Students caught in rental market squeeze

By HANNAH BALLANTYNE/ Montana State News

Finding a place to live in Bozeman is becoming very difficult for Montana State University students. From apartments to basement room rentals, the rise in student numbers has caused the demand for housing to skyrocket.

Recently enrolled MSU student Cole Stewart encountered a big challenge when he tried to find a place to live after coming to Bozeman to begin school in the spring semester.

“I was crashing on a friend’s couch for the first three weeks that I was in Bozeman,” said Stewart, who spent every spare moment searching websites such as the Bozeman Daily Chronicle and Craigslist looking for any available housing as well as calling local Bozeman companies such as High Street Properties.

“There was just nothing out there, and when I’d think I finally had one, someone else had gotten to it first. It’s like a race,” he said.

Brad Lindahl of High Street Properties in Bozeman said that as many as 23 individuals will be at a property showing for a house or apartment.

“They’ll have deposit money with them, cover letters and references, anything to get them to the top of the list. Everyone is pretty desperate,” said Lindahl.

High Street Properties currently has only one listing on its website, and Lindahl doesn’t think that’s going to change soon.

For people like Stewart, who don’t want to live in over-crowded MSU housing, finding a home or apartment is the only way.

“I know people that were sleeping in the hallways of different student housing buildings because the number of students was way over the building capacity,” said Stewart, who eventually found a place to rent through a friend of the friend whose couch he had been sleeping on.

“I only got the place because they had a roommate who dropped out of school and left out of the blue. I got really lucky,” said Stewart.

Having a pet throws a whole new challenge into the mix. Many apartment rentals are nearly twice as expensive for people with pets.

MSU student Shaylen Meyer said, “I spent 4 months searching for an apartment that would accept a dog and not charge me twice the amount as other places. They can charge way more because the demand is so high.”

– Edited By Rachel Anderson

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