17 janvier, 2009

Appart Hunting 101...Agence Style

So, I know a few of you specifically are interested to know more about apt hunting en France. As someone who is currently going through this, I deem myself capable of informing the masses(and by masses I mean the 2 or 3 of you reading this.) So, here she goes:

I was looking for a T1 bis or a T2. T1 bis can have an alcove so that you could put a curtain or divider up and separate your chambre. T2 has a chambre separee. Lesson 1 of apt hunting: The proprio can call an apt a T1 bis a partir du moment ou la cuisine est separee, so be careful, T1 bis doesn't always mean it has a renforcement for your lit! I technically started my search three months before I wanted to move. I signed up with Seloger, Logic Immo, My local newspaper, Leboncoin, Vivastreet and Pap to get email notifications of available apts and then checked the sites occasionally on my own as well. However, there was little to nothing available at that time, so I didn't actually head to the agencies until 2 months before I wanted to move. I went to 3 agencies at that point and it was pretty evident that there was very little available because 2 months ahead of time was "too early." I think it's definitely worth it, though, to go to several places and see if there even is anything available. I found that online, it sometimes says the date that apparts are dispos, but not all that often, so it's always good to go into the actual agencies. Lesson 2: If you see something online that interests you, go to the agency in person and ask about it. I did that for one place I thought looked great and it wasn't available, but I ended up having 4 visits with that agency qd-mm, so you never know.

Due to Xmas vacation, I didn't get to head out to more agencies until early January. At that point aka 2 weeks ago, I went to 2 agencies that had nothing and then the third had something that was maybe interesting, so I arranged a visit for that same week on Wednesday. Then, I went to an agency that a friend had used and I scheduled 2 more appts for that Wednesday. I also arranged for 3 visits with another agency(where I liked the apt, but it wasn't available anymore) for that following Thursday and I brought along a friend. Lesson 3: Always try to have at least a second opinion! Well, that ended up only being 2 visits because the 3rd apt's proprio decided to sell. So, that first week, I had 5 visits total and only 1 apt that interested me out of all of them. The next week, I arranged for 2 visits on the Tuesday and again had that same friend come(that was the apt in the quartier des putes!) On Wednesday, I had previously arranged for a revisit(you can do that!) of the apt I liked from the prior week, but I got a call on Tuesday night saying the agency had to cancel the revisit because the apt had been rented that day. Lesson 4: If you like something, do NOT hesitate. This apt did have a few questionable factors such as only containing a kitchen sink, but I later learned not to be surprised by a cuisine non-equipee. Tant pis, someone else got a reasonably-priced apt in the quartier I wanted, I knew it just meant something better would come along.

Though disappointed by the loss of the apt I liked so much, I continued on and scheduled 3 more appts for the following Thurs and 3 for the following Fri, these both ended up being only 2 visits each because those 2 apts had current locataires in them, so the agency didn't have the keys and had to get their approval, but of course, they didn't call the agency back. Oh well. So, the apts on Thursday, I had that same friend come again(this means she did 6 visits out of a total of 11 and I'm really glad for it.) The apts on Thursday were nice enough and located in the centre historique, but one was cher and the other was on the 5th(!!) floor with no elevator. Which brings me to Lesson 5: Know what your criteres de recherche are. If you know(like me) you're lazy, don't even waste time seeing something that's up 5 flights with no elevator. I should have listened to myself and not bothered, I can't imagine moving in and carrying furniture and boxes up 5 flights or even carrying my heavy weekly groceries or my heavy school bag. Although, Lesson 6: Don't rule an apt out just for one small thing. Know your deal breakers of course, but see things even if the photos look ugly for example(case in point: the first apt I liked looked very moche sur les photos, but ended up a lot better in person.)

Which brings me to Fridays visits. I saw one apt in the quartier I wanted, but there wasn't a separate bedroom or a way to separate the living room to make a bedroom and this was one of my deal breakers. I gave it a chance even though I saw it said T1 and usually that just means the piece de vie is one big room, but it just didn't do it for me. Then, the other apt I saw, I was wary of the quartier, but though it's not located exactly where I'd want, it at least had more of a neighborhood than the one in the quartier des putes aka Ho Hood. It met all my criteres plus more and was really nice. And, my big news, I've dropped off a dossier for this apt and as soon as I can get 3 quittances de loyer from my proprio this week as well as a garant all I'll need to do is wait. I even got the proprio to baisse the prix by 2o euros. Lesson 7: Don't rule out an apt that's at the maximum of your price range or slightly over it. As you can tell from my experience, negociating can be had. If you find it expensive, let peepz know! Lesson 8: If you notice an apt you like that could do with a paint job or new tapisserie, ask the agency if it's already set to happen and if not, if they could ask the proprio to do so. It maybe won't happen, but it's always worth a try.

