Moving across the country to start a new job will give any person a mile long checklist of things to do before the official start date. When I accepted a position at Coastal Carolina University last week I put one of the most important and stressful components of relocation at the top of that list: housing. For the past several days I have poured a lot of energy into finding a nice place in the beautiful Myrtle Beach area. I am happy to say that with about three weeks to spare I have found my new home.
I did not take this decision lightly. Knowing only that I would definitely be renting I looked at houses, condos, and apartments. Not enjoying the luxury of looking at properties in person definitely adds an additional component of mystery and stress to the search but luckily I was not alone. The head of University Communication at CCU put me in contact with one of his real estate friends to give me advice and guidance throughout the process.
As the smoke started to clear I settled on an area where I wanted to live and I had my eyes set on two apartment communities. I left no stone unturned as I researched both of them through every means at my disposal as I scrutinized websites, read every review ever published, interrogated the leasing agents, and of course consulted my real estate contact. With me still going back and forth on what community I wanted to live at I decided to institute a tiebreaker by going to one final source…social media!
As I looked through the photos on the Facebook page of one of the two complexes I was looking at I saw a flyer for an Instagram contest they conducted (that creativity won them extra points from me right on the spot). Tenants could enter the contest and possibly receive money off rent by taking a picture at the complex and using a certain hashtag. Of course right when I read it I opened up Instagram and searched the hashtag.
Several beautiful photos showing the complex’s pool, pristine landscaping, and apartment layout popped up. Here I was looking at photos actually taken by tenants living there! No doctored or enhanced professional photos taken by the complex to possibly fool me. Although the photos looked nice these Instagram users were obviously submitting the images because they wanted to win a contest. Of course they were going to try really hard to post pictures that looked aesthetically pleasing. Because the promotion ended months ago I knew I could reach out to these people and get an honest opinion on what they thought about living at their location.
I targeted four of the people who entered the contest, two males and two females, and I commented on the pictures that they submitted. Well, technically I didn’t “comment”….it was more like asking them to tell me everything they liked and disliked about living there. Within a couple hours I had long, detailed responses from all four, with one of them transitioning into a very helpful e-mail conversation. The reviews they gave me were glowing. Besides the e-mail conversation I entered in with one of the people, I also asked follow up questions on Instagram to the others. I got the information I needed and of course it made my decision a no-brainer.
By April 28 (pending an accepted application of course) I will be living at Alexan Withers Preserve, an apartment community in Myrtle Beach that is absolutely gorgeous, only five minutes from the beach, and just a mile from the vibrant city center. Although those are just facts that you can get from the website, it was the reaction I received via Instagram that won me over. When legit people who I contacted out of the blue described the complex as “the best I have ever lived in,” “luxurious,” “overall I would recommend Alexan ten times out of ten,” “brand new,”and “the crowd is great” it eased a lot of my fears and uncertainty.
Social media helps me in my life every single day in multiple ways. I find it fascinating that even a service such as Instagram that is more designed to showcase photos rather than serve as a way for people to talk and ask questions can yield fantastic results. Congrats to Alexan Withers Preserve. They designed a contest intended to engage and reward current tenants but it also brought them a new one. I can’t wait to live there. Don’t Blink.