Mid-Life Crisis Trip
Entry 2: Finding an apartment
The next item on our Mid-Life Crisis To Do list was finding a new place to live. We really (really) love where we live now--it's in the middle of Redmond, right next to the fire station and two blocks from the police station (talk about feeling secure at night). We can walk across the street to buy fresh cinnamon rolls and get our hair cut. There's two movie theaters within walking distance.
It's also bloody expensive--the area we live in has the highest rents in the entire Seattle area. And since Laura quit her job (on St. Patrick's day) we are somewhat concerned with keeping costs down. (Of course, she quit the day after she got her bonus for 2005, which was about 15% of her annual salary, but still--we want to stretch that money out.)
Our goal: Find a place that costs half as much as our current apartment does.
Saturday, March 25, 2006
Today is apartment locating day. As a result of scheduling snafus, we have realized that we need to be moved by April 22nd--less than a month away! Time to get going.
One of the reasons our marriage works is that we have complementary contradictions.
For example: Robert is intensely practical. He takes care of the money stuff, and is firmly rooted in getting things done. Laura is deeply spiritual and feels that God is a centering presence in her life.
One of us has complete faith that God will take care of things. The other one worries that the worst is just around the corner and we need to be prepared to live in a cardboard box. And--you guessed it!--it's backwards from the way you'd expect (the contradiction part).
So, Laura is fretting that we'll never find a place that will let us have cats and be available before the end of April and take somebody who doesn't have a job. Robert's pretty sure we'll have something wrapped up before his latte gets cold.
Robert has been playing Information Miner with the Seattle Times classified ads ("Hey--check it out! I can list penthouses with four bathrooms that accept dogs and are south of downtown!") and printing out pages to give to Laura. We check the Redmond area first, hoping to stay in our cute little neighborhood. Mostly we find that we can rent a largish garage for $1000 a month.
Turns out the North Seattle is a pretty cheap place to rent, so Robert starts mining ads in that vein.
Laura is already sick and tired of calling places and insists that Robert start calling (Robert dislikes talking to people on the phone, but so does Laura, so it kinda evens out).
Robert finds a promising ad that says it's "cat friendly," which our cats (Mooch--the huge enormous one; and Indy--the teeny little one) endorse.
He calls and runs through our list of requirements (indoor plumbing, hot water--our requirements are not steep). Things are going great until he gets to "month-to-month rent."
"Oh no! We only do leases--at least six months. You'll find that most places require a six-month lease."
We're not sure why Robert decided to explain about the AmeriCorps thing. Part of the reason we're doing this is to serve as an example, which requires talking about it. In any event, Robert explained that the reason we didn't want to do month-to-month was we didn't know when (or where) we might have to go.
Robert thanked her, hung up, and moved on to the next listing. As he was reaching for the phone, it rang.
"Hello?" said a puzzled Robert
"Hi, this is the lady you just talked to? My name is Starr. After I hung up I got to thinking--I always get ideas after I hang up. Have my whole life. Thank goodness for star-69! Anyway, I'm thinking that if you're willing to pay an extra $50 per month, we could make a month-to-month lease happen! What will you do with your cats while you're at AmeriCorps? Goodness, what an adventure!"
We meet Starr, who is a California-bred astrologer grandmother who has managed this apartment complex for the last five years. It's an interesting design--it's set up like spokes on a wheel, so every apartment is a corner apartment. There's a pond in the central hub, which is open to the sky.
The apartments are little--about half the size of our current place. But then, the rent is about half our current rent, so that part works out.
The place we're looking at is occupied by a bachelor (we note the tell-tale clothing strewn around the apartment) or two (we don't think one person could possibly have that much clothing). It even has a built-in washer-dryer! (Laura's not sure she could deal with going to a laundromat after all these years.)
Needless to say, Laura charms Starr, and they talk about the singing group that Starr is in ("The Rolling Crones" a group of older women) and before you know it, we're putting down deposits and filling out applications.
"Ha!" says Robert, "Ha ha! Your faith is like French's mustard, all yellow and runny!" (as he gleefully misquotes "If you had the faith the size of a mustard seed..."). "One phone call! I got us an apartment in one phone call! You just gotta have faith."
He hums as he walks into the local espresso joint just up the block from our probably new apartment. Sure enough, his latte has finally cooled off.
As you might expect, Robert is insufferable the entire rest of the weekend. Laura points out that it's a good thing she has faith in the justice system, or he might be missing a few limbs in "accidents."
Monday, March 28
It's official! Our new landlady is a California-bred astrologer grandmother named Starr (not her first name, but she doesn't like her first name, so we'll refrain from using it, except to say that it's not "Shooting").
Our apartment complex has a web site! You can get directions and see pictures and even apply for an apartment on-line (but not for our place! We've rented it already).
Here's where we're living: http://www.hgwproperties.com/greenwood.htm (click on the floor plan for "897 sq ft" to see exactly what our apartment's floor plan is).
Next up: Finding an AmeriCorp job: Can Robert do it in one phone call? (hee hee!)