Alas, my days of living rent free in the country club are over. But not to worry as the place I’m currently living doesn’t cost too much more than free! All thanks to my tenacity and a lot of help from Craigslist!
Before we talk about the amazing ad-free Craigslist, what the heck is room sharing? I wouldn’t have know a few years ago..
What is room sharing? Well, when finding a place to stay it’s your cheapest and nicest option! You basically just live with someone and obtain most of the benefits of home ownership without the responsibility.
Let me say, room sharing is AMAZING! You get a nice house, typically quiet neighbors, and far less worries and hassles than messing with apartment landlords whose primary job is sucking the most money out of you as possible. There’s a lot more wiggle room in a situation when you’re just dealing with a homeowner.
The BEST way to go about securing a room share is through Craigslist. Yes, that Craigslist. Although it often gets a bad wrap, much good comes from that boring looking site. I’ve tried tons of other websites but they just don’t get the traffic that Craigslist does. Easyroommate.com is the only other site I even bother receiving emails from. Before I got in my current house, I networked with about a dozen real estate agents but they were all of very little help. And making it obvious I would buy a house in the next few years didn’t even give them enthusiasm to help my cause. That’s okay though – Craigslist was better than even an army of agents.
But Isn’t Craigslist Scary?
Not usually. Here’s my current situation I found through Craigslist…
The owner is an elderly gentleman with a busier social life than me. He’s never home (like, I’ll go days without seeing him). I have a private bedroom (eek there are some ads on Craigs for shared rooms), private bathroom, spot for my car and bike in the garage, fully furnished (down to paper towels), HOA that does all yard work, and a cleaning lady (she even makes my bed!) who comes about once a week. I pay $275 a month – utilities included. A comparable apartment would cost an easy $700. Total savings per month: $425.
When I said I wanted to pay no more than $300, even real estate agents told me I was nuts. Who’s laughing now! Hehehehe.
Here’s what I can tell you about how I landed such a deal:
Your Craigslist Ad
All of my best leads came from posting my own ‘wanted’ ad. Most people with nice houses prefer to find your ad, rather than posting their own ad. Also, if they are the ones to contact you, chances are not many people know about the room. This decreases your competition. So place an ad that’s informational but not too wordy. Don’t post a pic of yourself-this isn’t a dating service.
My simple ad (click to maximize)
Patience is a must in saving money!!!! That is a universal rule to remember. If you only have 3 weeks to move, you’re severely reducing your number of opportunities. Give it as much time as possible. Scan Craigslist at least twice a day.
What’s Important to You?
For me, I wanted a nice neighborhood close to work (so I could bike each day). I also wanted a garage and private bathroom. Don’t get hung up on the minor details early in the search. Find out price, minimum criteria, and then decide whether or not to pursue. What’s important to you?
Sometimes you see some mighty weird ads. Perverts often post ads wanting some hot 20-something to ‘take care of a few things’ for reduced rent. So creepy. My rule is if they sound creepy in an ad, email, or over the phone-they are creepy in real life. I haven’t met an exception.
However, most people on Craigslist are great. The people most likely to pick you up as a roommate are either pretty young or pretty old. The young ones want help paying the mortgage and the older ones are emptynesters who would be delighted for a nice young person like yourself to come live in one of their spare bedrooms.
You’ll meet some characters. After all, you’re getting a peek into other peoples personal lives. I met one guy who had just married a woman he met online who could barely speak English. Another fellow put towels down all over the carpet so instead of washing the carpet, he could just pick up the towels and wash them. Eh, humans would be boring if we were all the same.
Some people just will not respond to your calls/texts/emails. There are a million reasons why but most aren’t your fault. I cannot give you the stereotypical person who does this. Probably 70% of my outreach goes unanswered. Just keep moving on. NEVER limit yourself to just one house. The owner may stop replying and you don’t want to be left hanging. Until you’ve actually moved in with someone, you’re still looking! Do not shoot yourself in the foot by thinking one house will come through just to have it disappear last minute! I hear homelessness is no fun.
Nearly every time I pay something, I negotiate first. With room sharing, you can often opt to mow the lawn for a decrease in rent or do some over homeowner type work. Also, don’t be afraid to tell them if you think the price is too high for what you want to pay. Now, negotiating a room share is tricky because at the end of the day you both see each other – this CANNOT be awkward! The negotiation must be amicable! If the owner likes you enough, they will lower the price.
A Few More Bits of Info…
DO NOT waste your time with in-person showings until you have seen pictures. What some people call ‘nice’ and what you consider nice can be completely different. Pictures don’t lie (unless they are edited but let’s not go there). 🙂
Also, browse enough ads first to know what price you can expect to pay. If you see everything you want for $500, see if you can’t get all that for $450… if so, try $400. This is of course in reference to the ‘pool rule‘ I recently posted about.
And there you have it! If you have any questions for how to rent a room off Craigslist, just let me know. I’ll be happy to help!
Good luck searching! Have fun with it! It’s a ton of fun living in a few different houses and neighborhoods before you buy a home. You’ll be much better prepared when that exciting time comes!