Monday, September 14, 2009

I spent the weekend looking for a new home.

I am lucky in many ways. Some I'm not willing to post publicly, some relate directly to this post.

For example, right now, I am lucky to not be working, because it gives me time to search carefully for a new place to live.  I am lucky to have a brilliant, wonderful, friend to help me move.  I am lucky to be able to afford enough gas to spend two days driving all around hell & gone (aka Phoenix) in search of the perfect living situation. And I am lucky that it's a buyer's market so I had a plethora of choices.

By the time I headed north on Friday I had 24 people / places on my list to visit. I couldn't get to all of them, I didn't even want to. Let me give y'all some hints when offering a place to rent in your home.

First of all ... make sure it doesn't smell. I know sometimes it's tough to recognize scents in your own home, but a fair application of baking soda, or maybe, I don't know, opening a window, should do the trick.

Secondly ... don't offer the broom-closet under the stairs and expect to pay off your mortgage. I saw so many small rooms that would barely hold my queen-sized bed, much less my bed and dresser - and had people asking $500+  for the privilege of that space.  Do a bit of market research folks, I can get my own apartment for that money and not have to put up with you.

Third ... don't be creepy.  This one is mostly for the men.  Specifying you'll only have a female roommate because you're divorced and women "make a house a home" whereas men "tend to be slobs," means that you're actually looking for a housekeeper / live-in mistress, not a roommate.  And do I really need to say that you shouldn't mail me a "roommate interview" questionnaire that reads like a dating profile?  "Two things that  people first notice about me" is not an acceptable question to ask a roommate.

It's also none of your business what I do for a living, or how I make my money.  It might come up in conversation after we've met, but really all you should be concerned about is if I can cover my financial obligations to you.  Okay, okay, maybe it is your business to a small extent, but I don't like it and I can tell when you're judging the answer, so just fuck off already.

Fourthly ... when you claim that you want to welcome someone into your home, make sure there's room for them.  Move your crap out of the room you're renting (isn't that obvious?) and have some space in your home for them to put their stuff.  Lots of folks are moving with more than the clothes on their back.

Fifth ... don't expect anyone to maim or hobble their animal for you.  Thank God no one asked this of me, but some of the ads and contacts were implied.
"Is your cat declawed?" "No." "Ooooh."
"I don't mind a cat, but can it stay in your room?"  "She's shy, but I can't promise she'll never explore." "Humph."
Let me remind you again, it's a buyer's market - and I can get an apartment.  I'm looking for a room in a home for 2 reasons, to save money and to give myself a social contact in a new city.  But neither of those things are going to compel me to chop off my cat's claws at the first knuckle, torturing her unnecessarily, leaving her defenseless and maiming her.  Neither am I going to lock her up in a 9x9 room for the rest of her life.  She deserves freedom of movement within her domain, as we all do.

Sixth ... this is a combo.  If someone wants to see your place, call them back.  If you actually want to rent the joint, answer the phone.  If they are driving out of their way to meet with you for the specific purpose of renting a room, don't make them meet you somewhere else first unless there's a damned good reason.  Be willing to show a place if you want to rent it - ie don't tell a prospective renter that you "don't do looky-loos."  Don't be pushy, elitist or rude.

OTOH, I did meet some lovely folks.  One of the roommates at the first place I went wound up coming dancing with me that night.  And proceeded to share 1/4 of her life story with me.  There was the guy who was willing to paint the room any colour I wanted.  Isn't that sweet?  Then there was the guy who needed to move out because his mother was terminal - he was one of the friendliest and kindest strangers I met all weekend. He even offered to help me find a job where he works, whether I took the place or not.

So, with all of these caveats and nice folks and 400 miles worth of driving, where did I wind up?
Nowhere.  Yet. 


But I did find a really good space that I think I can live in.  I wanted to give the guy a minute to think it over, so I didn't call him today, but I do plan to ring him tomorrow and ask if he'll have me.  When all was said and done I went with the chill guy who was calm, friendly and normal on the phone.  He was the same in person.  I didn't smell any drama or creepiness in the air.

He offered not just a room, but also space for me to live in.  The rooms and house were clean without being sterile.  The neighborhood was beautiful.  The price was fair.  I can actually see myself living there.  I've spent more than a few minutes mentally arranging myself and my stuff in his house and it works.  It's not the perfect living situation.  I don't get my own unicorn and a thousand dollar stipend for waking up in the morning, but it's pretty damned good.

Tomorrow I'll make the call and see if he was as impressed with me as I was with him.  If not, I have someone else on backup who also has room for me and my stuff, but her neighbourhood consists of tract homes and the price isn't as good.  If both of them turn my ass down, I can spend another day up in Phoenix looking for perfection, but I think I'll just go with an apartment instead.  I'm used to my own company and know I won't be disappointed with it. 

Just finished: Heartless 
Just finished: Too Hot to Handle
Currently reading: E is For Evidence 
Currently reading: Forsaking All Others

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