Craigslist. It’s really the only good place to find a cheap place to live. There are many “roommate finder” websites but the options there are few and far between unless you live in a highly populated area. But everyone knows Craigslist, and you can find a ton of very cheap places to live by flipping through the rooms & shares section of your local Craigslist.
What is the ‘rooms & shares’ section of Craigslist? It’s where people go to find roommates. Most often, it’s homeowners looking for roommates. They list whether it’s a private room, has a private bath, what the parking situation is like, price, etc. Usually you get to live in the house just like it’s yours but you don’t have any of the responsibilities of being the homeowner.
I’ve lived in two different homes that I found via this method. They both turned out really great, but it took a lot of savvy shopping before I found the right place. Because honestly… most listings are from weirdos. There’s some seriously odd listings on Craigslist. Use your imagination. But if you’re willing to parse through and weed out the weird ones, then Craigslist is definitely the best place to find a cheap place to live.
The Most Important Rule
Here’s the most important rule to finding a place to live via Craigslist… if the person/listing seems odd – IT IS. If you even get the slightest hint that the person is a weirdo – they are. Trust your gut, and don’t proceed.
See, the internet usually gives a pretty accurate portrayal of what a person is really like. If the person/listing seems weird – do not call, text or email that person. Move on. I’ve ignored my gut in the past and at best it has been a waste of time.
Ask if You Will Have Any Responsibilities
This is really important. Find out who will do the cleaning/care for the home. Ideally, a cleaning person will come in a few times per week. Then no one in the house has to fight over who will clean what and when. But if this isn’t the case – find out how exactly things get cleaned/cared for. Are there pets? Find out who is taking care of them as well. What you don’t want to do is move in with a person who expects you to care for their pets for free.
Sometimes, taking on responsibilities can be alright. For instance, I once mowed the lawn for $75 off monthly rent. It worked out alright, but make sure to get all of this settled before moving in. Remember – time is money. If your time is worth much (it is) then a $700/month place may actually be cheaper than a $600/month place where you have to clean.
What I like to do is look up the house on Zillow to check out its value and determine how big a mortgage I would need to get if I owned the place. When you do this, you realize many homeowners are having the renters cover the mortgage. If you pay $500 per month and another roommate pays the same – that’s $1,000 the homeowner is getting. Unless it’s a really nice home, the mortgage is likely less than that.
But rather than get resentful towards the homeowner, buy a home for yourself. Get a plan in place that will make you a homeowner sooner rather than later. While you can debate this to a certain degree, most experts agree that it’s wise to buy. I’m convinced that’s what I want to do eventually.
Finding a room via Craigslist is great but soon I want to be the person choosing the roommates. How about you? Have you rented a room?