I did not plan on writing a blog about my apartment hunting experience because it’s probably not interesting for you to read my thought process in comparing 1 bedrooms vs. 2 bedroom’s and the building with a pool as opposed to a building with a nice view, blah, blah, blah. So, this post is not to bore you with those details, but to share the experience in dealing with the Apartment Agents and the long journey to actually secure the place, all of which is so incredibly frustrating. And to be honest, I really don’t think my frustration stems from the language barrier but more from the fact that the Agents have their own financial motives.
Agent #1: “Kaiser”
“Kaiser” was pretty competent but thought he was the Donald Trump of Guangzhou. I found an apartment on an Expat website and emailed him to take a look. He gave me an easy to find meeting place and showed me the beautiful apartment. I was immediately interested but when I told him we’d only be staying for 6 months, the price doubled. This is Guangzhou, not Manhattan, buddy.
Agent #2: “Jenny”
The biggest mess of all. I found an ad on Craigslist for an apartment for 98 square meters, 2 bedrooms, 3800 RMB per month and 1 metro stop from where Fabien’s company picks him up in the morning. Turns out the apartment is 98 square meters, 2 bedrooms, 5000 RMB and 3 Metro stops from the pick up point. The reason I know this is because I was walking around the wrong area for 2 hours looking for the place. So you can imagine my extreme irritation when she told me the price was 5000 RMB. And then she got lost when we were trying to exit the enormous building. We ended up walking around the parking structure underneath the building for 20 minutes trying to find the exit. I just stopped speaking to her at this point. Then she had the audacity to email me later that night saying she’d like to show me more apartments.
Agent #3: “Marlene”
I liked (notice the “d” at the end) Marlene. After getting lost because of Jenny’s misdirection, I was very happy when Marlene promised to meet me directly outside of the Metro exit. Marlene spoke excellent English and looked very professional, even though her teeth were rotting out of her mouth. She showed me a 1 bedroom, completely furnished and so new that we would be the first ones living there. The biggest downside was that it was 2 Metro stops from Fabien’s pick up and there was nothing in the area. So, I asked her to show me a few others later that week, which lead to our relationship going down hill. I explained the requirements and she took to me see an apartment 5 Metro stops from where we wanted (and a 20 minute walk), for more money and a beautiful view of a construction site where they are currently jackhammering a parking lot. I felt like Chris Tucker talking to Jackie Chan….”Do you understand the words that are coming out of my mouth?”
Agent #4: “Ken”
It should first be noted that Ken’s teeth were also rotting out of his mouth. He worked at an agency that I just walked into in the area we wanted to live. He showed me two properties that met all of our criteria. Hallelujah. The first one smelled a little funny and had a 1970’s style decor. The next one smelled really funny and had a nice view of the next building’s walls.
After this, I decided I was done looking at apartments and it was just time to make a decision. So, because we like to keep it classy, we went with the Ron Burgandy, 1970’s style place. Side note: If you have no idea who Ron Burgandy is, please rent the movie Anchorman immediately. It has 2 bedrooms, amazing gold curtains, lots of mirrors on the walls, a glass bar, a decent view, a pool, tennis court, gym, billiards room, Supermarket less than a block away and it’s right next to the Metro station. Phew….so we thought.
Signing the lease was another s@#t show complete with them trying to get us to sign the lease in Chinese which lead to one of the Apartment Agents taking a taxi to get an English contract. And then Fabien reading the contract line by line. And then our bank not allowing us to withdrawal the entire amount needed due to a maximum daily withdrawal limit. After all was said and done, it took 4 hours to get the lease signed. The good news is that I think poor little, rotten tooth Ken is so scared of Fabien that the place will look immaculate when we move in today.
There are a few pictures of the new place in the Photo Gallery, but I will post more later. Also we spent our Sunday afternoon at Xiqiao Mountain, which is simply amazing. There are a few pics of that excursion as well.