First off, let me say that house hunting here is ridiculous. I mean that in the most stressful way possible. Here are a few facts to keep in mind before I tell our tale of house hunting over the last few days:
- Housing does not regularly update their listings
- "Apartments" don't necessarily describe our (American) idea of apartments
- "Houses" are most likely a condo/townhouse/apartment
- Everyone is racing each other to the best houses. It's free for all madness.
- Just because a landlord promises the house to you, doesn't mean they won't give it to someone else. You have to get them to sign a contract in order to secure the house.
Okay, so the very first place we looked at was a very American style second floor apartment. It had a good sized living room/dining room/kitchen combination of a room, two bedrooms, two bathrooms with showers (no tubs), a garage, and a separate storage room next to the garage. There was a locked gate just to get onto the property and a locked door to get into the stairway. It made me feel like I would be perfectly safe while Will is at work or if he is on TDY/deployed. We felt very good about the place, but of course we couldn't sign on the first place we looked at. We made an appointment with the landlord to meet again at the end of the week in case we still felt good after looking at other places.
We teamed up with one of the guys from Will's squadron (Pierce) who got here at the same time as us and is staying a floor above us at Residence Posta. We all went out to look at a house out in the country. It was very cute and very Italian but Will got a bad vibe off the place and it was a little too secluded for my taste. We also looked at a duplex that liked. Will and I would take the bottom apartment and Pierce and his wife would take the top. There was a big shared attic on the third floor that the guys joked about turning into a man cave or party room. We all liked that it was owned by someone who works on base and speaks perfect English, but we didn't really like that he had a garden in the yard and a wine cellar in the basement. It meant he would be dropping by and coming into the building on a regular basis.
Pierce found a great 3rd floor apartment. Will and I were secretly hoping he'd pass it up, but he ended up making an appointment with the landlord to sign a contract after he talks to his wife. At this point we were thinking we'd go back and take the first apartment we looked at. As a last ditch effort, we went to the housing office and asked for help since the people there are Italian. The woman helping us recognized the landlord's name on one of the houses and showed us the listing. She made an appointment for us to see the house tomorrow afternoon. In the meantime Pierce had made arrangements for him and Will to look at an apartment nearby in the morning.
Like I said, this is the most stressful house hunt ever. There's also a time crunch before our TLA (temporary living allowance) runs up and we have to pray an extension is approved. But we have to prove that we're making an honest effort to look for a house. The housing office will reject an extension application if they think we're being too picky or wait too long to sign a housing contract.
Wish us luck!