In New York City, the high cost of living forces many people who normally enjoy their alone time to find a roommate. An affordable one-bedroom or an available studio apartment are often impossible to find. Even if you have some disposable income, your choice is still between taking in a roommate, giving up your pad in the doorman building or even moving to an outer borough or … gasp … Jersey.
The facts are clear. While New Yorkers are already spending nearly 60 percent of their income on rent, most still make less than what it would take to rent an apartment on their own in the city. The solution is finding a roommate, or replacing one if your current roomie moves out.
The good news is that if you rent a room (or a couch) in your current place, you won't be alone. Forty percent of adult renters in New York live with a roommate to whom you're not married or partnered (or is not your parent).
While there are thousands of words on the internet on how to find a roommate when you're also looking for an apartment, there's a lot less written about how to fill that extra room or available space in your current rental. There are differences between how you find a room versus how you find a mate, especially in N.Y.C. where it's just different than other places.
So, whether you're looking for someone to move in that's going to be your new BFF, the Monica to your Rachel, the Bert to your Ernie or simply a human rent check with whom you only pass like ships in the night, what are the best ways to find a roommate in New York when you already have a place?
Housing in New York City is a spiderweb of connections and whispers and who-you-knows. The best way to find a roommate is through friends and family. Ask around and get a referral from your friends and co-workers and relatives. Everyone in New York always knows someone who's looking, so get their personal recommendation. The more people you tell, the wider you can cast your net, especially in a place as big as N.Y.C.
But it doesn't have to be through friends and family, it can be actual friends and family. Recruit an old classmate or work friend to move in or even a relative. The upside is they already know you and you already know them, but the downside is roommate arguments can get personal and taint life-long relationships.
After a quarter-century, it seems almost retro to turn to Craigslist to find a roommate. But even now, the classified ads site might still be the best place online to look, and it's free. Yes, Craigslist has a reputation as a home for creepy people and ne'er-do-wells, but there are many more good people than bad just looking for a place to live.
Get the most from Craigslist by coming at it from both sides. Start at the New York City Rooms & Shares page. Create a listing for your available space detailing clear, specific requirements and personal inclinations like gender, age, rent, pet ownership, waking hours, employment and lifestyle, smoking preferences and, of course, availability dates, plus the same information about yourself.
Then, do your own search for situations wanted on the N.Y.C. Wanted: Room/Share page. Search for anything you want in a roomie using multiple keywords with vertical bar separators like: "roommate | Chelsea | dogs | likes to cook | watches Russian Doll."
My craigslist roommate moved in at 1:00 AM and then never spoke a word to me or our other roommate. I only saw them when they’d leave for work, or the rare occasion they did the dishes they kept in their room. I never saw them cook or use the bathroom we “shared”. 10/10 https://t.co/knR2lk4ROg
— ????BLM ???? (@Nofaceinc) January 30, 2020
But be warned and careful. A recent study from NYU showed Craigslist has become less trustworthy, and the site's moderators fail to catch half of the scammers on the site.
Similar to Craigslist, Reddit is an intriguing place to search for roommates in New York. The r/NYCapartments subreddit is often rife with people looking for roommates and situations. But as with anything on Reddit, it's going to take a lot of pouring through long threads and clicking "see more" buttons to wade through complaints about security deposits and recommendations for doorman birthday gifts.
While Reddit may be a step up from Craigslist in reputation, be sure to go in with eyes open for scammers and danger.
Depending on the size of your personal network, your own social media may be a great place to find a roommate. Just like with real-life family and friends, your Facebook friends, LinkedIn connections and Twitter followers might know someone who knows someone who is looking for a place to live.
The benefit of social media is that you have connections to people — from work, from childhood, from some friend you met once — that you never interact with in real life and the ability to blanket-ask them for help.
Treat your post on social like you're putting up a classified ad. Briefly describe what you're looking for and where, post some pics and put “please share!" right in your post to nudge your connections to put your listing out into the world. To get more results, you might want to make your Facebook or Twitter public.
Aside from your personal connections, you can also look for and post about roommates in public Facebook Groups, as well. With an ad in the Super Bowl, the megasite has been pushing its Groups community hard, so this is a great time to find a plethora of potential roommates.
Hit up some of the most popular NYC roommates Facebook Groups, and search and post away with everything you're looking for and where. Just be sure to keep your privacy and safety in mind.
