According to a study by Zillow, almost one in three adults in the U.S. lives with either a roommate or a parent. And, with median home prices near all-time highs, it's easy to see why the increased affordability of having a roommate is attractive for so many people.
While most people prefer to room with someone they already know and get along with, 12.9% of men and 35.2% of women found their best roommates using an online service or social media.
The best roommate finders make it easy to find the right roommate by matching people based on the criteria that are important to them. These can range from cleanliness and tidiness to whether someone likes to have friends over a lot or a little.
We researched the best roommate finders based on cost, matching criteria, security, cities served, and more to help you find the right service for your shared living situation. Here are our top picks.
The 6 Best Roommate Finders of 2020
Best Overall: Roomster
Founded in 2003, Roomster is an easy-to-use roommate finder with listings in more than 192 countries and 18 languages. What makes Roomster unique is that it links users’ social media accounts to the app, so you can find potential roommates by browsing their profiles. We chose it as the best overall service because it offers the best combination of areas served, pricing, signup options, and roommate matching.
Setting up an account on Roomster is quick and easy. Users can sign up via a Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Google, or LinkedIn account or with an email address. Roomster also offers an iPhone and Android app.
After creating an account, users are asked to fill out some basic information about themselves to help them find a match. Each profile is like a mini-ad with photos, a headline, and a short description to help users find a roommate or a rental they can afford.
Roomster's website and apps allow for easy browsing. Users can scroll through filtered results of other Roomster users or properties and even view a map of the area with dots indicating the location of nearby listings. Once a user finds a roommate that looks promising, they can connect through the Roomster mailbox.
Roomster gives you a free account that lets you post a listing with photos and receive messages from paid subscribers. Sending messages to accounts and viewing social media profiles requires a paid subscription. According to Roomster there are several subscriptions offered, including the basic free trial, otherwise, the lowest price is $7.99 for seven days.
Runner-Up, Best Overall: Roommates.com
Since roommate finder services are prone to infiltration by scammers, many have poor ratings on review sites. Roommates.com, however, has been accredited with the Better Business Bureau since 2003 and enjoys an A+ rating with the organization. We chose it as the runner-up because it offers features similar to Roomster but is slightly more expensive and only offers an app for paid users.
Roommates.com uses a secure messaging center and verifies user identities through multiple sources to create a safe and secure experience. The company even boasts a fraud detection tool that helps keep scammers off of the system.
Users can sign up for Roommates.com through their Facebook or Apple accounts or with an email address. Searching is simple: Users just note whether they have an available room or need one and enter their location. Rather than using filters to narrow search results, the service uses an automated matching system to ensure that users only see listings relevant to their search.
Roommates.com lets users create a profile for free. A paid account is required to message potential matches, who also have paid accounts. Roommates.com offers a three-day trial subscription for $5.99, a 30-day subscription for $19.99, and a 60-day subscription for $29.99. An iPhone app is available for paid users.
Best Mobile App: Circle for Roommates
Circle uses the concept of a “circle of friends” to help match users with potential roommates. The idea is that moving in with a friend, or a friend of a friend, is better than moving in with a complete stranger. As a result, Circle requires users to have a Facebook account to sign up. We chose it as the best mobile app since it provides easy setup, a clean visual interface, and an intuitive mobile experience.
A free Circle account lets users view direct social media connections and their friends who are also looking for apartments and offers up bios with photos, short write-ups, and personality tags to help find the right match.
Most users enjoy Circle’s user-friendly app, stress-free signup, and matching through mutual Facebook friends. Also popular is a Tinder-like interface which requires both users to “swipe up” in order to communicate with each other. Finally, Circle offers the option to verify users by authenticating their driver's license and passing a background check.
Circle’s only limitations are that it’s only available as an iPhone app and only serves the Los Angeles, New York City, and Washington, D.C., areas.
Biggest Network: Roomi
Although it’s only been around since 2013, Roomi offers roommate finder services in over 200 cities around the world with an easy-to-use interface, smart technology, and a commitment to safety and security. We chose Roomi as our biggest network since it is available in the most worldwide cities of any service we reviewed.
One thing that distinguishes Roomi from the others is that it asks users to add their social media links and complete a background check. A badge is then displayed on each user’s profile to show how much of the verification process they’ve completed. Like other roommate finders, the platform uses a secure internal messaging system so users don’t have to exchange personal contact information in order to communicate.
Roomi takes roommate search one step further by letting interested renters book their space by paying for the first month’s rent using a secure online payment system. Once payment is accepted, the renter’s listing is removed from the Roomi site.
Roomi lets users create a free account using Facebook or an email address. Background checks cost $15, and users can boost their listings to the top of the search results page for $12 for a day or $50 for a week. Roomi's app is available for Android and iPhones.
Best Free Roommate Finder: Diggz
As a relative newcomer to the scene, Diggz currently offers roommate and room searches in only a dozen or so cities, including New York, Boston, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, and Vancouver. What it lacks in reach, however, it makes up for in value. An account with Diggz is completely free. We chose it as the best free finder since it provides security, advanced matching, and scammer screening at no cost to users.
