roommates, Craigslist has been an old classic and continues to be one of the most used websites. However, it’s not just meant for finding roommates, which is why navigating a roommate search on Craigslist can get confusing.

No worries though, because we’ve got you covered. If you’re doing this for the first time, we’ve put together a step-by-step list of the basic things you need to do and keep in mind when finding a roommate on Craigslist!

1. Know When You Want To Start Looking

Like everything that requires a well-thought-out decision, we suggest you start looking for a roommate well in advance. If you have a few months left till your lease ends or you want someone to move in within a few months, it’s best if you don’t delay your search more.

It’s a tricky situation because sometimes you’ll find someone quickly whereas other times you could be left looking for someone for weeks! But, it’s always better to find a roommate in advance than to scurry around last minute. You don’t want to agree to live with someone only because you didn’t have enough time left!

2. Keep A Separate Email Account For This Process

Craigslist largely functions on email, so you will be required to give out your email address. In such a scenario, it’s best that you create a separate one that you can give out till you know a person well enough.

After all, giving out your personal email ID might not be putting your best foot forward considering the number of people who’ll have access to it. You can’t deactivate your personal email address if something goes wrong, so it’s best if you have another one even if it takes some time to make. You can always delete the new email address you create after your search for a new roommate is complete.

3. List Down What You’re Looking For In A Roommate

One thing you mustn’t forget to do is make up your mind about what you want and don’t want in a roommate. We suggest you do this at the start itself so that your search process can be narrowed down and detailed, and give you just what you want.

Craigslist has a diversity of people from all walks of life, so you will be able to find people who are like you and share your preferences. Maybe you want a roommate of the same gender as you or someone who falls within a certain age bracket. Maybe you don’t want a roommate who drinks or smokes, but rather enjoys a quiet evening watching comedy. Maybe you have a pet, so you want someone who doesn’t have pet allergies and will love your pet as much as you do.

Whatever the case, make a list of “non-negotiables” which are items that you won’t compromise on. At the same time, we also suggest you make a list of things you might be ready to compromise on, like a little up and down with the age or profession.

4. Time To Post An Ad For A Roommate

Now that we have the basics out of the way, let’s start with the actual process of finding a roommate. You will have to post an ad on Craigslist for this person, and if you’ve not done it before, you might get confused.

We’ve got your back here, follow these five easy steps and your ad will be up and running pretty quickly.

  1. Go to Craigslist’s home page and in the top left corner of the page, click on “Post to Classifieds.”
  2. Next, choose the option that you want from “housing offered” or “housing wanted.”
  3. Enter all the details for the post that you’ve been asked for and click on “continue.”
  4. Upload the photos that you want to and click on “Done with images.”
  5. Your final step is to click on “publish” and your ad will go live within a maximum of 15 minutes.

You’ll receive a confirmation email from Craigslist with a link to confirm your email address. Click this confirmation link or copy and paste it to your browser on the Craigslist website where they have asked for it and you’re all set!

5. Start Browsing And Thoroughly Read Posts

It’s now time to start browsing and look for potential roommates. While you do that, use one trick to eliminate people you might not be interested to room with – look at specifics in their ads.

Reading a post or ad thoroughly will give you a very good idea of the person, but when you look for specific features like the grammar or the kind of information that’s been provided, you can tell if it’s a fake post or not. You should also look at things like the quality and number of pictures provided, how they’ve worded their post, and if they’ve been specific or not.

Sometimes, pictures that are uploaded don’t match what’s been written in the post, or other times the person doesn’t provide enough information. Whatever the case, read through posts thoroughly and cross-check if he or she meets all your non-negotiables before you get in touch.

Also See: Best Online Roommate Finders

Tip: Someone whose post looks like they’ve put in effort might be the best possible bet for a roommate compared to others.

6. Be Very Careful Of Scams

Fraudulent people don’t just roam on websites like Craigslist, they’re everywhere. But here you’re looking to live with someone who is a stranger, which is why you have to be extra careful when you decide to reach out to someone on Craigslist. We’ve already told you to read through posts or ads carefully and look for anything that might appear sketchy.

Apart from that, you also have to be careful on your own. Don’t send funds without knowing the person and meeting him or her first. Don’t exchange very confidential information at the start itself and be careful of people who keep asking for information without providing any themselves.

Also Read: How To Tell If A Moving Company is a Scam| Potential Consequences Of Breaking A Lease

7. How You Respond Is Essential

While you might be the one placing an ad for a roommate, it’s quite possible that you’ll find someone whose ad for a roommate matches your needs and preferences perfectly. In such a case, you need to be the one responding, and you’ll have to be rather smart about it so that you don’t go under the radar and never get a reply again!

