I awoke at 7am on Saturday to the sound of my phone’s alarm. It was precisely two weeks and a day since I touched down in Auckland. I rolled over on the couch. I was sleeping on Sarah’s couch since my tenure at the Quest Hotel in Auckland had expired the previous day. I forced myself up and dressed, turned on the computer and drew up the list of places to view today. I had to find a place, and find one soon.
It’s not that finding an apartment in the city is particularly difficult at the moment, just that I have very particular requirements. I reviewed them as I worked: car park, semi furnished (white-wear only), city centre, under $300/week. This had been my goal, though I’d progressively widened the net as I worked. I was willing to take any place within a long walk of the city and I decided, after much consternation, that I would take a fully furnished place and just leave my New Zealand belongings in storage if I had to.
I printed out a few copies of my details, left Sarah a note and took the lift down from the 15th floor. I walked around the whole of the CBD, visiting every estate agent in the city (all but one were closed). I waited till about 9am before I started calling my list for the day. I sat down on a bench at the quay with great views of the ferry terminal. I left two messages with people then looked at the next name on the list. Hmm, Beverly: the same name as the estate agent who found me my place in Texas. Maybe there’s something in that.
“Stephen?” that voice was familiar.
Now, whenever someone hears you live in a small country (smaller than America anyway), they will often ask “oh, do you know so-and-so?” Normally you answer “no” as politely as you can. It’s very embarrassing, however, when I find myself saying “yes”. I am constantly surprised at the number of people I meet walking up and down Queen Street who I happen to know personally. To my great embarrassment, I am so bad with names I usually recognise them without their moniker. This time was an exception.
Auday Alsabak. It’s always the complex names you remember. Names like “Joe” or “Tom” constantly elude me. It turns out Auday was trying to sell his own place in the city. The market’s pretty crazy at the moment. When I asked about his latest job, he shrugged self-depreciatingly as only a bald-shaven middle-eastern man can do.
“You know what it’s like. No source, no documentation and the guy who wrote it skipped the country” he smiled confidently. “We should get everyone together some time.” I nodded. After that brief but enjoyable conversation, I made my way across the whole city to see one more place.
Anyway, to cut a long story short, I now have a place to live. It’s fully furnished, so I will leave my New Zealand stuff in storage for another year or so, but it’s affordable, has a fantastic car park, and is perfectly situated: just a block from Sarah’s apartment, an easy walk up Queen Street to work.
But the most remarkable thing about it is it has an enormous car park, formerly a disabled car park. I could fit three of my cars in that space. To top it all off, my car park has something of a sea view. Beverly suggested I could get a tent and camp out next to my car. I grinned “well, it’s about the size of your average inner-city apartment.”
The actual apartment itself is a studio, so it’s a little small. That said, it’s spacious enough for me, and fully furnished, so I don’t really have anything to worry about in that regard. The oven was a must for me, since I love to bake, so that’s great. To top it all off, it’s literally across the road from Sarah’s apartment. I can see her balcony from my place and vice versa.