Johnathan and I have been actively looking for a place to live in London for two weeks now. Honestly, house/apartment-hunting could be a part-time job!
Each day, we spend a couple of hours, together and apart, searching Kijiji for new or updated ads offering places for rent. We have made many phone calls and sent many emails and spent a lot of time driving around looking for “For Rent” signs.
Being the people of discriminating taste that we are, we have a pretty well-defined idea of what we’re looking for:
- Preferably an apartment in a house or duplex, not an “apartment building”, pretty definitely not a high-rise. They’re not “homey” enough.
- Parking for at least two cars, if not three. We each have old cars that we’d like to have on the road in the summer. One set of vintage wheels apiece, plus one car for longer distances equals three cars. We know that’s a lot for renters to ask, but there it is.
- A dishwasher. I have lived without one for most of my life, and as much as I hate doing dishes, I can live with it more easily than John can. To save our sanity, a dishwasher is pretty high up on our list.
- It has to be located so that John can easily get out of the city to work (his work is about 20 minutes past the outskirts of the far southeast corner of the city). That means we’re not looking at anything that’s not in the southeast, regardless of whether it would be awesome. Driving more than 30 minutes to work and to school is about as much as we’re willing to do. Ideally, I would be able to catch a bus to school, which adds another location dimension to our search.
- We have a limit to how much we are willing to pay, even if a place is freaking amazing. We both have school debt, after all, and we don’t want to be renters forever. AKA we want to save money. But we want to live in a nice place. These desires don’t always mesh.
- At least two bedrooms. Some people can live in studio lofts or one-bedroom places and not lose their sanity or their patience with each other, but we are not those people. Plus, I want an office that I can hide all of my schoolwork and creative junk in.
- Character preferred. This goes back to our issue with the apartment buildings: they tend to be pretty “cookie-cutter”, without imagination or individuality. This is not a requirement, but it is a preference for sure. You know you would love to live in a place that didn’t look like every other place you’ve ever lived!
- Laundry. For more than four years now, I have had to take my laundry to a different town to wash! For whatever dumb reason, my apartment doesn’t have laundry facilities, and the crossroads I live in is so tiny it doesn’t even have a gas station or convenience store, let alone a laundrymat (WordPress is telling me that spelling is wrong, but “laundromat” doesn’t seem quite right, either). I would love to be able to wash my clothes from the inside of my own house! But again, it’s not a deal breaker for me.
- Access to outside space. (This list is getting long, right?) We would really love to be able to sit outside on summer evenings, to barbecue, perhaps to plant a thing or two. Things that are not always possible in apartment buildings.
- Landlords that aren’t idiots. Very simple.
If you got through that list, you’re a true fan. Either that or very curious.
It is one thing to have a well-formed idea of what you’re looking for, and another thing entirely to actually find it.
So far, we have been through six places, and tonight we add another. Three of them were absolute crap: stale smoke filling the hallways, stained carpets, holes in the walls, sketchy neighbourhoods, the reek of cat pee, shoddy renovations, or a lack of renovations… You get the picture. Blech. These ones were places that we looked at on Kijiji and looked nice enough to view in person. Be warned: don’t believe everything you see on Kijiji! Sometimes pictures lie.
Three have been nice. One was really cool, but much smaller than we thought. So small that a queen-size bed would not make it up the stairs to the bedroom. So small that the lovely spiral staircase was barely wide enough for our hips. Eek.
Another was a house in the perfect area, with the perfect amount of space and storage, a yard, parking, a dishwasher, renovated kitchen and bathroom, nice landlord… perfect! After making a decidedly intense effort to see the place and fill out the application in record time, and make sure the landlord knew of our interest, he gave it to someone else. Major letdown (and all you HIMYM fans saluted the worthy officer Letdown).
The other night, we saw a place that came close: lots of storage, 2 bedrooms, renovated bathroom and bedrooms, gas fireplace, new floors, parking for 2 cars, friendly landlords… but not a renovated kitchen. No dishwasher. No good outdoor space.
And still, we continue the search. We’re practically Kijiji experts now. We know how to refine our searches. We know what Kijiji needs to do to improve its service (the ability to search by location!!). We can skim the list of ads and know which ones to click on and which ones to avoid (anything with “students!” in it).
I can’t wait until we are done the hunt: it’s exhausting, and gets fairly discouraging at times!
I have to believe that the perfect place is out there, and we only have to find it. I hope that happens soon.