Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Tips on Finding Intentional Communities

The Beast is home to an amazing diversity of collective houses, co-ops, co-housing, communes, and eco-villages! In the best way, living in community supports human relationships, saves us money, living more sustainable on the planet, and growing into better people. Anyone whose lived in a co-op knows, however, that intentional community is no utopia! I've had some of the best times in my life and some of the hardest times living in co-ops as conflicts arise. Yet, when people come together with a collective vision, the right communication and conflict-resolution skills, community housing is the most meaningful way to live in the East Bay. This post shares a few good places to look for existing intentional housing (also check out the links above because they show some really rad thriving communities). There will be a separate post on starting a collective house and some glory & horror stories of living collectively. Read why I "Loved and Left the Commune"

Co-op Eco City   by Alfred Twu - http://www.ocf.berkeley.edu/~atwu/firstcultural/fci_main.html

If you're seeking to join an intentional community in the Bay Area there are some great networks and listservs I recommend checking out. This is just a small sample and if you know of some other resource please comment so we can share our knowledge!

Tip #1) If you want to join an existing collective house or co-op I recommend getting on the SFChalkboard Listserv:

To get on the listserv: Email the moderator at sfchalkboard@lists.riseup.net and say that you're interested in intentional community. 
There are posts here (that are all on Craigslist) but this is also a great forum for events, talks, yoga, etc

Tip #2) Facebook groups are also a great way to find housing and have a much higher response rate then Craigslist!

Two really good ones are:

East Bay Community Housing https://www.facebook.com/groups/eastbaycommhousing/ 

Bay Area Conscious Community Housing https://www.facebook.com/groups/303241339725481/ 

Tip #3) To plug into the Co-Housing network check out EBCoHo


Monday, December 9, 2013

Craigslist making you sad? Tips for Craigslist house hunters

My girlfriend and I have been off and on the housing hunt since I graduated UC Berkeley in May 2013. I've picked up a few tricks in applying to Craigslist ads that have dramatically increased my response rate and getting more house visits. 

Because getting housing in the East Bay is (almost) harder than getting a job in the East Bay, treat house hunting like applying for a job! You have to be on your game, with a 'renters resume' and 'cover letter' that will get you in the door to that 'interview'. For every CL ad posting there are ~50-75 people applying to each ad. 

Tip #1: Map View Searching on Craigslist

When I started searching on CL I was refining my search way too narrowly on price level, preferences for couples, and move in dates. CL's search function is not that good and a lot of ads get missed. If you know WHERE you want to live e.g North Oakland, South Berkeley, etc. check out 'Map view' on CL.

Choose Map where it says "list/thumb/gallery/map" below the search bar. 

As a visual person looking in a area range of where I want to live to make my commute do-able, I've found this to be bar none the best option. When you click the purple dots a summary tab comes up and if the post looks good and the price looks right, then click more information and apply! This is also useful to compare price ranges of each neighborhood and it gives you a sense of what you can expect.

Tip #2: Keep your search results broad or search by month

CL's search engine is no Google, so maximize the houses/apartments you see by minimizing search refinement. This means you'll have to weed through the listings more yourself, but I've found this better than missing a potentially awesome post. 

If you're looking for housing to start in March for example, then type March into the search key in Map view. This I've had some success with as it appears to show most openings in that time frame, but sometimes it can miss it. 

Applying to Craigslist Ad

You want to stand out from those 50 other people flooding the inboxes of those already comfortably housed people *damn them*. Here's the skinny on this, most of which is pretty obvious: 

1) Have a stock 'Cover Letter' 
2) Change subject line to stand out 
3)  Attach one or two pictures of you!

Tip #3: Have a stock 'Cover Letter'

Have a stock 'cover letter' that has an interesting hook and covers key areas:

A) How you *loved* the look/sound of their house/apartment and what a great addition you think you would make 
B) Who you are: twenty-something, recent graduate, passionate activist working on food justice issue, activities I love doing include biking, hiking, knitting, etc. 
C) Employment status and time spent working 
D) When you can move in and how long you're looking to stay (advice is to always say 1 year no matter how long you're looking)  
E) Note whether or not you have a pet (God help you if you do, as this is make the search much harder)
F) Phone number/email address to contact you for best visit 
G) Optional: Facebook link 

IMPORTANT: Keep your stock cover letter on hand and edit as needed. Re-arrange to match the key words they are looking for e.g They post: We have a cat! You say: "I love furry friends but do not have any myself." Some ads will have some key words on the bottom for you to include in the subject line to ensure you read the whole thing. 

NOTE: Keep the paragraphs SHORT (2-3 sentences max.) and have only 4-5 paragraphs max. Think about how many ads these people are reading and how lazy the human eye is. Hella lazy. Breaks in paragraphs is good, I hate block paragraphs and long emails, they will never be replied to. 

Tip #4:  Change subject line to stand out 

Never reply to ads with the same subject line as the CL default! Reply with a positive statement like "Uplifting Roommate: Sarah! or Fun roommate John!" or just "Housing response: Elliot" OR If the ad specifically asks you to include some key word in the header, make sure you do that. 

Tip #5: Include one or two pictures of you! 

Attaching a picture really helps you stand out from the crowd and makes you seem like a real person! I think this is by far the best advice I can give in this here blog. Do it. 

Tip #6: Follow up with ads after 3-5 days

If you don't hear back from an ad, follow up within three to five days and re-express your interest. You have nothing to lose! 

Tip #7: Don't get discouraged ~ seriously. 

You may spend 2 hours sending out 30 posts in one evening and hear back from 1 or 2 people. Don't get discouraged! This is like job hunting, just keep rolling on and have faith the BEAST GODS will help you. Just keep at it.

Happy hunting'