Get a room: Speed dating for renters comes to Vancouver

Inaugural Speed Roomies event happens Dec. 10 in Gastown

The first rule of roomie club is that you most definitely talk about it.

You talk about where you want to live, who you want to live with and the kind of lifestyle you lead.

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These are the basic tenets behind Speed Roomies, an event that’s equal parts social mixer, icebreaker and a new way to combat old problems in Vancouver — finding a place to live.

The event makes its first stop in Vancouver Dec. 10 at the Pint pub in Gastown, pairing “room havers” with “room seekers” in a ridiculously easy format.

Colour-coded stickers are given to each person representing what they have and what they want. Each group has different coloured stickers depending on their needs.

A second sticker contains room prices, neighbourhoods, budgets and lifestyle preferences: those who prefer to live with smokers — cigarettes or doobies — pet friendly accommodations, or other homes full of teetotallers.

From there, Speed Roomies’ involvement in the whole deal is done, and it’s up to the two parties to figure out everything else after the fact.

Speed Roomies is merely the middle man in the transaction.

It’s the brainchild of 27-year-old Greg Wheeler, who lived briefly lived in Vancouver up until the spring. He’s now in Toronto, where his assessment of the rental market there is “insane.”

How about Vancouver, where rental vacancies have hovered at less than one per cent for what seems like forever? 

Also, “insane.”

This, coming from a guy who lived in London, Eng. for two years where rents and availability are “way worse” than anywhere he’s lived in Canada.

Wheeler staged his first Speed Roomies event in Toronto earlier this year and suggests 50 to 65 per cent of participants left with some semblance of a match.

“A lot of people, for the most part, report some level of success,” Wheeler said. “They’ve made contact with a number of people.”

The idea was born out of Wheeler’s frustration while trying to find a rental in London. Vacancies would go up on message boards, and landlords would conduct mass interviews with dozens of people in one shot.

“It’s very, very tough to try and distinguish yourself from all these people,” Wheeler said. “I find it very difficult to get viewings, and when you do get viewings you’re competing with 20 to 30 people at a time in one viewing. I think the whole process is inefficient.”

Wheeler is chief cook and bottle washer behind Speed Roomies. Should his idea gain traction, he’ll look to specialize the idea into an app or online platform. Meetings would then branch off into specific preferences, where only those who wanted to live in a 4/20 friendly house, for example, would attend as opposed to the wide-open format seen today.

“You come out for a couple of hours, you get to meet a vast array of people and you get to know them on a more personal level rather than an interview-esque-type of viewing,” Wheeler said. “It helps you fully understand who you could be living with.”

Tickets to Speed Roomies go for $10 and are available online HERE


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