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July 12, 2012 5:58 PM   Subscribe

I'd like to find a friendly, sociable group of people to live with in Boston/Cambridge/Somerville. How do I search for this on craigslist?

For the past year, I've barely seen my 4 housemates. Usually they just hole up in their rooms, and even eat elsewhere since they rarely seem to use the kitchen. This is the opposite of the living situation I want, so I'm looking for a new place.

I would love to live in a house with people who cook for each other, have dinner together (maybe once a week or so), and generally look forward to talking and spending time together in the evenings. I'd like it to feel more like coming home to family, or at least to friends.

I've already tried asking people I know if they have rooms available for August/September - they don't. I have applied to a few coops, but they seem to be very picky about who they select to live with them, and so far none have accepted me even though I'm interested in intentional community, shared meals, DIY stuff, etc. (In fact, most of the coops scheduled an interview with me and then canceled it, saying they had already filled the spot.)

So I'm back to looking on craigslist. But almost every single ad is the same - looking for "professional," "friendly," "laid-back," "easy-going," "responsible," "respectful" housemates. Well, I'm all of those things, but I also want to actually spend time together with and care about the people I live with! How do I search for that? What are the secret or not-so-secret words to look for? And how can I tell the difference between people whose idea of being "social" is having a conversation once a month vs. regularly having dinner together?
posted by danceswithlight to Human Relations (11 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Why don't you post a room wanted ad with all that stuff listed and see if you get any responses? Or post an ad saying that you want to start a coop of your own? You basically just need some interested people, some community rules, and some flexibility. Good luck!
posted by Snarl Furillo at 6:40 PM on July 12, 2012

Boston Coop Network.
posted by alms at 6:47 PM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

Have you joined They're pretty awesome to temporarily fulfill your awesomeness need until you move.

What if you post a "Wanted" ad on CL? If you're on LiveJournal, the b0st0n community has many regular postings for apartments...
posted by floweredfish at 7:06 PM on July 12, 2012

You may wish to try the couchsurfing network- people who love travelling and meeting new people tend not to hole up in their rooms all day.
posted by travellingincognito at 7:16 PM on July 12, 2012

I think you may be doing this backwards. It sounds like you're looking for roommates who will essentially become your friends, whereas the easier approach would be to simply find friends who are willing to room with you.
posted by wolfdreams01 at 10:54 PM on July 12, 2012

Best answer: Those houses definitely exist, and can be found on Craigslist. I lived in one for about three years in Inman Square and am still good friends with my housemates who still live there. We all found each other through good old CL. Over the years there were two guys who lived in the house who didn't mesh well -- one moved out on his own and the other had to be kicked out, so it's not foolproof by any means, but it can be done.

Search for listings that use some of the keywords you want in a household, like "together," "dinner," "drinks," "hang out," etc. If your move out date is flexible then just keep an eye on the listings and don't move until you find a place you feel good about. But a word of caution based on experience -- don't go in hoping these people will be your new best friends, because that won't happen immediately, it takes time and may never happen at all. When we interviewed potential housemates who seemed like they really hoped to hang out with us a lot, it was a turnoff. Kind of like a first date with someone who seems smitten with you from the moment you walk in the door -- they hardly knew us, how could they be sure they wanted to spend gobs of time with us? And would they make us feel like bad people if we didn't wind up wanting to be close friends with them?

Tell people that you're looking for a house with a comfortable vibe, and that you enjoy cooking (sharing a kitchen is inherently social, even if you're not cooking the same meal). Make it clear that you have your own life and friends outside of the house. Look for people who seem nice and sociable, and who seem to be very comfortable with each other. Look for things to be a slightly less than immaculately tidy -- in my experience, people who keep an extremely clean house tend to be rigid and difficult to live with unless you are also a compulsive cleaner.

As an added bonus, you can let the hunt for a new place distract you from how much you dislike your current one! Best of luck.
posted by roscopcoletrane at 11:41 PM on July 12, 2012 [2 favorites]

Besides CL, you may wish to post a wanted ad or otherwise keep an eye on the Davis Square LiveJournal. It's an active and friendly community, and people seem prepared to reveal a little bit more of their personality in their roomie-wanted ads. And occasionally you'll find out about openings that aren't on CL.
posted by far flung at 6:07 AM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

Contact the administrative assistant for all of the graduate departments at Harvard, and say you're looking for roommates. Grad students like to live in groups and are always looking for someone to share costs.
posted by Ragged Richard at 8:34 AM on July 13, 2012

Best answer: I'm going to project a little bit and pretend I'm talking to me from four years ago, since I was looking for the same thing in the same way.

What you're looking for is indeed a co-op -- possibly on the small, informal side. It's a totally reasonable thing to look for. It's not guaranteed to work, but it's awesome when it does. And it's not really the same thing as living with some existing friends -- you're looking for people who each have their own circle of friends and interests, where one of those interests is to spend some energy forming an intentional community. (Often this is something that's exciting and rewarding for a while, and then gets sort of exhausting and you go back to wanting to live with actual friends instead of interesting strangers. But they're both valid and distinct options.)

In terms of searching, you'll find some good stuff clicking around the BCN site linked above, including a mailing list you'll want to be on, but I never found something better than just reading all the Craigslist ads, focusing on ones that talk about the existing roommates as people and their vision for the kind of house they want. You'll know it when you see it.

Since those kinds of houses get zillions of applications (say, 60 for one spot), the other option is to start your own co-op. If you post on BCN or Craigslist, you'll be able to find plenty of people looking for exactly the same thing. Find four of them you'd be excited to live with (after interviewing), pick a house together, and you'll have expanded the Boston co-op options for everyone. It's a lot of work (which is why there are so many more people looking than spots open), but it's at least a predictable amount of work on a predictable timeframe.
posted by jhc at 10:52 AM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

The Boston Collective House Assembly is also a good local resource.

I just saw an announcement of a "Co-op House Startup Mixer and Potluck" in Davis Square in their Meetup group. (It was also advertised on the BCN mailing list, mentioned above, which I also endorse.)

(Hi, jhc!)
posted by teditrix at 9:41 AM on July 18, 2012

Response by poster: If by any chance someone is still looking at this before October 1, 2012 and is in a similar situation... in the end, I decided to start my own coop in Somerville. Here's our craigslist ad. Hoping for a great year!
posted by danceswithlight at 5:07 PM on September 14, 2012

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