Dear Sydney: Is there anyone in your city who is ACTUALLY looking for tenants?

Since I’ve been accepted to the University of Sydney, I’ve been looking for a place to stay. Using the university dorms are decidedly expensive (typically they’re 8,000+ a semester, not to mention that you have to pay a fee to apply AND interview to get in AND you might be rejected) so I’ve been browsing other sites for leads.

And am I getting leads? I sure am! For the past few weeks I’ve been rolling in e-mails like this one:

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Dear scammers: I am on to you.



How I ended up living with a family I found on Craiglist

So I’m living with a family I randomly found on Craigslist.

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I didn’t ask for this, mind you. I didn’t want to resort to Craigslist. But– as I soon discovered– Northeastern is no help at all in this particular situation.

Here’s the problem: I’m on co-op right now. My co-op is in Waltham, a suburb about a half hour out of Boston. In traffic, maybe longer. Here’s another problem: I need a car to get to my job, since the commuter rail station is a pretty far walk from my work. The final problem: Since I’m working full-time, I’m paying all my living expenses myself.

To live on campus, then, would be impractical. I would be farther from work than I’d need to be. I’d have to pay the (very high) Boston rent. I’d have to pay for the expensive parking pass.

I love living with my friends (and miss it, to be honest) but remaining there would have been unreasonable.

I needed somewhere else to live.

So, after I was hired last October, I decided that the best course of action would be to use Northeastern’s off-campus services. I couldn’t be the first kid with this problem. I know kids doing co-op in Allston, Framingham, Everett, Newton… all suburban areas that are not quite T-accessable.

To the Off-Campus office I went.

post 108 image 2So that was no help.

Next, I decided to look into Northeastern’s Co-op Connections office, supposedly designed to serve off-campus co-ops. The office only consists of two people, but I hoped that they could help.

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What about the kids who had previously worked where I would be working? They had to find a place to live, right? What if I contacted them, saw their living situation, perhaps took over an apartment when they left?

I contacted my co-op advisor to see if she could help.

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Finally, I turned to my hiring company. They have a LinkedIn group exclusively for co-ops. If I could get on that group, I could get in touch with kids who could help!

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I was cornered. Thus, I had to turn to…

Craigslist is an website that works like the classified advertisments in a newspaper. Anyone can post listings for housing, jobs, services… even dating! Most of the users are well-intentioned people with genuine needs. However, Craigslist has become notorious for the large amount of scammers that also roam the site. Most infamous is Phillip Markoff, the so-called Craigslist Killer.

You can see why I wanted to avoid it. Now you see why I had to resort to it. I started browsing the housing section, looking for available apartments or sublets. Here’s an example of one of the more dubious posts I found:

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And I started e-mailing people. And calling. But all the results were a little dubious…

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I ended up putting up my own ad on Craigslist asking for housing, resulting in people e-mailing me their places themselves. I set up appointments to go look at my options. With a friend, of course– meeting people on the internet alone is never the best idea.

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I mean, I had options. Reasonably priced options, close to my work. None of them seemed great, though. And then I got a last minute call…

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After we both confirmed each other’s identities on Facebook, I jumped on the T to meet this family. They were looking to rent a room in their home that seemed to have it all: a nice house, a safe neighborhood, parking, and utilities included.

But, I’d be living with a family. Wouldn’t it be awkward? Could I get along with them?

Well, I know what being an exchange student is like. And then it pretty much decided itself for me after this conversation.

And that’s how I ended up living with a random family I found on Craigslist.

(They’re pretty awesome)