To help you better, we’ve given you a few pointers you can follow to help you understand how to respond to a potential roommate ad that you like.

  • Mention important details in the email like your age, hometown, and job in bullets rather than in paragraphs.
  • Ask questions based on the ad that’s placed so that you appear both interested and thorough. An example would be to ask about how good the shower is, or if there’s a bathtub if the ad mentions a shared bathroom.
  • Sell yourself to the person by highlighting why you’d make a great roommate. Mention anything that makes you fun to live with, but be sure not to sound as if you’re bragging. An example would be to talk of how you can be a homebody and go out for parties at the same time!
  • Be specific when you talk of your personality traits or the things you like. You can mention shows or books you enjoyed reading. Let your personality shine through your writing, and try your best to be casual but assertive.

8. Don’t Shy Away From Discussing Finances

It’s important that you discuss the financial bit right at the beginning because many times both you and your potential roommate might have different things in mind. If you delay and keep it for the last minute, all it will do is put both of you back at square one, or worse still, it’ll create conflict once you move in together.

When you talk about finances, be sure to ask every specific detail from how much he or she is willing to spend per month on utilities to what his. You can also deep dive more and ask if the other person wants to split groceries or what his or her average monthly food budget looks like. It’s much more convenient to stay with someone whose finances are in line with yours than to have someone who disagrees on spending because it can definitely lead to conflict later on.

Tip: If your roommate isn’t going to be on the lease, then ask for a credit check. It doesn’t hurt to be extra careful!

9. Exchange Social Media Handles

Another old trick in the book to cross-check if your roommate is legitimate and has given you the right information about themselves is to ask for their social media handles. In today’s age, social media can give you a lot of information about a person, even information you had no idea about.

You can go through their posts, even those they have been tagged in, and see what they’re like. Even looking at how a person responds to someone in the comments can say a lot about a person. Another thing you can do is look at the organizations, ideas, and people your potential roommate follows and supports which might give you a good idea of his or her preferences and political leanings.

10. Arrange A Video Call With Your Potential Roommate

If you’re not able to meet in person, you can always arrange a video call on Zoom or Skype and ask your potential roommate to join. We suggest you don’t skip this step because even though you might think you know a person well, a video call can help break the ice and help both of you get acquainted with each other.

You can also use the video call as an opportunity to discuss and confirm details regarding your lease, his or her preferences about things, a move-in date, etc. While you might feel a little uncomfortable and nervous at first, once you talk to the person via a video call, things will only get better!

11. Don’t Forget To Trust Your Intuition

Many times, it’s our gut feeling that saves us a lot of trouble, especially where the decisions that have to be made are important ones. Even when looking for a roommate, you’re browsing through profiles of people you’ve never met, so whatever you do, in the end, you have to go with what your gut says.

There will be a number of ads you like and even click with, but if your intuition tells you that something’s off about it or something won’t work, it’s best to listen to it and skip.

12. Make A Roommate Agreement

A roommate agreement is a document that you can have a written copy of whatever was discussed between you and your potential roommate. While this isn’t legally binding, it’s something both you and your roommate can refer to in case conflict arises in the future. Your roommate agreement can include anything that you think is necessary to put down like the other person agreeing to a pet, or agreeing to pick up groceries every alternate day. Also, don’t forget to put both your signatures down on this document.


Is Finding A Roommate On Craigslist Safe?

Craigslist is like any other app you’ll use to find a roommate because you have to do background checks and your own research on potential roommates yourself. It can be one of the best tools you use to find a roommate, as long as you are careful and safe every step of the way. Try to use your common sense and keep small things in mind, like don’t visit an apartment alone, ask for specific details and try getting references.

What Is The Best Site To Find A Roommate?

Apart from Craigslist, you can also try finding roommates on websites like Roomi, Romster, Spareroom, and Roomates.com!

What Does ‘Private Room’ Mean On Craigslist?

As the term suggests, a private room like a bedroom is an area that you have exclusive access to in a house. The other areas in the room might be shared, but if something is listed as private, no one other than you will have access to it.


Even though the task might feel intimidating, don’t be afraid to meet new people and have the opportunity to live with them. Living with roommates can be extremely cool and an enjoyable experience if you find the right people. In the end, don’t forget to be careful when you’re searching to be away from scams and do your best to be safe!

Also See: How To Find A Good Neighborhood? | Best Local Moving Companies in the US