I’m looking for a roommate because my landlord (who is great BTW) is raising the rent on my small free-standing bungalow. I could eat the increase myself. But it would mean much less money I have per month to save money.
Looking for a housemate after living by myself for 8 years is turning out to be far more stressful than I thought it would be.
When I looked for roommates in my 20s it was like: Can they pay the rent and do they seem not crazy? Those were pretty much the only criteria. It made for some disastrous roommates, but mostly it worked out because in your 20s you’re not home much. In your 20s an apartment always seemed like more of a home base than a home.
Now I have a home.
I’m older, I have a dog, and I’m most likely bringing a total stranger into my house because my circle of friends and acquaintances doesn’t really include people who are often (if ever) looking for a place to live with another adult with whom they are not related.
At first I was only using Roommates.com because I like the fact that you could, if you wanted, only choose from people who are verified by one or more methods: Facebook account, Apple account, email verified, phone number verified and, finally, verified by some form of government ID.
The more ways a person verifies him/herself, the less chance they’re some sort of scam artist; always the initial form of screening when looking for a roommate online.
I tried sticking with people who have three out of the five verifications, but you might be surprised how many people, including tech savvy young people, can’t be bothered to verify their identity even in these cursory ways. My matches on roommates.com were paltry and few.
So, I expanded my search to Craigslist.
Yes, this opened me up to an entire world of weirdos.
I decided quickly I needed some way to at least try to weed out creeps, night owls, the chronically angry, and other anti-social types.
So I researched different roommate questionnaires used mostly by colleges and professional schools for dormitories. I came up with my own 24-question Google Forms questionnaire.
Most of the questions are like the one shown immediately below, which tries to access compatibility issues around hours.
Twenty-two of the questions are like that. Multiple-choice or Likert scale questions that try to tease out how compatible (or not) I would be with a person. (One question is asking a person’s name so I know to whom the answers belong. )
Most people are pretty good about answering all of the questions. If they refuse to answer them at all, that’s a sign of something bad on its own, right?
Then I added the question below.
I debated myself about this question.
I live in a deep red state and because human beings are tribal and the primary tribal identification in this part of the country is Republicanism, I might miss some genuinely good roommate candidates who reflexively believe in the norms of their tribe, but might be perfectly normal otherwise. They might think the 2020 election was stolen, but would still pay their rent and bills on-time, and be courteous and affable living companions. (Don’t laugh. It could happen.)
But what I’m finding is this: That question about Trump on its own might not tell me all that I need to know about potential roommate. But coupled with their answers on the other 22 compatibility questions, it means a great deal.
If a person’s answers about, say, the hours they keep and how much they party, put them on shaky ground as roommate material, AND they say the election was stolen? Those things together disqualify them.
What if a person gives me “perfect” answers on the 22 compatiblity questions and then indicates they believe the 2020 election was stolen from Trump?
Then it would all come down to how the person seemed in a face-to-face meeting.
In any case, I am finding the roommate questionnaire is allowing me to disqualify people outright whom I might have otherwise wasted time meeting.