Help me find a housemate
June 30, 2011 6:49 PM   Subscribe

Having terrible trouble finding a roommate, advice needed!

My roomie is moving out this weekend and I haven't been able to fill the room. I live in Oakland which is very population dense and, I thought, pretty desirable. On the less-attractive-as-a-house side, we're out in East Oakland (a safe part of it, but distant from Berkeley and SF where a lot of Bay Area folks spend their time). Also, I'm in my late 30s and I have a kid. I imagine the average person who is looking for a houseshare is in their 20s and might not want to live with a kid.

The room is in the low-average range of what else is listed on craigslist.

How can I make the place more desirable and attractive? What makes an appealing housing ad? I do have photos and have tried both a short and long description on craigslist. Have also forwarded ad to everyone I know and posted on facebook several times. I really hope to avoid moving - I can't afford a two bedroom place or even a 1 bedroom. ):
posted by serazin to Home & Garden (13 answers total)
Uh, when I say "low-average range" I mean in terms of price. I could potentially lower the rent a tad more and absorb the difference.
posted by serazin at 6:49 PM on June 30, 2011

Are you saying how old your kid is in the ad? Definitely mention that, because it'll make a difference to a prospective roomie whether you have a 3-yr-old or a 13-yr-old.

Explain how much of the house is available to the tenant, so it's clear that there's plenty of solo space for him/her.

Make it clear that you're not looking for a babysitter/au pair, but that you and said kid have your own life and interests. Maybe even talk about how cool your kid is!

I shared a house once with a couple who had a six-year-old son. He was pretty cool and smart; the only downside was having to keep the stereo/TV volume down late at night so we didn't disturb him. They were really good about monitoring kid mess and noise, too, but it was very clear that he was part of the household.
posted by vickyverky at 6:55 PM on June 30, 2011

You night do better trying to do a word-of-mouth search rather than a stranger on Craigslist. Post on Facebook and ask friends to post on Facebook about how awesome your place is...
posted by k8t at 7:22 PM on June 30, 2011

It's the kid that's the obstacle, which isn't to say it's insurmountable (particularly if you can lower the price). From the point of view of a potential roommate - a kid sort of represents the worst of both worlds in terms of the "rules" of the apartment. A noisy person won't want to live somewhere where they can't stumble in in the wee hours or watch tv late at night... and a quiet person won't want to live somewhere where their child "roommate" will be noisy and active in the day and evening. I would try to make it as much as a bargain as possible, to offset the obvious disadvantages.
posted by moxiedoll at 7:23 PM on June 30, 2011 [2 favorites]

I would much rather want to live with someone I knew and their kid than with some random person from Craigslist and their kid. I second getting the word of mouth going.

we're out in East Oakland (a safe part of it

so as you know, some people think that there are no safe parts of East Oakland. I don't know East Oakland at all, but I'm thinking that if you do put up a craigslist ad, you should put a more specific neighborhood name in the title of the ad.
posted by madcaptenor at 7:50 PM on June 30, 2011

Are you willing to have another single parent move in with their kid? Are there places in your neighborhood where other single moms would be likely to hang out - is there a WIC office or something like that with a bulletin board? Church bulletins, day care centers, parks and rec bulletin board?
posted by CathyG at 7:59 PM on June 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

I'd also try the googlegroup sf-looking-for-housing, and perhaps put up an ad on SF Chalkboard as well, though in all honesty word of mouth is the best resource I've ever used for finding roommates I live well with.

(Also, I think we're possibly neighbors!)
posted by soviet sleepover at 8:00 PM on June 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

So I posted in the google group (thanks, didn't know about that), and will work on a new craigslist post that highlights the privacy, safety, and funness-yet-privacy-respectfulness of kid. Also will consider reposting at a lower rent.

Thanks so far and any additional ideas welcome.

(Have already aggressively promoted through word-of-mouth, friends-of-friends, facebook, etc)

Hi soviet sleepover! I'm up in the Laurel-ish, not far from you at all I bet.
posted by serazin at 8:22 PM on June 30, 2011

If you MeMail me the ad (I live in the area) I can take a look for you.
posted by liketitanic at 8:58 PM on June 30, 2011

I imagine the average person who is looking for a houseshare is in their 20s and might not want to live with a kid.

I am in my 20s and while living in a house with a kid wouldn't bother me in the slightest, I would probably skip your ad because I would assume you probably wouldn't want to live with someone in their 20s. It's silly, I know, but my experience has been that people in your age group who have kids have only been willing to live with those around the same age, and so now I've tended to skip over those listings because I don't want to waste everyone's time.

So I guess you could make it clear in your ad that you're willing to live with people of different ages, because it might not be as implied as you might think.
posted by lwb at 5:08 AM on July 1, 2011

I think you should leave your kid out of the advert entirely. You should leave your kid out for practical and safety reasons.

You want as wide a pool of response as possible. Let someone decide if they like the room and the household once they've seen the place, or at least talked to you over the phone. I've answered ads where kids were in the household but not mentioned in the advert and I thought that was normal. I think mentioning your child is making it a Big Deal when it isn't. If you want someone tidy and responsible, state that in your ad. Let the rest sort itself out over the phone or in person.

Furthermore, I wouldn't want some creep targeting my roommate opportunity specifically because I have a kid. (I know it sucks to think like that, but the world is an imperfect place...)

So. To broaden the scope of response and give good possible roommates a chance to find you, don't mention your child in the advert unless you are looking for live-in child care. It's possible that's what people are thinking from your ad, so maybe keep it more neutral and see how it goes.

I hope you find someone awesome really soon!
posted by jbenben at 7:15 AM on July 1, 2011

I strongly disagree with jbenben. If you leave the kid out of the ad, you will spend lots of time showing your apartment to people who are unwilling to live with a kid. The kid is an absolute non-negotiable deal breaker for for a lot of people, and you want to screen those people out before you waste both of your time.
posted by juliapangolin at 8:49 AM on July 1, 2011 [2 favorites]

Why can't the OP do that screening out over the phone?
posted by jbenben at 9:17 AM on July 1, 2011

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