Although I have not had time to post on this blog in September, I now have many lessons and practical solutions to share with you regarding relocation, housing, and living in between homes. Notice how I avoid the word “homeless” since that word has destructive potential and we get what we focus upon.
However, many people have experienced a degree of homelessness from couch surfing, to house sitting, to living in hotels, in cars or on the street. The situations vary with the person and their lifestyle or loss of lifestyle. Think of in between homes as a time out to reassess your values. Those values will change during the relocation process too and you will experience an explosion of insights that lead to greater wisdom if you refrain from the pity party way of thinking. Another words, don’t allow your circumstances to determine how you respond to life. Don’t focus on the negative and practice gratitude.
When I first gave up my apartment in August, I thought I would find a new home swiftly because I practice the Law of Attraction. Since I experienced yo-yo moods bouncing from hope/exuberance to a victim rant, people responded to me in a hot-cold way to match my spectrum of moods.
During the times that I balanced my moods (balance is key these days in all endeavors), I met supportive people who gave me solutions that I had not considered previously. I stayed open whereas in the past, I shut my ears to other people’s advice thinking I already knew everything. At the beginning, my Type A personality came through and I tried to micromanage everything and everyone.
So on August 31 after I was due to vacate an apartment I lived at for three years, I had to think quickly on my feet or end up sleeping under an overpass or doorway. I checked into an expensive hotel only because I was familiar with it, but folks, $140 a night is not sustainable for someone of my income level. Then later I found a hotel room for $80 a night, still much more than I could afford. Later, a colleague/friend told me about Airbnb.com which is a network of people who rent out entire homes or rooms in homes short-term and often less than a hotel room in private and sometimes natural settings. The rooms I saw started at $50 a night. The other option was a couch surfing site and I also came across a house sitting gig website.
The other thing I did was to store my belongings in a storage unit that costs me $65 a month. If I had shopped around I probably could have come up with a better deal. However, I don’t own a car so a location within walking or busing distance took priority over monthly specials or 24-hour access.
So my advice in these situations is come up with a contingency plan when giving notice to vacate a rental or even a home you sold. Do research in advance for affordable temp housing offers and prices on storage units. Come up with a budget so you spend only what you can afford and don’t go into relocation debt. Decide if you require a kitchenette or somewhere to cook meals and where you will store the food for those meals. I’ll tell you that eating prepared foods will costs you hundreds of dollars a month.
Ask your colleagues, friends and social media contacts for relocation advice and support. Many people have downsized in the past ten years and definitely in the past five years. Many people have gone through life transitions where they have divorced, sold homes and entered the rental market. Good chance these folks gained some wisdom and resources during their transitions they can share with you. Best to learn from other people’s mistakes than to experience costly mistakes yourself.
When I think about the costs of hotel rooms where I stayed, I want to kick myself. Now that I know about houses renting rooms for $50 a night, I wish I could go back and redo the entire ordeal. The advantage of a house stay is that you stay in actual neighborhoods where you can attend neighborhood association meetings, meet people in the neighborhood and network for permanent housing. Some neighborhoods even have online newsletters and dispatches where you can introduce yourself and post housing wanted ads.
I managed to network while staying at hotels and I even attended a neighborhood association meeting where I introduced myself. I did this also at Green Drinks (a networking meeting for sustainable folks) and I garnered a couch stay for three days. However, the house stay situations provide peaceful settings, near well-attended parks and closer to downtown which offers better networking opportunities. If you have hostels in your city or town, stay there and save money.
Craig’s List Hit or Miss
I posted and responded to numerous Craig’s List ads. I received mixed results and I don’t enjoy the competitive environment of Craig’s List ads which can draw hundreds of prospective renters so you might not receive a response to your response. The other downside to Craig’s List is that you encounter dishonest and weird people. At least some people spell out their rental situations such as they are pot-friendly, partying houses or have numerous furry animals which doesn’t bode well with allergy-sufferers. I also stay away from any rental that has fresh paint and new carpet. While that sounds appealing my experience with new carpet and fresh paint is that it’s usually covering up something even more toxic, such as black mold or the smell of a former smoker who rented the space. Stay clear of “fresh paint and new carpet”.
Word of Mouth
Most decent housing comes through word-of-mouth or through social networks (online or in-person). This is why college students land some of the best housing. The cute craftsman and Victorian houses are passed down from students to students. However, some of those houses reenter the housing market especially if the landlord gets tired of cleaning up after student renters.
When moving to a new city or town, don’t isolate yourself. Get out and volunteer or attend community meetings so you can mingle. After meeting new people, stay in contact with them. Circulate and if you find yourself in a relocation situation, you’ll have a community to support you.
One of the biggest mistakes I made was to isolate myself so I could complete a novel and a non-fiction book. While I did volunteer and attend meetings, I didn’t follow through with my contacts. However, this did not stop me from getting the word out when I began my housing search. Eventually, this lead to couch surfing and a house sitting gig. Still, all of this would have fallen into place sooner sans the expensive hotel rooms had I dug deeper roots in my community.
Tricks to Storage Units
One of the biggest mistakes I made with renting a storage unit is that I didn’t apply any strategies for grabbing clothing for change of seasons. First, I wasn’t planning on having my stuff in storage for more than two weeks and second, I rented a storage unit at the last minute so my friends and I had to move stuff within a short time frame.
Today as I crawled to the back of my storage unit to find a pair of shoes (back corner), I thought about useful strategies such as storing most used belongings in the front and furnishing and kitchenware in the back corner. Store clothing, shoes, towels, blankets and hygiene products in the front of the storage. And label all your boxes. I would also store favorite books and CDs at the front of the unit. When a bad mood hits you might require one of those favorite books or music to help you feel at home.
As I continue my quest for permanent housing (gee, has it really been a month?), I will share my practical solutions with you. While relocation involves a stress, I’m glad I left a more stressful situation involving an uncomfortable apartment where I stayed out of fear of the unknown.
Face it, any life transition has its challenges and with these challenges we grow. Just like thorns prick us, the scent of roses sustains us so we put up with the thorns. Everyone is going through a transition of one kind or another now. Let’s support each other through the process and hold a space of loving kindness. Share what you learn through your process.
I am an astrologer and intuitive coach for creatives. Learn more at Metaphysics for Everyday Living.