Getting a move on
Late July, August prime time for students moving from place to place
Weeks in advance, MSU alumna Kacie Madden knew what she was getting herself into — after all, she had done this before.
With a number of boxes packed, friends and family on standby and the trailer finally attached to the pickup, patience was now a virtue. By Sunday evening, with the placement of a wooden desk into her apartment, moving day had come and gone.
But as with any change, there always are bumps in the road.
“When we first got to the office, I didn’t get the welcome packet in the mail previous to moving in, so I didn’t have my rent check ready and my ID on me,” Madden said. “The communication end of things … was kind of a hiccup in the whole moving process, but physically, it was pretty easy to bring the stuff in and find somewhere to set it down until I can organize it later.”
From late July through the month of August, the pressure of moving is on for MSU students living in the area. Toward the end of the summer semester, many find themselves with expiring leases. For some, balancing classwork and cleaning house is essential.
“(Moving) is kind of a pain in the butt,” said Laurin Katzenstein, a social work graduate student. “There are some papers I have to write right now and I’m stuck cleaning out a refrigerator — it’s an annoying time.”
The rumbling of moving trucks and peeling of duct tape that resonated throughout the area’s neighborhoods last weekend represent a transition, Katzenstein said.
But after prepping the refrigerator for the next tenants, Katzenstein said she feels shorthanded by the gap between one school year and the next, making moving out from a house on Durand and Short streets to a new location a few blocks nearby more difficult.
“It’s really kind of a bummer because all of the landlords have the leases expiring during finals week or sooner,” Katzenstein said. “Everyone pretty much is going to be homeless for a time.”
For students stuck in that situation, couch-surfing often is an option. Although she might not have cable or Internet, at least there is a roof over her head, said Katzenstein, who plans to live at a friend’s house for the majority of the month.
Matt Hagan, an agent with Hagan Realty, said he frequently is questioned whether tenants can stay past their lease, move into a new location early or store their belongings in one house from another.
And most of the time, the majority of these questions are answered when the lease is signed, Hagan said.
“We publish a lot of information online to make it as thorough as possible to make it known what we expect from them,” he said. “We go into their houses and people sometimes take their belongings and just leave — it’s pretty much a disaster zone.”
Landlords, rental companies and students find this time of year to be one of the most exhausting due to the rush and complexity of moving, Hagan said.
“The only thing that I try to hopefully get through to people is that this is a very stressful time for both parties — landlords and tenants,” he said. “This is not something you can just start and be ready to go — it’s a very extensive process to prepare for and go through.”
Prior to moving out of an apartment or house — and everything in between — the entire structure needs to be examined by the current tenants before new people move in, Hagan said.
Failing to do so might result in students losing their security deposits, he said.
“It is important to be sure you cleaned the place and left the keys on the counter,” Hagan said. “If so, we hardly have to do anything. When the landlord takes it back, you just have to return it as you found it.”
Going through the checklist at her new apartment at College Towne Apartments, 4915 Belle Chase Blvd., in Lansing, Madden made note of every deficiency.
With few faults found with the complex, Madden said she is looking forward to her roommates moving into a larger space. Cost and space are two of the most influential factors to make a move, she said.
During this time, Hagan said he expects the company to see about 100 houses turn over in August, with about 20 to 25 tenants choosing to remain at their location. Although it might appear as a low number, around 25 percent retainment is common, he said.
Dawn Lawless, operations manager for DTN Management Co., also expects a significant number of residents to stay within the DTN community. Because the company owns numerous complexes and houses across East Lansing, Lawless said officials are looking forward to about 90 percent retainment within their residential locations.
“The advice I would give students is first and foremost is to rent early,” Lawless said. “That definitely guarantees you what you want. As a consumer, you get to choose the apartment you want before anyone else chooses it.”
Store it or swap it
As Katzenstein sorted though her accumulated “junk” leading up to Sunday’s move, she quickly realized her own trash might be somebody else’s treasure.
“I feel like college students throw a lot of stuff away because it’s easy,” she said. “There (are) just so many places in Lansing that really need your garbage — even your household cleaning products. There are a lot of people who cannot afford those things, so there are people who would gladly take (them) off your hands.”
And if a student has too many belongings and not enough space, businesses such as the East Lansing Storage Center, 4055 Hunsaker St., will accept it — even during the busiest time of the year.
“Students are looking for a certain size (of storage containment) and something accessible and close to campus,” said Beverly Baten, the on-site manager for the center. “When people move into an apartment or a house and they have many housemates and furniture, they will bring it out here and store it.”
Katzenstein said websites such as allMSU and Craigslist might be the easiest way to move a lighter load or find the perfect place while attending MSU.
“People are always looking for roommates and subleases — they are a good place to start,” she said. “Moving is hard, even scary, especially if you’re moving into the city and not sure what the next step should be.”