Now that my cascading panic attacks have greatly diminished, here’s a little bit more about what was happening and why I was freaking out.
An International Move
Trying to find affordable housing, as people in many locations around the world already know, is a difficult proposition in 2021. We are, unfortunately, moving to a place where it’s a landlord’s market. The demand is greater than the supply, so they can basically charge ridiculous prices for terrible spaces.
In finding places, the first hurdle was making contact. As I am in Finland and where we are going is not-Finland, that meant email. My query would always ask about availability, state when we were looking to move, and make it clear that we are currently in Europe. I would say that fully 70% of the places I contacted never answered me. Of those that did, about 90% sent me a canned response asking me to drop in during office hours to take a tour. A few asked me to call them.
This is where I began to panic. I thought we weren’t going to be able to really look for place until we were boots-on-the-ground in the new location. Which meant living in a hotel for God knows how long. That was going to eat up out money, which was already down because of unforeseen expenses.
When I did get someone to answer me, I ran smack into the self-employment problem. Those who know, know, but for those who don’t, a lot of people don’t grasp what “self-employed” means. I can show royalty statements, P&L reports, even bank statements showing that I have money flowing in the regular. They will be completely confused. Multiple times, people just repeated “but we need to see an employment contract or 2 pay stubs”. I think if I sent them a verified statement showing that I’d won the lottery for €100 million they would still ask who I work for and want copies of my paychecks.
There were a few places that seemed too good to be true. They were. They were scams.
The Perfect Place
I finally found a listing that seemed perfect. I showed it to Katie and she agreed it was calling to us. It was within our budget, and had the space we need to live and work. The place would become available the day before we arrived, so we wouldn’t need to live in a hotel until the start of the following month. The street name evokes something from Katie’s youth. A business down the street has the same name as a place we used to hang out. I can’t give away too many details, lest they become clues for the stalker. There are a lot of coincidences that made us feel that this was the place.
I shot off an email, and very quickly got a response. The following is cut-and-paste straight from the email:
I do not usually email about the apartments, but you are currently abroad AND in my home country. As a matter of fact, I was still in Helsinki last Thursday visiting my family there.
Yeah. The owner of the building is a Finn.
No More Freaking Out
I about wept. It was a relief to work with someone that understood how things work here versus how things work there. That understood the exchange rate between euros and local currency, to have a feel for my actual income. Someone that knew what it was like moving from Finland and trying to reestablish one’s self in a strange place.
As stated in a previous post, after a couple of days of back-and-forth via WhatsApp, our application was approved, I put down a deposit, and we signed the lease via the wonders of the internet.
Where we’re going takes 4 flights to get to. We’ll be arriving in early evening local time, and crashing in a hotel. The next morning we’ll be meeting our new landlord, picking up the keys, and starting the process of getting settled in.
What Was Happening and Why I Was Freaking Out