H is for house-hunt

I did not imagine that I would hunt for a house within a year of moving to a new city. Though my previous accommodation provided adequate privacy, comfort and convenience, it was a shoe-box, not to mention being relatively expensive as compared to a shared flat. What bothered me the most was that I had no view of the outside world besides a dreary grey wall that belonged to the neighbouring building and a peek into other vacant studios on my floor.

Once it was understood that H and I would be future flatmates, we began shortlisting rentals on a portal that is popular in NZ. We were considerably excited and relieved at the prospect of living in a new space that would be cheaper, yet have better amenities for example, in-house laundry, a larger refrigerator, an oven etc. You know you’ve hit adulthood when the idea of having your own dishwasher delights you to no end!

I believe the secret to achieving a task with multiple criteria is good old Excel. And a mother who has excellent expertise in Microsoft Office is a bonus as you imbibe her skills over the years by pestering her to help you out with school projects, planners and resumes to which she begrudgingly obliges.

And so H and I made a detailed spreadsheet to pin down all logistics including priority features of our new home. Besides rent, the two criteria that were paramount to us were location and sunlight. Later I add pet-friendliness to the mix which according to me made perfect sense.

It is common practice in NZ to hunt for rentals close to the end of your current lease. But our zeal made us overlook this fact and we ended up doing quite the opposite. There were several disappointing instances when we were politely turned down or watched a broker’s expectant face drop in slow motion. And so it was indeed a sheer stroke of luck when came across a listing that checked all our tick boxes and didn’t have strict deadlines for a lease date.

However, I have come to learn – as many times over in the past – good circumstances seldom come undisguised. Though we celebrated our freshly signed contract agreement over wine and pasta, we were in for a rude shock. The catch in our case was that the previous tenant (who was residing in the flat at the time) could not move out as per schedule due to not-so unprecedented flight cancellations – he was to leave for his home – and had desperately requested the landlord to extend his lease by a few weeks which in turn clashed with our dates.

The sudden turn of events meant we had to prolong our stay at Unilodge which wasn’t free by any means. As is the case in such situations, a flurry of long emails were exchanged between us and the property manager that were mostly heated from my end and apologetic from the other. I was subjected to heavy bargaining that ranged from having our utility bills (electricity and water) being covered for three months to the landlord covering our lease-extension costs. After weeks of debate and stress, H and I settled to an agreement where not only would our Unilodge rent be covered for an extra week, but also another week in the new rental.

The time to move out finally arrived with its share of tiresomeness. Movers were out of question as they charged exorbitant rates. Thanks to a friend, we were able to transport stuff via her car. The sheer number of boxes baffled me – how in the world had I managed to accumulate so many essential items?

But we did it. We found our quaint space. We emptied each box, filled up our kitchen cabinets with spices and utensils, laid fresh duvets and sheets on our beds, organized our wardrobes, vacuumed the carpets, wiped the windows, cleaned the bathroom and had our first meal with satisfaction writ large on our faces.

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