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How to Write a "Housing Wanted" Ad for an Apartment or Roommate on Craigslist

Lainie is a freelance writer specializing in legal and business topics. She holds a master's degree in library and information science.

Photo Credit: brianDhawkins via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: brianDhawkins via Compfight cc

Be Proactive: Place Your Own Ad

Looking for a new place to live? Craigslist is a great place to find one! Still, there are a lot of scams out there, along with badly-written ads for places that aren't suitable. Writing your own Craigslist housing wanted ad is an effective way of finding a home that meets your needs.

Here's why:

  1. Time Savings: You don't have to comb through ads and send out emails. Landlords and roommates come to you.
  2. Better Matches: You will attract the notice of landlords/roommates who are themselves proactive and are particular about getting a good fit.
  3. Alternative Accommodations: Owners of basement and in-law apartments may not want to advertise for fear of attracting the attention of local housing officials. These folks usually rely on word-of-mouth or housing wanted ads when searching for tenants.
A strong, informative headline attracts landlords or roommates to your housing wanted ad.

A strong, informative headline attracts landlords or roommates to your housing wanted ad.

Crafting an Informative Headline

A strong, informative headline attracts landlords or roommates to your housing wanted ad. Keep in mind that on Craigslist, ads are listed by date, with only the headline visible. This means that the headline must include crucial information about your wants, such as location, move-in date, and what you can afford.

Make sure your headline includes the following:

  1. The maximum rent that you wish to pay each month. List this first in the headline. Clarify whether this figure includes utilities.
  2. The number of people who will be living in the space. If you have a pet, state this as well.
  3. If you have a strong preference for location, indicate it either by cross streets or a public transportation station/stop.
  4. Housing type: Apartment, house, room, etc.
  5. Your desired move-in date.
  6. If you are looking for a roommate, indicate your gender and age range (i.e., "mid-twenties" or "early thirties").

Here are some informative headline examples:

  • "$700 (incl utilities), Professional woman in her mid-30s, seeks own room near Central train station before 10/1"
  • "$450 + utilities, male student in his early twenties, needs own room near Jane Doe University campus for school year by 9/15"
  • "$800+ utilities, m/f couple needs sublet for June, July, August, near public transportation"
Remember, your housing wanted posting is advertising: You are trying to sell yourself as a renter, lodger, or roommate.

Remember, your housing wanted posting is advertising: You are trying to sell yourself as a renter, lodger, or roommate.

Sell Yourself

Remember, your housing wanted posting is advertising: You are trying to sell yourself as a renter, lodger, or roommate.

Your ad should focus on the benefits of renting to/rooming with you, rather than just listing what you need/want in a living situation.

How to Sell Yourself in a Housing Wanted Ad:

  • Landlords and roommates are primarily concerned with your ability to pay rent and to get along with people. Having a good work record is reassuring on both counts, particularly if you are willing to provide both proof of income and length of employment. Use language like this: "I am employed and have been with the same company for the past five years. My company's human resources department will be happy to confirm this."
  • The fewer "deal breakers" you have, the better, so if you are very flexible about your situation, play that up. For example: "I don't have any pets, but I am very pet-friendly. I don't smoke or drink, but I don't mind if you do. I am a vegetarian but not militant about it and have no problem living with meat-eaters."
  • If you have any special skills or resources, list those. In fact, if you have a skill or resource that a roommate or landlord can make use of, you may even be able to get a break on the rent. Here are some examples: "I am an avid gardener and would love to find a place with a garden (or space for a garden." or "I've worked in landscaping and would consider exchanging landscaping work for a reduction in rent." or "I have my own vehicle and can help with transportation needs in exchange for a rent reduction."
  • If your situation is a bit unusual (i.e., you are looking for a room to rent or a roommate and you are over 35), some landlords or roommates might wonder about your stability. Including a short explanation in your ad, such as "I'm going through a divorce." or "I've just moved to the area and am saving up for a down payment on a place of my own." can quell those concerns.
Be specific with your preferences so that you don't end up disappointed.

Be specific with your preferences so that you don't end up disappointed.

Needs and Deal Breakers

After you have explained the benefits of having you as a housemate/renter, you should then explain what you need in a living space. In particular, you need to list your "deal breakers: Those things that will absolutely prevent you from being able to even consider living in a particular place. Needs and deal breakers will vary from person to person, but here are some big ones:

  • Smoking: If you want to be able to smoke, or can't live with a smoker, say so. Same goes for drinking.
  • Schedules: If you are a night person, can you live with day people or vice versa? Tensions rise quickly when schedules collide.
  • Transportation: If you don't drive, you need to be near public transportation and/or your school/job. Ideally, you should indicate which neighborhoods you are interested in while also stating your need for public transportation.
  • Diet, religion, politics: Dietary issues (i.e., vegetarianism or extreme food allergies), religious convictions, political positions, etc., can all be high conflict issues in a living situation. If you have strong feelings about any of these, list them in your ad.
  • Amenities: Do you need storage space? Do you need access to a kitchen and/or a living area besides your room? Do you need your own bathroom?
  • Accessibility: Do you have medical issues that may require special accommodations such as cold storage for medications, disposal/special handling of hypodermic needles, and monitoring of your physical well-being such as looking out for insulin shock and/or seizures? Are you in a wheelchair and need an accessible space? Do you need access to a telephone landline in case of emergencies?
  • Pets: Do you have pets? Do you like pets? Do you have allergies to pets?
  • Furnishings: Is the place furnished? If it is, and you have your own furniture, will the landlord move their furniture out?
  • Lease length: How long will the place be available? In other words, will you be expected to sign a lease for a set period of time, or will you be renting month-to-month?
  • Guests: Do you have a significant other that will need to stay with you from time to time (particularly if they are long-distance and need a place to stay when in town)? State this in your ad. Also, are you cool with significant other sleepovers? If not, state that in your ad as well.
  • Disturbances: Are you a musician who needs to practice or an artist with smelly, messy paints? Potential landlords and/or roomies should know about this.
  • Staying wired: Do you need Internet access? Cable television? Be specific about what you need (wireless, landline, etc.).

A Winning Conclusion

End your ad with a friendly, positive conclusion. Also, be sure to ask respondents to provide you with the best way to contact them (phone, email, etc.) and the best times for them to be reached.

I wish you the best in your housing search!

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2008 Lainie Petersen


cyberreader on September 20, 2016:

cool !!! thanks

Lainie Petersen (author) from Chicago on January 27, 2009:

Hi S,

If you don't want to limit interest and you have a fairly high affordability threshold, you could just eliminate the dollar amount and state in the ad that you are flexible regarding rent cost. Be aware, though, that a potential roomate or landlord will want to know what you can spend and will probably ask this in their first inquiry.

S on January 26, 2009:

Thank you. This is helpful, but what if you don't want to limit interest with a max dollar amount?