Letting Go: Project Plan – Apartment
I decided to sublet my apartment rather than give it up. These were the steps I took to do so.
RESEARCH – First, research your rental market, understand how quickly things rent, and research costs of corporate housing and furnished apartments in your area. Luckily I had a friend in real estate in NYC so he was a great resource to understand pricing, contracts, and the market in general. Friend or not, you can ask this of any real estate agent. Start this research early in case you find that you need four months to sublet your place.
PAPERWORK – Next you have to figure out where to advertise. For me I didn’t want just anyone living in my apartment as I was leaving all of my furniture and possessions in it so I didn’t want it to turn into a frat house. Don’t be afraid to be picky about your tenants – after all – they are taking care of your stuff!
I ended up advertising through my friend’s real estate company and after a few months I was able to find two good long-term tenants. The real estate company drew up all of the contracts so that I was somewhat protected if they backed out mid-way through my travels. If you don’t list it through an apartment broker, then make sure that you find the proper contracts for the lease to protect yourself and your belongings. In addition, make sure you collect a deposit in case of damage to your belongings.
Finally, once I had a new tenant, I cancelled all of my bills such as cable, electricity, and water and had them changed over into the new tenant’s name. Since I was going to be gone for such a long time, I didn’t want to be the middle man paying bills as I wasn’t sure if I would even have a reliable internet connection. The only thing they owed me was the rent, and they took care of the rest themselves.
STORAGE – Even though I was subletting my apartment furnished, I had to move some items into storage such as clothing and personal family heirlooms that I knew I didn’t want damaged. If you are at all concerned about something getting broken then store it. I basically had to empty my closets and make room for the new tenant’s items and protect my prized possessions. This is a great time to downsize and an even better opportunity to donate a bunch of items to charity.
Do your research early regarding storage and definitely ask for long-term stay discounts. If you know you will be gone for a year, you can usually get a discount. Plus, if you have the means, consider paying the full year (or however long you are gone) as you will also get a discount if you pay up front. I chose to pay it all at once as I didn’t want to worry about remembering to pay storage fees while I was in the middle of the Sahara Desert.
PETS – This was one of the most difficult things I had to organize; probably because it was the most emotional for me. I had to find someone willing to take my cat for one year. This is a process that you definitely have to start early. Start asking your family and friends and see if you get any bites.
My first option fell through which left me scrambling to find someone else to take my cat. I realized that I couldn’t be too picky about this process as I might never find the perfect home, but I could find an adequate home and realize that my cat would adjust – just as humans do. In addition, once you figure out who can take your pets, then you must figure out how to get your pets to the new destination. For me that meant driving to another state. I also had to make sure that my cat had a recent check up and I gave all of her vet history to my friend in case there were any issues when I was gone.
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