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The 12 best websites for finding a roommate in NYC

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There’s the one about the creepy loner and his fondness for taxidermy. And the one about the dancer who’d nurse her bleeding feet on your shared kitchen table. Oh, and of course, the one about the guy who pulled a disappearing act whenever it came time to pay the electric bill. Everyone in New York City’s got them—horror stories about roommates past and present, that is. And unless you make at least $96,000 and can swing a place on your own, chances are you probably will too.

***This story originally ran on December 29, 2015.

The following updated list of websites--including Roomi, which launched its site earlier this year--will hopefully take a bit of the sting out of the roommate-finding process and help a college grad like you find a sensible, sane human being with whom to cohabit, so the only story you’ll have to tell is the one about the housemate who’s absolutely perfect for you.   

1. Symbi

Described by the founders of this NYC start-up which debuted in early 2015 as " for the roommate world," the site pairs apartment-seekers for free. Users can search for a room, a roommate to look for a place with, or roommates to take over an empty bedroom in their apartment. You fill out a questionnaire with information on your sleep schedules, your cleanliness preferences and more, and the site finds you a match. Users are verified, which is good news in the sketch-department.   >>

2. Diggz

Founded in 2014, Diggz is another roommate-matching site for the five boroughs, Jersey City, and Hoboken. As soon as you enter your information (personality, preferences, etc.), Diggz will show you 10 people who match your criteria (it's all done with a proprietary algorithm), and you can choose to "like" people you're interested in contacting, and can reach out to them anonymously. Once you've made a match, Diggz can help connect you with a real estate broker (who may or may not charge a fee). They also can refer you to reliable movers.  >>

3. SpareRoom

This British site made its debut stateside four years ago, launching a New York-centric hub in 2011.

Users can post ads or browse rooms in all five boroughs (as well as Long Island and New Jersey) for free, although upgrades (including a "Bold Ad," which is highlighted in search results) are available starting at $9.99 a week.

This British site made its debut statesidea handful of years ago, launching a New York-centric hub in 2011. Users can post ads or browse rooms in all five boroughs (as well as Long Island and New Jersey) for free, although upgrades (including a "Bold Ad," which is highlighted in search results) are available starting at $10.99 a week.

There are around 1,000 New York-area rooms listed at any given time (as well as 1,600-plus ads from roommates looking for rooms)—and all ads are individually vetted by staff for scams. For folks who’d prefer to meet prospective roommates offline, SpareRoom hosts free SpeedRoommating events every week—alternating between FADA in Williamsburg and Revival in Union Square. Attendees get stickers saying either “I have a room” or “I need a room,” then mix and mingle until they find someone they think they’ll be able to cohabit with in relative harmony.  >>

4. Reddit

If you're already spending a lot of your free time on Reddit, you might as well look for an apartment there, too. Under New York Apartments you'll find discussion forums (on topics like: "Apartment hunting advice for first-time New Yorkers?") as well as listings for lease-holders who need roommates in their apartments and roommates who need apartments. Note: Users aren't verified like they are on some of these other sites, so proceed with caution—Craigslist-level caution. >>

5. Rainbow Roommates

Aimed at the LGBT community, this website claims to be able to find most clients a new home within just two weeks. Listing your apartment opening is free, but membership for access to said listing is not. 

Spend $40 for a 15-day account if you’re desperate to resolve your roommate situation immediately. If you have a little more time, it’s $75 for a 30-day subscription. And if you find a roommate through the site but realize it simply isn’t meant to be within two months of signing a roommate agreement, Rainbow Roommates grants you one month of service at no charge.>>

6. Listings Project

The Listings Project isn't exactly a website but a weekly email newsletter (though you sign up on the website). Here, you'll find apartments for rent as well as shares and sublets, and can also place a listing explaining what you need. Brokers are not allowed to post on the list, and it costs $30 to publish a listing, so the odds that what you read is what you get are vastly higher than, say, on Craigslist. Listings tend to come from the "creative community," so expect a lot of Brooklyn roommates. >>

7. PadMapper

Born out of a bad NYC apartment search experience (scams included), Padmapper collects apartment listing search results from a slew of sources (ForRent, Airbnb, Apartment Search and more than 100 others, including brokerages), and plots the locations of available listings on an interactive map. Then it helps you narrow down those places you might be interested in with a very thorough set of filters (cost, commute time, max price per bedroom, etc.). Search by "rooms" to find a share; you can also type in keywords such as “vegetarian” to find like-minded roommates.

There are millions of users on the site each month, and according to the company, most are looking for roommates who already have apartments.  >>

8. BangItOut

This site has a very specific niche—Jewish New Yorkers who keep a Kosher kitchen. It's free to have available rooms listed in its directory of “Apartments That Bang,” and free to browse, too. The vast majority of its listings are on the Upper West Side—a mecca of sorts for young, Modern Orthodox Jews—but there are also openings in Washington Heights and the Upper East Side. >>

9. Roomster

Touting itself as the “world’s largest social network for roommates, rooms, apartments, flats, rentals and sublets”—the site is now available in 192 countries—Roomster has people create profiles, then helps match up potential roomies by allowing folks to filter by such things as age or interest. The website’s Social Connect feature lets (verified) users contact each other directly via telephone, email or social networking sites like Facebook or Twitter. Viewing ads, posting a profile, and even sending messages is free, but you can’t respond to messages in your inbox or access the Social Connect feature unless you upgrade. It’s $5.95 for three days, $14.95 for 15 days, and $29.95 for a month.

In addition, the powers that be remove all listings every 30 days so they never have old or stale listings. >>

10. RoomieMatch 

Actual humans supposedly screen each and every profile in RoomieMatch’s system to weed out “slimeball rip-off artists.” Profiles aren’t actually posted to the site—matches are emailed directly to users based upon responses to a very detailed list of questions covering everything from dishwashing habits to recycling practices to tolerance of one-night stands.

Creating a profile is free, but if you want to contact matches yourself, you’ll have to pony up $19.95 for the year. It rarely will take a year to find a roommate, but that year-long membership is helpful if your first place doesn't work out or is a short-term sublet.  >>

11. Roomi

The brains behind Roomi—which debuted its free-of-charge site in January—believe that a lot of roommate-related headaches (and heartaches) could be avoided if only would-be roomies bothered to truly learn about each other before renting that U-Haul. As such, users can specify what they’re looking for in an ideal roommate (do you like to party too?), as well as potential deal-breakers (smoke much?), and a chat feature that connects those looking for rooms with those who have them even allows folks to see if their messages are being successfully delivered—look for a gray check mark if it was sent; a green one if it’s been read.

All listings and users are verified before going live to ensure that they are in fact real places and real people. The site even encourages folks to sign up via Facebook to make this authentication process easier since it allows Roomi staffers to review people’s profiles, friends and activities to confirm that they are in fact who they say they are. >>

12. Craigslist

Never say never. Despite the occasional horror story, Craigslist remains as popular as ever, with hundreds of postings for roommates in NYC at any given time.

Since this oldie-but-goodie is free of charge, anyone can and does use it—including folks whose intentions are less than honorable—so be sure to take some safety measures before meeting anyone you’ve contacted through the site in person. Insist on getting together in a public place. Always carry your cell phone, and never ever invite strangers into your home.  In fact, these are rules that you should adhere to whichever site you choose to use. >>

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