How I Saved $1,700 By Being a Craigslist Subletting Nomad

Subletting & Housing on Craigslist

In a follow-up to yesterday’s 5 Ways to Use Craigslist to Save and Make Big Money post, there is one Craigslist use that I didn’t cover, because I thought it warranted its own post – how to be a Craigslist subletter nomad. This is a true story that illustrates how to use Craigslist when you are in a situation where a long-term or contractual housing arrangement just doesn’t make sense. It’s another Craigslist power user tip.

The Big Move

Back in June of 2007, I started a new job in a new city. The job was located 2 hours away from my house and my wife. Luckily, my new employer covered one month of corporate housing expenses. Beyond that, I had no clue what my living arrangements were going to be.

Big Complications

craigslist-sublettingTo complicate things, I had to take the following into consideration:

  • I had no idea where my wife’s new job would be located
  • I had no idea when my wife would find a job in the area
  • We couldn’t afford two mortgages at the same time
  • I had no idea when we would be able to sell the house we were moving out of
  • We had too much stuff to move into an apartment

All of these factors prevented me from being able to make any concrete commitments, without putting a huge dent in my savings and further complicating things down the road.

Down to the Wire

I hit week 3 of my corporate housing stay, and had a week of borrowed time left. Anxiety was building. I needed a short-term fix, and I needed it quick. That’s when I turned to Craigslist. If you go to Craigslist, find your city, go to ‘housing’, and then click on ‘sublets/temporary’, you will find a selection of possible temporary housing arrangements.

On the final day in corporate housing, I found a good lead, made a call, packed up the car with all of my stuff, and drove over to the location that I saw in the listing. Awaiting me was an 8′ X 8′ room for about half the price of local one bedroom apartments. I would be moving in with three complete strangers, but the only alternative was to sleep in my car. When the landlord asked ‘when do you want to move in?’, my response was ‘my stuff’s in the car’.

Deja Vu

I was glad to have a place to live, but it was only for a month. About two weeks in I started to look around again. This time, my goal was to find a place where I could live on a month-to-month renewing basis without getting into a contract. This may be hard to find, but if you’re in a similar situation, you simply can’t beat the flexibility. I found a place, and at the end of the month packed up my car and moved again. Again, about half the price of local apartments, and no contract.

The 2 Week Whirlwind

Two months went by and my wife found a job. Meanwhile, we had our house up for sale and were getting some serious interest. Within a 2 week time frame, she got a job offer, we sold our house, bought and closed on a new house, she started her job, and we moved directly from our old house to our new house. When all was said and done, I had lived in 5 different ‘dwellings’ within a four month period. But you know what? It was kind of fun.

Here’s what Finding Temporary Housing through Craigslist Saved us:

Having to sign a contract, and the cost of having to break it – typically one month’s rent – Savings of $600.

  • Half the price on a room for three months – Savings of $900.
  • Having to move twice – Savings of at least $100 for the truck rental. If we were to actually use movers, the savings would have been thousands.
  • Having to use storage – Savings of $100 for a month.
  • Total Savings: $1,700

Craigslist Housing Discussion:

  • What’s your craziest short-term living situation?
  • Have you found a place to live through Craigslist?

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