When I first told my friend Callie that I’d accepted a job offer in Los Angeles, she curtly congratulated me before informing me that my broke ass wouldn’t be able to afford it out here without roommates. I make what most would consider a pretty good salary – or at least one that would allow me the luxury of a place to call entirely my own in most cities. Unfortunately, a dollar just doesn’t go as far in Los Angeles.
I’m originally from the modestly priced Midwest and I spent some time in the South, so even after living here in LA for a few years, everything from gas to groceries still seems ridiculously overpriced. This is especially true of rent – whether you live in Van Nuys or The Valley. Because of this, having a roommate is more of the rule than the exception in Los Angeles, but actually finding a good roommate is easier said than done.
Speaking as someone with a lot of experience, there is nothing worse than living with a terrible roommate. Deafening late-night living room couch sex. Clogged toilets with cigarette butts and tampons and stuffed animals. Sinks overflowing with petri dishes masquerading as bowls and plates. Lame-brained, half-assed excuses for late rent or utility checks. This nightmare basically summed up my four (okay, five) years of college, and you couldn’t pay me enough to relive it.
The problem is that there’s usually no one to blame but yourself when you get stuck in these situations. When people rush into living scenarios without knowing what they want or without seeking out the best possible match, they are bound to run into trouble. The key is to make a list of exactly what you are looking for in a roommate, do your research, and be patient. (Luckily, I stumbled upon Roommates.com which allows you to do all of these things for free 🙂 )
Taking my friend’s advice, I was all over online classifieds for about a month before I began to panic. I was moving to LA in less than two weeks, and I hadn’t spoken with a single person who didn’t strike me as an ax murderer or someone who wouldn’t sniff my undies the minute I left for work. So I gave up on these sites and purchased a trial membership to Roommates.com. Within two days, my problem was solved.
After more than two years, Tom, Matt, and I still live in a spacious three-bedroom apartment in Santa Monica. Like all roommates, we’ve had our differences, but we’ve grown pretty close, and splitting our $2200 monthly rent three ways is a huge help for all of us. We make it work because we have similar interests, decent jobs, good attitudes, and a willingness to make sure that all of our bills are paid on time. (And we take turns doing the dishes.) We knew all of this before we moved in because Roommates.com allows users to customize their search preferences and chat with prospective roommates to find the perfect match.
When you’re looking for a new spot to live, you need to consider more than just whom you will be living with. You also need to consider exactly where you’re planning on living. Los Angeles is one of the most ethnically diverse and culturally rich locations in the country, and you should look for a living situation that is near the pulse of the city that interests you most and a roommate who shares those interests. For instance, Tom, Matt, and I are all huge sports fans. So we hit Dodgers games in the summer and Lakers games in the winter – something we couldn’t afford to do if we didn’t have each other to split the rent.
The nice thing about Roommates.com is that the site offers more than just a roommate. Their matching service makes it possible to make real friends! I know it did for me. Matt is getting married soon, so it will be sad to see him go, but we’ve all grown so close that Tom and I are both serving as groomsmen in the wedding.
If it weren’t for Roommates.com, the three of us never would have met. We wouldn’t have become so close, and we wouldn’t have been able to afford our rent. Los Angeles can be a lonely place, but thankfully I’ve been able to live affordably and forge long lasting friendships that go beyond helping each other clean the bathroom or watching the game together.
If you’re looking for the right living situation, don’t waste your time with Craigslist. Trust me, Roommates.com has everything you’re looking for and more!