Friday, August 04, 2006

A Moving Story

Note: This story is long. Really long. So I have a short version here. Or you could read the whole thing. Or you could skip it. (I won't know.)
In May, my roommate (from whom I was subletting) decided to move out of state. She gave the complex the required 60 days notice. I spoke with the residential manager about possibly transferring the lease and initially she said that would be no problem. A week later she called me back to say that oops, we couldn't do that. She was willing to let me stay but someone else's name would have to be on the lease. While we were having this conversation, she had already called my roommate to tell her someone was coming to look at the place. The end result of my conversation with her was that I was not willing to stay if my name couldn't be on the lease, so therefore I would have to move. I began looking.
I checked Craigslist and signed up for roommate search services. I wrote down names of places I passed. I looked at one apartment - a shared space - where the bedroom was so small that I wasn't sure my queen bed would fit, much less anything else. (The person who was staying had been there several years so the shared spaces were fully furnished as in without room for anything else).
I looked at another shared space where my stuff would all have to fit in the room - but this room was bigger. But the more I thought about it I got a weird vibe. Nothing totally bad, but just not right. And the homeowner had construction planned, which when finished would be nice, but not something I necessarily wanted to deal with while unpacking.
I looked at a townhouse where the bedroom was small, but I figured some of my books could go into common spaces. I decided to think about it over the holiday weekend (at was now July) and it got snapped up while I pondered.
So, I sent more emails. And did more web searches. And I found this great townhouse in Silver Spring. The bedroom was a good size, the roommates were quiet and away a lot. So, I filled out the application. The rental agents said the process would take three to five days.
At this point we were in mid-July. But I had a trip to Atlanta planned for the 22nd to the 26th, so I knew my time was tighter. I called movers. (Having made the mistake last time trying to get the place before I got movers and having everyone be booked up). And on day five, I called the agents back. To be told that the unit I was looking at didn't allow pets. Now of course, I knew there was a cat there. The ad had been listed as both cat and dog friendly. And of course there was the, "It took five days for you to tell me you won't process my application!". And now I am two days from going out of town.
But, the agents said, there's another place we have available that you could look at tonight. It was a one bedroom so more than the place I couldn't move into, so I asked for a ballpark on the utilities. I explained that my current building our electric went up to $200 in the summer, which greatly affected the amount of rent I was able to pay. They promised to check. I met the guy at the apartment that night. It was very nice. But then I discovered two things. There was another person who already had an application in on the place. And there was no air conditioning. (I was welcome to purchase window units should I desire, etc, etc).
Which reminds me of the craziness of all this. The place I just moved out of required a rental payment as security deposit. (As do many places these days, although seriously together we were paying over fifteen hundred dollars, I can't imagine what we would need to do to cause that amount of damage. I'm sure it has happened, but it can't be common.) But then, they have 45 days to give you back this money. By which point one assumes you have already ponied up rent, security deposit, pet deposit and moving costs. How are people supposed to afford this process? I understand why it works this way, but it's crazy.
So, back to my saga. So, I emailed more people. I called a guy with an efficiency and made arrangements to see it the next day. It was small. But I could afford it, it was in a great neighborhood, and he accepted cats. So, I called a couple more places and then called him back to say I wanted it. He called back and asked if I could give him the rent and deposit that day. (I had let him know I was heading out of town the next day.) I told him I could give him the deposit, but the rest I wouldn't be able to give him until next week. He said he's call back. I got a message that night to not worry, we would work things out when I returned.
So, I went to Atlanta. (More on that later. Promise). Sunday night I get a call - they gave the place to someone else. Bird in the hand they said. He mentions he has a friend with a one bedroom available, but its for three hundred more a month - well out of my price range.
So, I call and leave another message for someone I had called earlier - reaffirming my interest. She called back and said the place was still available and they would not make any decisions before I looked at the place. So, we talked Thursday and arranged to meet that evening. I also spoke with her roommate (the one who was staying) briefly. I also respond to another ad for a studio in DC. They are showing that afternoon. So, I go there. I walk in minutes after the start time of the showing and am the fourth person there and about the only one not already filling out an application (with fee, of course).
I head to the shared space. I was told they were in the third unit. I got there - a bit later than planned due to traffic - and the units are numbered 101, 102, etc. So, okay I knock on 103. A gentleman with a Doberman answers. I tell him who I am looking for. I have the wrong unit. He comes back to tell me they are on the third floor - the left unit. I knock there. No answer. I call and leave a message saying I am here, but I am going to head out. I never got a call back.
So, now it's Friday. I had left messages at a few places. Emailed a few more people. Called the rental agent for the studio I had looked at - asking her what their timeframe was for processing applications. Called some more apartments. Now I'm starting to hear from places that they'll have something available August 3rd, or eighth or eleventh. But of course I need to be out before then. (Our apartment had been rented for the fifteenth, I had already been told by the resident manager they wanted to try to do the walk through before I moved out so they could get going with the repainting, etc.)
