Short-term (4 month) accommodation in Gainesville, FL
July 5, 2012 12:41 PM   Subscribe

I'm going to be a visiting researcher at the University of Florida, Gainesville from late August to late December this year. What's the best way to find accommodation for this time period?

I'm looking for something along the lines of a quiet, furnished studio room, the nearer the university the better. I've found a lot of one-year leases but not very much for shorter periods. So far Craigslist seems like the best bet, but maybe there are other avenues I'm missing. I've made enquiries to the university itself, but they don't have much to offer for the short term either.

Bonus question: if I can't find somewhere before I arrive, I'll need an inexpensive motel for the interim. Any recommendations?

Additional note: I live in the UK and this will be my first visit to the USA, so well-known aspects of renting in the USA generally may not be well-known to me.

Related previous questions: motels/hotels not near the university, from January 2010; Livability of Gainesville, from June 2010.
posted by pont to Travel & Transportation around Gainesville, FL (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I'm an engineering student at UF. Since Gainesville is a college town, almost all the leases are on a yearly basis, and there are few one-bedroom apartments near campus. Month-to-month leases are very difficult to find, but not impossible. I would check craigslist. You do not want to live in a motel. You will regret it.

You can also contact local realtors, who will work with you at no cost to yourself. memail me for some numbers and information, or if you have any questions about the town in general.
posted by nickhb at 12:54 PM on July 5, 2012

Congrats! People love Gainesville, and you'll be at UF for football season! (Actually, not so cool, but if you really want a taste of the insanity, that would be it!)

Here's my favorite site for rentals and the three apartment complexes that offer a furnished studio/1 bedroom.

There's an Oakwood Complex in Gainesville. These are throughout the US and they specialize in short-term, furnished rentals (complete with dishware, pots, pans, etc.)

Here is something called Swamprentals, which is freaking adorable! There's a neighborhood guide, and a resourse guide. How helpful. Here's a link to the page with Furnished Rentals.

Is it possible to get into Student Housing on campus (not optimal, but they may have apartments for married students that wouldn't be to onorous.)

Enjoy your time in Florida!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:06 PM on July 5, 2012

When my father, a professor, leaves home for a full semester, he makes his house available through (unknown office) at the university. The takers have been visiting professors. I'd suggest asking the person who hired you if they know about anything like that; also ask the department admin -- he or she might be willing to check into it for you.
posted by wryly at 1:23 PM on July 5, 2012 [2 favorites]

Check your memail.
posted by Ochre,Hugh at 1:25 PM on July 5, 2012

I stayed in Lakeshore Towers when I first moved to Gainesville, and our lab has used them to house visitors in the past.
posted by penguinicity at 1:26 PM on July 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

I live in the UK and this will be my first visit to the USA

Car: you wants to has one.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 1:55 PM on July 5, 2012 [2 favorites]

I happen to assist visiting professors here at Large Midwestern University and I strongly suspect that there is a list of recommendations for housing at a variety of pricepoints which has been compiled by your impending university. Contact the department you're working for - don't contact faculty, contact staff, preferably fairly resourceful staff if they don't host faculty all the time since they'll need to kick the question around a bit until they figure it out.

I would also suggest being in contact with the International Scholars office, or whatever they call it. There will probably be about twenty million tiny things to sort out, from health care to pay/stipend/etc and you'll need to figure out if it's in your best interest to apply for a SSN. (Large Midwestern is fairly helpful to guest faculty in terms of setting up insurance and stipends and so on, but I imagine things are more conservative and thus less generous in FL.)
posted by Frowner at 2:07 PM on July 5, 2012

Email the department secretary you have been dealing with for the other stuff necessary for setting up your research gig. They will know local resources and also send email blasts out to department listservs. Ideally, there will be someone who is going away for fall semester who would love to sublet you their place.
posted by rockindata at 2:52 PM on July 5, 2012

Windowscreens. Check for them, make sure they're in good condition, fit well, etc. If not, make loud demands on your landlord. Ditto the storm door on your front door. Florida has bugs the way the rainforest has bugs.

