How To Find An Apartment And Roommate In A New City

Finding new living arrangements is tough. There’s so much to figure out. Budget, location, how long the lease is for, who you’re going to live with, furnished or not, amenities, and so on. It’s daunting.

I’m moving to Arlington VA, which is right outside of Washington DC. I never been to the area in my life, I don’t know a single person in DC, and this is the longest living arrangement (other than living with my parents) that I’ve ever had. But next week I have 3 apartment tours lined up, and I’m feeling pretty confident about my options. I’ve decided I want a roommate instead of living on my own because it’s a lot cheaper and I would love another way to meet new people. Here are some things I’ve learned while searching for a place to stay.

Short term rentals that last 1-4 months are pretty easy to find with Airbnb. This is what I used when I moved to Toronto. I rented out a bedroom in a townhouse with 2 other roommates I had never met. It was a little bit more expensive because you pay for the cleaning fees, but I had a great experience with the place. It’s easy to pay, contact your landlord, and move in and out.

Longer term rentals that last 4 months to a year or more are a little more complicated. It takes a lot of work. I’ve been searching through websites like Roomster, EasyRoommate, Craigslist, and Facebook for a place to live for hours on end this past week. I have a few recommendations when it comes all these sites. Facebook has helped me the most out of all of them combined.

I joined a Facebook group called Washington D.C., Housing, Rooms, Apartments, Sublets. If you are moving to a new area, search for “rooms in ______” or something similar to find a group like this one. People can either post mini ads about the room they are offering like this one.

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There are many different posts like this with different prices, locations, and lease terms. New posts pop up every day, so it’s good to be checking the page constantly. The apartment search is a lot of luck paired with good timing. If you’re interested in the space, make sure you message them!

The other option you can do with Facebook is make a post saying you are looking for a room. Then people will reach out to you with information about their space. It’s so easy, all you have to do is sit back and wait for the messages. This is what I posted.

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It’s important to tell potential roommates a little bit about yourself. You want to come across as responsible, friendly, and easy to get along with. It’s important to include a few things you are looking for like price point and location. I posted that 2 days ago, and I’ve received about 20 messages from people with lots of options to choose from, and next week I will be touring 3 apartments. The first guy that reached out to me said he contacted me before putting his place up on the market. I’ve been lucky with some of the responses.

Another option that is out there that I don’t really recommend unless it’s a last resort is using websites like Roomster, EasyRoommate, or something similar. Facebook is completely free to use has a high amount of traffic but these websites usually want you to pay in order to get contact information. But one of the 3 apartment tours I have scheduled did come from Roomster, so I wouldn’t completely ignore these websites.

Finding a place to live can be very stressful and time-consuming but everyone has to do it. Maybe you’re lucky to have friends you can live with but plenty of people out there are moving without having a good living situation set up. Hopefully, this blog post can help out the latter. Good luck with your search!