Anatomy of a Craigslist Apartment Ad

So you scored a job in a new city, or maybe you don’t even have a job lined up…but regardless, you need a place to live.

Think of college as a practice run for living with people later. Except those people post-graduation are less likely to go out with you on a Tuesday (maybe) and are more likely to eat things other than Ramen (maybe.)

Enter Craigslist: one of the sketchiest as well as one of the most helpful resources to find an apartment with or without roommates. Living in the third most expensive city in the U.S. meant for me: roommates. So I’ve sifted through my fair share of postings from people who needed someone to fill the empty room. In short, Craigslist is creepy, never-ending and difficult; but can be a true gold mine once you know what you’re looking for.

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The Title. All posts have a title. These range from “Room Available” to “LoOkInG fOr A cOoL rOoMiE~~~~” (2002 called. They want their away message back.) Screen posts by title. Or click on all of them, if you live by “don’t judge a book by its cover.”

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Pictures. If a Craigslist poster is smart, they’ll post pictures. Either they’re trying to hide the fact they live in a dumpy, dirty pig sty, or they don’t have a smartphone. They might also be trying to get people to contact them for pictures, which I suppose is smart.

A girl can dream, can't she?
A girl can dream, can’t she?

Apartment Description. This is a CL poster’s time to shine. Get people to want to live in your house. I have seen a variety of major mistakes in apartment descriptions, mostly vague words. If you see the word “charming,” use caution. This is usually code for “this place is really small but there’s exposed brick” or “we’re on the fifth floor but there are original hardwood floors.” See also: “decent sized room.” WHAT IS DECENT? Enough space for a bed? Maybe a dresser? If you get through the apartment description, props to you. Move forward.

Roommate Description. Like the apartment description, use caution with vague terms. “Chill” is one I see often. What does chill mean exactly? Does it mean you’re okay with whatever goes on in your house? Does it mean you enjoy a glass of wine or three after a long day of work? Also “clean.” Does this mean you know how many days you can wait before showering? Or that it takes you a day to get around to washing your own dishes? On the plus side, you will also find opportunities to live with people from all walks of life. If you ever wanted to live with a biochemist or an artist or maybe a broke undergrad, you will find all of the above on Craigslist. Or if you want to live with a pet, there are plenty of pet owners. USE EXTREME CAUTION WITH THIS. When you live with a pet, you have to deal with the pet. That means if your roommate’s cat wails all hours of the day, you must sacrifice a good night’s sleep. There’s also the issue of the litter box. Even if it’s cleaned out, it still smells. And pet hair. IT IS EVERYWHERE.

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Contact Information. Sometimes a poster will include a legitimate email address or even a phone number. This is good. It means you can bypass all the spam they’re receiving and cut to the chase. I prefer an email address because I’m not sure I want randoms having my phone number. You never know if you’re handing your contact information over to a criminal or just a total weirdo.

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Best case scenario? You end up with a new friend who appreciates your affinity for crafts.

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Worst case scenario? You end up with a satanic cat that won’t leave you alone and keeps you up all night.

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LizWitter

Liz Witter is a 2011 graduate of St. Bonaventure University where she majored in broadcast journalism with a (useless) minor in French. She is originally from Rochester, NY but moved to Boston for a job...then another job. She spends her free time sleeping, going to Sephora or doing crafts. She plays volleyball recreationally and refuses to believe she peaked in high school. She’ll take Tim Hortons over Dunkin, and Wegmans over basically anything. You can follow her on Twitter at @lwitta6.

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