COLUMBIA - In a way, it's a trade-off: Columbia gets livelier this time of year as the college students start returning. But it also gets messier, especially in these next couple of weeks, as they move out, move in, move across town, move downtown, move, move, move.
Some tenants had to vacate their apartments by noon Thursday, leaving them homeless for 24 hours or two weeks - or more. Some leases will not take effect until Aug. 20.
"The whole situation is very frustrating, because I have to constantly move everything I have and pack and unpack several times," said Katie McChesney, a student tenant moving from Campus View apartments. "I was hoping to make some kind of arrangement with Campus View to stay a few extra days, but they said that because they will be full due to student housing, it would not be possible."
The effect can be felt at street-level as tenants decide which parts of their lives stay and which go. Dumpsters and curbsides are starting to overflow with couches, dressers, mattresses and the ubiquitous bulging black trash bags.
Businesses such as StorageMart, which sells storage space, are experiencing the benefits of moving season.
"It's definitely increased our business," said Tim Carey, a shift manager for StorageMart in Columbia. "It's mostly college students."
Other businesses, such as Wal-Mart, are seeing the seasonal demand for their products.
"I've seen an increase of student population this week," said Ed Hohlt, store manager for Wal-Mart Supercenter on Grindstone Parkway. "What I've seen is an increase in sales in our home line side of business."
Carpet cleaners are seeing business boomlets because many landlords require tenants to have their carpets professionally cleaned before they move out.
"It's just extremely busy," said Ed "Josh" Pirtle of Stanley Steemer. "It's one of our busier times of the year, just with all of the apartment and rental turnovers."
While this time of year is good for these businesses, it can become a lot of work for tenants and landlords.
"Our staff makes sure all rooms are cleaned, painted and the carpets are cleaned. We also call local businesses and request ‘freebies' for our move-in packets," said Vineta Pritchard, property manager of Campus Lodge off Old 63. "The move-in packets contain important phone numbers, office hours, restaurant menus, coupons, key chains and a cable lineup."
Many landlords have a tight window during which to repair and prepare their units for new tenants, which in many cases involves small fixes, paint jobs and carpet cleaning.
"On average, we'll turn about half the units for new move-ins and can expect anywhere from two weeks to four weeks for the process," Pritchard said.
Several landlords contacted for this story were simply too busy to comment.
Because there's often a gap between the end of a tenant's lease and the time when he or she can move into a new place, some are left looking for a temporary place to stay.
"If we have space available, the students can move in early and pay a daily rate until the contract begins," Pritchard said.
Niki Steel, who is living in The Reserve off Old 63, said she and her roommates looked everywhere for a place to store their stuff between moves. They settled on the garage of a friend's boyfriend.
"There will be a full 24-hour period when we won't have a place, because we have to move out by noon on the 31st and we can't move in until noon on the first," Steel said.
Other tenants are experiencing more than just a 24-hour displacement. Many are students planning to move into sorority houses, residence halls or East Campus housing. For example, Lizzie Henson's lease ended Thursday at noon, and she isn't able to move into her sorority house, Phi Mu, until Aug. 8. Henson said it's a coincidence that she's going to Florida this coming week. Otherwise, she would have to stay with a friend or go back to her parents' house in St. Louis.
"A lot of my friends are going through the same situation," she said.