For my dossier, I needed:*
1 copy of my CDS
3 last quittances de loyer
3 last bulletins de salaire
2 last avis d'imposition**
1 garant and all their papiers
1 attestation d'assurance multirisques habitation (in order to get the cles)

*They also asked for a livret de famille, but I explained how I was 'mercan and they didn't have a problem. Btw, they could also ask for your contrat de travail, this agency just happened not to.

**I'm sure if you only have 0 or 1 of these, you could also explain the situation and they would be understanding.

So, now it's a waiting game, on verra if my dossier will be accepted, but the apt is pretty sweet, so I hope so. I'll fill you in on it more once I know if it's a yay or nay!

13 janvier, 2009


So, I am home with the grippe. It started yesterday before work, but at that point, I thought it was just a mix of lack of sleep, a stuffy bus ride and cigarette smoke at 8 AM. I knew I wasn't doing too well when, at the end of the afternoon, I absolutely had to give my whole class sitting down because standing up was too uncomfortable. I told my kids I was sick so they had to be quiet-this is one of the few times that they will (for once) voluntarily behave. I went home after school and laid around until bedtime when no sleeping was to be had. I was shivering cold, so I put on 4 layers of tops, 2 pairs of socks, slippers and at one point also had my jacket wrapped around me. I knew I would just get hot during the night, but I couldn't do otherwise. Well, I just couldn't get comfortable, I was cold, had a headache, had courbatures, was overall not doing well. However, I went to school anyways because I thought I would try to just get through the day and make it to tomorrow when I only have to work 2 hours. I guess I forgot how if in the states you come in when you're sick, you're a trooper, but in France, you're an evil, germ-spreader infecting everyone else around you. Once the teachers found out I was sick with a grippe, they said I really should head home. Obviously so I get better, but also so I don't infect them or the kids! In the end, they were right that it wasn't that smart to be there when I was in that state, so I talked to the directrice and she gave me the green light to go home.
When I got home this morning, I took my flu meds and went right to bed and that's pretty much where I've been since. It has done me worlds of good and though I am still sick, I do feel better. I think I'm actually going to go to the apt visits I had scheduled for tonight because I don't know when I'll be able to reschedule otherwise and I really need to make a decision by the end of this week. The only apt I've liked so far will be my apt of choice when I resee it tomorrow if neither of these that I'm seeing tonight are goodies. But, I'd still like to feel like I've explored my options as much as possible in 2 weeks' time. So, seeing these apts today will mean I'll have seen 7 apts total which I think is a fair number, although it doesn't exactly feel as such when 3 of the 5 I've seen so far have been immediate no, no, nos. Oh well. Hopefully 1 of the 2 today will be a yes, yes, yes. Although, a couple copines told me that the apt building(the 2 apts are in the same building) is in the quartier des putes. Umm, Rennes even has a quartier des putes? That's news to me! I knew there was an area where the drag queens hang, but I didn't know there was a whole quartier for the prostitues! On that note, I'm off!

