Finding Housing as a Young Professional
Laina Schneider originally moved to Blacksburg in 2010 to attend Virginia Tech. Her mother used to live in Blacksburg and her grandfather was a professor at Virginia Tech, so even though she did not grow up here it has always felt like home. She left Blacksburg to go to graduate school in California and although she loved it there, her connection to the landscape and culture of the New River Valley, as well as the ability to be closer to her family, brought her back.
Laina is now the Executive Director of a small nonprofit, Live Work Eat Grow. A big part of that job is running Millstone Kitchen, a shared use facility that supports small business owners working with food. A strong supporter of the local food system, the organization also manages community gardens in Blacksburg and provides neighbors in need with freshly prepared meals. It’s a job she loves!
Laina knew when she was coming back to Blacksburg that searching for housing would be competitive, something that she had already experienced in California. She knew that with Blacksburg being a college town, housing availability often follows the cycle of the academic school year and she would need to hit the pavement remotely in advance of her move to make the timing work. Luckily, she had kept in touch with her former landlord, (knowing someone and having a connection always helps!) and a month later something opened up and she got VERY lucky.
“I was able to find a tiny one-bedroom house for $600, which is unheard of. In comparison, my friends seem to move a lot to find a better fit and a better price. Only one other person has stayed in their home for more than two years. It’s so expensive for them to move and many have to live in student complexes because that is what is available. It is next to impossible to find a one-bedroom or studio that is affordable enough and there is a certain point, as a young professional, where you don’t want to live with roommates anymore.”
Laina loves the idea of staying in the area, but for her it depends on a few different things: can she continue to find meaningful work?; will there be an opportunity to start and own her own business one day?; can she have the social life she wants? “The growth in Blacksburg is exciting because it might mean a larger social and dating pool. Many people my age tend to migrate to Roanoke for its social scene on the weekends, or to eventually live after a few years due to the lower cost of living. At some point, it would be nice to buy something and invest in something but if I want to take that step it’s so competitive and expensive. So, I don’t know if that will happen soon. At least I’m in a great place now, which is an exception among my cohort.”