There are plenty of Internet scammers out there looking to make a quick buck off someone renting out the extra room in his apartment. Most scammers live overseas and correspond with their marks over email, making it easy for them to get away with a person’s money. Unfortunately, this makes it difficult for people who are legitimately looking for roommates in a distant city. Here are some tips for finding roommates when you can’t meet in person.
1. Make first contact.
Your first email to a person who is renting out a room should be pleasant, cordial and informative. You want to let your new potential roommate determine whether you would be a good fit for the apartment. At this point, there’s no need to divulge your current location if you don’t want to. Give your potential roommate a chance to get to know you a little bit before you tell him you’re moving in from out of town. Do, however, be sure to leave your phone number in that first email!
2. Talk with your potential roommates over a video chat service, such as Skype.
Skyping with a potential roommate will allow you to get to know them better before you have a chance to meet in person. Though it’s not the same as meeting in person, getting to see one another can help people build trust and can help you prove that you are who you say you are.
3. Give good references.
If you’ve had roommates before, offer their numbers to new roommates you hope to rent from. You may also want to give an employer, a friend or a relative as a reference. While references won’t definitively prove to a potential roommate that you’re a nice person who can pay the bills on time and who cleans up after themselves, they can go a long way in making a new roommate feel secure about living with you. You might also consider temporarily befriending your potential roommate on a popular social network such as Facebook or LinkedIn so they can check you out. Obviously, this is beneficial for you, too!
4. Consider a short-term rental or long-term motel room.
If you’re moving far away, it may be a good idea to plan on staying at an apartment or even a motel for a month or two before you get into your permanent apartment. Though it can be a little costly, staying at a place short term has its advantages. For one thing, you’ll be able to explore your new city so that you know which parts of town you’d like to live in and which parts you might like to avoid. It also makes it possible to interview with potential roommates in person.
5. Be the primary leaseholder.
If you can afford the extra rent and deposit for a month, it may also be a good idea to rent a place on your own and then look for a roommate once you arrive. Apartment rental communities may be more willing to work with someone from out of town than individuals renting out rooms in their apartments. Talk to leasing offices on the phone to find out what your options might be and how to secure an apartment before you arrive in your new city.
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