Is it acceptable to just say “someone please be my roommate” in a Facebook group
— peyton (@peytonolsonnn) March 29, 2018
There are a number of great groups at which to start, including some of the most general and popular like Rooms & Roommates in New York City, Apartments For Rent New York City and New York City Sublets. There are also many specialty groups such as Gypsy Housing, which is private and strictly for members of the performing arts community and has sub-groups just for the outer boroughs.
Another Facebook idea is to search Facebook Events to find roommate-finder meetups near you and chat with folks in person!
It's 2020, so obviously the most popular and fashionable way to search for roommates is through specialty apps and websites. We counted and there are nearly a bazillion roommate finder apps for NYC peeps. Some are very broad and include everyone and everything, but others cater to a specific audience, lifestyle, location or amenity. These are some of the most useful.
If you use Tinder, Bumble, Hinge and the like, put in your profile that you're looking for a roomie and maybe you'll match with someone amazing who swiped right on you, even if you don't connect romantically.
That may not be the best idea, so several sites — Bumble specifically — have gotten into the non-dating spaces like job hunting and BFF search within their app, so using those features to look for roommates isn't that crazy an idea.
If you see me on Bumble, mind ya business. I'm trying to find a roommate lmao
— darling (@curleygirlee) February 18, 2019
While we do spend approximately 176 percent of our free time on our phones these days, you can also find roommates out there in the actual real world. A very popular organization called Roommates Wanted NYC sponsored real-life mixers at NYC bars and lounges that were run sort of like speed dating.
Sadly, Roommates Wanted shut down, but a newcomer called Speed Roommating picked up the gauntlet. The organization offers free semimonthly bar nights where you can safely and leisurely mingle over drinks while pouring over everyone's photos of their available rooms.
While the “speed" portion is a misnomer, and you can circulate and chat with any attendee, the group is divided into room-seekers sporting pink nametags and mate-seekers wearing white ones so you know who is looking for what.
Whether you're a recent college grad or matriculated a bit ago, your college's alumni network can be a goldmine for roommate seekers. Most local New York schools have an active alumni club or at least an active Facebook page or website for networking among its grads, and the bigger out-of-state schools even offer N.Y.C.-based clubs.
Slip a post onto the alumni club's Facebook page stating you've got a great available room for a fellow Orangeman or Scarlet Knight. Or hit up the club offices or president and ask if your room availability can be posted on their Twitter or in their online newsletter.
If you played sports in college, pledged a sorority or fraternity, played in the marching band or joined a university club, you have even more opportunities to network and find a new roommate. Hit up that network and let them spread the word.
New York City is home to more than 3 million immigrants, including naturalized citizens, permanent residents and visa holders, and more and more are landing on our shores every day.
If you're a non-U.S.-born citizen or resident, casing your home country's expat community is a great place to find a roommate, especially if you're not a native English speaker. As an established New York emigrant with an existing apartment, imagine the guidance you can give a newcomer from your homeland, helping them navigate life in the U.S. and offering them a safe space to live.
Among a number of websites catering to expat communities is InterNations New York, an expat site where New York immigrants and students can connect with each other, sign up for events, access information and find roommates.
Paying someone to find you a roommate? The search is hard so why not let someone else do it. Apartment brokers are very common in New York, helping individuals find rental units. But more and more are flipping the tables and helping renters place roommates in their available rooms.
Reports AM New York, “In recent years, real estate brokers say their work has shifted toward roommate matchmaking. And a few new companies dedicated to professionalizing the hunt have grown into a multimillion-dollar industry."
It's not just young folks, business folks and hipsters who are on the hunt for roommates in New York. A growing population of elderly New Yorkers is taking in roomies, either to help with the rent and bills, assist with everyday activities like lifting and cleaning or even just for post-widow companionship. A specialty organization called The New York Foundation for Senior Citizens' Home Sharing Program offers roommate finding assistance to seniors, but you must be over the age of 60.
It may seem like a daunting task to find a roommate in New York, but fortunately, there are many options to help in your search. Don't forget to do your due diligence via personal interviews and cursory background checks to make sure you get along and will feel safe with that person.
But when utilizing the right apps, websites and connections, you'll find there are great people looking to share the rent and who are just as excited to meet you as you are to meet them.