You'll be moving in just before lovebug mating season. Lovebugs are harmless, but when they all come out to mate in September, you'll be witnessing something akin to a biblical plague (again: they're harmless, but they will blot out the sun with their numbers). Take pictures, and enjoy the weirdness of nature, and send home lots of pictures or they'll never ever believe you.

Avoid low-lying ground-- Florida gets hurricanes and other amazing storms and generally minor floods, but flooding is a serious hassle only when it's not seriously dangerous.

P.S. Get a Car and keep it running cool.
posted by Sunburnt at 3:17 PM on July 5, 2012

there's a site called (or generally, do a search by sabbatical housing exchange) that allows academics with these kinds of sub-year housing needs to find one another and reliable renters for the duration. a couple of friends have had good luck with it. (you must have an academic email to sign up, I think.)
posted by acm at 5:07 PM on July 5, 2012

Thanks for all the replies so far! All of these suggestions seem promising to me. I can't give the full response they deserve right now, since I'm travelling with limited net access. As soon as I can find a free hour and a net connection, I will check them all out and respond more expansively.
posted by pont at 7:40 AM on July 6, 2012

Regarding the car thing, Zipcar! I don't know if you have similar things in the UK, so I'm going to give you the gist here.

A dozen cars of various kinds are left parked in designated spots around campus. When you sign up for the program, you can rent the cars (online and fully automated) in half-hour increments, for around $7.50 per hour (approximately 4.83 pounds). You can also rent by the day, but then it's cheaper to go with a regular rental agency. You pay nothing else (gas is charged to a card left in the car)

What it's good for:
-brief trips and outings

What it's bad for:
-Extended trips
-long evenings
-premium dates should be booked far in advance

You really do need some form of car, for groceries if nothing else. Public transport in Gainesville is only buses, and while they're much better than in most US cities, shopping through bus routes is a huge pain.
posted by nickhb at 11:59 AM on July 9, 2012

nickhb: don't worry, I wasn't contemplating a motel for the whole 4 months, just for as long as it takes me to find somewhere longer-term! I'll MeMail you for recommended realtors. And thanks for the zipcar tip -- for all I know we do have things like that in the UK, but I've never needed a car here so I haven't come across them.

Ruthless Bunny: thanks, those all look very useful and I will see what they can do for me. Apparently student housing is a possibility, but full-year renters have first dibs so they can't say anything about availability until a few days before I arrive. As to the football -- I have to admit that watching sports of any kind generally leaves me cold, but they do say that one should try everything once, except incest and morris dancing.

wryly, Frowner, rockindata: clearly something of a consensus that I should make greater efforts to find something through the university. Thanks, I will get on to the international office, departmental secretary, etc. So far I've only been in touch with the guy who hired me, who has been helpful with the accommodation hunt so far, but I should probably stop assuming that he'd automatically know about all the possibilities for finding accommodation through university channels.

penguincity: thanks, will check them out.

ROU_Xenophobe, Sunburnt: from what I've read, I think I can manage around town with a bike. On the other hand, I do want to get out and explore the surroundings, so I suspect I'll find myself wanting a car fairly swiftly. Also, I am all about the weirdness of nature, and look forward to meeting the lovebugs.

acm: thanks, looks very promising! I'll sign up.

I'm going to be practically internet-less for the next three weeks, but I'll report back once I've found somewhere. Thanks again for all the answers; I'm pretty new to MeFi and really impressed with the friendliness and helpfulness.
posted by pont at 7:15 AM on July 10, 2012

I have found somewhere through the university -- or more precisely through my employer at the university, who has found what appears to be an ideal house in the region of the Florida WIldlife Centre. Not walking distance from campus, but an easy bike ride.

Another option he sent my way is "The Continuum, Gainesville's premiere graduate student community": Very handy for the university, most reviews I've found are positive, and I would probably have gone for it were it not for the aforementioned house.

Thanks again to all who answered.
posted by pont at 2:04 PM on August 1, 2012

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