08 janvier, 2009

Warning: blog post is longer than it appears

So, I've gotten a few requests(hi Crystal and Emma!) for a blog post and hordes(over statement of 2009) of people asking me where the F I've been. Umm, doing stuff? Duh. I can't really say what I've been doing, I barely remember what I did yesterday! That's not true. I checked and my last post was from Dec 1st. Wowza. I know I had soirees up the wazoo all through December, went to the K&K 200th episode bash in Paris, had tons of lesson planning to do, then was sick, then got ready to go home for xmas break, then was home and was busy watching Food Network all the live long day, then I got back on NYE, got thrown into a soiree hosted at my apt but thrown by my amis because I didn't get back til 17h, then I slept a lot because I was all jet lagged-ed and then again with the tons of lesson planning and adding in test correcting, then this week has been apt hunting and that little(understatement of 2009) summary should bring you up to speed! To tell you the truth, I didn't really think that much about blogging or when I did, I just didn't have anything that great to share. And we allll know how well-written I like to keep my posts...or not.
What you should know:
-It was great fun at K&K's 200 episode and I am now officially "Intern Leah." I think that just means I'm supposed to do stuff for them and get paid in M&Ms. I'll gladly take it...as long as by M&Ms, they clearly mean mojitos and margaritas! Je deconne. Yeah, twas fun, met some bloggas(hi Andromeda and ASL!), stayed with my fave Canadian bloguesse(is there a word to distinguish female bloggers because I feel like there should be), saw the ksam and the kkarina and had some rhum-rhums finally. Yay!
-Home was awesome. I was so happy to see my family and be back home. And it snowed! The morning after I got back. I freaking love waking up to a beautiful, white, untouched layer of snow on the ground. It continued to snow throughout the day as well. I heart snow. I have a pic above that I took at like 7 AM or whatever heinous hour the jet-lagged me got up at. Oh and for the first time in a long time, I gave into jetlag and ended up going to bed super early and rising with the roosters(if we lived on a farm which we don't so don't ask why I said that) which was one of the worst ideas EVER because it threw me off schedule for the first 5 days or so.
Xmas eve was at my house and my mom and I made some delish wassail, olive garlic cheese dip(recipe below if I remember), Kariner-beaner's stuffing, roasted chicken with a white wine sauce and veg, eclair cake, apple crumble and other delices. It was so good, but we were SO fullll by the end. Don't worry, I still managed to shove my face with eclair cake at the end. Don't get me started on that...I might still be full from everything I ate over the Christmas hols. I don't believe in resolutions, but I do plan on getting back into faire-ing some sport in the near future which is much needed! Anyway, all in all a good time and I didn't feel ready to leave at all after just 12 days. I think I was spoiled by spending 6 weeks over the summer, those 12 days just flew by! Luckily, I was sent out in style by landing a spot in business class because I arrived so late at the airport due to traffic and there were no more economy seats. I got a seat that reclined, tons of legroom, real silverware and plates, a comfy blanket and the best part!!, a privacy screen so I could pretend the person next to me didn't exist. That was sa-weet. I actually got to sleep more than my usual little snippets of 5 mins at a time before my head jerks up because I'm so effing uncomfortable. I know this because I missed breakfast! I was a little bitter about it at the time, but it turned out ok because I got a bit of food on my London-Paris flight. Yes, I had a connection. I miss Air India's direct flights, but I actually got to sleep for once, so it didn't seem too long. Then later, per usual, I slept like a bebe on the train...that thing rocks me to sleep, I swear!
-I'm on the apt hunt. I've had 5 visits in the past 2 days with 3 different agences and I do have one candidate that is good placement-wise(a bit closer to centreville), c correct au niveau du prix, it's lumineux and has an American salle de bains!!! The major downside is that the kitchen is pas du tout equipee and literally just has the kitchen sink. Isn't there an expression with something about everything but the kitchen sink...this is the opposite, nothing except the kitchen sink. Oh wait, isn't it something about taking everything but the kitchen sink? Then, n-mind, this would be the same. I'm tired. So yeah, that is a big downside because it means money, money, money, money, mo-ney, MO-NEY! But, it might well be worth it. I think I'm going to schedule a revisit tomorrow and hope no one has snatched it up! I have 3 more visits planned for Monday, have emailed a few particuliers and then was thinking of going to another big agence in town tomorrow. I want to be all set by the end of next week. I'm going to be moving in before I know it and I have trop hate, I really do. Thank goodness I'll be moving on a weekend and thank goodness for friends that can borrow their rents' big cars! Also, I'll be on vacation the weekend after, so that should give me plenty of time to get stuff done that I won't have time to do during the week. Yay! Ok, y'all, I's reals tireds, donc I'm gonna go couche myself, but bonne nuit to you all and if I don't blog again soon, just know I really am trying to keep up with your blogs(although jeez you guys write a lot more than me...I had over 2oo posts to read on bloglines after I got back from xmas!) Toodles!

Recipe for delish dip:
1 cup green olives(with pimiento)
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 cup cream cheese
1 garlic clove
Mix olives and cheeses in a food processor until a little bit chunky but not completely smooth. Grate in garlic. Eat copious amounts!