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Securing Housing From Out of Town


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Hi all,

I've been accepted into my MA program of choice, which makes me lucky, happy, and deeply stressed out about housing. The school I'll be attending is not in my current area, and it's not feasible for me to move out there much in advance.

How much luck have you had securing rental housing from a distance? How did you go about it? What resources would you recommend? It is At All Possible?

Thank you in advance!

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I'm kind of in the same situation. I don't really have much advice... just the same concerns. I know the school I'm looking at has an off-campus assistance site. What it essentially is is a place to post profiles so as to be sought out as a roommate or too seek out roommates yourself as well as a few properties being leased by complexes or other students. I've been looking for apartments in my area for a few weeks now, but it wasn't until earlier this week I came upon the site. Maybe your school has something similar?

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First of all, congratulations to both of you! Last year around this time, I was in the exact same situation ... finding somewhere to live over 800 miles away. Like ScoutFinch, there was an off-campus assistance site, however that didn't show much luck for me. I then went to Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace (do so carefully!). Eventually I found a one bedroom apartment that was reasonable for me to live in, just by looking at apartment complexes online. I was able to send my application in and put down a security deposit and first month's rent when I moved here.

Best of luck! Let me know if there is anything I can do to help more!

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I paid a student (not much, maybe $20) to look at apartments for me. She took pictures and gave me an overview of the area of each apt. I mailed in an application with a deposit based on her recommendation. It turned out OK, though I might have hesitated to take this apt if I'd seen it in person. I told her which apt to check out; I found the mmostly through padmapper and called to ask about visits and availability first, so she only visited apts that looked good to me.

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This is a very good thread.

I am kind of in the same situation myself, will be looking for housing without being able to see the apartments myself.

If I look for roommates on the university off-campus housing website, I wonder how the whole thing would work. When do people need to sign the lease? Will I have to actually mail the signed lease from where I am, or is it OK to sign the lease and pay the rent for the first month upon arrival?

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Ugh. I did this for my masters, from overseas. It was a disaster. The place was really close to school, but it just so happened it was in the direction of druggies. There were deals going on literally outside my apartment. I was followed home a couple of times. I'm from a big city, so I am streetwise, but this was pretty bad. I should have paid the extra money to stay in a hotel for the first week or so to ensure it would be ok. Even the dorms as a temp measure would have been better.

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When do people need to sign the lease? Will I have to actually mail the signed lease from where I am, or is it OK to sign the lease and pay the rent for the first month upon arrival?

I once signed a lease the day of move-in from another state, with the Uhaul full of furniture waiting outside. (I knew the area from having lived in the city a few years before.) I can't remember what I had paid ahead of time, such as deposits/first month rent, but I think that in general apts. want to lease their places and will work with tenants, especially in college towns.

But as new_to_kin implies, it's probably the best idea to scope out the area and consider all options. Once you're admitted and have decided on the school, you could even email current grad students for their advice. If you go to visiting weekend, allot time to check out the neighborhoods.

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Hi all,

I've been accepted into my MA program of choice, which makes me lucky, happy, and deeply stressed out about housing. The school I'll be attending is not in my current area, and it's not feasible for me to move out there much in advance.

How much luck have you had securing rental housing from a distance? How did you go about it? What resources would you recommend? It is At All Possible?

Thank you in advance!

If I ended up at a school closer to my current location, my plan was to budget for a weekend trip and just look at apartments for 2-3 days until I found one. If you look up craigslist ads before hand, make contact with landlords/current tenants, and arrange a bunch of viewings for a weekend (say, August 1st for move in Sept 1st or whatever) you could be really productive over a short visit. One of my roommates did that two years ago and it worked for her. Also, ogopo has a great post about doing that over in the UW Madison city guide.

Good luck!

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I had a friend-of-a-friend scope out potential places for me. But before I even started that, I contacted a student in my department-to-be to ask where the good and bad areas of town were. That was extremely helpful in terms of narrowing down locations.

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I'm lucky enough that a weekend visit to the area is feasible for me (however, I do have to cross the Canadian border, hop on the ferry, and take a little drive -- and this doesn't include waiting times!). I will likely do this at the beginning/middle of summer to scope things out and hopefully sign a lease. I think if I were to move across the country, I'd probably try to stay in a hostel for a week and quickly find a place to lease if that were possible. I know if I were to move that far, I would probably just bring a couple of large suitcases and call it a day.

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Last year I was looking at a place to live (in the US) from Europe. I second most of the advice that's been given, especially asking current grad students for advice on neighbourhoods.

I ended up finding my apartment on Craigslist - there was a posting by three grad students looking for two new roommates. We Skyped and emailed to make sure they were legit, and then we agreed I'd move in. It was ideal - I showed up from the airport and there was someone to show me around, I didn't need to buy anything to survive the first few days, etc. Made me very happy! So if you're looking to live with roommates I recommend finding a group that already has a lease and just needs to fill one or two rooms, that makes things way easier than having to sign a new lease.

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Do your research on property management companies in the area. Get in touch with one or more good ones. Let them know what kind of living situations you are looking for. Fill out their application and let them help you line up good housing from afar. Checking with current grad students about the area and the neighborhoods is a good idea, too.

