House Hunting

10 years ago, fresh out of University, I accepted a job in a city that I’d never been to and was told I needed to be moved in and ready to start in two weeks.

Scrambling to find a place to live, I settled on one of the first apartment buildings to get back to me because it was near my office and the rent was… decent. I had no one warn me about the neighbourhood, I had no one help me find a place and I made a quick decision to ensure I’d have a roof over my head in time to start work.

That apartment ended up being a nightmare. About six months after I moved in, the apartment building was actually raided by swat. Apparently, one of the tenants living at the other end of the third floor I was on was quite the drug kingpin.

I should’ve taken it as a sign to get the hell out of that apartment. But, I was only six months out of University, I was working for practical pennies and I didn’t really have the resources to move. So I stayed.

Did I mention the apartment was horrible? Because it was. It was built in the 60’s, so a lot of the structure was aging. The heating system sounded like it was going to explode each time it turned on (it was a broiler-based heating system). The upstairs neighbour lived his best life between the hours of midnight and six in the morning. One night I actually had to call 911 on him because he was beating up his girlfriend in the middle of the night and I woke up to her screaming ‘Help me, he’s going to kill me!’

I called 911. I gave a statement. She ended up being okay, from what I was told. After this fateful night, I wanted to move. Still being paid practical pennies for the work I was doing, I didn’t have the resources to move. I was barely paying my bills each month and I was worried that the psycho who lived above me knew that it was me who called the cops on him and that he’d be coming for me next.

Three weeks later, I received a summons from the Crown Prosecutor to be a witness in court at his assault trial that was scheduled for six months down the road.

I was terrified.

My upstairs neighbour didn’t know I was the one who called 911. If I had to stand up in court and say that it was me, could he come for me next? I needed to move. But I couldn’t afford it.

I remember how low I felt the day I called the Crown Prosecutor to beg him to not make me take the witness stand. He didn’t really seem to care about my fears. Apparently, he believed I was being over-dramatic about it.

I needed to move.

I ended up spending a few weeks sleeping in the basement of one of my coworkers. About two weeks after I called the Crown Prosecutor, he called me to let me know that he had a change of hard, that he was able to prosecute my upstairs neighbour without my being a witness and that he was being a bully in forcing me to be a witness when he knew that I felt it could put me at risk. Whilst he didn’t think this man would come after me, he understood that I was a single-white-female who lived alone and he would know what door to knock on the moment he saw me.

So, I didn’t have to take the witness stand and I decided to put off moving.

The man upstairs ended up getting evicted after prolonged absence from the building do to his being locked up on a drug charge.

A few months later, I got a raise at work. I thought it was an incredible moment for me because I was going to have a few hundred extra dollars each month and if I put them aside for three months then I could move.

A few days after I got my raise, the apartment building raised my rent due to ‘increased demand in the city for rental units and the prime location of our building’. I was crushed. Here I was thinking I was going to be able to save money to move an the apartment building had just given me a big ‘fuck you, sucker’.

I could go on and on about the stories that plagued me whilst in that apartment. Or other apartments I’ve lived in (I always seem to make horrible decisions with respect to living situations… refer to stories of roommate Derek from 2019 if you’re curious), The bottom line is, it wasn’t a happy place for me to go home to each night. And now that I’m looking to move and find myself an oasis in the city, I would really like to make sure that I don’t just accept the first thing that comes along because it came along.

I want to do this right.

I want to find a place that I’m happy to come home to each night.

I want to find a home that, if COVID 19 strikes in a second wave, I am content with spending a lot of time in.

I’m counting my lucky stars right now that I’ve landed a job that I am able to work from home due to this pandemic, but I would still like to move sooner, rather than later. For my sanity. For tax purposes. Because I want to be a city girl. Because this past year and a half has been really hard on my mental health and well being, and I’d really like to move onto a new chapter.

I’m loving my job, by the way. It’s been amazing so far. I know I’m still new to it, but it’s different from anything I’ve ever done before so it’s all exciting and there’s so much to learn and so many new ways to grow and get better.

