Well, I recently moved (back in September, actually), and it was quite an experience. My new roommate turned out to be less cleanly that I'd hoped, and it extended beyond his bedroom. We seemed to be polarized on the issue of when, how, and occasionally if things should get cleaned, so I had to do something about it. But as he was a friend of mine, I'd have felt bad to kick him out.
So I said I was moving out. I wanted to find a cheaper place anyway, since I wasn't getting paid enough to really afford to stay there. However, when I notified the management company, they said "Well, in that case, we're just going to sell the place." So we both had to find new places.
My roommate, luckily, got a place lined up pretty quickly. I'm pretty sure that had something to do with him running an IM client and having a long list of buddies. I, on the other hand, hit Craigslist and The Reader. I had forgotten just how flaky people were. Previously, when I was trying to find a roommate, nearly 70% of the people who scheduled appointments to see the place never showed up, and never called to say so, so I'd be waiting around for nothing. Things were no better when I was the one looking. Most of the time they'd never call back when they said, if at all, and I'd be stuck waiting in vain for their phone calls.
After wasting two weeks dealing with them and getting nowhere, I got so frustrated trying to find a roommate that I just decided to get my own place. Unfortunately, that meant that either my monthly rent was about to go way up, or my quality of living was about to go way down. Or both. But I didn't know that yet. So with two weeks left, I set out to find my new place.
Almost immediately I ran into problem number one. The management companies that rented these places out were only open during business hours -- the same hours I was at work. So I took about a week off from work (and lost quite a bit of money because of that). I called the ads from Craigslist and the Reader, but most said "go away and call us back after you've driven by the place". So they wouldn't let me see the inside until I'd seen the outside. Fine. I still had two weeks. So I merged the ads, plotted them all on a map, worked out an efficient route, and set off. I was organized, and determined. In a single day, I visited twenty apartments, though I could only see the inside of five.
When it came to making appointments, though, things were much slower. Since I had to work within all their schedules, I could only only see a few places each day. But finally, I had all the applications. Now for problem number two. I couldn't just submit all these applications. That would have cost me over $1000. You see, they all wanted at least thirty dollars, non-refundable, (and in some cases as much as $150!!) just to LOOK at the application. They claimed it was to cover the cost of the credit check, but that was a lie because I know for a fact that credit checks cost less than ten dollars. And even when I offered to pay for my own credit report and bring a copy in for them, they said I'd still have to pay the $30+ fee.
So I submitted one or two per day at a cost of $60-$75. One thing I noticed about these management companies was that for every single application I submitted, they said "Oh, somebody else just dropped off an application before you, so we'll have to check theirs first." Even if the office was less than five minutes away, without fail somebody would supposedly submit an application right before I did. I suspect it wasn't coincidence, but rather a way for the management companies (which are supposed to accept the first qualified applicant) to exclude people based on more subjective reasons. If they just don't like you, for instance, they could easily say "Well, that application that was submitted before yours qualified," and you'd have to go elsewhere.
I didn't get too much of that, though, because in general I simply didn't meet the qualifications -- primarily because I wasn't in debt. Since I wasn't and had never been in debt, they figured I must be totally irresponsible with money. As ridiculous as that sounds, that was the number one reason I was rejected -- no credit history. The second was insufficient income. (They generally required the monthly income to be at least three times the monthly rent.) But with every application I turned in, I was still hopeful. But I was running out of time, and running out of applications, too. I had to leave my place by the end of the week.
It became evident, though, that I wasn't going to make it. The last day came, and my application was denied. I had only one application left, but it was already too late. I submitted it anyway, but it wasn't soon enough to prevent me from being temporarily homeless. Luckily though, and somewhat surprisingly, I was accepted. So while I was technically homeless for a day, I didn't have to be homeless for a night, which is when it actually gets tough, I assume. The funniest part about it, though, was the conversation I had with the manager when I called to see whether or not I'd been accepted.
Her: Yeah, I heard back from the agency today.....
Me: And what did they say?
Her: Well..... (pause) they said..... (longer pause) YOU'VE BEEN ACCEPTED!!@#!
I guess she expected me to jump for joy and shout "woohoo!".
I had rented a U-haul truck to hold all my stuff. It was an awful, frightening experience. First of all, I couldn't see anything. I tried to use the side mirrors as best I could, but half of the time I was just putting on the signals and changing lanes slowly, hoping that people would get out of the way. And the truck was a friggin' death-trap too, I swear. It rattled and shook, and I'm not sure whether I was more afraid that it'd just break down on the way home, or that the rusted bolts would break apart and the truck explode into pieces on the highway at 60 miles per hour. But it survived the day and so did I, thankfully.
Then began the daunting task of actually moving everything. You see, I had to do it all myself, and you should have seen me carrying a queen-sized bed down two flights of stairs. It was quite a sight, I'm sure. For nearly twelve hours straight (from 5PM to 5AM, with only a 30 minute break at midnight, and a couple short breaks while I was driving the truck), I was hauling boxes, tables, and chairs. Near the end, I wasn't sure how I was able to continue functioning, but function I did, and at last, I was moved.
Upon reflection, I have some regrets about the move, though. I'm paying nearly $200 more per month, when I could barely afford my previous rent. I've had to cut all my Japanese classes to make time for more work. It's depressing and tiring. The place is far inferior to the old one, in a worse neighborhood, with fewer green trees and more noise. And living alone is sometimes lonely.
The move left me $1000 in debt -- my first time being in debt, although I just borrowed the money from my retirement savings. (Hah, maybe now that I've been in debt, people will think I'm financially responsible!) And my job doesn't pay enough that I've been able to repay even a penny of that debt yet, even thought it's been almost two months. In retrospect, I could just have paid $75/month to have a professional come and clean my old place, and been much better off. But I can't go back now. Ahh well, it was an experience.