A table of Apartmate roommate mixer attendees get to know each other at Hemingway's Pub.

Searching for the perfect roommate

Toronto startup hosting mixers to connect people looking for place to share

With renting a room comes the search for a roommate.

Apartmate, a new service in Toronto, is bringing people together for a night out to match up potential roommates.

“People don’t realize how hard it is to find a place to live and a person to live with,” said Sarah Bermingham, sole founder of Apartmate.

Chemistry is such an easy thing to determine. You can tell within 30 seconds of speaking to somebody if you’re ever going to speak to them again.

—Sarah Bermingham

On Tuesday evening, a small crowd of people with blue and red name tags gathered in the upper patio at Hemingway’s Pub.

Some were loud and talkative, others were quiet and seemed uncomfortable. But they all had one thing in common: they were there to find the perfect roommate.

Rae Barelia is a UBC graduate who just moved to Toronto. She posted an ad looking for a roommate on Kijiji, and Bermingham emailed her to invite her to the mixer.

“I just want someone chill and clean, that’s the number one tag that people put on their posts,” Barelia said. “But I’m wary of living with friends; there is such a thing as being too comfortable with each other.”

Centennial College graduate Emmy Podell who has been roommate hunting for three months echoed her sentiments.

“When you move in with a friend you spend a lot of time trying to be nice to each other, so it builds up and before you know it you resent each other,” Podell said.

And that’s why she’s there — to find someone she enjoys being around but is not desperate to please.

“I really want a mutually supportive living situation. Someone who does their own thing but I can still come home and we can have a show we watch together,” Podell said.

She is hopeful that she would be able to find someone just like that by the end of Tuesday’s mixer.

“I’m crossing my fingers,” she said.

Sarah Bermingham, sole founder and owner of Apartmate.
Sarah Bermingham, sole founder and owner of Apartmate. (Cherry Liu/Toronto Observer)

While some might be skeptical about the idea of finding an ideal roommate over the course of a two hour mixer, Bermingham believed that it’s similar to online dating.

“Chemistry is such an easy thing to determine. You can tell within 30 seconds of speaking to somebody if you’re ever going to speak to them again,” Bermingham said.

The mixers are held on a monthly basis and usually see an attendance of 30 people with mostly young professionals between the ages of 24 to 35.

“It’s not the early 20’s crowd, because I find that students have a lot of resources and their friends are in similar living situations,”Bermingham said. “But once you get older that’s when everyone starts to go in different directions.”

Sarah Bermingham started Apartmate in October of last year after moving back from London, England and having trouble finding a roommate.

“When I came to Toronto I was really surprised that nothing like this existed. I had a frustrating time with Craigslist and Kijiji and I thought there could be a better way, so I started it for myself,” Bermingham said.

The website is still in development. Bermingham hopes that when it is up and ready it will function similarly to AirBnB and allow visitors to search and find rooms based on neighbourhoods and price ranges then answer a lifestyle questionnaire to be matched up with an appropriate roommate.

“I’ve been disappointed with the speed at which the website has moved. I’m always telling people it’ll be next month, but hopefully this time it’ll really be next time,” Bermingham said.

Bermingham runs the service with the savings from her day job and has advertised it in between her regular work hours in hopes that it will pick up soon; enough to expand to locations.

“My vision is to see mixer events pop up in different cities around North America and we would facilitate that,” Bermingham said.