September 2004 (v7 i1)
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Prelease or die, homeless and alone
by Susan Fells, Apartment Finder

It's a good thing you came to look for an apartment early, because many of your fellow students think they can slack off about where they'll live next year. Austin is a growing city, but affordable student housing is scarce these days. A few weeks more and you'd be well on your way to living in a box on West 25th Street.

Speaking of West Campus, I have a great place in mind that you'd absolutely love.

Now, I know you're probably thinking that preleasing is a trick and something apartments do to try and make more money off of you and your parents, but that's just one of those urban legends — everyone knows it's not true. I wish you wouldn't encourage that kind of talk. It's hogwash, and we all know it.

Think about it for a minute: preleasing benefits you. You get to put down money for an apartment almost a year before your move-in date. Have three friends that you just met in the dorm and wouldn't be completely opposed to living with? Great. The four of you can sign on a 2-2 in East Austin within the hour. Easy, right?

My fee? Oh, I don't have one. That's right, you don't have to pay me anything. Just sit back and benefit from my years of experience. I don't know what makes kids think they can look for an apartment themselves, because they can't.

Why are you standing up to leave? I haven't even driven you around to show you what places are available. You need me. You can't talk to the apartment owners themselves — it's not like they're real people. You need me!

Oh, so you think you're too good to prelease? You're too busy with schoolwork and studying to spend the afternoon looking at apartments? I've met your kind before: you all think that "something will turn up" and "there are enough apartments to wait until summer." I just have one thing to ask you: Are you out of your mind?

There aren't any apartments available after Spring Break. None. Only I know where to find them. You probably don't even know where East Austin is. I've spent years learning the ins and outs of the city. Informative fliers from complexes and cheap promotional gifts don't even scratch the surface of what these places are like. I mean, I've been inside them. I've gotten to know them.

Fine. Get up and walk out the door. What do I care? My conscience is clear. You're the one who has to live with eating out of a trashcan and the ever-present danger of Lyme disease. Just think about that next time you pass a dumpster. Stare long and hard, because that's your future.
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