When I moved to Wisconsin for school last July, my goal was not to be at Kenilworth Square for a long period. Granted, my residency there was contingent upon being a full-time student, but there are students who would stay their entire four years. When I applied to live in Kenilworth, I had the option of a one or two-bedroom unit. My first thought was that it might not be a bad idea to experience the roommate situation for the first time, but my comfort zone was such that not having one was a better fit. Of course, I would also be paying more in rent to avoid having a roommate. For the typical traditional student, they will end up living in the dorms where they might have more than one roommate. Being older than twenty-two made me eligible to not live in the dorms, and I was fine with that. With the exception of having been paired with a bad choice in roommates, the only major thing that would have changed for me in doing a two-bedroom setup would have been paying half the rent. I would have departed Kenilworth with more in my savings, but alas, it’s water under the bridge.
I began receiving emails about room assignments in February, mostly asking us to start considering whether or not we would be continuing to live in Kenilworth for the Fall semester. Looking at the spreadsheet I’d compiled with a breakdown of what I’d been paying in rent to this point compared to what was remaining, and even considering what I might be eligible for in financial aid, it still wasn’t happening. I had not begun the process of looking and asking around for might next occupation, but that had to begin soon.
Over time, I verified my registration with the Neighborhood Housing Office, modified my profile, and begun looking for both properties and roommate requests. In short, NHO has agreed to allow landlords to list their properties, or even rooms that they’re renting out to students. This can be either on a monthly basis, semester basis, or perhaps for a graduate student, on a year-long basis (much like a regular lease). On a weekly basis, I would run new searches on properties – they had to have three requirements for me: Rent had to be under $800/mo, they had to be willing to take on a lender without a full-time job, and they needed to be near a bus route.
Up to this point, my SUV has been a nice form of transportation to visit friends outside of Milwaukee, to get to work outside of Milwaukee, and to take the occasional trip. As of this writing, it’s serving nicely to get me to Off/Aisle. I also checked out the Roommate Request section, and it’s mostly people who’ve advertised that they’re looking for a roommate and what they prefer.
Over February and March, I started reaching out to people – out of four properties, one only rented to graduate students, one only rented to women, one forgot that their listing was still active, and the fourth replied to my emails, but in such reprehensible form that I just factored them out.
In reaching out to people who sought roommates, I had a few criteria: You had to be over 21 (not for drinking, but I couldn’t fathom how many traditional-aged students would room up with a thirty-three year old senior), I wanted a junior or senior (for the sake of proximity to graduation), I wanted someone who listed themselves as quiet/non-partying. I sent out three inquiries – one female mentioned that she was twenty-two and didn’t like the idea of rooming up with a male ten years older, one male mentioned he only wanted female roommates, and another scoffed when she realized that her profile was still active, despite having graduated two years prior.
The following month, I started seeing a banner for a Housing Fair in the Union Concourse. That went on my calendar quickly. It ran for the whole day, but I also had two classes that day.
The Housing Fair was underwhelming, but they still managed to attract four landlords to it. I had three questions for each landlord: (1) Will you work with students who have to pay their rent from savings? (2) Do you rent to students who don’t have full-time W-2 employment? (3) Are you required to sign a one-year lease, or can you do month by month?
The breakdown was as follows:
- First property billed themselves as “luxury” with one-bedrooms going at close to $1,100/mo; while that’s admirable pricing for who they are, I can’t think of many students who could afford that.
- Second property was represented by a gentleman whose English was weak at best; I took his information. It turned out that a Google search of his property’s first entry was the Better Business Bureau.
- Third property was staffed by two college students whose company boasted six properties, all within a few miles of UWM. Rent for a one-bedroom unit would be around $875. Their brochures were informative, and this would be something fairly positive. I took their information and moved forth.
- Final property only had two, three, and four-bedroom units. For those that don’t have a second person, they offer the possibility of matching you up with someone. Given that it would only be for three months (summer was not included in my math), I moved on.
After class that day, I went back to my apartment and checked out property #3. I also sent some emails – apparently, one company manages multiple properties, and each property has different supervisors.
One email came back with two potential units and one for $800/mo, but the showings were only scheduled during times that I couldn’t make, even if I rearranged my schedule. The other email came back in writing so reprehensible that I dismissed it out of principle. When I email back and forth with a business, whether it’s run by students, or by professionals, I do expect sentence structure to be present and punctuation to be used, though I don’t expect it to be pretty. Without decent writing, it calls your legitimacy into question and discourages me from doing business with you.
To fully understand the next part, I have to give you some backstory:
I have known Bill and Tiffany since I started following politics from Massachusetts. Bill graciously offered me a room before Kenilworth was even in play. Since I hadn’t met him in-person at that point, I didn’t want to impose myself, an unknown person, on him. It wasn’t until my 2014 visit that I met him and Tiffany at Buffalo Wild Wings. He being a ten-year veteran of the Army gave me some conversational points given my upbringing, and talking to her allowed me to get to know them better, and learn how they met. I thought their store was very compelling. I can honestly say that I hadn’t laughed so hard hanging around with other people as I had with them. Even after meeting, as time went on, I still didn’t take up them up on hospitality because as my time to relocating for UWM drew nearer, I had already signed a lease with Kenilworth. Also, there were kids involved, and I didn’t want to be in their way. When you’re single and no children, the dynamics of the situation change.
Ultimately, doing what I did worked out in the long run. He, Tiffany, and I have met up a number of times, we’ve attended some events, and I’ve come to get to know both families, and many of their friends. One could say that I’ve become a part of their family. Since they were one of those couples who had been together for a long period of time, I asked one time out of casual conversation if they had plans to get a place of their own. They mentioned that it was a consideration since they were definitely in it for the long haul and moving in together would make plans easier.
