Saturday, 24 March 2012

Apartment Hunting Again

I am once more in search of another apartment.

We can pretend that we're used to the nightly noises from the recycling depot.

We can pretend that we really don't mind our upstairs neighbours walking around in high-heeled shoes on tiled floors and having baths at two o'clock in the morning.

We can pretend that drilling and banging from local construction sites all day is like birdsong to our ears.

But we only have one air-conditioner in this apartment and summer is coming!

So, these last couple of weeks I've been seriously looking for apartments. As always, poor Chinese puts me at somewhat of a disadvantage, so local friends have kindly been helping me out by phoning up about likely prospects and coming along with me to viewings. Last week, however, I braved a real estate agent's office myself and managed a broken dialogue with an assistant there.

Luckily we both had mobile phones with which to talk to each other, each of us tapping in what we wanted to say when communication broke down entirely. He would type something, his phone would translate and I'd read it; then, because I still didn't understand, I'd type something that my phone would translate, then he'd say, no, that's not what I mean. We went on like this for some time.

He asked if I could come back at five to go and see an apartment. Okay, I said. Then he said, could I come back at three? Not really, I replied (I had to collect my son from school at four). Actually, five wasn't very convenient, so I said, can I come back tomorrow morning? That sparked a response. Let's go now, he said.

Then he went off to get his motorcycle helmet. This greatly alarmed me. Was I expected to ride shotgun? Was I expected to follow him? There is nothing like the prospect of having to negotiate Taipei traffic to strike terror into my heart. I long ago decided that it was in the best interests of public safety that I don't drive in Taiwan. No, no, no! I protested. I walk, I walk!

He gave up on the helmet and we marched off to the MRT. I felt a bit bad because by the time we got to the apartment he was limping. An old scooter injury, perhaps? On the way we had some interesting exchanges. The rent is xxxxxx, you pay us xxxxxxx. I understand, I said. You decide? You don't need your husband to see? No, my husband needs to see. (Are there any couples out there where one partner gets to choose the apartment without agreement from their other half?) I was beginning to have some suspicions.

The apartment was near the top of a block, so had great views, but it was very old and neglected, so definitely not an option. If he'd shown me photos before we left the office he could have saved us both some trouble. We had some more dubious exchanges. Don't tell the landlord I show to you, his phone told me. Mmmmm..... I said. Later, after checking with Andy, I texted the agent to tell him we didn't want it but to let us know if they had anything else. The reply came  - No. I think he misunderstood me.

So that was my foray into the Chinese-only world. Luckily for me, Google Chrome translates for me when I'm apartment hunting on the internet, though the translations are often hilarious. For example, I do not want to live in 'electrical apartments' and 'pet and cook fumes from cooking, Inconvenient, Oh!' sounds a little alarming.

I've seen some nice places so far, but location is another important consideration, especially noise levels! Ideally, we like to be up high where the air is better, and aesthetically-speaking I'd like to be near the mountains. But we also need to be within commuting distance of Conrad's school, and preferably near an MRT stop and good supermarket.

This week I hope to view these:

Wish me luck!

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