Another thing that makes Diggz popular is its clean and simple interface. Once users enter some personal preferences, like sleeping and working schedules, cleanliness, and drinking and smoking preferences, Diggz uses a proprietary algorithm to generate a set of 10 matches to get started. Despite its intuitive online interface, however, Diggz does not offer a mobile app.
If a user clicks the “Like” button on a match, and the match “likes” the user back, the two can begin a secure and private conversation on the platform. This allows the users to take their time communicating through the app and establish a connection before deciding to share personal contact information or meet up in person. Diggz’s A.I. software also weeds out scammers by verifying users via social media profiles and other factors.
Most Trusted: SpareRoom
Started in 2004 as a roommate finding website for the U.K., SpareRoom is currently the U.K.'s number-one roommate website and is growing fast, with over 18 cities now being served in the U.S. SpareRoom claims to be the busiest roommate finder, matching roommates every three minutes on average. We chose it as the most trusted since it has a strong focus on creating a secure platform for its users.
SpareRoom takes trust and security very seriously and uses a team of real people to screen each and every ad to ensure listings are safe and verified. The system uses automatic filtering software on its internal messaging system to scan for and quarantine any messages sent by scammers.
SpareRoom also hosts speed “room-mating” events in NYC, which are similar to speed dating meetups, to help people meet potential roommates the old-fashioned way: face-to-face.
Posting on SpareRoom is free, though listings can be upgraded to a "Bolded" status, which increases visibility and puts the ad at the top of searches. SpareRoom lets users register via Facebook or email and offers both iPhone and Android apps.
SpareRoom Bold Ad Pricing is as follows:
- 7 days: $10.99
- 14 days: $21.99
- 28 days: $24.99
- 6 months: $99
- 1 year: $139
How Can Roommate Finders Help You?
A roommate finder platform lets someone looking for a roommate or a room to rent shop around for someone they will get along with. Similar to dating sites and apps, users can filter by any number of matching factors, such as sleep habits and schedules, tidiness, tendency to host parties or have friends over, and more.
Users looking for a roommate often need to add additional details, such as the cost of rent, length of the lease, and specifics (including photos) about the rented property. Users searching for a room to rent often add information about the length of the lease and specific amenities they are looking for.
How Do You Find a Reliable Roommate?
Two of the most important factors to consider when looking for a roommate are reliability and compatibility. A roommate who pays rent on time and splits the bills 50/50 but doesn’t lift a finger to clean can be a nightmare to live with. Similarly, a roommate that feels like (or is) a best friend but is always behind on rent or bills creates a whole other set of stressful problems.
Roommate finders address both of these issues by using tags and filters to help match users’ needs and personalities. Some even connect to social media accounts to see if they share any friends, and many offer ID verification and background checks for added security.
Are Roommate Finders Safe?
Like any roommate listing service, roommate finders are prone to abuse by scammers. A typical scenario involves someone posting a “room for rent,” finding an excuse why they can’t meet in person (like being out of town), and then collecting a deposit and disappearing. Often, the person renting the room isn’t the same as the one in the ad or doesn’t have permission to rent the room in the first place.
The best roommate finders offer multiple verifications to weed out potential scammers. This can be through anything from social media verification (where users can check for overlap in trusted friend circles) and driver’s license authentication to full-blown background checks.
Almost all roommate finders also offer secure internal messaging systems so users can communicate as often as they want without sharing personal identification. Once trust is established, both parties can agree to share personal contact info or meet in person before committing to a living arrangement.
Roommate finders start by having users create profiles with their basic information. This can include a photo, a short bio, and personality tags to help match users. Where services often differ is in how accurate their internal matching systems are. Generally, the more tags and filters you use, the more likely you are to find a match.
To protect users’ safety, most roommate finders use an internal messaging system so no one has to exchange personal contact info, like emails and phone numbers, until they feel comfortable. Some platforms take this a step further by requiring both contacts to “like” each other, similar to the way dating apps work, before any communication is allowed.
Finally, most good roommate finders offer a smartphone app, making it easy to browse for rooms or roommates anywhere, anytime. While many services allow users to post for free, most charge for communicating with other paid users or to boost listings and get them in front of more eyes.
How We Chose Roommate Finders
We looked at over a dozen services, many of which were new, covered limited areas, or simply delivered bad experiences by allowing scammers to infect their listings. In the end, we chose this list based on user reviews, cost, how scammers are filtered out, which areas they serve, the robustness of matching and filtering features, and how easy each platform or app is to use.
Zillow. "Share of Adults Living with Roommates Higher than Ever Before." Accessed August 18, 2020.
ATTOM Data Solutions. "U.S. Median Home Prices Reach A New Peak In Q2 2019." Accessed August 18, 2020.
RENT Cafe. "The Cohabitation Correlation – What Makes The Best And Worst Roommate." Accessed August 18, 2020.
Better Business Bureau. "Roommates.com LLC." Accessed May 1, 2020.