And I thought finding an apartment in NYC was an adventure. Looking elsewhere is weirder. This is the first time in five years I’ve gone hunting for a new place to live. We don’t have a car yet so we planned on making the 2+ hour drive each way to see places by relying on the kindness of friends who owe us big time in the form of lending us their most expensive possession. The hiccup in this plan is that not too many people owe us big time. Actually, nobody does. Alternate means of securing other people’s cars for a day include bartering with promises of a home cooked dinner, one chocolate cake and knitting lessons. We’re house hunting ourselves into a pit of grateful IOUs, which is preferable to wasting a ton of money renting cars.
I say house hunting, but we’ve looked at some odd set ups that don’t quite qualify as “houses”. When we first started thinking about moving upstate for a year, I pictured having my pick of farm houses, converted school houses and cabins. This is pretty much the case in the Catskills and further north and east, but the areas we’re gravitating to boast an abundance of lopsided, oddly stained, attics glorified in the way 12-year-old girls feel fancy after being made up like a prostitute at Glamour Shots. Last night on the phone an owner warned MoonPie the ceilings are only 6 feet high, to which he responded, “Neither of us are super tall” and said we would consider it.
I guess we need to have a talking to. MoonPie is supposed to be on my side.
There have been a few flings over this three-months- long-and-still-counting journey. These are places we’ve woken up at 3 am to deliver a deposit without running into rush hour traffic. Two and half hours driving only to be greeted with an “Oh, I just took a deposit last night. Sorry. I meant to call you. Why are you crying?”
Mind you, we’re not looking to buy. I feel like it shouldn’t be this hard to find a place to rent for a year. Maybe I’m getting picky in my 30s. Am I too old to blame dad? Nah. He’s a former builder who instilled in me an intolerance of poor craftsmanship and a love for water that doesn’t smell like rotten eggs and homes not built approximately 5 inches from the roadside on a bend where the only guarantee is that you will be plowed into a creek after the first snow, probably in your sleep. If that sounds snobby, you should be there when I break out my level to check that the floors and counters are level. My boyfriend tries to hide my ways by distracting would-be landlords with his pretty smile, batting his weirdly long lashes, flashing some leg or attempting to talk sports. I don’t think he’s helping our situation either.
To make things trickier, we want to get a cat in what is apparently a very not pet-friendly rental market. At least 90% of listings so no pets and only about 10% of those people are convincible in making an exception. The rest shall go to hell. They say “No pets/smokers” as though they’re one in the same. Sometimes I read “pets” as a verb, which sounds much colder. Like saying “no love for you”.
I say it’s hard to find a place to live, but we’re our own biggest obstacle. The number of places we’ve applied to or handed over a deposit on: ZERO. Zero, after weeding through hundreds of posts, looking at dozens of places in person. A handful seemed okay, but nothing to get excited about. Well, there was this one place that was kind of special. I named it The One That Got Away. I loved TOTGA so much on first sight I moved in there with my mind, decided what would go where, imaged having everyone over for a house warming celebration and after sipping wine on the deck facing the not-so-distant mountains. Then it came time to put down a deposit and the owner raised the rent, insisted on cash, started calling us at strange hours – setting off red flags all over the place.
Going back to the drawing board is hard after you’ve already started living in a place in your head. The neighbor was going to be a retired couple with a barky dog. I even went on Google street view and “drove” around the streets to check out potential running routes. Now I have to move out of that place in my mind and accept that my wine glass is still in Brooklyn right here with me. Our view out the window is still a massive, overly-lit luxury building. The only perk would be getting to spy on the people across the way who refuse to put up curtains, but they’re not very interesting.
The worst part is the open houses. At this point, I feel equal parts anxious, hungry, skeptical, hopeful and desperate to move before January. As much as I want the move to be done with so I can think about and do other things, I’m starting to look for reasons why a place isn’t right rather than the other way around. Multiply this angst times dozens and that’s what an open house is. You’re face to face with your competition. Everyone there is looking for the exact same thing as you. They want what you want and since you’re incapable of making an on-the-spot decision without at least tasting the water and ideally moving in with your mind and picturing an entire Day In The Life Of Me there, they’re more likely to get it.
And so the search continues. We’re bound to either get lucky or frustrate ourselves out these neuroses one of these days…I have read some fantastic books and promise my next post won’t take you on a guided trip to Complainistan.