I found my roommate on Craigslist, and he hasn’t killed me (yet).
I recently moved to Atlanta where I knew no one. I had one friend in the area, but she lived 45 minutes away from where I would spend most of my time. I Googled (WordPress spell-check, this IS a word) apartments in the area and quickly discovered that I didn’t want to pay the cost of living alone. How does one find a roommate in a city you have never lived in? What is the answer to most such questions?
I found my summer job on Craigslist. I figured I would try my luck again. I did one search on Craigslist and had a panic attack. Everything within my budget seemed to involve roommates I would not want to live with. One guy had a “special situation” – he had a pet pig and needed a quiet office of his own, because he “worked from home”. There were many males who wanted FEMALES ONLY, no drama, no boyfriends, pictures required beforehand. There were quite a few gurlz who just wanted to have a gooooood timeeeeee and NO DRAMA. From personal experience, anyone who DON’T DO DRAMA is wrapped up in it. Of course, it is NEVER their fault. They are the victims of all the people around them. No thank you, I’ll live somewhere else.
After my panic attack and another futile search for affordable efficiency apartments, I created my criteria and returned to Craigslist:
- male or female is fine, but if male, must not specify females only
- must use correct grammar, spelling, and punctuation
- must specify drug-free, pet-free, and clean
- must be within budget
- must be ITP and near a MARTA station with free parking
You would think that these are fairly low standards and that I would have lots of options. If I predicted your thought process correctly, you are wrong. I was looking in June to secure a place for August, which made things more complicated. That summer job I found on Craigslist required that I not travel during the month of July. I found a short list of places that fit my criteria and contacted them. Due to correspondence and timing, only a few of them were actually plausible. I stayed the weekend with the friend who lived outside the city, and she was kind enough to accompany me as I visited possible future landlords. She “didn’t want my booty taken”.
The first place I visited was that of an Italian guy who rented out the house adjacent to his. Most of our correspondence was in Spanish, because his Spanish was easier to understand than his English. The house was insanely small, and he seemed to have a quick temper. He made it very clear that I could not park in the driveway or he would be VERY ANGRY. I didn’t meet the two girls who lived in the house, but the kitchen was a mess. He also told me that I could move into the efficiency apartment that he was renovating in his personal house, which was originally intended for his girlfriend who drove him so crazy that he kicked her out. Yeah, I think I’ll pass on that one.
At the next place I visited, I didn’t meet the landlord. Instead I met one of the current tenants whose room I would be taking. She was a hilarious and wonderful individual, but our definitions of safety were very different. I asked a lot of questions, trying to determine just how sketchy the area was. Here are a few excerpts from our conversation:
“So, do you feel safe in the area?”
“Oh, sure. The only time I’ve had anything stolen from me was when I left some shovels outside for a long time.”
“Aren’t there rats, you know, because there are a ton of abandoned houses on the street and piles of trash surrounding them?”
“Nope! I’ve never seen a rat. The homeless lady who lives under the second house down has a couple cats, so they make sure there are no rats. The only annoying thing is that 911 isn’t very responsive. Once the police get here, they are very helpful, it is just the phone operators who are a pain.”
“Why’d you have to call 911?”
“Well, I watched a drug deal on the street corner. I’m fine with whatever people do in their houses, but I wasn’t ok with things happening in the open. It’s like that house down there. I was pretty sure that they were up to something, but they minded their own business so I wasn’t going to bother them about it. Sure enough, they were busted about a month later.”
I left convinced that there was a reason that the place was so cheap and discouraged because the whole process was so frustrating. As I left, I received a phone call from another potential landlord. The guy was polite on the phone and explained that he hadn’t responded to me before, because I wasn’t interested in moving in until August. He had changed his mind, because his brand new tenant only wanted the room for the month of July.
The house was immaculate, tastefully painted, and had art on the walls. I have been accused of living like a monk, so it helps if my roommate(s) have a penchant for interior design. I’m not buying any decorative crap, but I appreciate it when someone else pays for it. I learned that the guy was the landlord and also lived in the house. He had restored it himself and loved it. He had previously lived in Madrid for a long period of time. He seemed quiet, clean, and independent. He did not give off a creepy vibe. He talked about all the neighbors and how great they were. Before our conversation ended, I was sure that this was where I wanted to live.
My poor mother was not pleased with the idea of me living with a stranger, let alone with one who was male. For her sake, I stalked the guy extensively. I pulled up things like blogs, public records and newspaper articles. The guy was exactly who he said he was. I sent it all to my mother and worked out the details of the lease.
I have now lived here 4 1/2 months, and he is a great roommate. We practice our Spanish, we chat when we feel like it, and we leave each other alone when we don’t. There are never dishes in the sink. My conversational Spanish has improved significantly.
A lot of Americans seem to walk around in constant fear. We have fences and signs and warning labels everywhere warning us of potential danger. We avoid strangers and assume that they want the worst for us. I think that sometimes we need to relax and think the best about those around us. The whole world isn’t out to get you. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not condoning blind trust and stupidity. But really, Craigslist (and humanity in general) can be great. I just don’t recommend responding to ads like this:
$200 $200 Monthly Female Needed / Living Room Space (decatur)
I live in a nice two bedroom house in a quiet neighborhood with cable and internet access. I am a single, black male, no kids, honest, hardworking and fun loving. Most of all, I have NO DRAMA in my life.
I’m actually looking to help a single female who needs a place to stay
You can $200 on a monthly basis, Be honest and respectful. 420 friendly, .
2 Bedroom With 1 Bath,I am a single, black male, no kids, honest, hardworking and fun loving. Most of all, I have NO DRAMA in my life.
I’m actually looking to help a single female who needs a place to stay
.If there is a single female needing a place to stay and willing to live with a gentleman a Thanks.
FREE ROOM FOR YOUNG FEMALE, FREE CABLE/ WIFI (atl)
im a 24 year old college student and im also in the army reserve. im looking for a young, nice , happy female of any race who likes to have fun, go out, watch movies, maybe even cook etc. no drama, no drugs. 2 bdr, very clean house.
u can live here for free for as long as u want.
u wont have to pay for anything. i have cable and wifi internet, washer/dryer
u will have ur own room and its fully furnished with bed, 32″ flat screen tv, etc.
if u like my pics then send a few pics of urself and ur # so we can talk about it.
ROOM MATE WANTED….. (COBB)
I NEED A YOUNG GOOD LOOKING LIVE IN ROOM MATE INTERESTED IN MAKING GOOD MONEY DOING SENSUAL MASSAGE. IF INTERESTED SEND STATS AND A FEW PICS AND LETS TALK. CALL OR TEXT ME.
*These are all current ads on Craigslist Atlanta: rooms/shared.