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I agree with the recommendations to talk to current grad students in the department. They should be able to help you with ideas about where to live and to avoid, give recommendations about management companies, and possibly also give you some leads on properties/roommate openings.

I don't recommend doing what I did when I moved cross-country. I did come out for a visit in the summer and I looked at a bunch of apartment complexes that I didn't like. It was too early to look at anything else since I came in June and they wanted people who could move in on July 1 but I was working until the end of July. I ended up finding a roommate on Craig's List who seemed normal but misrepresented where I would be living and what could be shared in addition to being a crazy person. I moved in at the beginning of August and moved out before the end of the month. Luckily, I had a month-to-month lease (which I strongly recommend you get if you're considering moving into a place sight unseen or without knowing your future roommate). I gave my 30 days notice less than two weeks after I moved in and without having found another place. Luckily, since classes were about to start, there were a bunch of desperate landlords on Craig's List and I was able to find a place quickly and move into it at the end of the first week of classes.

The lessons I learned from this:

- If you can wait until the last minute to move in, there are deals to be had. Last year, a house I had my eye on was renting for $1100 for August 1 move-in in June and July, then fell to $900, then $800, and was listed at $650/month in early September when someone snagged it. Now granted, that would mean moving in after classes have started but, I totally would've in that case.

- Get a month-to-month lease if you can, especially if you can't see the place, the people, or the area. That way, if something is bad, you can move out without paying all the penalties that accompany breaking a lease.

- Posting a "Housing Wanted" ad on Craig's List will lead to lots of random people emailing you and you'll have to weed through the emails. But, it is how I found the second place I moved into (and I stayed there for almost two years).

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Msafiri, those are great tips! I will keep those in mind, especially the part about waiting to lease because the prices will go down. I'm already looking for places to move to in August (I know, it's early...). I wanted some peace of mind, but I guess I will wait. My former college town had apartments and houses filled up for fall by spring, which is where my anxiety about housing comes in.

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I have seen that a lot of apartments advertise availability about a month or two in advance.. Perhaps it is just my being neurotic or a control freak but... I'm afraid waiting till the last minute will result in my having no housing for the 2012-2013 school year. Have any of you had any difficulties with that?

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I have seen that a lot of apartments advertise availability about a month or two in advance.. Perhaps it is just my being neurotic or a control freak but... I'm afraid waiting till the last minute will result in my having no housing for the 2012-2013 school year. Have any of you had any difficulties with that?

I'm worried about that too, which is why I have been keeping an eye out for apartments now, but I don't know if I'll want to make anything official until June or July (I'm hoping to start my lease in August).

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It might be too late to do this now... but for me, I used my Spring Break to drive (1600 miles roundtrip) to the city I will be moving to. My boyf and I decided that it was best to find an apartment now since we have this vacation time and because 1) we knew that there would be a bit of competition for apartments because of the incoming UGs, tranfers, other grads closer to the beginning of the Fall semester and over the summer 2) we had no idea what was a good part of town to live in 3) I get really nervous if I have no clue where I'm going.

So I got online on hotpads.com and found an apartment service and they helped me find a bunch of places. I went through their results and picked 6. So we checked out 6 apartment complexes and picked one, got all the p/work done.

It helped to check things out beforehand because in the new state we're, moving to they do have a different protocol than what we're used to here.. ie. the security deposits were different, amenities like w/d were commonly rented for an additional charge etc.

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Email the housing department at the university you'll be attending - sometimes they have off-campus housing websites that are specifically designed to connect incoming students with potential landlords and/or roommates. I know for the school I go to, only students at the university can access the site. People who want to rent to students need to get approved by the housing office first in order to be able to access the site. Using a site like that, you're also more likely to get a roommate who is a student as well.

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  • 2 weeks later...

This is quite a stressful situation - I know the feeling since I'm moving halfway across the world to my PhD.

Fortunately, my partner is much, much better at organizing this sort of thing (we both got accepted in the same state, by sheer luck!).

One thing I've learned is that current grad students and faculty seem more than willing to provide advice; my (future) supervisor even

offered to help, so don't be afraid to ask. There's always someone who knows someone who's moving out or has a great place, or

knows what to really avoid.

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Well, that is quite difficult and a constant responsibility. Try to manage it over the internet and may get through it however, during your studies i would recommend you should try not to get involved in something like this.

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Congratulations to you all with an acceptance in hand! I did my housing search from 500 miles away, what I did was sending out mass email to my cohort/current students if they need a roommate. I thought that once I've become familiar with where I go to school, I can fish out another place to live in the next leasing cycle. It might or might not work out for all of you (i.e. roommate issues), but at least you are not going into an inhabitable place. It worked well for me.

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  • 2 weeks later...

When is the best time to arrange housing? I was thinking to wait until May or June to take advantage of those who are graduating, and most people seem to say that July is also a good time. I'm in international so I'll be arriving at the start of August (school starts Aug 20) and I'd really prefer to have a room waiting for me when I arrive if I can.

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i have to move across the country (NJ to OR, woot!) in august. just checked out padmapper---wow, so useful!! thanks to all who mentioned it! fortunately there are some really great grad students in my program who would check out places for me if i asked. this should make the move a bit easier. now, to find that money tree and get some cash to make the move... :P

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