Moving Is Always Stressful. Moving in Less Than Two Weeks Is Almost Impossible.
Ten days. That’s how long many families with legal leases or mortgages had to secure new housing, according to the recent California Statewide Study of People Experiencing Homelessness (CASPEH for short.) For people without formal lease agreements, the median notice given before being kicked out was just one day.
If you’ve ever tried to move into a house, rent a new apartment, or even plan a visit to friends or family, you’re probably realizing just how short of a timeframe that is. For those who still think you could get it done in time, why not try your hand at a little choose-your-own-housing adventure?
Coming home from a long day of work, your stomach drops as you see the notice hanging on your door. Your landlord wants you out of here. You have ten days to pack your things, find a new place to live, and leave. You’re not totally sure of your tenant rights- there might be a way to fight this in court, but can you spare the time and energy with such a big deadline looming?
To fight the eviction, go to Chapter 3.
To start packing, go to Chapter 5.
You waste no time and go right to work packing up all your belongings while you’re home and scrolling endless rental listings while you’re at work. You submit applications for anything remotely near your budget and hope for a speedy approval.
After a few days of waiting to hear back, you decide that this online thing isn’t working out. You decide to call out of work for the day and get things done in person. You drive around all day to various apartment showings and submit applications for each. The agents for each smile as you hand in your paperwork and say they’ll get back to you after performing the credit check. Credit check? To rent an apartment? That’s something you didn’t even think to be worried about.
A few more stressful days pass before you hear back from your first potential landlord who wasn’t just a scam artist. You got the apartment! The wave of relief washing over you is so strong you barely hear them mention they’ll hand over the keys to you on the first of the month.
The first, but that’s more than a week away, and you need to be out of your current place by the day after tomorrow. Where are you supposed to go in the meantime? Hopefully, you’ll be able to crash with a friend or find a cheap enough hotel you can stay in for a few nights and still afford rent, the storage unit you now need for all your stuff, and the hefty security deposit- all on a paycheck that’s short a bit from the time you had to take off to find this place.
After finding this Invisible People article on what to do when you’re facing eviction, you steel your resolve and contact an eviction lawyer. Together, you go through all the specifics of your situation and determine that you’re protected by a certain defense available to tenants in just your predicament. The process has taken significantly longer than 10 days, but you’ve been able to stay in your home. You made the right choice.
Unfortunately, the legal proceedings have soured what little goodwill remained between you and your landlord. They’ve been acting out their annoyance with you in subtle, petty ways- like starting noisy maintenance projects in the earliest hours of the morning. It’s not enough to go back to court over, but it’s enough to make you uncomfortable in your own home. You decide to move out before things escalate, but at least this time you’ll have more than ten days.
There’s no way you’ll be able to find a decent apartment in time, so you decide to rent something short-term while you search. “It will be like a little staycation,” you tell yourself and your family. Of course, you won’t be able to take the furniture, so you focus on packing up your personal items. You’ll list some of the furniture for sale and hope someone buys it quickly, and move the rest into a storage unit if you have the time.
Even renting a modest AirBnB proves to be more expensive than you’re used to, and you quickly run through your rental budget for the month. Rather than letting your savings account take too much of a hit (you need that money as a security deposit, after all), you decide to move into a cheaper hotel room.
The quarters are cramped, and there’s no kitchen, so you spend much more than anticipated on ready-to-eat foods and eating out. At this rate, if you don’t find a place to rent soon, you’ll just keep bleeding money. You can’t afford to go back to the AirBnBs, and none of your rental applications are being approved. Maybe if you moved into your car a few nights a week, you could replenish your savings account faster?
You start packing up your essentials between working, caring for the kids, and looking for a new place to live. You’re not making as much progress as you’d like, but you figure in a pinch you can just take a few boxes of personal items and leave the furniture behind or sell it if you have the time.
It feels strange to be packing all these boxes up without any idea where you’ll be unpacking them. You spend a lot of time looking for your next place.
To focus your search on permanent rentals, go to Chapter 2
To search for short-term rentals, go to Chapter 4
To stay with friends or family, go to Chapter 6
You know you have friends and family that would have your back during this tough time. Although many of them live far away from your job, others don’t have the space for extra people, and one would be willing to take you in if it weren’t for your cat. You eventually find someone who will let you stay for a while as you look for a new place.
You move in with a few essentials and have to rent out a storage unit for the rest of your stuff. Who knew they had gotten so pricey? Still, you feel a weight lift from your shoulders as you now have all the time you need to find your next place.
That is until living in close quarters begins to take its toll. Your host starts leaving passive-aggressive notes in the kitchen and talking about how they’ll need the guest room vacant in time for Christmas since their in-laws are coming to stay. You take the hint and start frantically searching for a place, any place, to rent out, but between the income requirements and security deposits, you can’t afford a place that fits your family, and the cheaper places all disappear in the blink of an eye.
Eventually, your host gives you your notice. You need to be out. Tomorrow.
While you wait to hear back from a few other friends, family members, and potential landlords, you decide to spend the night sleeping in your car. “It will be like camping,” you tell yourself. That seems to win over the kids. Hotels are expensive, and the more money you can save, the sooner you can get into an apartment of your own. “Besides,” you think to yourself, “it will only be for a night.”