The trouble with house hunting is… finding a place during a pandemic. Most places aren’t booking walk-throughs. Which I completely understand. But many places have really shitty pictures, or misleading pictures, online. I’m pretty sure I’ve come across at least three scams already. And I’ve also come across a lot of places that are really, really overpriced for what they are.

I thought I’d found a really incredible place for a really reasonable price but the landlord just does not respond. So that’s kind of a bummer. But I’m not going to let it stop me.

I’m going to do this right.

I want a place to call home. My home. A place to feel safe and welcome and like I belong. I’m not going to settle this time around.

I’m going to do this right.

57 thoughts on “House Hunting

  1. If it’s an option, you should look into my “village.” I managed to snag a good deal for rent at the last minute, and have lived here for 2 years now. Plus it’s a convenient location since it’s near the university. That being said, I might be moving at the end of the year to the opposite end of the city, depending on how final semester goes.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Right now I’m looking in the NW. I have a couple of friends who live in the NW and I think I want to be close to them, if possible. You know what I mean?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah, I currently live in the NW down the street from the university. People assume that I live in student housing because it’s so close lol It’s nice that you have friends who live in this city. I get why people choose to live here.

        If you want more info about where I live, feel free to email me. A lot of students have left so there’s a lot of places around here to rent. Good luck! 😊

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I know what it’s like to arrive ‘blind’ in a new city. When I moved to Edinburgh years ago, I got a flat share on Leith Walk. At work, when they asked where I was living, someone made a step inhale and said, “Oh, the stabbing zone.” Leith Walk was mentioned in the novel Trainspotting, “the further down Leith Walk you go, the greater your chance of being stabbed.”

    Liked by 1 person

      1. No. Like you, no money to move and working two jobs so no time to flat hunt. But – bonus – I was at the top end of the road. And by the time I was living there the place had improved a bit and it was only really the bottom of the Walk that felt unsafe.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. First of all, you’re too picky. If you shoot down every place because it’s infested with rats the size of hyenas or home to a crack house inside an underground chicken fighting ring, you’re never going to find anywhere to live. That said, I once paid a thousand bucks a month to rent a place the size of a hotel room that also happened to be infested with rats. They weren’t the size of hyenas (mostly), but still. Oh, also I shared it with two other people. Of course this place caused me to suffer multiple panic attacks a day and eventually lose that job along with a great deal of my sanity, so hey, maybe not the best example.

    Maybe look into tiny house ownership? They’re all the rage.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Nope. So, that was a plus. But it was that place or nothing. And it was a good job. Until it wasn’t.

        Still think you should think about the memoirs thing. You’ve lots of interesting stories built up.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I relate, I moved to a new city by myself after uni and I ended up flatsharing for a long time to save money. Some weren’t great, some were better, and I also ended up in the dodgy side of the city without realising. I’m now in my own place and it feels so good to have my own space to relax and unwind, it makes such a difference. You’ll get there 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh yes. I promised myself that I wasn’t going to deal with sharing a space ever again. I know it comes down to money and I know what you mean… having your own space makes you feel so much better about going home.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. It’s the perfect time for you to find the right place. Good luck, Vee. You won’t know yourself with a new job and a nice little place to call home. Looking forward to hearing what you find. Btw, you have great stories to mine if you ever decided to write fiction!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ll leave the fiction writing to you, the master. My grasp of structures and plot lines, growth of characters, and all the other skill sets you and all fiction writers master would be an embarrassment to the craft. What you do takes serious skills, skills I am without!

