Wednesday, June 1, 2011

House Hunting on Craigslist Redux

To make a long story short, I am planning to move out of my current place and into another starting July 1st. The main reason is that I feel the alleged $100 increase no longer justifies the housing situation. Thus I have started looking on Craigslist (where else?) for housing opportunities.

I currently live in a 4-bedroom, 1 bathroom apartment, without air conditioning and the place is somewhat noisy in the evenings. Whereas I am willing to tolerate minor issues such as the small room and the noise for $450 a month, $550 month to me is rather excessive. Furthermore, it appears we are have a roaches problem and the lack of air conditioning is pretty terrible in the summer months (aka NOW). I honestly would rather not move, but it is difficult to rationalize the $100 rent increase -- especially since due to its "shadiness".

The rent increase is "shady" due to the overall housing situation: me and the other two roommates sublease our rooms from another individual. Based on my estimates, this individual makes a considerable profit from our housing situation previously. But the situation changed because this individual moved back into the apartment. The interesting detail is that he has asked each of the current roommates for $100 more for rent in order to offset an alleged $500 rent increase from the landlord. I have taken issue with this but I think it's better to just take this opportunity to leave, instead of causing major conflicts.

So where am I going with this post? Well, it'll be an overview of the housing rentals process through Craigslist. I have been using Craigslist considerably over the past 6 months, so I feel like I have valuable insight to share with everyone. To make things easier to follow (and to write), I will simply use bullets:
  • After selecting the desired Craigslist city, click on the main "housing" header instead of the specific options like "apts/housing". This makes it both quicker to search but also allows one to capture more opportunities.
  • Know what you want and have a budget, but also be flexible. Sometimes you may have to tryout living situations foreign to you. For example, I never roomed before in a so-called "group house". Yet it has largely been a positive experience thus far -- maybe because it reminds me of college.
  • Good housing deals require lots of patience and timely response to the listing. I have seen quite a few that have disappeared in less than an hour. That being said, some deals/listings can sound too good to be true. I have almost been scammed a few times: be very weary of respondents who demand a deposit before showing you the room...
  • ...which means you should always view the room before making a financial commitment. A common example of a scam is that the owner is allegedly overseas but can have the key passed onto you within 2 days of the rent deposit being made. One giveaway is the use of Western Union banks to rout the money.
  • Do not be afraid to ask questions about everything. While sometimes you should refrain from the really tough ones (especially if it is a great deal), it is better to not be surprised afterward.
  • Last but not least, be 100% certain about the place before making a commitment. As my experience goes to show, it can be very difficult to back out.
Finding an ideal housing opportunity on Craigslist generally takes lots of effort and patience. I have been looking for the past couple of weeks now, and yet to find something really good. (I did found a tempting opportunity, but to realize the maintenance cost is very high.)

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