I started my day yesterday with two goals in mind: cell phone, and apartment search. I realized weeks ago that to find an apartment I would need to wait until I was in France and had a phone so as to call real estate agencies and landlords. I had been E-mailing them from the states, but only a couple had ever responded.
The phone did not go as hoped, but I did come out of it semi-succesfully. My plan was to load prepaid minutes onto my iphone as I did last time. After a couple weeks when I was settled and had an address I could decide if I wanted to keep paying prepaid, or buy a monthly plan. However, I realized in the store that my phone has not been unlocked, so it won’t work with another sim card. Instead, I had to buy a cheap phone to use for my texting and calls.
Despite the unfortunate turn of events I felt successful. I had a phone and was ready to get down to business. I ended up walking past one of the agencies that had an ad I was interested in and decided why not just go in and ask in person? Then they REALLY can’t avoid me.
And yet, I had little success. The third and last agency I went to practically pushed me out the door (perhaps I shouldn’t have gone right before they’re lunch break, but still).
Feeling a little downtrodden I headed back to our now official meeting spot to find lunch with my new friends, Jenny and Hayley.
Over lunch I told them of the trials and tribulations of my great apartment search and Jenny reminded me that she still needed a place as well and would I like a roommate?
I’m sorry, what?
And with that, let the house hunters international begin!
With limited internet to start an online search we decided to just walk around and find agencies. They are truly all over the place.
Disappointment is much easier handled with a friend and the promise of a drink at the end.
We must of gone to half a dozen who simply told us that they had nothing left.
Finally though, we struck gold, or at least bronze and maybe some silver.
We got to see three apartments, from two different agencies. A below budget, a just about at budget, and a little over budget. TRULY like house hunters.
The first was small, in a livable way though. With a great view but an entirely Unequipped kitchen.
The second was large – too large we decided. And it smelled. That one’s out.
The third (and above budget) was gorgeous. The second bedroom was small, but could there was an extra mezzanine space near the bathroom that could be used by that person (and as a guest room!) the kitchen was gorgeous, with updated appliances (dishwasher AND laundry!).
So yeah, we left with quite a bit to discuss, and we did it the only way that’s appropriate in Europe – over a drink.
During our discussion I came to (or perhaps re-realized) some interesting cultural facts about France.
Realtors are surprisingly uninterested in getting your business.
I visited A LOT of agencies yesterday with my new roommate (Yay!), and many were perfectly happy to let us walk right out the door when they thought they didn’t have anything to offer.
No ‘Let’s look at this option instead’ or ‘If you’re willing to go a little higher on your budget we have this’ just ‘No, sorry we don’t have any of that size. Goodbye.
And even when they did have something, and took to show us the apartment they never once took down our names or number to follow up! It’s all up to us. What if someone else comes to take the apartment while I’m still thinking? I won’t even know until it’s too late!
Wait staff culture is very different here from in the United States. A fact that I know, but always takes a little reminder. Well, definitely got that yesterday.
You are welcome to claim a table for as long as you want here. You can sit there for hours and only every buy one drink and they don’t really care. Getting the table turned is not as important as it is in the states.
But nor are the waiters working for as large of a tip as they are in the States.
At one cafe/bar, Jenny and I ordered our drinks, were served, and paid. An hour or so later we had finished and decided to have another while we waited for our friend, Hayley, to arrive. Trying to catch the servers attention failed miserably. He simply nudged his friend who promptly avoided making eye contact. When we tried to catch another passing server later he simply said his colleague would get it. The colleague who was still standing in the doorway avoiding us.
So we got up and left, moving to another bar a little down the street which was only too happy to serve us.
Gives bar hopping a whole new meaning I suppose.
It’s interesting though, in both of these instances, Jenny and I realized something. There is very little sense of people trying to get your business. The bars and restaurants I can kind of understand. The wait staff gets very little tip, so why bother giving good service. But if we’re taking up the table, you’d think they’d still be happy for us to buy more, at least then they’re making money off of us.
And in both instances, you’d think with so much competition, (cafes and rentals both) they’d be trying harder to get our business for themselves. But they really don’t seem to care.
Oh well, their loss. Cause we’re awesome people and they just won’t ever know that.
We’re meeting up again today for breakfast, the gym, and maybe some more house hunting. So wish us luck!