When you find yourself looking for a roommate when you’re long past the age of having roommates

I have to get a roommate.

My landlord is raising my rent to a level that makes having a roommate to split expenses more of an imperative than it has been since I moved into my 3-bedroom, 1,000 sq. ft. bungalow in April of 2017.

Now that I am completely clean and sober, I feel as if I am more ready than I’ve ever been to navigate the minefield of having a complete stranger move in with me. It takes maturity and wisdom to be able to navigate another person’s moods and quirks effectively and empathetically, and I’ve gained more of those two things in six years of sobriety than I did in all the previous years of adulthood put together. I’m not looking forward to this, but I feel as if I’ve never been better equipped for it.

But first I have to find a roommate. That meant deciding which services online to use for my search.

My first stop was roommates.com.

I like the fact that it has several different layers of identity authentication, including verification via email, phone number, and two different social media accounts (Facebook and Apple). Plus, for an additional small fee, you can verify your own identity using a government ID.

I verified myself using all five levels of verification, thinking that this would make me more attractive to potential roommates.

It turns out most people don’t bother to verify themselves at all. Because verification means you have to have a paid account (cheapest $19.95 a month) and a lot of people on roommates.com don’t want to pay for the service.

BTW, not paying for the service also means that those people with free memberships cannot use the roommates.com anonymized on-website messaging service. This means they can send you an initial message about their interest – “Hey, is your place still available?” — but they cannot see any of your replies.

Which means you get a lot of people writing back to you saying, “Hey, here’s my phone number. I can’t see your messages to me because I have a free account.” Which means turning your phone number over to strangers — possibly weird, possibly criminal, strangers. You run into a lot of weird people looking for a roommate.

Which brings me to Craigslist. I avoided Craigslist at first because I’ve heard so many horror stories about it from friends who’ve used it to sell something online, only to end up having to dodge scammers and others of ill intent.

But the sad truth is that roommates.com doesn’t have the numbers of subscribers necessary to get a decent number of quality replies to my ad.

So I placed an ad on Craigslist.

Oh, boy. Jeez. Wow.

More on that later.

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