Last apartment question on AskMe maybe forever hopefully
July 24, 2013 4:39 PM   Subscribe

Is anybody going to rent to us in Chicago? We are recent graduates with mediocre credit, part-time jobs and no rental history.

My boyfriend and I are moving (back) to Chicago (where we were previously students) this summer. We've got a sublet for a month so we can move back, start our jobs, and apartment hunt within the city.

This is our first time renting-- I've lived in a series of sublets and my boyfriend has only lived in dorms. For the sake of this question, assume I can't get any references from past landlords/sublet folk (not because of a bad history but because of unresponsiveness).

My credit is not great because I was unemployed for 8 months and racked up a high debt/credit ratio (somewhere around 580-ish, though I've always made payments on time), and my boyfriend's credit is OK, though he has very little payment history (his is around 650-ish). I realize while not outright awful, we are not stellar applicants.

We've been wondering what the best option is-- are we going to get to Chicago and realize no one will rent to us because we're a couple of kids with mediocre/ehhh credit? Are we going to spend an entire month looking in vain, and just keep hopping between sublets with the question still in the air?

The alternative is to sublet a longer-term apartment for about nine months (we've got a particular one in mind) that is on the low end of rent for us so that my boyfriend can acquire a payment history (on his student loans) and I can hopefully pay down some debt, and my credit score will look better, and maybe our subleaser(??) will give us a good reference. My debt is not going to go down dramatically in nine months, but I can stop acquiring new debt and make a dent. The downside to this is we'd basically be living in a glorified studio together, which we've done before, but... you know. (Not the worst thing in the world though, tbh.)

Other mitigating factors: neither of us have a lot of savings right now (so we can't pay several months upfront), my job is part time (but a decent wage, so I'll be comfortable), my boyfriend's job is still in the works. Also we're not looking to rent in any student-y areas, but we could if that's a better bet. (Right now looking at Ravenswood, Logan Square, other relatively quiet & affordable neighborhoods.)

Writing this out the 9-month sublet & debt-repair plan is starting to look the most attractive, but on the other hand, it would be nice to finally have our own space, after years of subletting. Just wanted to know whether we're going to be laughed out of town, or if there's any chance some nice Christian landlords will take us in on charity. (jk but will people actually rent to us. We must know.)
posted by stoneandstar to Work & Money (4 answers total)
Chicago is supply heavy on the apartment side, so I think you'll be fine. I actually wouldn't be surprised if you got the first one you actually put an offer in for. I rented out my condo in Lakeview to a couple I was a little hesitant to based on their credit and income levels, but I realized that I might not exactly have my door beaten down if I refused them. So in that sense, the dynamic is in your favor. 580 and 650 are fine in my eyes.
posted by thewumpusisdead at 4:46 PM on July 24, 2013

When we moved to Chicago, we were in about your same boat. We did not have a problem finding a landlord to rent to us. It will likely be easier to rent from a private landlord than a management company, though.
posted by Ms Vegetable at 4:51 PM on July 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

My sister and her boyfriend were just up there looking at places. She'll be going with just a part time job, I have no idea about him.

They were there for a weekend and found a place. I think you'll be fine.

But if you want I can talk to her and see where they looked.
posted by theichibun at 6:11 PM on July 24, 2013

Ravenswood is actually a bit rental-short at the moment (too much condo conversion in recent years), so I don't know if that's your best bet. Places get snapped up pretty fast, so landlords are less likely to take chances. You could go just even a tiny bit south, to the Northcenter neighborhood, or a tiny bit west to Albany Park, and have better odds. (Honestly half the landlords on CL lie and say their Northcenter/Albany Park units are "in ravenswood" anyway,'ll probably end up looking there without even meaning to.)

Logan, you should be gold.
posted by like_a_friend at 6:26 PM on July 24, 2013

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