Thursday, September 20, 2012

A Pro's Take on Craigslist

Alright everyone, here's the deal - I love Craigslist, I do, but using it effectively is somewhat of an art. How did I perfect this skill? Check it out: In just under 16 months I moved three times, twice from out-of-state. I didn't have the luxury of driving around looking for "For Rent" signs, I had no clue as to the lay of the land, and without having the help of two of my very best friends who happened to know the areas well, I would have been up a creek (yes, people still say that).

After getting an idea of what areas to look in, I hopped onto Craigslist. No matter how many times I go on this site, I always find myself completely overwhelmed. Would pictures on the pages kill anyone? Break up the monotony of line after line of too-ecstatic, and too-vague housing descriptions please. I have, however, learned a few key things - especially from my last move - that have proved, and will continue to prove invaluable when it comes to navigating this fickle site.

To test my knowledge, and to help educate my readers, I decided to test myself. I found apartment titles, made my assumptions, and then looked at the description and photos to prove, or disprove my theories. Let's see how I did...

Run. Charming means old, and affordable confirms that they're desperate to get rid of this ancient piece of junk.

The reveal...
Ding, ding, ding. The building is old and they didn't even show interior shots, but considering "wall to wall carpet" is a feature, I'll chalk this up as a win.

Stop yelling! These ads are often the products of nice(r) apartment complexes that have someone designated to sales and marketing. Probably has a pool and gym, worth a shot.

The reveal...
Right again. While the all-caps title might be off-putting, the ads usually feature a cookie-cutter complex with great amenities. Beware: these are often further out into the suburbs than they will let on.

Cute? You might as well say "Cozy". Either way, both are code for TINY.

The reveal...
Need I say more? I'm on a roll..

Well that was fun, but now down to business. The facts:
  1. "Efficiency" means "studio", which means no bedroom. Sometimes they can be spacious, and laid out creatively, but beware.
  2. Check the price tag. Oftentimes the $$ gives away more about the space than the title. For instance, a 3BR for $200/mo should throw up some red flags no matter how great the lister makes it sound.
  3. Don't skim through. None of these ads are going to say "great kitchen, private parking, right next to your favorite bar, cheaper than it should be..", but you can find these things in the details.
  4. Don't give up! Craigslist isn't the only thing out there, so look around, but keep an eye out as tons of new spaces are listed every day.
That's all for now! Happy hunting!


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