- Internet & the Web
Find Old Addresses Online
Next Time, Don't Move So Much
There was a period of time, from 2005-2008, that I moved twice a year. I was in college, I didn't have much stuff, and I was constantly looking for the "best" apartment. I finally settled down and found a good place, but I'll be darned if I can remember all of the places I've lived in between entering college and finally signing a one-year lease. Imagine my dismay this summer when I applied for a home loan pre-approval letter. They wanted my past five years of residential addresses! That sucked, but I was thinking about utility bill records, jury duty, selective service and the DMV...surely someone knew all of my old addresses?
This is where the Internet is a total miracle worker.
Before, one would have to do a hand search of paper or microfilm
records at a library or government office. What a huge time-saver to
have the web. But it still didn't get me all the way home. Just Googling yourself doesn't really pull the right kinds of results. Your Facebook page, Twitter account, all that will show up, but to find your old address or other past information, you need to narrow the field a bit.
My mortgage broker told me you can get lucky with old directory listings from white pages - most of them are stored
online, and since
phone numbers are linked to a name and an address it is usually
possible to see an old address. But that didn't get me much, because I only had a cellphone during the time period in question. I did try calling the cable and electric companies, but although that was a good idea, my name wasn't on all of those bills (yay roommates). It turned out that to find all my old addresses, I might actually have to dig through public records, registrar information from my school, or calling all my old roomates and asking them about that apartment on Mill Street.
But I didn't give up - I called some other resources, including a rental agency that had managed two of the properties I lived in. They had records of both my rental terms, so that was two down. My school registrar had my very first address (and none of the others! Nice alumni tracking). Finally, to get the rest, I checked out other search engines and search engine directories like Alt Search Engines. And instead of searching "find an old address," I searched "search engines that find old addresses" - and that got me some leads. However, most of the results led to places that wanted to charge a fee for much more information than I needed - I just needed a quick history of everywhere I'd lived.
Finally, I tried a free people search engine called PeeplSeek. I had to register and give them an email to use the service, but it gave me a page full of results and records that I wasn't finding in other places. From the information on those, I was able to piece together the rest of the history of my crazy seven-move school days. I wrote a note saying "seriously, I don't know if I have them all" and the loan broker helped advocate for me.
I'd say that it's not perfect, but the results I got from a free option were enough for my purposes. If the paid services are as good as they say they are, I'd think you could get much better information from them. i'm just stubborn and wanted to do it for free!
Stuff that was useful:
- My school's registrar office.
- The rental agency for two of my rentals during the specific period.
Stuff I'd do differently:
- Write my addresses down somewhere! It's so funny how little it matters where you live. Everyone can find me online and email me. Why bother with the rest of it? But if you need to find your old addresses for a mortgage application, all of a sudden it matters a lot.
- I wouldn't waste time Googling at all. It didn't matter how narrow I made the search, I think that Google's just not pointed at the same kind of databases as the people search engines and the paid database services.