Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Adventures in Flat Hunting

Finding a flat in Auckland has been considerably more difficult than it was in Wellington. In Wellington I arrived on a Saturday, looked at places on Tuesday and Wednesday, and had made arrangements for a place by Friday. Not so in Auckland. Since I arrived last Monday, my wonderful friend Sarah has driven me around almost everyday, and we’ve probably seen about 20 different places. I’m definitely spoiled for choice here … it’s just that most of the choices are, well, not so choice.

Regan’s flat was not notable one way or the other; it was more that Regan was not my ideal flatmate. He had just quit his part-time job at a video store—he didn’t think he’d have time for it anymore now that he was trying to get something going with his band. I know they’ll be successful, though, because as Regan was taking down my name, he told me that after talking to me on the phone that morning, “I wrote a song about you in the shower. But I forgot it.” I told him I’d be in touch.

Claire and Stacey were super-nice, so nice in fact that they wouldn’t stop talking and made us late for our next appointment. I now know all their likes and dislikes, from sushi to art to dinosaurs. They’re not all sunshine, though, as we learned when they were telling us about their old flatmate. “I got so mad at her,” Stacey said, “that I punched her in the face.” I wasn’t exactly disappointed the next day when I got a text saying they’d found someone else. But fear not, the text made sure to note that I was still welcome to be their friend.

Shaun and his two flatmates (whose names I have chosen to forget) lived in an enormous house that I’m sure was beautiful back in the day—before there were life-sized cut-outs of naked women on the walls. Their explanation of rent and expenses was pretty straightforward: “Sometimes we have enough money to pay bills on time.” The guys also happened to be some of the most socially awkward people I’ve ever met. One of them sat in the lounge just staring at the TV, even though it wasn’t on. The other two stumbled through conversation and couldn’t seem to figure out why they had three empty rooms they couldn’t seem to rent out. Best of luck, guys.

Ricky and Greg met when Ricky tried to sell Greg some bad drugs. They’ve been best friends ever since. Ricky texted me the next day to say that they needed someone who could stay longer than I could, but added, “You’ve got my number—we should get drinks sometime.” Who knew that flat-hunting was so socially lucrative?

The best place by far, however, was Chris’ place. The easiest way to describe it—and I mean this in the nicest way possible—is that if the house and the guys were in the US, it would be a house for a slacker frat at Michigan State. The place was disgusting, and the furniture inside looked only slightly higher quality than the two or three old couches stacked on the porch (“Don’t mind our fuel. We’re burning those soon.”). The kitchen had clearly never been used or cleaned, and I’m tempted to say the same about the bathoom. “We’ve been meaning to get a shower head put on the shower,” they told us. “We can do that by the time you move in.” Probably true, because I’ll never move in, and they’ll probably never fix the shower. Not surprisingly, the only thing in even semi-good condition was the Playstation. Still, the best part came as we were walking out (“I still have to look at some other places, but I’ll let you know”), and Chris pointed to a small dirt patch by the walk: “Don’t mind the grave.” First I thought I’d heard him wrong, then I thought that maybe they’d had a dog that had died from neglect or something, but no. “We hate our old flatmate’s girlfriend, so we made a fake grave for her.”


teana said...

wow, you honestly could NOT make this up. hahaha. classic. good luck flat hunting!

Heather said...

Any chance you've got a tent in that backpack of yours?

Anonymous said...

This may not be the highlight of your trip but sure could make the best part of the book you will someday write about it. I will be first in line to buy the book.

esl said...

that beats any sort of ny apartment hunting story, hands down!