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I do not speak Russian

Today we “officially” started searching for apartments. We’ve already been kinda sorta looking on the internet for a little while but today we actually had an appointment with an apartment finding service. Looking for an apartment in the city can be incredibly overwhelming so it’s nice to have someone to weed through things for us. Even with an agent I still feel pretty overwhelmed by the whole thing.

I love the city and I really miss living in it. Searching for apartments in the city isn’t like searching in the suburbs though. You look at apartments that people are still living in (!) instead of a model or an empty one that’s similar. More on that later.

The first part of the process was just talking to the agent about what we did and didn’t want. Turns out, not being picky can be a bad thing. There are a bazillion choices! Luckily we have a dog so that narrows things down a lot. Once we got in the car to actually start looking at places things got a little more interesting.

The first place we went we couldn’t get into. Our agent had the key, he just couldn’t open the door. It was strange. The lock would turn and wiggle but the dang door wouldn’t open. After several minutes of trying we gave up.

The second place we were discussing as we approached the building. Out of nowhere this seemingly random lady starts yelling at us, asking us which apartment we’re going to.

Lady – Where you going? 1E? You have appointment? I know you not have appointment today. You have appointment tomorrow, 5:30.

Agent – I talked to the building owner and he said we could come and to call him when we get here. He said he was going to call his wife. Are you his wife?

L- Yes, you call tenant? She not home.

A- Her number is disconnected.

L- She have dog.

A- Well is it a big dog?

L- Yes, very big dog.

A- Your husband told us about the dog, we’ll be ok.

L- I call my husband.

She then proceeds to talk to someone in a foreign language for.ever. Probably a solid five minutes. I didn’t understand a word she was saying except something that sounded like apartment several times and 1E which is the apartment number. She said what sounded like Da several times which led me to think she was speaking Russian. She also said what sounded like Ok, bye like seven times throughout the conversation too and did not hang up the phone. So unless ok bye has another meaning in Russian I probably have no idea what language she was speaking.

The funny part is, all this time the agent had the key, he just couldn’t get a word in edgewise to tell her. Finally she disappeared around the corner for a couple minutes, leaving us standing there looking at each other wondering what to do. When she returned she had a key and took us up to the apartment.

I don’t know who lived there and don’t want to sound judgy but the place was really dirty. It kind of smelled too. It was the size of a shoe box so it was probably hard to keep clean especially since it looked like whoever lived there had a kid. Plus they had a cat and a dog. In their defense, they were probably planning to clean for whomever was coming at 5:30 tomorrow.

Oh yeah, this “giant” dog? Barely bigger than Phoebe. That thing couldn’t have weighed more than ten pounds soaking wet. It’s name was Coco and the biggest risk was it licking us to death.

Anyway, it looked like the set of Barefoot in the Park. You seriously had to stand on the bed to open the closet. Um, thanks but no thanks.

The third place we went to was much less dramatic although there was a mix up over which entrance to use. What building in Chicago doesn’t have a number on the front? That was quickly fixed because thankfully the tenant was home and gave us directions. That one was really nice but was on the higher end of our price range without utilities.

The fourth and final place was really nice. The tenant was supposed to be home, we could even hear the tv on but they never came to the door. Our agent had a key so we let ourselves in and did a speed walk through the place. I was really hoping it wasn’t anyone with heart issues because, expecting it or not, it would’ve freaked me out to walk back into my apartment and find three strangers looking through my closets.

We’re going to follow up with the agent in a few weeks. We’re not set to move until the end of July so it’s still a little early to start seriously looking. The agent was telling us how much nicer apartments are if we went up $150-$200 a month in rent. After talking about it (and taking a Twitter poll of course) I think we’ve decided to stay in our budget. The whole point of moving into the city is so we can have more to do and we need money for that. If we wanted to have a nice, big apartment we could just stay in the suburbs.

So yeah, I’m trying not to stress about it. It was a very different experience than I’m used to. The good news is, we love the neighborhoods we were looking in so at least that’s not an issue.

If you have any good tips for looking for places I’d love to hear them. Also, a Russian to English dictionary might come in handy. If you’re not using yours of course.

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3 Comments

  1. Before we got married, Husband and I swore we’d expat from LA/OC and make a break for San Francisco or Diego.

    But we’re still here. 🙁

    This post though? Reminded me why we wanted to get out of here to begin with. 🙂

  2. Good luck! I would just say that location matters soooooo much. So do not allow yourself to be seduced by the larger cheaper possibilities that lie just a little farther out in suburb-land. If what you want is to be in the City? Then make it work . . . so many other compromises to be made before you should live somewhere you don’t want to live.

    I’ve been there.

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