Unorganized married housing listings take toll on students

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Jalen and Anika Gemmell look through Facebook married housing options. (Addie Blacker)

Recently married students say a lack of centralized listings for married student housing options, coupled with high demand and competition, cause added stress for new couples.

Jalen and Anika Gemmell recall their frustration trying to find and secure a location eight months before they were married. With virtually no outside assistance, they resorted to Facebook pages for married housing, KSL, Craigslist and the few options available on BYU’s married housing guides.

Anika Gemmell said she considered purchasing a married housing contract for April or May, months before she and Jalen Gemmell would be married. Even though she knew neither of them would be occupying the space for another three months, she figured paying the extra rent was a better option if it meant having a place secured.

The Gemmell’s primary sources for finding a place to live were married housing pages on Facebook. While various listings were frequently posted, they said it was nearly impossible to find something in their price range with the quality they wanted.

“It’s super intense. It freaks you out when you are like trying to find housing. You can’t be checking the (Facebook) page constantly — you look 15 minutes later, and it’s gone,” Anika Gemmell said.

Anika Gemmell looks through the recent listings on Facebook’s “Married Orem/Provo Housing under $900” page. (Addie Blacker)

The Gemmell’s said they were shocked with some of the apartments they looked at that were less than $600 in rent but included no living room, virtually no place for storage and hardly a kitchen.

“Eventually I got super depressed about all the Facebook pages. I think they work for people in a different situation, but it was really stressing me out,” Anika Gemmell said.

After looking through BYU’s housing guide for singles, she got in contact with realtors of different companies and had herself added to the waiting list. In March, they heard from Legend Real Estate that they were selected off the waiting list for an opening at Monticello Apartments in Provo.

The Gemmells expressed their desire for more centralized, organized resources for married housing. “There aren’t very many mediums where you can access that information,” Jalen Gemmell said.

While some students struggle to find housing, there are also parents who worry about whether their newly-married children will be able to transition into their marriage with the least amount of problems possible.

Anika and Jalen Gemmell celebrate their first month in their apartment. (Addie Blacker)

Susan Hunter first bought property in Provo in 2009 when her children began their academic careers at BYU.

“My children who got married had a difficult time finding a quality apartment,” Hunter said.

Now her daughter helps Hunter find tenants for some of the locations she has in Provo. The listings for her units are put on sites like Facebook Marketplace or Rentler. Sometimes she is made aware of students interested in renting units simply by word of mouth.

Hunter said a centralized location for married housing listings would be beneficial for students.

Apartment manager and Provo City Council candidate Valerie Paxman has seen first hand the difficulty married students face when preparing to find their first home together. Paxman deals with several housing units around Provo for single and married students.

She said one of the problems students face when trying to find affordable housing has to do with increased rent. She has seen firsthand how difficult the housing market is on young married students and wants to help them find quality apartments.

“My biggest concern is to just keep Provo a nice place to live for everybody,” Paxman said.

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