When I moved to DC, I did it with almost no notice and knowing next to nobody in the city. I was offered a job on Christmas Eve and expected to be in DC by the first week of January. Again, I knew about four people in the entire city, and none of them were looking for a roommate. So, I did what tons of people in this glorious digital era do when looking for roommates: I went to Craigslist. After a two-day search, I found three guys looking for a fourth in Arlington, sent off a security deposit without so much as meeting them, packed up the car, and hit the road.
What I discovered when I got there was a city filled with people living with strangers, each pairing seemingly more random than the last. Some worked well, others just coexisted, and others... wow. If you find yourself navigating the murky waters of DC Craigslist, here are 10 people you might encounter.
1. The Affable Big Ten Bro
This guy will (obviously) have graduated from a Big Ten school (now including Maryland!), a fact easily discernible from his choice of T-shirt and basketball shorts when you come home to find him chilling on the couch after taking the Silver Line home from his gig in Tysons Corner (or nursing a hangover from a night out on U St). His friendliness will disappear quickly when his team drops a game to Northwestern. It is best to disappear during these times.
2. The Absent Overachiever
He will be the CEO of some startup, or the communications director of some NGO, or on some leadership council and will literally never be around the house, what with all the entrepreneurial conferences hosted by Jeff Bezos or Clinton Global Initiative Summits to present at. The few times they ARE around the apartment will just make you feel increasingly inadequate, luckily they’ll be moving out as soon as they can afford it. Which is going to be really soon.
3. The Screaming Ideologue
Never met an issue he didn’t want to take a HARD stance on, or an ear he didn’t want to talk off about said stance. There was a shooting in Columbia Heights last night? Get ready for a 45-minute screed about how Obama’s never going to take his guns. Or how Obama should take everyone’s guns. Whatever the stance, rest assured it will be LOUD, and turn your otherwise tranquil Adams Morgan townhouse into an extended, terrible cable news segment. Weirdly, as long as nothing sets him off, this dude is fairly mellow.
4. The Knowledgeable Native
So... you may have kind of lucked out here. This guy knows which dive bars are worth your time, which music venues you should hit, and all sorts of other valuable insider nuggets (that you could also get reading Thrillist, but whatever, this guy seems cool!). You’re probably living someplace just a bit out of the way like Cleveland Park because he’s kind of over being right Downtown. Everything’s going great but... if this guy’s from here, why’s he looking for Craigslist roommates? Is he going to murder you? There’s a 3% chance he’s going to murder you.
5. The Crunchy Nomad
Get ready for your Woodley Park or U St townhome to constantly smell of incense! He practices yoga in between bouts of sternly warning you about the evils of Monsanto. Actually, he sometimes does yoga WHILE talking to you about Monsanto. He’s been seven years vegan, but is thinking about trying a raw diet. He hits no fewer than three farmers' markets per week and really, really wants everyone to compost. He always has weed and is generally easy enough to get along with despite the quirks, but don’t get too attached because he’s probably going to move to Vermont or something in a month. Something about “wanderlust.”
6. The Guy Who’s Trying to Make DC Miami
Probably works as a bartender, but maybe something different like... a server who is training to be a bartender, yet he somehow manages to scratch out rent in Dupont or Georgetown. Spends every post-shift night partying his face off but remains in alarmingly good shape. He owns like, 17 different really tight black T-shirts. Oh, and a LOT of cocaine. Have you heard Diplo’s new track? Because you will. At 3am. On Wednesday.
7. The Foreigner With a Much Cooler Backstory Than You
“Oh you’re a marketing major from New Jersey? That’s cool. I was born in Kenya, moved to Sweden as a kid, and then came to America for college. Oh, by the way, I speak six languages and have been to 37 countries, but I’m sorry, I’m doing all the talking. I believe you were in the middle of telling me that humorous anecdote about the Dave Matthews concert from the summer of 2011?”
8. The Aspiring Journalist
He came to DC with big dreams of speaking truth to power, shaking up the system, you know, maybe being the next Woodward (would settle for Bernstein). He’ll leave in a year beaten, broken, and ready to take a job at a dentistry trade mag because “it pays.” Sometimes you could swear he’s deliberately trying to speak in Sorkin-ese. He drinks an alarming amount of coffee.
9. Frighteningly Intense Military Guy
He works for one of the military branches and owns at least one gun. Is fond of polishing and displaying said gun, and coming up with hypothetical situations involving intruders coming into your apartment (probably in Alexandria or Arlington) that would necessitate using said gun. He sometimes starts uninvited wrestling matches after coming back from the bars, usually after some story about almost getting into a fight. He is also really, really punctual.
10. The Trainwreck
Is secretly Amy Schumer. Kidding! But he is not-so-secretly a fan of happy hour, late night, being late on rent, sleeping through his alarm, and losing jobs. He also has his parents footing the bill for his room in Adams Morgan, so there’s that. Still, might be good to find someone different before he vomits on your phone or something.
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Robert Pursell would like to give a shout out to all his former Craigslist roommates. Give him one: @Robert_Pursell.