We started Wednesday with the hopes that somehow everything will turn out ok. A hope that was based on nothing really, It’s just that all the apartments we’ve seen and didn’t want were still there, and one was even reduced, so we figured maybe things are not really so stressful, and anyway it’s better to start the day with hope. So there we were, on the curb again at 9:00am, waiting for the realtor from Monday to come get us to yet another amazing apartment. Only on the way there it turned out that actually the apartment he sent us the photos to was not the same flat that is for rent, and anyway we can’t get into the apartment that is for rent because it is being cleaned and he doesn’t have a key, so we will see a different apartment in the same building, only this one is on the ground floor so it doesn’t have a balcony, and only 1 bedroom so it’s not exactly the same. We ended up in the ground-floor apartment’s “yard” (and I use the term so very loosely), looking up at where the apartment we were supposed to see was. I can tell you that the bottom of the balcony looks really good. Yet, for some reason, not good enough to put down the deposit. But on the way back to the temp-flat the kids and I saw a house called “the Shire” so it was totally worth it.
I’ve decided that I will use the time until our next viewing at lunchtime to pre-prepare lunch and debated the merits of carrying a lunchbox for Hidai. The main problem was that the very nice and respectable blue lunchbox I ordered online, arrived with a neon-pink lid, and I wasn’t sure how Hidai will feel about showing off his pink side on his first week on the job. Ron insisted it will be ok, so we put it in 2 bags and, hoping that he didn’t forget and will actually show up, went to see the grocery-store’s house.
He didn’t forget, and was already waiting for us when we got there. We started walking from Hidai’s office, and I was skeptical. Very skeptical. But I figured if it’s really bad I’ll convince Hidai to eat lunch together and at least I’ll get some Italian food out of it. But the house really was a couple of minutes walk from Hidai’s office, and it really was right on the waterfront. It is in an old building which they completely renovated except for some charming little details like the old front door which leads to a new front door, or the old entrance hall which leads to a new staircase and things like that. The flat is on the second floor (with no elevator) and the minute he opened the door and we got in I knew it. This is our place. It doesn’t have an AC or a dishwasher, and it’s going to be interesting to see how we fit all our stuff in, but I didn’t care about any of that. I looked at the original window they kept that leads to a tiny balcony that overlooks the marina, and the amount of light and air that came in all through the hallway that leads to the master bedroom with it’s own tiny balcony that overlooks a backyard filled with trees, and I knew it. This is the one I want.
But it’s not finished yet. And we still needed to agree on a price. And the fridge is too small, and they wanted to put the washing-machine in the kitchen instead of in the bathroom, and I need them to take out the furniture in the kid’s room, and you don’t want to look too eager or you lose your hand. So I played it cool for about three minutes. Kidding, I don’t think I lasted even a minute. I told him I want it, and he said he’ll move the washing machine for me, and that was it.
We decided to talk again Thursday morning after we’ve seen a couple more flats and he talks to his partner (also, his brother) to make sure he is ok with everything as well, and close it down. We stayed there, on the bench in the sun next to the marina and tried to let it all sink in. Is this really it? Can we stop looking? Can we trust it? Are we rushing into things? Are we letting the view cloud everything else? I guess we needed a little more time, so we set out in the afternoon to view 2 more apartments – one was right next to our temp-flat, with a kids-hating landlord (he actually increased the rent because the kids will cause his utilities more depreciation), no light or air, and so much filth we were afraid to touch the door handles. The second one, which took us a while to find because we were again going with the direction-clueless realtor, was what I like to call “a granny flat” – the furnitures are 19 century, the air feels musty, fourth floor no elevator, no AC or dishwasher (Of course in my house I have it, said the landlord, but I don’t think a rental needs it), for some reason the washing machine was in a shed outside, and they were in the middle of painting it, but nothing else. Of course there was no air or view.
On the way back we asked the realtor to drop us off at the ATM near the temp-flat so we’ll be ready for the next morning to close the grocery owner’s flat.
Then we got to the temp-flat and discovered we don’t have any hot water, no matter what we did.
