We’re moving. Again.
Yes, again. But within the same city in China. We’ve given notice on our current apartment and made an agreement with a new landlord.
We liked our place. We did. Our neighborhood is close to lots of nice restaurants and shops. It’s centrally located, which makes it easy to get to school and downtown. But the subway tunnel construction is quickly encroaching on our physical space as well as a good night’s sleep every night and our bus stop… and today Andy found the construction plans include soon closing down big chunks of the main road to our current abode.
Fortunately–whether sensing impending doom or simply unimpressed with our current digs–we’ve kept our ears open about other apartments. My officemate, who is Chinese, mentioned a few weeks ago that her friend owns a place but can’t find any renters. When she mentioned that the friend’s apartment is brand new, she had my attention: “brand new” was one of the criteria Andy and I decided on for our next apartment (because we had decided that there would be a next apartment). (We’re currently in a relatively new development, yes, but buildings in China seem to age in dog years–the ten year-old building I work in, for example, is crumbling whereas I formerly worked in a building in the U.S. that was over 100 years old… So brand new in China is desirable because the quality of construction is not that great. More on that another time.) (Sorry not sorry for all the parenthetical statements.)
Last Monday we met this friend-of-a-friend and checked out her brand new apartment. Why does she have a brand new apartment in need of a renter? Well, she originally got it for her parents so they could live there after retirement. She wanted them to be near her and her husband. But then China changed the retirement age for women (increased it by five years! Ridiculous, right?), so her mother can’t retire and the apartment is empty for now.
Evidently Chinese landlords like renting to foreigners, especially Americans, because we tend to take better care of properties. We’re used to things like security deposits, damage costs, credit checks, litigation, blah blah blah… so we take care of things like they are our own… or so we don’t have to pay out the ear later. Word on the street is that Chinese renters tend to abuse the places they rent. I was told in so many words, by a Chinese person, that they tend to trash them. So we’re really ideal renters: an honest, stable, clean, non-smoking, child-free, pet-less, American couple in China.
We’re really attractive. (I mean, I know we look cute together, but we’re also attractive as renters! 😉 Who knew.)
Our new landlords are basically our Chinese counterparts: an adorable married couple, currently child-free with one dog, early-to-mid thirties, looking to rent their apartment because of reasons beyond their control. We get them and they get us. It’s nice because we can be pretty candid with each other. When we negotiated the rental price, we got the feeling that they felt the same way.
The place is on the complete opposite end of town from where we live right now. It’s south and slightly east of the university, whereas we are currently west and slightly north. It’s quieter, newer, farther away from any major construction (so far as we can tell…), and less inhabited. For me, it’s a little annoying for two reasons: 1) I’ll have a longer commute for tutoring two times each week, and 2) the gym is farther away. But the benefits outweigh the drawbacks all the way around on this one… I’ll suck it up. And the gym contract is over in November, so I can look around for a new place to sweat in the meantime.
This will mean learning things new bus routes and grocery stores, yes, but it may also mean (God-willing) shorter commutes to the university, less crowded buses, more peaceful time inside the apartment, cleaner life experiences inside the apartment, and fewer opportunities to become roadkill. We look forward to all of those things…
But in the meantime, we’re trying to orchestrate a move. And this time we have more stuff because, you know, we actually live here now as opposed to when at the end of September we had basically just stepped off the plane. Things will be disorganized and a little uncomfortable for awhile as we shift from one place to another, but ultimately (WE DESPERATELY HOPE) this will be the last move we make while living in this country.