In 2016, almost everyday I would post a little note on my personal Facebook notifying that I had arrived at my office desk. This came to an end in October 2016 when I lost my job.
After a few months, I got a call to work at a company in another city 400 KM away. The company has won “A Great Place Work” award, so I couldn’t resist the offer and decided to take it.
With the new job came the move to the new town. I arrived a few weeks before my starting day. Initially I went to budget hostel. In the meantime my belongings where sent to a storage place. That was expensive considering I only have 14 boxes of belongings. Fresh in the new town I had to start looking for a permanent place to live. I discarded the option of trying to rent an apartment on my own. The rent would be high and if my new job didn’t work out, I would be stuck with a high rent and a contractual commitment to stay for a year. Landlords don’t like to rent for less than a year.
So I chose to look for a room to rent. I thought this would be wiser. The idea is to live in a rented room until I feel my position at my new job is stable enough.
The search for a room to rent was a lengthy nightmare. I thought it would take me a week, but it ended up taking a month and a half. There was a 400 Dollar phone bill on my mobile phone (cellphone) from calling the landlords.
First thing that I learned while searching was that, those renting out rooms prefer young girls for roommates. Their second choice is young students. I would call the number in the room advertisement and say I’m a man in my forties and they would laugh. The landlords somehow find it strange that a guy in his forties might want to rent a room.
I guess if life had done things correctly in life, it would be expected that in my forties I would be a home owner. But, I wasn’t smart enough.
In some cases, people with money to invest are buying apartments and making many rooms in them. They make more money rent 5 individual rooms than renting the entire apartment. The problem for the roommates is that the owner doesn’t live in that house, so there is no authority. None of the roommates wants to take out the trash. If one roommate is throwing parties, if you tell him something, he may simply say you are not the owner, I’m not gonna listen to you.
I would spend 5 hours a day searching through room advertisements. But at the end of the day I was only able to setup 3 appointments. So, I would go to the appointment and if I was interested in the room, they would tell me there are other people interested too and that the owner will choose who to give the room to. At times I would see a queue of people at the door waiting to see the same room as me, with the deposit money in their hands. Because many are interested, the owner does “casting”. I would always lose out because of age and gender. Professionally they also prefer doctors or nurses, someone with a very traditional stable job.
The high demand for rooms and the low amount of supply means that the prices are really high. 600 dollars for an tiny, dark ugly room on the ground floor of a tall building.
Phone calls to the owners is not enough, as they get so many calls, that they turn off the phone. So you end up having to add their mobile (cellphone) number to your WhatsApp and send them a WhatsApp message with your interest in the room they are renting out.