      Liked by 1 person

    2. PS I have emailed you, I am not sure if you got it or not but I still want to do the collaborative “how I got here/what made me want to do this” career/life post to tie to your writing, if you’re up for it

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I always found the low rent places pretty fun, I have a ton of great stories from when I lived in section 8. (That’s subsidized housing.) But then again, I was never called to the witness stand…

    If you’re looking to buy, get a good realtor on your side. Someone you can really trust, and who is passionate about what they do. They need to be proficient enough at technology to set up automatic email updates for you when listings come on the market that fit your criteria. A good realtor makes life so much easier.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Low rent places are great when you can save your money for other things! Given what’s going on in this world right now though, I want a place I’d be comfortable being a hermit for four or five months….

      Covid wave two is coming, sadly.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I would be the last person to offer advice. I bought my current house off the internet, sight unseen. I got lucky although there have been numerous “issues”. All I will say is take your time. When I had to find a place in Seattle in a hurry I flew there and stayed in a hotel for a few days so I could actually see the apartments and areas, but I was able to get cheap air tickets and we didn’t have Covid. However, I am sure you will find a great place. Best of luck with it all.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I would love to be in a position in life to purchase a house but I am not quite there yet. So, alas, rentals it is. I imagine it would be quite cool to live in Seattle. Not necessarily right this instant, but I’ve always gotten good vibes from the city. I like the laid back lifestyle of the Pacific Northwest. Do you like Seattle?

      Like

      1. I lived outside in Renton then Kent then Auburn. I kept trying to get further from away from crowds but every time I moved more construction would start, more condos and all the same. I was in customer service for 38 years and I needed peace. So I moved back to NY (I’m not from here but lived in NY most of my life) only upstate where it’s all green and likely to remain so. I look out on hills and fields and woods. But everyone always likes Seattle. Not liking it feels kind of like not liking Santa Claus (which I don’t incidentally!). I guess I’m just a bit odd as well as old. Anyway…happy hunting!

        Liked by 1 person

      1. You this auto predictive text thing, just gets it so wrong.

        By but, I meant. The first bit of your post, the craziness of your apartment. This is what I meant by omg!. That is all.

        I hope the job continues to be great.
        Have a great day.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Flat hunting is a pain, but alas, it must be done. I remember moving to a new city in France for work and settled on a roommate situation. Turned out to be hell, as one of the three verbally-abused and gas-lit us on chores and sharing space. Thankfully, she moved out after two months, but that left a sour taste in my mouth. I eventually moved to a studio, and it was a LOT better (and cheaper). I hope you’ll find a place that suits you, and not necessarily go for convenience’s sake/desperation. Good luck!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I’m sure you will find something amazing soon. That sounds a lot like my first apartment building which was a Mainstreet building. I rented from them for five years. Ever since, I’ve only done private rentals. Hoping to be a home owner next year though! Glad you are enjoying your new job!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, sending you much positive vibes into the universe for you goal at being a home owner. That’s a huge step and not an easy one to be able to reach, so I hope you get to!

      Also, thank you. New job has been great so far!

      Like

  10. I hope you find a good place eventually.
    Your bad experiences have given you some really interesting stories. You can “dine out” on them for quite some time.
    I think it is a really good idea to find a place near friends.
    Good luck.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I find the stories of my past so boring, I just provide them as context so people know why I am so Type A about so much. I find it interesting that people find my stories anything more than boring!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. House hunting is the most terrible thing to do when you move to a new place. It is rarest of rare that you find a house as you desire. Second most terrible thing is to arrange food for yourself. If you know cooking, then it is fine, but if you don’t cooking then you have to look for a place where you get the food as your liking.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, I am a fabulous cook. My mom raised me to be a housewife (parents are uber religious) and, though I chose to not get married and have a boatload of kids right away, I am a freaking amazing cook and I can darn socks like nobody’s business.

      Like

  12. I’m so sorry to hear about the terrible experiences you’ve had.

    I’ve also started looking into moving out sometime this year and finally getting a place of my own, but it’s exactly like you said: really lousy pictures, the inability to do proper walk-throughs, and pricing being ridiculous. And I’m halfway across the world! Honestly, it seems like apartment hunting online is bad no matter where in the world you are.

    Wishing you the best of luck!

    Like

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