Tools for Students: Moving

As mentioned before, I was offered and accepted admission and funding to Hebrew Union College (HUC) in Cincinnati, OH.  I\’ve been excited about the school ever since I first visited in 2010 because of the quality of education, program history, access to the great Greco-Roman program at University of Cincinnati (through a consortium arrangement), and library.  Considering my interests focusing on the interaction of Greek and Jewish historiographies, it\’s quite the alignment.

However, the one thing I wasn\’t horribly excited about was the move.  You see, I despise moving. Well, let me rephrase that.  I don\’t hate moving per se: I like learning about new cities, I\’m always enjoy making new friends and connections, and I\’m excited to begin school again after my brief hiatus. What I don\’t care for are the particulars of moving: packing is just awful; finding a new place to live can be exhausting and stressful; you might have to find a new job for you, your spouse, or both; and you have to re-arrange your entire schedule. However, some of these horrors can be turned into only minor annoyances if you make a few preparations. This post will cover a few tips that I had for finding a place to live in a far-away city.

Whether just beginning grad school or just beginning our career, it\’s likely that we\’ll move around a lot in the next few years. Some of these moves might just be across town, but most of us will likely move across the state or even further at least once and probably a few times. It\’s stressful, especially if we don\’t have family or friends in the area to help us find a place to live.  Because of the short time frame I had (following my daughter\’s birth and work arrangements), I only had one shot to find a place for us to live.  I flew into town on Tuesday, but my flight was late and I didn\’t get to start my search until the next day, and I flew out Thursday morning. This wasn\’t a lot of time, so I knew I had to make the most of my time!

  1. Do your Research: There are a lot of great tools in your chest these days for finding a place to live from distance. Whether you\’re looking for an apartment or a house to rent or buy, you can try Craigslist, Trulia, or Apartment Guide. Apartment Guide was what ended up being most helpful for me.  You can either enter a city or zip code, but the most helpful option is to select a college or university and focus your search around it. It will give you a list arranged however you\’d like, whether based on proximity, price, or size. 
  2. Make Contacts: Whether you want to contact a realtor, or the apartments themselves, you should always try and get the right information.  The answers might surprise you. Some questions that we needed to ask that were beyond the obvious were:
    • Do you have any specials?
    • Do you have availability for our move-in date?
    • Are any of the utilities paid?  If not, what are the averages for those which aren\’t?
    • Do you have central air/heating or window units? 
    • What appliances are included (dishwasher, washer/dryer, connections)?
    • What is the make-up of your tenants (students, seniors, families, immigrants, professionals)?
    • What is the size of the deposit?
    • Do you have access to high-speed internet? 
  3. Check out the Area: It goes without saying that some areas of a city are better than others, especially when it comes to crime. But if you\’re not familiar with the city you\’re moving to, it can be really hard to find out what sections of town are better than others. And, from personal experience, you cannot trust the pictures on the apartment/housing ads.  Luckily, the internet has provided us with a few helpful tools:
    • Google Maps: Most of us know about google maps and use it to help us plan our trips, but you can also use its street view option to check out the sections of the city!  I\’ve found this to be very helpful in \”scouting\” ares out prior to even seeing them and used it to eliminate a few apartments from our search.  When all of the stores have bars on the windows and all of the buildings are \”tagged\” with gang signs, it might not be the area you want to bring your wife and newborn.
    • Raids Online: Raids Online is a pretty nifty website where you can track crime rates in specific areas (but only over the past six months) when used in conjunction with google maps, you can get a pretty good pictures of what\’s going on.
  4. Record your Data: After you\’ve spoken to ten people and looked up statistics on seven places, your mind can get pretty muddled.  I created a google doc making notes which included the address, phone contact, distance from the school, crime rates, bed/bath count, square feet, cost, and then specials and notes about utilities/appliances/etc. This is really helpful for the next step.
  5. Make a Plan of Attack: After you\’ve recorded all of your data, you can use it to solve the Travelling Salesman Problem.  I used my addresses and google maps to plot the most efficient way to visit all of my apartments without backtracking/running all around town. Thanks to this help, I was able to visit 14 apartments and homes in Cincinnati in less than a day, and still had time left over to do the next step!
  6. Wait to Decide: Wait until you\’ve seen all of your options before you make a decision. What you might think will be the best at first, might change after you\’ve seen all of your options.
  7. Check your Route: Because we only have one vehicle, it was really important to me to be near the school or have easy access to the school. However, we actually ended up at an apartment that was farther away than some of the others, but it was right on a direct bus line to the school.  Once I found that out, I looked up the bus schedules to make sure that the route was run enough to be useful.  I also drove around the neighborhood and found where the nearest grocery stores, banks, and gas stations were.  This might seem odd, but it\’s important when you\’ve got a newborn! 
Thanks to this and some luck, Kathryn, Hadassah, and I have a place lined up to live and look forward to moving in August 1! 

    Published by Jared Saltz

    Biblical Studies Faculty (Florida College). PhD candidate at HUC-JIR. Husband, father, student.

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