Finding housing for your next assignment can be a bit of a whirlwind. There are so many factors to consider, like, the cost, the location or distance from your job, safety of the area you’re in, and the honesty and flexibility of your landlord. Here are some unsavory scenarios you could wind up in, and how to prevent them.
Looks can be deceiving.
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but that image of Beyonce on a plush velvet couch, sipping champagne? That’s not your living room. Even if the landlord swears up and down that it “absolutely is.” Doctored photos exist, my friend. Even if they are much more subdued than celebrities sitting in your living quarters. That super clean white wall? The image was brightened. That rich-colored autumn foliage outside? That’s called a saturation edit. There are a million easy ways any apartment photo can be enhanced to make it look like the beautiful, bright palace of your dreams. Have we all learned that perfect doesn’t exist? Have we done away with Photoshop yet?!
So now what?
A harmless filter edit is not that big of a deal. We do it with selfies all the time, and your landlord is probably just trying to boost the appeal of a very real apartment. But if it seems too good to be true, chances are they’re trying to hide something. Like, they conveniently erased the view of the interstate that’s right outside your bedroom window, and put in a serene lake view. And you checked Google Maps and it doesn't seem like there's a lake around... Or, the ceiling height looks a little too awesome to be true. If photos are being brightened or doctored extensively, this is probably a good time to be a bit cynical or suspicious. Don't be afraid to ask questions!
It’s only wishful thinking.
I get it. It’s oh-so-tempting to jump at the chance for your dream apartment. There it is staring back from your screen in all its glory: marble backsplash, beautiful new countertops, huge windows overlooking an amazing view. It’s like why not just yell, “Mine!” right then and there! The photos seem real, not doctored up or edited, and so you agree to this amazing place… only realizing too late that the images you were given, while completely unedited, are of a different, more updated unit, a different layout, or were the photos of the building’s “penthouse option.” I know, I can hear your heart breaking from here. You’ve been played.
So now what?
Stop right there. First of all, don’t get ahead of yourself. Don’t agree to anything or sign a lease until you see the actual unit you’re renting. If you are unable to get there to see it in person, email or call the landlord and ask if the images are of the unit you’re intending to rent. If not, ask them to send you pictures of the unit, or better yet, FaceTime with the landlord while they walk around the apartment. Any landlord with integrity would be perfectly willing to comply to this.
Dude, where’s my stuff?
Maybe it went unnoticed when that creepy guy down the block was eyeballing your moving boxes, but nevertheless, you’ve found yourself in a pickle. Specifically, a “what happened to my laptop?” pickle. Or a “has anyone seen my wallet?” pickle. Nothing against pickles, unless those were also jacked by your neighbor.
So now what?
Having your stuff rifled through and taken from your home can give anyone a truly icky sort of feeling. So, if you feel really unsafe, explain the situation to your landlord, and break the lease. No amount of money is worth your safety. You can also take preventative measures to keep yourself safe. Make sure you find a place that has secure locks, windows, and doors, and alternate leaving a few lights on when you go out. After you sign the lease, make sure your landlord changes the locks before you move in. Also, get renter’s insurance. This will cover your items if they’re stolen from your home, like your laptop, electronics, and other valuables.
You have unwanted guests.
No, I’m not talking about ghosts in the attic. Generally, you shouldn’t have to worry about things that go bump in the night... unless we’re mentioning that furry food burglar in your trash can. Raccoons, rats, or other guests from the animal kingdom are suddenly all up in your space (hello, bedbugs), eating your sandwich crusts and wreaking havoc on your rugs.
So now what?
Take a deep breath. Assess the situation. Is that rat a one-time fluke, or is there literally a family of opossums living in your closet? Either way, call your landlord and explain the situation. Then, call animal or pest control. Then, get a hotel room for the night. This is a fairly easy situation to fix, and if the infestation is severe and continual, your landlord should pay for extermination and/or critter-proofing. Also, a family of opossums is called a “passel”. I just learned that.
It’s too good to be true.
I love a good bargain. Especially when it comes to every day bills, like rent. Maybe you found a cheap place to live, and you’re dreaming up all the great ways you can squirrel away money or spend the extra dough you saved. Adventures? Fancy dinners out? A weekend vacation? You think you’re hitting the jackpot, and give yourself a smug pat on the back. Go you; you’re savvy. But, then you arrive to your new cheap abode and realize this isn’t what you imagined. And actually, the cost isn’t that low for what you’re getting. And, why are the walls moldy? And, what is that weird mysterious ring around the bathtub? Is this the set of a horror movie? You’d pretty much give any amount of money for a decent kitchen at this point.
So now what?
Hey, I hate saying it, but sometimes you get what you pay for. Ok, that’s not what you want to hear. What I’m saying is, it’s great to save money, but try not to be so bargain-hunty that you lose sight of real estate reality. Living cheap in a rustic cabin may seem pretty cool for the first few weeks, but what about wintertime? (Uh, and bears?) Are you ready to deal with trekking around in piles of snow? (And also, the BEARS?!) Try to be honest with yourself on what is actually feasible for you.
But, where am I?
So, you finally found the best place, nobody lied to you or overcharged you, and everything seems right with the world. Your place is awesome. But wait… where the heck are you anyway? Your new digs seem to be in the middle of nowhere, without a grocery store in sight. Wait, was that a vulture that just started circling your barren front yard? And now that you map it out, you’ll be making a 45-minute trek to work. Better start downloading some podcasts or new playlists for the ride…
So now what?
Do your research to find a place close to the amenities you want, including your work. Can you save money in gas by living closer to your job and walking there? Just because you’re paying less and living further away doesn’t mean it’s the most ideal situation. Don’t pay for inconvenience.
Hopefully these examples will help you find the best short-term housing solution for your next travel assignment. As Vanilla Ice said: Stop, collaborate, and listen. (Also, do your research… but that’s not in the song, so...)
While you're reading up on housing, check out 7 tips to find housing for your next assignment.
You need to actually find an assignment before you search for temporary housing, right? See our current jobs and land a new assignment, so you can get started on apartment hunting: