My search for a humble abode in Dublin

This is absolutely an unintended piece. I can’t fall asleep at this time – 1:25am. Too much green tea, I reckon.

Finding a place to live in Dublin is so difficult. Or as my colleagues described it, “competitive”. I think competitive is an understatement. It is downright brutal and depressing. Let me state my case:

Context: There were various ads for houseshares where the advertiser aka flatmate/landlord did not leave behind a contact number. They demand that you send them an email, presumably so that they filter through the prospective candidates at their own pace to assess their worthiness to partake and share of their living spaces. The same applies for some ads for non-houseshares.

Day 1 – Thursday
I probably sent out 15 or so email requests, politely stating my intention (to arrange for a viewing to get to know them and to have a look at the place) and a decently written paragraph about myself (or so I thought). 2 persons kindly replied to me in the evening and I wrote back to say that I would be there to view the place an hour later or so.

Houseshare #1: I arrived on time. Knocked on the door many times. Nobody answered the door. Called the fellow – good thing I asked for his contact number just in case “I get lost and need more direction”. A Brazilian young chap answered the door after 3-4 minutes or dare I say 5 minutes (or did time slow down under the cold winter winds of Dublin?). He was reasonably friendly and led me up this musky and dusky looking staircase. He explained that the occupants of the whole house are all here to study English and to work (him and another Brazilian guy in a room, a Spanish couple in another room, and 2 Brazilian lasses in the room that I am taking over). The kitchen smells funny – not that I am prim or proper or anything like that. Especially given that I am used to the extremely pungent smells of the Indian curries in Singapore that I love dearly. So, yeah, the kitchen smells funny. Perhaps after experiments with various Irish herbs? Anyhow, he brought me to the room that I was taking over. It is tiny. To put things into perspective, the room in this houseshare is/was going for £500 per month excluding utility bills. Right, the room reminds me of an attic. The attic that Cinderalla was probably living in with her evil stepsisters. The Spanish guy, whom I was introduced to before I entered the room, a future housemate stood at the door of the room all the time, peering intently at the proceedings (me inspecting the room and asking the Brazilian guy questions and making small talk) all the time. Maybe that’s called hanging out in Spain?

Houseshare #2: After departing from the house of dubious smells, I walked 30 to 40 minutes to arrive at the Grand Canal apartments neighbourhood. Wow. Very posh, I thought to myself. I must be a lucky fellow if I land this deal. It took me another 15 minutes after some creative extrapolation of the address and stopping of clueless souls to locate the apartment. I politely identified myself in the intercom and someone let me into the apartment building. There were 2 women in the apartment and one attended to me while the other was talking to a man. From the dynamics of the whole place and my excellent EQ, I surmised that the man is my competitor. Hence, I cast a look at him and did not offer a handshake. The living room looked like a mess. My lady attendant explained that the room that I am to occupy is messy as the 2 girls are packing their stuff as they will be leaving next week. And that there are 2 beds in the room. One going for €250, the other at €275. And that her companion will be occupying a mattress in a corner of the room. Which makes a party of 3 in the room. A shared room? Cheapskate I may be, but I distinctly did not remember sending an email to enquire about a shared room.

The room and the toilet looked like rubbish chutes. Overflowing with masses of unidentified stuff – perhaps women call them clothing (no offence intended). But to a hapless guy like me, I am clearly overwhelmed by the entire living situation.

I left the place very dejectedly.

Day 2 – Sunday
Bright sunny Friday. I went to the office with renewed vigour to search for my abode. 2 studios which are within 5 minutes from the office caught my attention. I promptly called the numbers (thankfully, no emails involved) and arranged for a meeting.

Studio #1: I arrived at 7.30pm on the doorsteps. I whipped out my mobile phone to call the landlord to ask him which unit’s doorbell to press. In the amidst of it, a man approached me and asked if I was there to view the studio. I replied yes and he said it was already gone. Gone. How can it already been gone? The ad was just put up today and I was under the impression that the first viewing was at 7pm.

