I moved home after college, taking advantage of rent-free life with free home-cooked meals and, of course, time with my little old puppy while I’ve got him, and family too. Our house is not exactly designed for 4 adults and all their stuff and schedules, so most of the time I was very much looking forward to moving out and having control of my space, but jobs were slightly unpredictable and the one steady one paid craptacularly, and I had zero desire to have roommates ever again, so leaving home before I turned 30 was feeling optimistic.
Over the last year or so, while I searched and applied and prayed and pondered and hunted and begged for a new job, any job, didn’t much care what at some points, in between the looking and freelancing to pay the bills, I became better friends with my knitting buddy, Emilie, and we gradually realized we two introverts might actually be able to stand living together without wanting to kill each other too often.
Then, in November, I finally got a new job. A real job. A grown-up job, with a freaking SALARY instead of hourly/freelance contractor limbo and benefits and shit! A weird, fun, creative, insane-but-also-so-much-more-sane job, helping wrangle and design the ongoing development of a Facebook game. But I’ll save that story for another time. Point is, I finally had a stable income that was enough to actually pay my existing bills, a reasonable amount of rent, and still have enough for little things like fooooood.
So I did some math, Emilie did some math, we poked around the internet, and discovered that going in on an apartment near our church, her work, the highway to mine, and friends and cute walkable town was actually a legitimate possibility! By then, the holidays were coming up and we each wanted to enjoy them with our families, and nobody wants to move when there’s a chance of blizzarding, so we decided to aim for the very specific deadline of “sometime in the spring.”
We managed to hold off actively looking for apartments until mid-January, when we saw a 2 bedroom place in town advertised in the church bulletin. I went to check it out, discovered it was right above a group of guys we know from church! The place was tiny and going to be a ton of work to make it work for us, but the landlord seemed nice and was willing to let us make it our own and the property was gorgeous and the rent was wicked cheap so we almost got it… but the more we thought about it, it just didn’t feel right. So we decided to keep looking.
We looked all over the interwebs, called so many numbers, visited a few places, wasted a stupid amount of money on a rental-finding service that turned out to be not worth a cent (more on that another time), and then our friends Ali and Joy told us there was a place for rent near their apartment, and took a picture of the “For Rent” sign in front of it from their back window. They didn’t know anything about the place other than the location being around the corner / across a parking lot and a street from them, so I called the number and left a rambling inquiry on some unknown guy’s voicemail to the effect of, “Hi, my friend sent me a picture of a For Rent sign with this number on it… so I know nothing about the assumed apartment… please give me a call and tell me anything about it, like how many bedrooms it has and if there’s a washing machine?”
The fellow, John, did give me a call back and told me it was the bottom of a duplex with 2 beds and 2 baths and laundry and a fireplace and even though they were asking a few hundred a month more than we could possibly pay, fully double what the place we almost got would have cost, for some reason I asked to come see it. He said he or his wife would give me a call when they were ready to show it, and his wife Beverly and I played phone tag for a few days, and then I eventually did get over to see it…
And instantly fell in love. It’s a bizarre little place with tons of windows and a step or 4 up or down from every room to the next and quirky details and weird textures and stairs in the middle of the kitchen and a freaking mudroom and workshop/storage room and little attic fort and everything we were looking for and so much more, and a 4 minute walk from our church and also awesome restaurants and shops and a diagonal block from two dear friends!
I ended up hanging around talking to Beverly and one of their sons (who was there putting up new window blinds) for about 2 hours! Over the course of that conversation, we discovered they own a business across the street and under the train tracks from my office, and go to the same church as my parents, and the sons had visited our church years ago, and had had their sidewalks shoveled during the last snowstorm by some kids we know, and about a thousand other crazy connections and coincidences, and more importantly we got along really well!
I asked about the chances of a break on rent in exchange for us doing the painting they were planning on and finishing up some other little projects and they seemed open to it, so I dragged Emilie back to see it the next day. Once again, we hung around talking for ages, and found out the son I had met the night before had called her that morning to tell her he thought we were meant to be their new tennants. Emilie loved it, I still loved it, it seemed kind of weirdly perfect and perfectly weird. But also still too much money.
So once again, we did math, figured we could stretch our budgets a little further than expected, though still not far enough… but made an offer that seemed reasonable compared to other rentals in the area and what our friends paid, though significantly less than they had said initially and significantly more than we had been planning on paying, they miractulously accepted and we signed the lease! A few weeks of cleaning and painting and more painting and more cleaning and finally some moving of furniture later, and tonight is the first night we’re both sleeping here!
(the bottom floor(ish) is our new home!)
The grand tour will have to wait for another day. Time for me to go make my bed and sleeeeep in it in my… new… apartment… (weird.)