Poagao's Journal

Absolutely Not Your Monkey

Feb 18 2005

No doubt you’ve either been wondering how my most …

No doubt you’ve either been wondering how my most recent house search had been going or dreading the day when I decide to write about it here. Well, that day’s today, so either gather around or click on through.

First of all, the rental market these days is quite strange. My landlady gave me a month to find a place, but when the month in question is February, you actually only have a couple of weeks, tops, because the rest of the time is going to be occupied by Chinese New Year-related activities, during which nobody will be showing houses or thinking of moving.

Still, you’d think finding a decent place in a couple of weeks would be possible, if difficult. I did the usual things, going round neighborhoods I wanted to live in, going to the Tsui Mama Housing Service, calling random friends up and asking if they knew of any suitable places.

After exhausting the usual channels and coming up empty, I resorted to rental agencies, where they charge you half a month’s rent if you rent one of their properties. It was then that I discovered that there was really hardly anything on the market, and what there was, if it wasn’t crap, was snatched up very quickly. 90% of the sparse listings were 5th floor walkups in crowded alleys. I saw one place that you literally had to open a rusty gate and descend into a ditch to get to. Another seemed ok, was on the 2nd floor, but what was that smell? Turns out it was located next to an open sewer, the kind they call “streams” here. Another place looked promising, though the 4-year-old building wasn’t completely finished and nobody was working on it. The landlady disappeared, wouldn’t return my calls or messages.

I went into high gear, spending nights poring over rental websites and jotting down numbers, and getting up early in the morning to go meet agents and visit places. Piles of agents’ namecards were strewn about my desk.

I felt I was getting closer. Twice, while looking at attractive apartments, the agent got a call that the place had been taken. All the agents I talked to felt the rentals were especially few and far between. No doubt this situation would change if I waited long enough, but I couldn’t wait; my landlady was calling me on a nearly daily basis, asking if I’d finalized my plans to move out so the new owner could take possession of my 33 pings of bliss. As usual, my lovely abode now seemed especially idyllic.

Every time I took the MRT, I saw the group of tall buildings across the river. I have several friends who live over there, and I enjoy crossing the suspension bridge. So, the next time I was in the neighborhood, which was a couple of days ago, I asked the guard at the gate of the highest, most extravagant looking building about rentals. I was expecting either outrageous prices or tiny cubbyholes, and there were some of those, but there was also one studio kind of in my price range, which the previous tennant had just vacated. I got the key and went up, past the pool, went up in gleaming elevators and through the marble hallway, unlocked the door and walked in.

Inside, I found myself in a large, open space, nearly two stories tall, with a large window overlooking the river and distant mountains. A modern-looking kitchen was off in a corner, with a little balcony beyond that. Stairs led up to a loft where a double bed was. A dusty ceiling fan hung over the space.

It seemed a little pricey, but it stuck in my head nonetheless. It came with a parking space or possibly two, space I could rent out and make the price much more reasonable, possibly even less than I am paying at the moment.

And all the other places I looked at were flawed in some serious way or another. The weather got cold and rainy again, and wandering the streets looking for little scraps of red paper scribbled with phone numbers plastered to lightpoles was getting really old. And my old landlady kept calling, saying I’d be fined if I stayed.

So I took the loft. Just signed the contract this evening. Steven the Mover has agreed to move the greater portion of my things over on Monday, the 21st, aka my last day. Talk about cutting things close. Still, as much of a pain as moving is, I’m excited about this new place.

Almost as excited as I am about not having to look for a place anymore.

posted by Poagao at 2:27 pm  

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