Apartment Wanted

By now I have found an apartment so this is a journey back in time, reminding me of the dark days of when I was still at Appart’City. The gallery is a sampling of some places I saw.  Let me preface what I’m about to write by saying the rental market in Annecy is hot. Nice apartments are scooped up fast and I have a feeling you need an inside contact at an agency to know of these places before they’re listed.  My criteria heading into the search were:

  • in or near town center, walking distance to shops and restaurants
  • two bedrooms, one for all the guests I’m going to have *hint-hint*
  • a balcony or terrace with a view
  • parking, preferably a garage
  • un cave (storage space separate from your apartment)
  • old, French charm but with modern updates in the kitchen and bath

Apartment availability is thin and these criteria narrowed my options further. I had a woman showing me places and I thought she’d have places lined up every day. But it was two here, one there, wait a few days and there’d be two more. I combed internet listings on my own for hours.  After seeing a few places, the last item went out the window. “French charm” meant extremely outdated kitchens and bathrooms, single-pane glass windows, no parking, and if there was an elevator, two people riding in it would feel crowded. Trust me, I know.  I got to ride in one and there were three of us.  I quickly had to temper my expectations and budget. Annecy is an expensive resort town and a lot of Europeans retire or have vacation homes here. Then there’s all the rich people who work in Geneva and live in Annecy.  Side note, Switzerland has 3 of the top 10 most expensive cities to live. I knew I would be downsizing a lot, too. I left behind my 2000 sq ft, 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom house in Portland with a 2 car garage and PLENTY of storage and electrical outlets. Those last two things you never have enough of in apartments, am I right?  But all the apartments I was seeing were so small. I silently thanked myself for leaving behind my queen-sized bed and bringing the double bed from the guest room. I am used to big, super-sized everything and in my new world, even closets are a luxury. Many kitchens are “non-équipée”, or unequipped, meaning there are no appliances–you have to move in your own or buy new ones. In some instances, there are no cupboards. Wow. I was somewhat prepared for this but the reality of it alarming. This involves the added expense and hassle of acquiring everything needed for a functioning kitchen. More on this in a future post!

Before I knew it, weeks were going by and I wasn’t finding “the place”. I felt like Goldilocks.  Apartments were too small, too far from town center, too expensive, too outdated, etc. I had to go with my gut and nothing felt like home. After all, I was in a foreign country thousands of miles from home and starting a new job. My apartment had to be the one place where I could relax and be stress free. Again, more on this in a future post.  Another thing I was faced with was not having any employment history in France. Agencies did not want to rent to me for this reason, even if I had Salomon’s support and could prove my solid credit rating from the US. This was really frustrating and how one apartment I liked was kept out of my grasp. Then it happened. I was shown two great apartments on the same day. The first place was being completely renovated in an existing building called Golden Parc. Some of the pluses: extra storage, cupboards and oven in the kitchen, nice sized terrace. Some of the minuses: not that close to town center and a view of a parking lot. The second place was much older and had that French charm I was initially hoping for. No parking but through the agency I could rent a spot in a garage closeby at a really good price. Some pluses: wraparound balcony with an incredible view of the lake and mountains, walking distance to all the good stuff, and for an old apartment it had a nice, open space. Some minuses: puny aforementioned elevator and an unequipped kitchen. I felt really good about the latter apt and felt the positives greatly outweighed the negatives so I submit my application. I was dreaming about how I’d decorate it and the “wow” factor for when I had guests over and they saw the stunning view. My application was accepted and I got renter’s insurance. I successfully negotiated having an oven installed. Now all that needed to be done was signing the lease. Then the floor dropped out beneath me. The owner had decided to sell the apartment, not rent it. Nooooo!!! So long sun-filled apartment. So long parties on the balcony. So long French charm. I was back at square one and had to extend my stay at Appart’City, Crapsville. I was utterly deflated, not to mention the fact my window of time to find an apartment before I started work was diminishing. I had given myself 6 weeks to find an apartment, settle, and be prepared for my first day of work.

The search was back on and a few days later I found the apartment I’m in right now, typing this post. It’s a brand new building and on the same street as the apt I lost, but even closer to town center–like can’t get any closer.  Things have a way of working out and I have to remind myself of this when things get tough.

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