I go to a building in DC - there are many people there. They have only a few people in their leasing office, which I actually like. It's a big enough building that it makes sense they have people just for new rentals, but I start to worry when they have too many. I lived one place where they had twice as many leasing agents as rental staff, and of course the leasing agents all were there late and on weekends. So, it was very convenient to rent a place - and almost impossible to get assistance once you were a resident.
So, three of us look at a number of places - all studios. Two of us decide to put in applications on the spot. I hand over my $150 (application fee plus earnest money that will be applied to my first rent if I become a tenant). And I head off to another another few places. One says they can get me in, but I would need $1650 (rent, deposit, pet deposit, extra pet rent) in cashier's checks since I want to move in quickly. Another doesn't have anything ready for the next few days. And another is just too freaking far away. I call the movers to change the time from Sunday to Monday. I call work to let them know I won't be in Monday.
I hear back from an email that I can see a place today. I ask what time. I don't get an answer until Sunday - in which I still don't get a time I can see the place.
I hear back on another email and get sent the email for the person who can show me around (this is a shared space). She's available Saturday. I respond requesting a time. I get a response Sunday that they had to call repair people who are to arrive Monday, so then or Wednesday I could come by.
Monday I go back to the building to check on the status of my application, stressing that really I'm supposed to move out today, so - while I know I'm asking a lot - I am crunched. (I did have friends who offered to put me up if I couldn't get things going in time.) She has to call to verify employment and rental history still, but will call me that afternoon. I hear back,and am told that she doesn't think it will happen today, but she'll try. They still don't have verification of employment.
So, I go to see the residential manager, and ask if I can stay one more day. She agrees. (Yay!) I call the movers, and they agree to re-reschedule for tomorrow.
I go into work Tuesday, update everyone on my not moved yet status. I call and get the forms faxed to me which my wonderful manager fills out to prove I am employed. I head off to meet the movers. I call to make sure they have everything at the building. My person is at lunch. Have I mentioned that at this point the DC metro area is under a heat advisory. The air quality is orange (much like the terrorist color coding, red is the worst, orange is second worst). The heat index has us at 109 degrees. Yippee!
I call the building again - while the movers are moving, and I am throwing away junk. (Not the good junk, that I'd already donated. This is the bad junk). I call the building again. The person I had been dealing with had to go home. I explain the scenario to the person who is there, who has three people sitting in front of her to move in. The movers sense something is up - I explain the situation. They suggest I call the office and arrange for possibly keeping the stuff overnight - which is agreed to easily. (Yay!).
I hear back - they do have all my paper and if I show up soon (money in hand) I can get everything signed and ready to go. However, you can't move furniture into the building after six. It is now four fifteen. The movers determine that there is not enough time for them to finish loading and get everything loaded in (understandable). So we stick with the prior plan of moving in tomorrow. I get to the office, sign documents (along with another gentleman who had also been working with the woman who had to go home early) and get my keys. Life is good.
I go back to my almost former place, clean up all the trash that you discover when you move your bed and clean out your closets. Load up the car and grab the cat. And head to the new place (Air mattress - I figured it would be less crazy for the cat to only deal with the car and a new place once this week.) Yay!
Wednesday. The movers call, since I have the keys now we could do this right away. I explain I am on my way to work and would like to be there for a few minutes before I turn around and leave. We agree on eleven, so I have time to make it back to the new place. (Predictably this means they do not arrive until noon). I talk to the parking guy who tells me he will get the movers all set up and it's all good. And yet, thirty minutes pass and the movers haven' made it back to the apartment. I am torn between not being there when they arrive and wanting to make sure there isn't a problem. I locate one of them, they parking guy told them their truck was too big. They asked for permission to parking on the street level parking (rather than underground) but are told that that entrance can't be blocked off for security and emergency exit reasons. The building guy suggests they leave the truck where it is on the street and just use there carts to carry stuff into the lot, down to the loading dock and then over to the elevators. Have I mentioned that today the heat index is 114 degrees with code red air quality?
The movers call their office and the office will send another guy to help. They tell me to go back and wait in my place. (I got a lot of reading done). So, apparently another guy from the building came out and said the truck will fit so they tried again and it did. Oh. And the freight elevator hadn't been available but then it was and so I got the key. And stuff started appearing in my apartment. (My cat hid in the closet). So, at the end of the day I have a place full of boxes. I have a place! Now, I just have to unpack.
A Moving Story: The Short Version
Had to find new place. Looked, web searched, Craisglisted, called, emailed.
Found:
Too small
Construction + weird
Small but got snapped up
No pets (even though the ad said pets okay)
No air conditioning (are you kidding me?)
Small but okay but then they gave it to someone else while I was out of town
Four other people already applying
Got wrong apartment number + nobody home
Two places we can't set a time I can see
Apply for one
Several that won't be ready in time for me
And, I finally get the (second) one I officially apply for - after rescheduling the movers twice and having to move in (stuff-wise) a day after I move out in part due to communication issues and a leasing person having to leave the office early. But I am now safely ensconced. Just need to unpack.

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