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How to find the perfect roommate without social media

Searching for a roommate is like trying to find a needle in a haystack, except the haystack is a bunch of misplaced bachelors and the needle is someone you will inevitably resent.

In the spring of last year, my roommate and I needed a 3rd musketeer. The criteria for our dream roommate was simple, and the quest had begun.

Roommate Criteria From the website we built to help with the search.

We pulled out all the stops – we made classified ads, spoke to friends (and friends of friends), our landlords created Facebook posts (although I was hesistant), made paper flyers, and even bought a domain and built a website.

bestsuiteinkelowna.com The homepage of bestsuiteinkelowna.com.

In the end, we eventually found our man via literal paper flyers pinned to corkboards. Now, let me explain why the other approaches failed.

Word-of-mouth

Word-of-mouth really shines when you have a large network of close peers who know exactly what you're looking for. You can end up with some high-quality candidates this way, but your odds of finding 'The One' are low – you've cast a small net, young fisherman.

After much casting and no fish potential roommates, you gotta start using a larger net, right?

Classifieds

The responses garnered from our classifieds were hilarious.

It was immediately evident that 90% of respondents apparently don't – or straight up can't – read. In our ads, we clearly stated that we were explicitly looking for a male in his 20's. We got inquiries from:

In the end, the classifieds turned up ~5x more people who did not qualify than did quality – ultimately wasting time on texts, phone calls, and emails.

Facebook

I have a deep hatred for Facebook on multiple levels (which I will cover another time).

However, my landlords were sweet enough to help us by publishing a couple "Roommate Wanted" posts for us. Unfortunately, these posts were equally unfruitful. Truthfully, there technically was fruit – only really crappy fruit, like an eggplant or something.

For instance, there was a gentleman who saw the Facebook post and seemed nice enough over the phone, so we had him to come look at the suite. He swung by the next day, and greeted us with warm smile and a firm handshake (I took a mental note of this, it was a good one). After showcasing a few of the rooms, I began to feel a sense of hope – I was beginning to think this was our man, 'The One'.

Towards the end of the tour, he started opening up to us about his personal life – and, this is when things started to go downhill faster than a bullet train.

Following a deep sigh, he said something to the effect of, "this suite would have been perfect only it's too close to a playground".

My roommate and I exchange glances at light-speed. We asked why that would be an issue.

He sighed again. Pausing for a minute, he carefully explained how he had been wrongly accused of being a pedophile, how his friends and family won't talk to him, and how his reputation has been destroyed.

At this point, he's now sobbing and we're trying to console him, telling him that things will get better – even though we were uncertain ourselves. I prayed for him later that night, I hope he's on a better path now.

We eventually escorted him outside and as he was leaving he dropped one more bombshell on us, saying, "about a month ago I lost my job due to my back injury, so I can't pay rent."

I never asked why he came, seeing he knew he couldn't live here. Perhaps he just wanted someone to listen, someone to hear his side of the story.

He left, and I still needed a roommate.

Actual Old-School Paper Flyers

Here's the trick: treat your ideal roommate like the ideal customer you're targeting for your business. Ask yourself questions like:

Questions like this are essential.

I decided that my ideal roommate would spend time at or around churches, would appreciate the music studio on the property, and would have a good sense of humor.

We made sure the flyers we made reflected those qualities.

Roommate Flyer

After pinning up the above flyer at a few local churches, we found our guy within a couple weeks.

I'd encourage you to get low-tech with your roommate search. Get out there, talk to people, put up flyers, get involved in your community – you'll find your man and have a fun time doing it.

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