It’s Gap Time…Where Will They Live?
Although it feels like you just moved your students into their dorms, you now have to move them out. The worst part, aside from the grueling heat, is the gap time. Some students will be returning in just a few weeks, with a move to another dorm room or sublease. If they have to be back early in August — whether it be another dorm, sorority or fraternity house, or an apartment — the schlep home and back is all effort and no reward. Not to mention silly. I know how many carloads it took to get my daughter moved in and, frankly, I am not prepared to rent a U-Haul to get her stuff home and then back again.
My first piece of advice is to recommend that they start early, bringing or sending any of those things home that need to be at home for however short or long a gap time they have. If you are visiting them for Spring Family Weekend or they are making a trip home after they stop wearing sweaters but before exams, transfer some of their belongings home; it will make for lighter work later.
For students who live in (or sublease) off-campus apartments over the summer gap but are not planning on renewing their lease, things get complicated and frustrating. Most leases end on July 30th. Classes do not end until a week or so into August. That leaves those students in a triple bind: where should they live for that interim period AND where do they store their stuff AND how do they manage this while heading into finals? If you are the renter of record, start by checking with the apartment management to see if they will extend the lease on their current place. I’ll admit it’s unlikely because most of the apartments have incoming renters for whom to prepare. That leaves them no incentive to grant an extension, and most won’t.
Which leads to another aspect of these complex logistics. If your student is moving into another apartment or house, most new leases start sometime the first week or so in August. Again, this is to allow the management company to clean and prepare the premises for new tenants. Moving while studying to complete a semester is not ideal. If your student is graduating, think about having them ask a good friend to put them up. Or you can look into an inexpensive hotel or Airbnb. If you expect this scenario, have them pare down their summer belongings to the barest minimum (think Study Abroad subsistence here) before they even start their Summer classes. As for those students moving from the Summer semester straight into Fall, there is no easy solution for their belongings. It is one of the major reasons that I am not a big fan of students changing living arrangements every year.
Is Storage Your Answer?
UF has partnered with Storage on Demand. They provide free boxes and other packing materials, and schedule pick-up, storage, and return for students’ belongings. So that’s one consideration. Another is MakeSpace. They bill themselves as “Storage without the struggle,” and will pick up, haul, and store your stuff. They offer $100 off your first month of storage, so they may be willing to work with you for a shorter term scenario, as well. You can also peruse our list here of storage facilities in Gainesville. The sooner you look over what’s available, the better you can Jenga your way into something that helps you span whatever gap you have.
For my daughter, we put some of her stuff in storage at the end of the Spring Term. That worked for the lion’s share of her belongings, but then she bought furniture from a departing student. That furniture had to be picked up by July 30th, creating a gap of four days before her new apartment was available. In spite of our nicely begging, management at her new apartment declined our request to let her move in early. We ended up pitching in with her future roommate to hire a moving company that picked up the furniture that both roommates had purchased. Then they stored it for four days before moving it into their new apartment.
The price of these four days, you ask? Over $1000.00 that we split down the middle. Yeah, a $1000 gap fee. It’s a pet peeve of mine that our HaveUHeard experience has shown this takes place at many of the Florida universities. This awkward gap finds students having to pay dearly for sometimes as few as 4 days of storage. Because you cannot rent a unit in a storage facility for less than a month, the price is the same for 4 days or 30. It does pay to work out a plan with friends and roommates. Any time you can divvy up space and cost, you’re helping everyone out.
The moral of this story: Even in Florida, it pays to “Mind the Gap.”
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