I am a creature of habit. I may be a perfectionist forever unhappy about everything, but once I do find a solution (not necessary a good one!) – I tend to stick to it. Ask my boyfriend. He had to learn really quickly to pre-plan the routes he takes with me, as once I start going one way, that is it forever, progress is overrated. So you can probably imagine how crazily stressful it is for me to go through the process of finding a new flat.
Or a house. Right now it seems as if all of the bloggers I love are moving into their brand new, bought-not-rented houses. And with the rate at which I skip from one country to another, well I am likely to settle down in a place I own somewhere around the age of 70 – so all of these posts… well… I guess what I am trying to say that I strive not to get too envious. Yet the thought of actually moving into my own house scares me so terribly the wait till 70 suddenly doesn’t seem so bad.
Oh my, finding a flat in Barcelona was a real nightmare.
Sure, a huge part of it all was the peculiarity of the Barcelona market and the fact we were constantly presented documents to sign in catalan… But that wasn’t the part that hurt most. There is just something so scary about even the smallest possibility of going homeless – even if it is an absurd one (we would just stay in an Airb’n’b longer after all). Can you even imagine it – never finding a new flat? Any flat? Even the smallest room?
On top of all of it, there was just so much chaos and uncertainty, people changing their minds at the last moment, and really weird places to see, and time sunk, and… 0/10 would not recommend. To anyone. Or any time.
But if you do have to go through the tedious process of finding a new flat, here are some of my lessons learnt.
Your real budget is higher than your ‘budget’
I know it and you know that you are likely to pay more than you assumed you would. It is inevitable. Unless you get very lucky, after seeing a parade of flats within your original budget, you will get fed up of seeing all these places you did not like and you will try a higher price range.
Make sure one or two adjustions in price expectations are still within reasonably affordable.
Stretching yourself can work out if you… can afford to stretch yourself. Living beyond your means is a very short-term solution. At the same time, feeling like you need to settle for one of the flats you didn’t like may not feel that great either.
By playing the comparison game of giving yourself some ‘potentially worse’ choices first (who knows, you can find a true pearl there!) you may end up finding a new flat that is just the right price.
Finding a new flat takes time… around 3x the time you have
I remember when while still at university my boyfriend and I were looking for an ‘adult’ flat. Putting aside all the hoops we had to jump through to prove we may be students but no, we will not trash the place – we found a very funny paradox back then. When we first started looking for a place before the holidays, all the rentals were starting in August at the latest and it was impossible to find anyone willing to wait until October. But once we came back from our holidays in September, the two weeks we gave ourselves (as most rentals there were starting in two weeks) were actually not enough!
We ended up moving to a place we saw on the absolute last day we had to find something, which, in all fairness, was extremely lucky even if waaay further out of town than I ever wanted. I liked that flat, true, but one thing I am still wondering – did we take it because it was so nice or because we got desperate?
The same year our friend moved someplace infested with slugs. That is how rushing to find a flat usually ends…
People rent properties without seeing them
I am equally shocked that this happens – but it does happen! This is one of the conspiracies I am ready to stand behind. There were just too many coincidences in our quest of finding a new flat for it not to be true.
Yes, I am still bitter about my 900e beach flat that got rented out within 15 min of listing.
No reason is too silly a reason
While looking for a flat in Barcelona, we tried to stick together as much as possible – but one time we decided to split the viewings, I ended up seeing the single. worst. flat. in. Barcelona.
When I was greeted by a crooked, tiny old man – I made nothing out of it. To be fair, I do not think I even paid any attention to how he looked like till I saw the flat. I didn’t look much at at his wife, equally odd looking, they were a true Stephen King pairing.
But the flat… The flat was filled to the brim with dolls. I am not exaggerating. This two bedroom… den was filled with at least 200 of them. And not even normal dolls, you know, the ones maybe children collect. No. These were hyper realistic. Maybe their hobby was to recreate store bought dolls into nicer ones, you may ask? Some of these looked like they had seen the beginning of civilization. They looked horrid, and old, and too much dead children-esque.
To add salt to this particular injury, in the middle of their master bedroom bed there was a naked newborn laying down all by itself. By newborn I mean most likely an actual newborn, it didn’t look older than 1 month old. Yes, I did look closer to check if it breathed, although what would I do if it didn’t? Die alongside it?
Now, a rational human being may want to point out that I did not, in fact, see the flat itself. They may also mention the beautiful building it was in and how central it was, and… Nope. I don’t even know how this flat looked. All I saw were DOLLS. DOLLS EVERYWHERE.
I guess the point I am trying to make is simple – if there is something that bothers you about your new potential home, let it go. It doesn’t matter how silly or irrational this prejudice is. It will not go away with time and you know it.
Your perfect flat does exist
You see, 99% of these sort of lists always start with a sentence: Your perfect flat does not exist. Screw them. They do not know a thing about perfection.
When I was just a tiny girl, around the age of 13, when we are all irrational and plain crazy, I thought my perfect man was tall, muscular, ginger and French. My boyfriend may be tall and muscular, but he is not even in the slightest bit ginger and, as far as being French goes, well, he is kind of the polar opposite. But the truth is – I would never exchange him for any ginger Frenchman. I love him to bits just the way he is.
My current flat is not at all how I imagined it. Even though it is a Barcelona flat, it does not have shutters (WTF), tiles (WTF!!!) or… actually, it has hardly any space so it kind of works. But it is just by the sea, and has a terrace, my neighbours are lovely, it allows one to have pets (rare for rentals!) and you know what? It is my perfect flat.
Finding a new flat is not about finding an abstraction. You need to find a physical space – and since it is rental, you cannot just adjust it exactly how you want to. But that does not mean you cannot have the PERFECT flat.
A perfect flat is the one you know you want the minute you step through the door. One that gives you this comfy, fuzzy feeling. One you can imagine spending long, autumn evening in. Finally, it is the one that just makes everything… just right.
Don’t let them tell you that it is settling, that if you cannot fit a table in your living room, you cannot possibly consider this ideal situation. You can. There are things grander in the world than eating surfaces, come on!
Making a new place your home is a decision only you can make.