Studio #2: Determined to seal the deal for this one, I went to an ATM and withdraw cash for deposit. I was going to flash the deposit money at the landlady of this studio #2 and make her want to take me as the tenant. I was so going to nail this one. (yes, I was desperate. But for a good reason. A studio for €500 per month which is within 5 minutes of walk from the office. Common. Only a fool will not take it). I arrived at the place at 8pm instead of the agreed 8.30pm. I called the landlady hoping to bring forward the appointment. After hearing that it was me, she said that she would call me back in 2 minutes. She didn’t. And she didn’t turn up at 8.30pm nor at 8.40pm and she didn’t pick up my calls.

This is the worst house search I have ever experienced in my life. Am I unlucky or what? I reminded myself – whatever happened happens for a reason.

Day 3 – Saturday
Studio #3: There was this studio going for €550 per month and it is 2.5 minutes of walk to the office. The photos of the studio looked decent (although it turned out to be a misrepresentation so as to lure people into the den). Price, location and photos are great. Perhaps this will be my home for the next 1 year? The ad said to text the property agent. I texted her twice the night before but she didn’t reply to me. So this morning, I mustered my courage (since the ad said “text”, not call) to call her at 9am. Line was switched off. I called again at 10.30am. Success. Conjuring a fake British accent (I’m still not sure why it turns up at random times), I expressed my great desire to view the place and that I will be there with the deposit money.

I arrived a few minutes ahead of the agreed time 12pm, there were 3 strangers who were standing outside the property. One look at them and we recognised one another as competitors. As time passes, more people turned up. I dare say there were 12 of us when the property agent finally turned up 15 minutes late later. During the 15 minutes, I was strategizing – I need a place, I am going to be the first to say that I want the place and offer her the deposit money on the spot. That was my plan.

Thankfully, as I was the third (prospective tenant) to arrive and therefore third in the queue, I was the first group to inspect the studio. We were divided into groups as the studio is horrendously tiny to allow more than 4 people in it at the same time. I was not totally happy with the size of it. But the location is perfect! (I can wake up 15 or even 10 minutes before work and just take a stroll to the office without commuting). I executed my plan – I would like to take this place. The agent eyed me and said “whoever is interested in this studio will need to text me your details and state that you would like to lease the place. The owner will decide over the weekend which of you to be the tenant.” Wow. They are turning down someone who has already said yes and wants to choose?

Studio #3. I left studio #2 dejectedly. Went on the Luas (the tram). Flipped through the ads on again on my phone (it’s supposedly the number one website for leasing and selling accommodation in Ireland). A new ad for a place in Ranelagh which is this cool neighbourhood that one of my senior managers kindly circled for me (I brought him a map and he identified the cool and great neighbourhoods that I should be looking for. He also identified the sketchy areas. In auditing lingo, his identification of the good and bad neighbourhood is COMPLETE. I thought there’s no harming in giving this place a go.

I dialled the number. My appointment was 4.30pm the same day. An elderly man opened the door for me at 4.20pm. He showed me the place. I told him that I am very interested in the place. He said that there are 2 more persons viewing the place after me and he would make a decision in the evening and give me a call. Evening arrived. No call. No nothing.

I diddled with online tarot. Path of action for the reading was six of cups. One of the possible meanings is “the elderly”. I decided to call the landlord, Frank who is an old man, ) tomorrow morning.

Day 4 – Sunday
I called Frank up and asked whether he has made a decision. He said “Yes, didn’t you get the message that I left for you?” “No, I didn’t receive any message. You mean that I got the place? Wow, that’s great news! I am so glad that I called you.”

About the place I am moving to: Ranelagh. It is a village, or that’s what the locals call it. It is cool as it is 8-10 minutes walk to the office, it has bars, restaurants, supermarkets, etc, etc. It kinda feels like Newtown in Sydney Australia, where I previously lived when I was in Sydney. But Ranelagh trumps Newtown heads and shoulders. Because this time, the place has the Irish who have more character than the Australians. But, who am I, a Singaporean, to judge? (if I do sound bitter about Australians, you are right. Though there’s quite a few that I like – Maylin, Michael and his friend Alex and Alex’s cousin, etc).

Whatever happened happens for a reason.


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