Sunday, March 17, 2013

A Place to Rest Your Head

Our new humble abode. This is what most of the new apartment buildings look like where we live.
I'm very happy to announce that we are unpacked, uncluttered and completely settled into our new place. While it was a long day last Saturday as we spent the good part of 13 hours packing up, making trips back and forth and unpacking everything, we now feel right at home in our new place.
Packing: our worst nightmare but our cats dream come true
While with our last place, we drove around solo and found new buildings, it wasn't possible to do that with our new location. We moved out of a relatively new, spread out area where buildings are being completed monthly and into an older town nearby which is densely populated with people and apartment buildings. We needed serious help navigating this maze of buildings.

We recruited a great Korean friend of ours to help us out. Little did we know that it would once again, take a lot of foot work to find the perfect place for us. See, in Korea, you can't just go to one realtor to show you all of the available apartments like you can in the States. Each realtor is responsible for a certain area and can only show you a few apartments each. We must have gone to 6 different realtors to see more apartments that I care to remember. We saw brand new 350 square foot apartments (that we tried our best to be optimistic about and try to plan where our furniture stacked boxes would go) to 800 square foot apartments that we had to navigate through the smoke clouds and piles of trash to see the place. Let's just say, we were a little more than discouraged.

Then we found the place. You know, the one the realtor shows you, knowing perfectly well that it is just out of your price range. The one that you compare all other places to after that. Yea, we saw, and fell in love with, that one. The thing is though, it wasn't entirely out of our price range. The key money (remember, it's like a really big deposit) was really low so we offered them more key money in exchange for lower rent. No go. We were disheartened but continued on our way to look at more apartments. Later that week we got an unexpected phone call from a previous realtor saying that she got the owner of the place we loved to come down in rent. Perfect! We went down to the office to sign papers only to find out the place was already taken. But! But, wait for it, the one across the hall that was bigger and more expensive was still available. If we couldn't even afford the smaller one, there was no way we could afford the larger one. We were about to give up hope and hit the pavement again when they told us that the landlord was willing to give us the larger place for the price of the smaller one. The shock didn't wear off for days after that. We feel so blessed to have been able to get the apartment we did, and we have no doubt that God has His hand in all of this (and probably to teach me a little lesson about patience!). 
This is the one room hubs is disappointed about. No room for a shower curtain in this one!
So, might I add, that Koreans have a pretty awesome habit that many foreigners who are provided unfurnished apartments take full advantage of. In each apartment complex, there are 'furniture drop off' areas. Aka, gold mines. Our second year we moved into an unfurnished apartment. The landlord graciously provided the bed, fridge, tv and washer but that was it. So for a good month we went scavenging for furniture. Sure, we could go buy it. But when we aren't staying forever and we have found perfectly good furniture in these areas, what's the point? I am proud to say that we found every piece of furniture in our apartment minus the bed and TV stand which were provided. Couch, chair, bookshelves, vacuum, microwave, table, the list goes on. Through this process, Korea has taught us to be extremely thrifty. And we'll probably be the couple back in the states that's looking through the dumpsters for a new chair. I'm ok with it.

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