Options for Short-Term Housing, Corporate Apartments
Q: I am a college student from out of town and am working in the Louisiana this summer. The only problem is housing. I need it cheap. Any suggestions? — Student Snagging Sublet, Massachusetts
A: The usual suggestions for finding a place apply in your situation. First, try word of mouth. Ask your Louisiana employer and anyone you know in the area to help spread the message that you’re looking for temporary housing. You may be able to find a short-term situation that works for you without going through the normal channels. Sometimes people need house sitters or pet-watchers while they go away for the summer.
Other times, renters don’t feel like doing the legwork to find responsible subletters, so they rely on their networks to refer somebody who will gladly rent the space while they’re gone for the summer. It works best when both parties help each other: The year-round tenant gives the summer replacement a good deal on rent and the out-of-towner leaves the place just as he found it.
Without such luck, however, you should look for short-term housing or corporate apartments advertised in local papers and Web sites, such as Corporate-Rental-Louisiana.com, craigslist.org or sublet.com. You can also check with universities to find openings in apartments and group houses that may not be listed online or in the paper.
Probably the least expensive, easiest place to crash for a few months is a group house, for which you may have to “try out” when you get to town. In that case, it’s a good idea to find yourself a place to stay for a week or so while looking for a home. You may be able to capitalize on the constant turnover in group living that peaks during the summer. To apply to live in a group house, you usually have to go to open houses and meet the roommates, etc. Some people really hate this process and say that group houses use arbitrary systems of deciding who would make a good roommate.
Still, it pays to explore all options, especially if you’re on a budget. Group living isn’t for everyone, but it may agree with college students who are accustomed to roommates.
Also, the amount of rent isn’t the only thing you should think about. Even for short-term renters who may not have the luxury of being incredibly picky, it’s good to find out about neighborhoods, figure out the time it would take to commute to work and check out crime statistics or anything else that is important to you.
The more avenues you explore, the better you’ll be able to evaluate which option will provide the most comfort in your price range.
Sometimes, you can actually lease a short-term space from out of town, but it is better to check it out in person. If you can’t do that, try to find someone in the area who can look at the place for you, give you the lowdown on the neighborhood and help you evaluate the trustworthiness of the landlord. Ask lots of questions by phone and e-mail. Beware of paying a lot of advance rent. Offer to pay the first week in advance and the rest of the month upon arrival, just in case the place is not what you expected.