I’m not exactly maternal. It’s never occurred to me to have baby birds of my own, but that doesn’t mean I don’t know how to build a nest. While others have been passing on their DNA, I’ve spent the last decade searching for, buying, selling, mortgaging, renovating, and decorating dwellings. Easier than raising humans maybe, but you try delivering a bungalow sometime, talk about stretch marks.
As we shrinks often say, the best predictor of future behaviour is past behaviour, and here I am again, trolling the real estate websites and emailing property agents. Of course none of this is my fault. I’d be happy to stay right where I am, well, except for the fact that it’s the 10th circle of hell.
My first year in France was taken up with house related ups and downs, why should Switzerland be any different? Last week, I found myself on familiar ground— looking at apartments, even ones of no real interest to me because I’m desperate, my logic being that any action related to the problem somehow moves me closer to a solution.
Now this rental market is tough. If I find a place that remotely works, I have to pounce without a moment of hesitation or be left behind. Apartments are typically shown via open viewings, which I find insulting to my massive sense of entitlement. Call me selfish, but I prefer to tour my potential home in conditions unlike a Boxing Day Sale at Wal-Mart.
One place I saw was snapped up before I made it to the balcony. But it was during that viewing that I heard the magic word: quiet. So, when I heard that there was another one available in the same building, I decided to ramp up my game.
I downloaded the rental application, nagged Neil into getting all the Frenchy papers in order, I even put on a skirt and lipstick, just in case I had to flirt with the woman from the agency. We arrived right on time, but then again, so did the other guy.
Of course, the apartment was great, or at least what seems great after 2 months of sleepless nights—lots of concrete and steel to block out nuisance neighbours. I’m sure there was a toilet and a whaddyacallit (wincing, snapping fingers) … oh, yeah, a kitchen, I don’t know. I was too preoccupied with the temptation to flop face-down on the floor for a nap to notice.
Sure, it’s not in my preferred neighbourhood and it comes with a price tag that will redefine the term house poor, but there’s a gigantic balcony with a view of snow-capped mountains, well, as long as you look above the building that faces the balcony—details, details. Plus, it’s available immediately. Fine, fine, where do I sign?
Trouble is, while there was only one other person on our tail, he wants it too. And him right Swissy slick, with his, “I don’t need it until March, but I can sign for it now.” Merde. But I was one step ahead of the good Monsieur. I handed over my fully prepared dossier right then and there; he didn’t even have his form from the city that confirms you’re not bankrupt, which I had, in triplicate no less.
At least this time we had a chance to actually meet the leasing agent. Usually, the current tenant shows the place and one submits an application into the ether, a cold and lonely piece of paper, lost in the shuffle. I think we play to better reviews in person than on paper (I mentioned the skirt), so this rare event was a welcome one.
Here we are, trying to roll with how things work here; plotting our escape from Noise Central, mentally moving in and visualizing the dream that is 6 hours of sleep in a row, yet we may never hear from the agent again. There’s the worry of the known (and unknown) contenders. There’s the worry that our current landlord will badmouth us (likely, given our noise complaints and the tenant board shenanigans to get out of our lease). There’s the worry of paying even more than we do now.
Or worse. We go through all the trouble and expense to move only to find out that there’s a 5 a.m. freight train that runs through the basement every day. Tricky, very tricky. So, now we wait and the fates will decide. By the end of the week, I’ll be preparing to move or under heavy sedation at the nearest maximum security facility. Either way, fine by me.