Across the country, AmeriCorps members in large cities are struggling to find affordable housing. Seattle is no exception- the rent costs for 1 & 2 bedroom units in city limits often exceed $1000 a month.
This is not sustainable. In fact, it doesn’t even sound possible.
You, however, know how to live the #StipendLife!
We have many members that live in the Seattle city limits (over 600 members are on our Facebook group today) and they have come up with some extremely creative ways to manage to afford the Pacific Northwest. Here are a few tips & tricks:
#SAChousing. Did you know? Within the SAC Facebook group, we have generated a tag for all AmeriCorps members who are looking to find housing in Seattle or have rooms to rent.
Craigslist. Craigslist has a feature that allows you to post a biography in the “seeking housing” section. Try posting a nice ad about what you’re looking for, and include the budget you’re seeking monthly. Mention that you will be serving in AmeriCorps under a living stipend. Pro-Tip: ALWAYS ask for discounts for AmeriCorps members when seeking housing. Occasionally landlords will reduce rent or utilities.
Co-Workers. Connect with co-workers at your current site (staff AND other AmeriCorps members) to see if anyone has an extra room for you to rent, or a room for sharing. You’d be surprised what you might find if you ask around. Many homeowners in Seattle are interested in renting rooms to help with mortgage payments.
Network. Network. Network. Does your mom’s sister’s aunt have a co-worker in Seattle? Ask anyone you know if they would consider renting a room out of their home. They might not currently rent to tenants, but they might appreciate the extra income!
If you’re still in a pinch, try these:
Negotiate. I cannot stress this enough. You are providing an incredible service to your country and the Seattle community. If you can’t afford rent in your current apartment, ask if it can be reduced. Landlords will not always honor this request, but they might, and you’ll never know unless you ask them.
Work/Serve. There are many programs that allow you to provide maintenance, nanny-ing, or other services in exchange for reduced or free rent. SAC knows of one VISTA member that actually did service while living on a ship! Solutions are out there, if you’re willing to get creative. Check out this article for more ideas.
Air BNB. This is an interesting model of travel where strangers offer their home, extra room, trailer, or other sleeping location for a few nights to travelers. Some Air BNBs allow you to stay for a month! This could be a great option while settling into Seattle.
Couch Surfing. For the less materialistically inclined, there’s always “couch surfing,” which allows you to meet new people and move throughout the city while staying on a stranger’s couch. Be cautious if you choose to do this!
Trailer/Camper Living. It’s been done! Monthly campsite fees are sometimes cheaper than paying for rent in the city. This is more ideal for members who live and work outside the city limits.
Have a great story about how YOU managed housing in Seattle? We want to hear from you! Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Author: Danielle is a 2nd year AmeriCorps VISTA serving with Habitat for Humanity and Communications Lead on the SAC Board. Last year, she served in Homeowner Services in Sacramento, California. This year, she assists the Seattle Habitat Stores with in-kind donor acquisition, operations development, and coordinating volunteer teams. She has a bachelors’ degree in psychology from UC Santa Cruz, and she plans to work in non-profit management. Danielle spends her time hiking mountains, reading, running, and exploring all that the Pacific Northwest has to offer.