As the month was coming to a close, I met with up with them at Bill’s house since we were due to attend a gun show. During the course of that day, Tiffany mentioned that she was probably going to end up moving into his house over the summer, and that she was having difficulty finding someone to occupy the house for the sake of not leaving it vacant. Since my time at Kenilworth was a few months from being done, I mentioned I would do it. Milwaukee to Sheboygan is approximately an hour away, but you can do it in 45-50 without traffic considering I-43 is 70MPH most of the way.
Once I agreed to be a tenant, we spent time over the next month discussing the financials, and determining what she would leave behind for me to use. Suffice it to say, between the cost of living in Wisconsin, and the costs I’ll be incurring living in her house, I’ll be doing better financially than I was either back east, or in Milwaukee.
Since that last meeting, I decided that each time they and I met up, I would bring some more boxes to her house. Thankfully, this transfer of possession could be done in my SUV, and didn’t need a moving van.
May 5th, I received an email from University Housing:
Greetings Kenilworth Resident!
You are receiving this email because you will be vacating Kenilworth Square Apartments by May 31st. Please keep the following in mind when preparing for your check-out appointment:
- It is necessary for you to sign-up for a 20 minute check out time with one of our staff members. To sign-up for a check out time, please go to the following website: X and select the day and time you will be checking out of your apartment. The times on the sheet are the times our staff is available to check you out.
- Things to note:
- Schedule your check-out at least 72 hours prior to your move out time (e.g., if you would like to sign up for a check-out time on May 25th at 11AM, you would need to have this scheduled by May 22nd at 11AM); you may only reserve one check-out appointment.
- Make sure all items are out of your room and University Housing facilities at the time of your check-out (you may not leave carts with your belongings in the hallway). Failure to comply will result in a $75 improper check-out fee.
- Damages and cleaning will be assessed at the time of your appointment and an estimate of charges will be provide; final charges will be determined by the University Housing Facilities Department.
- Failure to be on time or to be ready at the scheduled check-out time will result in a $75 improper check-out fee.
- Your name will be visible on this website when you sign up. If you have an issue with your name appearing on this website, please contact Kenilworth staff member prior to the deadline of this sign up.
- Your room key must be turned in to the staff member performing your check-out during your check-out. Failure to turn in a room key will result in a $75 lock change fee.
- Make sure to also return any parking passes, entry fobs, or other University Housing property at the time of your check-out.
- Please direct any questions regarding this process to a staff member at X. Please put “(Your Name) – Kenilworth Check Out” in the subject line.
As long as I returned the unit to the shape it was given to me, and I returned my parking pass and key, I was golden. Even for a building whose lease denotes that there exists no landlord/tenant relationship, this was fairly standard stuff. I didn’t want to choose a timeframe for clear-out until checking with Bill and Tiffany to make sure that I’d have access to her house on that chosen day.
May 10th, the three of us convened at her house, where she gave me the dime tour and we confirmed what things she would take and leave. We also went out to the local Buffalo Wild Wings to celebrate the relocation. There was still some added chuckles at the fact that I haven’t changed my home of record to Wisconsin, but I also admitted that with the lower costs, that might be something I do this summer.
With finals coming up within a week of that visit, I ended up tabling the signup so that I could catch up on studying. The following Monday and Tuesday were home to my Constitutional Law and Judicial Process finals, respectively. Both have been exciting classes, and both have taught me much about the judicial branch of government. In the days of leading up to both finals, I stressed myself out to the maximum.
Come May 16th, after taking my Constitutional Law final, I finally locked in the clear-out date for Kenilworth for May 26th at noon. This would give enough time to do anything I would normally do in the first part of my day, followed by packing away everything else remaining, and then completing check-out.
May 26, 2016 – Move out of Kenilworth
I awoke at 0800 and began my morning by stripping my bed, pulling anything I didn’t intend to leave behind, and headed down to the ground floor to grab a cart to move my remaining things. It took me approximately an hour and a half to crunch the remaining things to drive north with me into my SUV. UWM formed a partnership with Goodwill to leave anything they weren’t taking to their next destination, and since not everything would fit into the SUV, I ended up leaving some things behind.
I returned to my room after clearing everything out and realized that despite having taken pictures of the apartment when I first took occupancy, I never made a video (coming soon).
It was 1030 and everything was either packed, or sitting in Sheboygan. Like a good 21st century student, I occupied the final hour and a half on Facebook.
Five minutes prior to noon, the knock I was waiting for came around. Housing came through and did what had to be the quickest inspection (eight minutes) I’ve ever seen for an apartment. Overall, the apartment was in the same condition wherein I found it save for normal wear and tear. All I had to do was sign and date acknowledging that the inspection went well and that I was returning it to Housing in working order.
While he was doing the inspection, I went down to my car and removed my parking pass. I would have done it prior, but I didn’t know if their parking enforcement would see it missing and decide to cite me. Granted, I could have explained it as a move-out, but this way was one less hassle. With the key and pass in hand, Housing locked the unit and we headed downstairs.
At the desk, I signed paperwork terminating my parking pass which in turn would remove the parking fee for next month from my account. We also confirmed my forwarding address, verified I had no packages, and I did one final check for mail.
After the paperwork was done, I shook hands with Housing and I headed north.
By 1330, I had arrived at what would be my abode, until at least graduation.
I’ll close this 2600+ word entry by thanking my Tiffany for graciously allowing me to rent her house. As I write this, I’m enjoying the serenity that is not having to hear city traffic, people blasting their music at all hours, and not having to hear drunks come out of the nearby bar during the late night hours screaming at the top of their lungs.