When Hubby first started internet-dating, he had a very specific list of deal-breakers, regardless of how nice/charming/sexy a prospective date might be: no facial piercings (other than ears), no visible tattoos, nothing too weird or too “flashy.” Good thing I’m totally plain-looking, I guess.
When it comes to finding a place to live, he also had certain criteria, though they were less clear and mostly based on feeling. We do have some things on our list, though. Two bedrooms. Preferably washer/dryer hookup (otherwise we paid to have our washer and dryer moved up here for nothing). A bathroom and kitchen that are easier to clean than the ones in the house we just moved out of (which includes kitchen cabinets that close properly to keep the cats–and their hair–out).
After more than a decade of being out of the
dating real estate pool, dipping our toes back into it was a bit scary for both of us. Apartment hunting in a new/foreign city is intimidating. And disappointing. And exhausting.
I really wanted to fall in love with the first place we saw. The price was right, the owners were very nice, and the neighborhood was charming and convenient. What was not convenient was the two flights of winding stairs (the first of which was outside, exposed to the elements) we–and the movers–would have to navigate. And it was so small. Like, tiny. I don’t know where you would even put a couch in the narrow living room, and one of the “bedrooms” didn’t even have a door. But it did have a washer/dryer hookup, which would be a huge plus, especially because it would allow me to use cloth diapers.
The second place reeked of smoke, and the third had the squeeeeeakiest floors I’ve ever set foot on. And both were too far from a metro station for Hubby to walk on cold winter days.
The fouth place wasn’t terrible, but it didn’t have a washer/dryer hookup and basically only had one closet. We couldn’t even look at the laundry room in the building because the guy who showed us the apartment said his roommate had the key. But it was in a great neighborhood in a more English-speaking part of the city.
The fifth place was promising. Same neighborhood as #4 but brighter and with a homier feel. Still no washer/dryer, but the laundry room in the basement seemed doable. So far, it was Hubby’s favorite.
Apartment number six again had laundry hookup and was super tiny. We were beginning to sense a theme.
Number 7 sounded great on paper. Ground floor with back yard. Washer and dryer. Storage in the basement. Except–again–the second bedroom was not really a bedroom, and the whole apartment was minuscule. There were fruit trees and the possibility of a garden in the back yard, though, which made me not want to cross it off the list yet.
Apartment number 8 had it all: closets, washer/dryer hookup, two functional balconies. It should have been perfect, but it just didn’t feel right. Still it was one of our best options.
Leaving that last place–passing a strip club on the way–Hubby and I were torn. Do we choose the apartment that felt warm and inviting, despite the fact I’d have to go down and up three flights of stairs with a baby to do laundry (#5)? Or the place that ticked all the boxes, technically speaking, but didn’t have the best layout and wasn’t in an especially great neighborhood (#8)?
Just like a series of blind dates, we had no idea what the other party was thinking. Other people had apparently looked at each of the apartments. Were they as interested as we were? Would another suitor come and steal our favorite place away from us? And which was our favorite, anyway?
Hubby and I had a tough decision to make. And not a lot of time to make it. This is a temporary move, but it’s still two years of our life. So we went for a walk, had a light dinner, and talked about our options. He had a vision of coming home at the end of the day to be greeted by me and Thumper. And he could only see this happening in #5. Since we had first seen it the night before, I had also started to imagine our life there–schlepping laundry up and down the stairs and all.
What it came down to in the end was a gut feeling. Hubby and I would both feel less isolated in the first of the two places. There was a true neighborhood vibe that the second place just didn’t have. So we called to schedule a meeting with the current tenant (whose lease we’d be taking over) and the landlord.
I didn’t begin to second-guess the decision until 3:30 in the morning. I don’t know how long I lay in bed, wondering what the heck we were going to do with our own washer and dryer, and picturing myself in the other apartment, happily doing our laundry without having to leave the house.
And then I rolled over, saw Hubby sleeping peacefully, perhaps for the first time since we arrived in Montreal, and knew we’d made the right choice. After all, laundry is one small part of my life. The rest of it will be much happier spent in a warm, bright apartment, walking a few blocks to run errands, wearing Thumper so she can experience our new neighborhood as well.
It’s not our ideal place, but it’s not our forever home, either. For the next two years, it will be a place that (hopefully) allows us to interact with our neighbors, find friends, and explore this new city. And that’s worth the price-per-load of laundry for us.