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Finding Off-Campus Student Housing

Christine Olory took her own experience looking for a place to live in San Diego as a college student to create RoomChazer – a company that does just that and more.

Olory plans to expand the San Diego company’s reach to Orange County and Greater Los Angeles.

Ultimately, she plans to go national. It all started when Olory moved from France to San Diego in 2005 to study civil engineering at Grossmont College.

“As an international student, housing was really difficult to get – good housing and good roommates – because you’re the last one in town and by the time you get in town, all the good deals were taken,” Olory said.

After much searching, she found an apartment, but wanted to make it easier for others.

Better Way

“I started helping friends because I was already in town,” Olory said.

She scouted out places that she found on an online listing site, but that was a gamble.

“Too many times, I would have friends that wound up in terrible situations –crazy roommates, roommates on drugs – just people who seemed fine at first. There’s just crazy people out there,” Olory said. “I was just thinking there had to be a better way to get housing, just so you can go to school and enjoy San Diego and not worry about roommates fighting, roommates moving out and you’re having to pay the rent.”

In 2010, she formed San Diego Student Housing – a website that listed apartments that she checked out.

From that, came RoomChazer, the company she created in 2019.

Cleaning

Not only does RoomChazer match students with apartments, but it also matches roommates that have been vetted based on profiles they fill out.

“That’s something that students really like. You can see your (potential) roommate’s profile, you can see if they smoke, you can see if they go to bed at two o’clock in the morning,” Olory said.

RoomChazer also sends someone to clean the apartments once a month and to inspect them for damage.

“Having those monthly cleanings is insurance for landlords,” Olory said. “We try to address issues in the very beginning, like roommate conflicts or partying or cleaning. We get on it early so it doesn’t get out of hand.”

Students can book private rooms or shared rooms.  Most opt for shared rooms to cut expenses, Olory said.

RoomChazer charges from $685 to $895 a month for a shared bedroom and from $1,055 to $1,600 a month for a private bedroom, Olory said.

RoomChazer keeps 30% of the rent as its fee, Olory said. The service is free to landlords.

Students share common areas, such as kitchens, living rooms and dining rooms, Olory said. Some of the rooms have private bathrooms.

The rooms – bedrooms and shared areas – are furnished.

RoomChazer also rents furniture for students that live in apartments that they didn’t find through the company.

No Stress

Sara Rose of Modesto said she was unfamiliar with San Diego and finding off-campus housing for her son, Trustin, would have been a challenge were it not for RoomChazer.

“Chris was extremely helpful. She met me when we arrived, she was just a really cool person,” Rose said. “I don’t think I would have been able to do it without her.”

Rose’s son is in his first year majoring in political science at Mesa College and takes ROTC training at San Diego State University.

“He wanted some place that was going to be kind of close to both schools,” Rose said.

Trustin Rose said RoomChazer found him a Mission Valley apartment and lined him up with roommates.

“I didn’t know anything, where to look for apartments or anything,” Trustin Rose said. “This is a really good apartment for the price. It’s a really good deal. Without it, I’d probably be paying a lot more for something. There would be a lot more stress.”

Coping with COVID

The COVID-19 pandemic posed a problem for the infant company.

When schools closed at the beginning of the pandemic, about 30% of RoomChazer’s clients were from abroad, and they returned to their home countries and many of her U.S. students also headed for home.

“We switched really quickly and found a new market in young professionals who were trying to work remotely,” Olory said.

When the pandemic eased and in-person classes resumed, RoomChazer went back to its original market.

“It’s just better to focus on what we’re good at, students and interns,” Olory said, but she said that RoomChazer in the future may again market its services to young professionals.

Ironically, Olory said the pandemic ultimately helped her business because people became accustomed to doing business online.

RoomChazer

Founded: 2019

CEO and founder: Christine Olory

Headquarters: Pacific Beach

Business: Student housing

Number of employees: 3

Notable: RoomChazer’s goal is to make off-campus housing as safe and easy as on-campus housing.

Website: www.roomchazer.com

Social Media: www.instagram.com/roomchazer

Contact: (619) 788-1782

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