Thursday morning, we were so nervous when we came downstairs to talk to him. We weren’t sure how it’s going to work – will he want money? will he want the whole deposit on the spot? will he give us a receipt? can we trust him? is it all going to be ok? He didn’t want money, because he gave us his word, and we shook on it, and as far as he’s concerned that’s it. We set a meeting on Saturday in the flat to see it again and pay him “something”. I guess if anxiety doesn’t rule your life, and you haven’t been bombarded with stories about people offering more money and taking away your flat, you would have felt very good about the whole situation. But for me, it was just more stress. I couldn’t relax, and say – yes, that’s it, we have a home to move into.
So now we had a decision to make – do we trust him and stop looking, or keep going on and seeing more and more flats? The kids didn’t want to look for more houses, we were all exhausted, it was the day before Easter, and we still needed to make sure the hot water get fixed and the food gets delivered without the intercom working (yes, I managed to do the food shopping again and this time it only took 8 hours!).
We decided to compromise somewhere in the middle – go to see all the flats that were still scheduled and tell all the rest of the realtor “we are taking the holiday weekend to rethink our budget”. And I waited for the food and water guys (which we had to ask Hidai’s office to call, because it’s their flat, and were not sure will even manage to come today). As if the universe was trying to tell us something, all the flats we were supposed to view disappeared during the day except for one, which was out of our budget but “really worth breaking the bank for”, the food delivery got here without a problem (after I made sure that the downstairs door is open, because we have a new neighbour in the building who likes closing it, and we still don’t have a working intercom), and then the water-guys came. There were two of them, one tall, one short, and both young and filled with tattoos. They looked around, poked around the hot water tank and informed me the fuses are fried and they need to replace the whole thing. But they don’t have any tools, so they have to go back to their company, talk to the boss, get approval and come back. Sometimes. Hopefully sometimes means today.
two hours later they came back, turned all the electricity off, worked for exactly five minutes and that was that. Now all I had to do was wait an hour, and hope that whatever they did worked. They swore it will all be ok and I will have hot water once again, and assured me they are working 24/7, even if it is a holiday weekend, but that it won’t matter because they fixed it, and if I just wait an hour because that is how long it takes for the water in the tank to heat, I will see. Thankfully they were right.
The last apartment was indeed really nice, it had a view, it had lots of space (even if it was not organised smartly at all), it had a good location in Sliema, and it was really out of our price range. So there we were, outside the flat, talking to the nice but clueless realtor, about life and budgets and how you feel in a neighbourhood or a house. We decided not to decide and asked him to see if the landlord will agree to negotiate the price with us, and in the meantime walk around to get the feel of the neighbourhood. We decided the best place to do that was the supermarket, and also I needed goat cheese for Yon (Yon likes a specific brand, which not every supermarket here keeps. We have an agreement that if we can’t find it he eats regular soft-cheese, but that whenever we can we will buy a few of them). It was the Maltese version of a posh supermarket (it has a cafe in the middle and lots of old people) and we found Yon’s goat cheese and started walking around to see what else they have. Now, I will be the first to admit that we are loud. When we are outside, especially with the kids, you’ll hear us. And you’ll probably hear us speaking Hebrew (or as it will sound to most people – gibberish). But we also look like, you know, respectable, well dressed, nicely mannered people. Apparently not enough for this supermarket, and for the first time in my whole life, we got “a shadow”, a supermarket employee who walked next to us and looked at us the whole time we were there. Honestly, for his sake (and mine) I hope he doesn’t understand Hebrew. It was the strangest feeling, being looked down at, and frowned upon, because we are foreigners. It didn’t make us leave the supermarket any faster, or not get whatever we wanted, or stop speaking Hebrew. It just made it clear that this is not a supermarket, or a neighbourhood we want to be a part of.
Well, that and the fact that it’s a terribly expensive supermarket, and that we ended up with a whole bag of unnecessary things plus Yon’s cheese, a new mug for me (hey, it was pink and said Mum’s mug on it) and a few other bits and bobs, and Hidai met 3 different people from his office, all in the span of the 30 minutes it took us to get back to the temp-flat.
We ended the day with a warm shower and the decision to take the grocery-flat. Now all we had to do was wait to Saturday and hope it will still be there, because after all, we shook on it.