Austin, TX, 90210: When did moving in Austin get so hard?
I hate moving. Packing your stuff only to unload it hours later? Terrible. Throwing things in boxes, never to see them again? It's exhausting. Every last minute of it. And yet despite my hatred of relocation, it's something I've done quite a bit. In fact, a recent calculation put me in 12 residences in the past seven years - one short of a baker's dozen! (I'm not proud.)
Alas, due to a drafty house and a near break-in, we're on the hunt once more, and it's bubbling up all sorts of rage. Ten years ago, moving in Austin was no big deal. I remember looking for my first apartment, and it was easier than choosing the top 8 for my MySpace profile. Sorry, Tom.
You'd look at two, maybe three places, signed a lease, and for under a thousand bucks, you had a new home. I lived in a two bedroom on Enfield Road in 2005 that was less than half my current rent for a one bedroom in East Austin. And that was only a few years ago.
I've got news for you, Craigslist. Just because a house has four walls doesn't make it a bungalow.
These days, if you're not looking for a place six months before your lease expires, you're doing it wrong. Suddenly, securing a new place to live is as competitive as getting a child into preschool. We scour Craigslist with the fury of a soccer mom at a Black Friday sale. We've got neighborhood names down, keywords to search for, and flexible spending limits.
And that's not to say that things don't become available. Because boy, do they ever. But what's available is either $4500 for a Hyde Park frat house, or $1800 for a "bungalow" in "Crestview." I've got news for you, Craigslist. Just because a house has four walls doesn't make it a bungalow. And posting pictures of a bathroom five years ago doesn't reflect it's current condition. People are disgusting.
And that doesn't matter! Most of the time when these listings come up, they're four applications deep mere hours after being listed. Who's doing this? Are people just surfing the web at all hours of the day? Who has time for that?!
Those properties that aren't over-priced or under-cleaned fall into the "yuppy high-rise" category. "Hey! Who needs character! We've got granite countertops!" Don't get me wrong — I'm not above it. But if people are renting things sight-unseen, why can't they leave the charming gems to those who seek them out? Because I'm this close to shacking up in a mega-complex, and I really don't want to.
When did moving in Austin become so hard? I realize that the population is soaring like Justin Bieber's hormones, but this is getting ridiculous. I found two places in Los Angeles, and both were secured after a mere week of searching. And while finding a place in New York is no easy task, I never experienced this purgatory period back east.
So what's the deal? Will things ever get easier? Do we need to settle for now, so that the new Austinites eventually trickle out of town? I'm hoping things work out soon, because I'm starting to see what got the Craigslist killer to snap — it was all that blue type. It's enough to drive anyone crazy.