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Monday, August 20, 2007

A Moving Experience

This Life column from Day and Night magazine in last Friday's irish Independent (17 August)
I don’t know about you, but I love nothing more than having a gnawing knot of despair lodged in the pit of my stomach, a fountain of sleepless nights and involuntary weight loss that shoots stress right up through the whole of your body like Old Faithful. If all that really gets your motor running, then moving house is just the thing for you.

Of course, the term ‘moving house’ is somewhat misleading. That would imply that there’s a house to move to. No, what I’m talking about is house-hunting, the most dispiriting, soul-crushing, heart-breaking experience that ever the invention of man contrived.

It has taken over every waking minute of my day. I’ve become a property zombie, barely registering anything in my brain that’s not to do with ‘all mod cons’ or ‘full fittings’. In fact, I might not even be entirely conscious writing this so you’ll forgive me if… viewing is highly recommended.

But, as anyone who is renting in the capital will tell you, an extra layer of misery has been piled onto the whole experience. If you weren’t aware before, you should know that rent in Dublin has shot through the roof, owing (so we’re led to believe anyway) to the fact that nobody is buying due to mortgage rate increases and uncertainty over the status of stamp duty.

I don’t care about any of those reasons. What I do know having viewed a lot of these places with their shiny new rent increases is that, while the price of them may have gone up, the quality most certainly has stayed static. Right now you could take any old grothole and charge basically whatever you want for it, and someone, somewhere will have to pay it.

I’ve seen places without an actual fridge, bedrooms without windows and, my personal favourite, the “double room” that was really just a converted alcove above the kitchen, accessed by a ladder stairs. Seriously, it was like a hammock hung over the oven, and all for the bargain basement price of E750 a month. I’m not making that up – you couldn’t make it up.

Then there was the place that ticked all the boxes: great location, in our budget, the right number of rooms. But upon viewing, we were told that instead of being a 2 bed with parking as the ad clearly stated, it was actually a 1 bed with no parking. Simple mistake to make I guess, but this is what you’re up against.

But, without doubt, the worst aspect of the wretched smorgasbord of horror that is house hunting is the waiting. Sitting around the phone, waiting for that person who could change your life to call you back with those three magic words: “It’s all yours”.

And when this doesn’t happen, you’re plunged into the pit of depression and naturally start blaming yourself. “Why didn’t he call?” you wail. “I thought this was the one” you cry, until a smart, supportive friend pulls you aside and firmly tells you, “He just wasn’t that into you.”

So I guess you have to approach house hunting in the same way you do love. As I have stressed on these pages ad nauseam in the past, you have to stop looking, and not want the things you want in order to meet someone decent (that theory is still being scientifically tested).
I have been very needy with the landlords and letting agents I’ve spoken to over the last fortnight. Nobody is attracted to a Desperate Dan or a Needy Nora. It’s time to be mysterious, aloof, beguiling – just like I am when it comes to romance…

Lord, I really am going to end up on the streets.

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