It was right after I graduated college, that I realized how painful it is to find a roommate.
I was a man with a simple dream – to find an affordable place to live, with a roommate that I liked, in a relatively safe neighborhood. But it seemed like I was asking for more than the world was willing to give.
- Everything decent would empty my bank account
- The process of finding a place to live was hard and tedious
- And, let’s be honest, I had no idea what I was doing
I thought there’d be some all-inclusive tool to help me find everything I was looking for.
Of course, that wasn’t the case. Instead, I ended up going through a series of sites that:
- Wanted a monthly fee just so I could read my messages,
- Were infested with scammers and,
- Didn’t actually help me figure out who would be a good roommate.
So instead I decided to handle it myself. Let’s just say the results were less than satisfactory.
Before the Homies App
As it stands now, millennials are struggling to make money and pay off college debt. With a median household income of $40 thousand dollars, millennials are earning 20 percent less than baby boomers did at the same stage of life, despite having a college education.
Without money in their pockets and apartments to rent at a fair price, millennials are forced to find different living options.
Now, there are lots reasons to love Baltimore. The city has the best crabs in the world, is home to incredible festivals like Artscape, and the Inner Harbor is a visual playground for tourists and locals alike.
Despite these amazing assets, I quickly discovered that Baltimore had its own set of unique challenges as I searched for a place to live:
- Baltimore is a City of Neighborhoods
Baltimore neighborhoods seem to shift drastically from one city block to the next. The shift isn’t a bad thing, but it does make it harder to find a place to call home. Instead of looking at one overarching location, you’re forced to focus on a bunch of uncertain, smaller locations.
- Many Buildings are Old
Old buildings can be unreliable. Unless there’s a live-in maintenance person on site, walk away. Because the structures are antiquated, they are filled with cracks and crevices that force your heat or air conditioning to run harder than you do. No one wants the shock of opening an outrageous electric bill because your heating or cooling the outdoors, thanks to walls that are crumbling from age and wear.
- The Supply Problem
I noticed a shortage of quality apartments in some of the most popular rental listings in the city. This was because the best options were taken immediately. Any leftover listings I looked at were like 10-day old pizza: Nobody wants to touch it and they sure as heck don’t want to smell it.
- Lots of Students
Baltimore is home to plenty of universities like Johns Hopkins, University of Maryland, and Towson University, just to name a few. While the education aspect allows Baltimore to intelligently shine, having all of these schools in one concentrated area also offers a downside:
Every medical student, law student, tech nerd, and undergraduate is searching for an affordable place to live.
Each year the rental market is flooded with new student arrivals desperately searching for a place to land before the semester starts. This further increases the apartment supply problem, making it even more difficult to find a great place at an affordable price.
Faced with all of these challenges, I did what most people would do: I headed over to Craigslist.
I know. What was I thinking?
The process of a Craigslist search is equivalent to the start of a bad sitcom. I mean, just think about the steps involved:
- You go to a website that looks like it hasn’t been updated since 1995.
- You try and find postings that match what you want, relying on nothing but dubious photographs, a short description, and a very vague idea of the location.
- You find nothing so you make your own posting, upon which your inbox is now flooded with emails with no information about the sender. They think you can read minds, so they just include one line that reads, “Hey, still looking for a roommate?”
- After you sort through dozens of half-hearted options, you find what you think is a decent one. And so, you arrange a meeting that could last anywhere between ten minutes to an hour. In that time, you do your best to determine if your potential roommate is someone who lets the dishes in the sink pile up or, worse, is a serial killer whose next target is
I learned the hard way that Craigslist is an arduous and unnecessary process.
Having said that, there are people who end up finding roommates that become their best friend.
I, however, did not have that sort of luck.
For starters, there was the roommate who literally never got off the couch in the living room. He was there when I left for work in the morning and was still there when I came home at night. I found myself either locking myself in my room or finding reasons to stay away from the apartment.
I bet if I were to go back there today he’d still be sitting there.
And then there was the roommate who should have been on the A&E show, Hoarders. I’m not exaggerating when I say I actually had to organize a few yard sales just to try and make some space for me. It was unreal. I’ve never seen so much “stuff” in my life.
I could go on but I won’t because chances are you’ve experienced exactly what I’m talking about, maybe worse.
If you’ve experienced roommates who aren’t a good fit and keep your living situation from being the awesome experience you want it to be, you’re the exact reason Homies was born.
That, and the cost of living is now higher than ever.
Why Homies Was Created
Now, more than any other generation, millennials are faced with fiscal setbacks that make living harder than it should be.
“Millennials, a generation that came of age during one of the greatest economic downturns in our nation’s history, have experienced unique financial hardships that have threatened their economic security and hindered their ability to start independent adult lives.” – YoungInvincibles.Org
Armed with my not-so-hot experiences and this kind of financial knowledge, my friend Mark Lubin and I partnered up to create Homies.
Mark and I were roommates at a boarding school in our early years and honestly, he was the best roommate I ever had. Years later we reconnected, sharing the frustrations we had trying to find great roommates.
That’s when we realized we could do something about it and decided it was time for a modern solution.
Some have asked us why we chose to launch Homies in Baltimore. Why not bigger cities like New York, Los Angeles, or San Francisco?
It’s a great question.
And while all of these places have insurmountable housing issues, we thought it would be best to start it in a city we knew inside and out. Mark and I know that if our app can make a real difference in Baltimore, it will make an incredibly huge difference in every city across the country.
Ultimately – Homies was built to make it easier to narrow down on your best possible roommates. Not only did we make it easier to set up a listing or profile, and get in touch with people; we also put in a compatibility algorithm. Basically, it takes into account all the things that impact your lifestyle; when you go to sleep, how important cleanliness is to you, how often you like to have company over, and a mess of other factors to give you a compatibility rating with every other Homies user. No more roommate horror stories!
We would love for you to check Homies out. Let us know what you think. If you were searching for a roommate, does the app answer all of your questions? Does it meet your needs? Your expectations?
We’ve got more information to share with you, so keep your eyes peeled for Part 2 of this blog post. I’ll go in-depth on how the app works while sharing our philosophy behind what it means to find the perfect roommate.
Until then, stay away from the old pizza in the refrigerator and people who never get up off the couch.