When 2015 alumna Alexis Crowe took a job at the Little Rock Family magazine, she had about three weeks to find an apartment — from the time she accepted the job until she graduated.
Crowe said she focused on finding an apartment at the lowest end of her budget. She found and visited an apartment in an area of Little Rock she knew nothing about.
“I visited the apartment in the daytime and everything about the apartment and the area seemed nice,” Crowe said. “The apartment was in my budget, and I signed the lease that day.”
Crowe said when she moved in, she noticed people hanging out and playing music in the parking lot at night. She said she was one of the only residents who had a problem with the noise. In addition to this, Crowe said men in the parking lot would often call and yell names at her as she walked into her apartment at night.
“What I learned from living in that apartment is everyone, especially post-graduates, should tour the apartment in the day and then check back on the area at night to see what the area is like at both times of day,” Crowe said.
JoAnne Ford, rental and office manager for Physical Resources, said she has moved more than 20 times throughout her life. Because of this, she said she had several suggestions for graduates preparing to move and begin the hunt for housing.
“Not only do I know about rentals for my job, I know about moving from being in a military family,” Ford said.
Ford suggested that graduates make a budget and expect their monthly rent to be at least one-third of their allotment. She also said graduates should rely on family and friends who know about good areas of town to live in, as well as people in different areas of the country who can do the same. She added that students should not choose an apartment “sight unseen” before signing a lease.
Ford said websites like Zillow, Trulia and Padmapper are good for keeping housing within a budget, one or two bedroom places and other criteria.
According to Ford, in order to get a lease, graduates should gather their pay stubs and get their credit score. Ford said Equifax and Experian allow users to access their credit scores twice a year for free, so new graduates can approach housing options with ease.
When Raneisha Stassin, December 2017 graduate, landed her first internship in San Francisco, she contacted the company for housing resources.
“I would discuss this up front with the company I’m interning or working for so I can make sure I have all my options laid out for me in advance,” Stassin said. “It’s difficult trying to figure everything out on your own, so it’s important to use all your resources.”
Stassin said she spoke with professors in the Department of Communication, who helped connect her with anyone they knew who could help her find housing. Stassin advises graduates looking for housing in a big city to plan, use all their resources and research in advance. Stassin suggests contacting universities or churches in the city if there are no other available contacts.
“Finding housing in a big city is not an easy task, so look for support,” Stassin said. “You may end up surprised at who may step up and help you out when you need it, and you may be even more surprised by what you’re able to find with just a bit of research.”