East Bay Craigslist and the Rise of the “Friendship Application”

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I recently signed a lease on an apartment, ending a maddening several months of Craigslist searching. When looking for cheap apartments in the East Bay, it is almost impossible to find a place that doesn’t want you as part of some sort of ultra-specific, vaguely-cult-sounding urban farm, commune, or best-friend-collective.


Most Craigslist posters of this ilk seem to want you to fit into a very precise mold of a person they’ve imagined. There are several distinct types of posters like this:

One is the type who makes it clear he or she wants you to keep absolutely clean at all times, stay quiet and have no visitors. People who post these listings? I’m advising you not to do that. The only people who fit the descriptions you’re posting are serial killers.

[Anthony Perkins in Psycho, via Wikipedia]

 Another type is the person who makes absolutely no sense. Here is a picture of one: (Or at least, I inferred by the post that the picture was of him.)

Via Craigslist

I hope my editors don’t mind that I plan on making my next three articles a multi-part analysis of how fascinating this image is. Those jorts!


This man’s post began as such:

"10x11x12 room in 2nd flr apt furnished 42"x96"queensize foldaway,cedar bureau,wood plankflrs,blondmahogany table desk,fridge,TVradio"

Wow, this place has everything! Except space bars, apparently!

The post ended this way:

"House is athletic,Absolutely No Smoking,Drugs,or Alcohol

Must be Kitty cat type person.All animals are well cared for gentle & good at keeping wild animals at bay."

via Wikipedia.

But the trend in apartment listings I found most upsetting was the one I described in the first paragraph: the friend application. These listings typically feature lengthy and banal descriptions of the people who live in the house before moving on to describe the "you" they'd like. One example I found of a person describing himself to excess:

"He rides his bike everywhere- though lately he's discovering the magic of walking and exploring hidden treasures around town!"

Walking? I’ve heard tell of this manner of sorcery. Teach me your ways! Another house member in the same post described herself as follows:

"A creative thinker and doer with a flair for bread-baking, a love of animals and children, and a passion for poop (aka 'sustainable human waste management systems')."


The most troubling post I found actually asked the applicant to fill out a quiz with questions ranging from the applicant’s political and philosophical affiliations to his or her favorite television show, and after that it only got weirder. I copied and pasted some of these questions into Microsoft Word for posterity. Click to expand:

Why do people make these friendship applications? Because they’re delusional? Because they can?

It's also just not advisable for the renter. Having your best pal as a roommate means that you can’t be quite the same kind of pals you were before. You become pals who have to talk to each other about cleaning up. Even when I lived by myself, I hated myself even more than usual because of the terrible state I kept my apartment in.

The real shame of the friendship application is that it’s not a bad idea when it’s not disenfranchising people out of living situations. It’s hard to make friends after college. You have to develop a platonic crush, go on platonic dates, and even then everyone’s always too busy all the time (Jason).

What would your friendship application look like? Here’s mine:

  1. Would you prefer to engage in A. a deep talk about our place in the universe, or B. a back-and-forth riff about what kind of nightmares Captain Kirk probably has?
  2. Would you make fun of me if I started wearing a smoking jacket all the time?
  3. Are you a serial killer?
  4. Are you going to finish that sandwich?

If you answered B, no, no, and no, then we can totally hang out. Whether or not I’d rent a room to you is a whole different story, though.