After two weeks on Sanna’s couch and two weeks at my new job, I officially had my first paycheck in the bank. That, plus the pity money my parents wired was enough for me to start searching for a “flat” as they called it.
I realized immediately after a preliminary research on gumtree.com, that renting a place on my own was going to be completely out of my price range. Even if I had a small taste of living the Queen life thanks to Pierre, it wasn’t going to be worth it to scrap by every month eating Cheetohs, just to have a tiny studio on my own. Plus, they say local roommates are the best way to get to know people anyways, right?
Now, I was no stranger to online roommate hunting. I found one of my college roommates on craigslist. (Hiya Cara!) and while I realize how shady it sounds to all those judgy readers out there who have always had enough friends to find a roommate through word of mouth. However, I didn’t have that luxury in college nor in Aberdeen. So I pulled up my big girl pants, told my parents I was visiting flats of friends of friends and sent 42 messages begging people to let me see their place.
I only got three responses back. A 7% success rate is nothing to brag about, especially when this was just to visit! But I grabbed my file with copies of things like my passport, visa and my latest payslip. Basically anything that would convince a potential roomie that I was a self respecting citizen who could pay rent. I headed out to my visits with an uncanny optimism that only naive potential renters can possess.
The first apartment was pretty central, looked nice from the outside and was right next to a bus stop. I rang the bell and an unwashed, pajama wearing, 27 year old male opened the door to his apartment. It didn’t take long to understood during the visit that he was looking for a roommate to help save money on his ONE BEDROOM rent. So basically we would be sharing a bed (platonically of course, he reassured me) and the only other liveable space I could escape to in the apartment was the “living room.” I should just call it what it really was transformed into: a video game oasis. The only way I could occupy that space was if I was ready to grab a ps4 console and start a FIFA tournament with him. The place was littered with video games, sci-fi films and black out curtains to hide any hint of the sun while he played during the daytime.
Well unsurprisingly to you, this was a hard no. But I’m pretty terrible at confrontation so I took his number, smiled with all my teeth and told him I’d be in touch right away.
The second place was actually pretty adorable. It was two small bedrooms, completely furnished, the girl had definitely showered that day (yes, expectations are lowering at this point), she had a calico cat and worked from home. The downside was she was also a complete liar. You know those hotels that call themselves “the hotel next to the Opera in the center of the town.” And when you get there you are actually a 45 minute walk from the Opera. Well that’s pretty much the same story here. Her centrally located apartment was almost an hour away on the bus with no traffic and no night or weekend bus service. I would spend my month’s salary on cabs if I lived here or I’d have absolutely no social life. I was going through a breakup here, so having no social life was about as much of an option as begging Pierre to get back together.
I put all my hopes and prayers into the final apartment I visited. It was located centrally, as promised, it had two bedrooms and the guy renting was English so his accent was way easier to understand than the other two. I even had my own bathroom attached to the bedroom so I didn’t have to share with him. Growing up with a lack of male presence in my house made me particularly weary of men and toilets. I was really pumped as I walked around soaking it in. That is, until he mentioned that the price didn’t include taxes and charges.
“Ehhhh, are taxes and charges a lot? ” I asked clenching my jaw is utter panic because I knew that this apartment was the maximum I could possibly afford.
“Well with council tax ,water, internet etc.. it’s about an extra 300 pounds a month.”
I was deflated. There was absolutely no way I could swing the 300 pounds more a month for taxes and charges. And it was literally not an option to ask my parents for more money when I had technically just visited an apartment in my price range that was available. Albeit, I’d suffer from depression after 2 days of living there. My dream of solving independent crisis 101 that day and throwing my success back into the faces of everyone who ever doubted me, was crushed.
It may rain 81% of the time in Aberdeen, but the rain was particularly dreadful that afternoon while I made my way back to Sanna’s after my failed visits. I was soaked to the bone since I had forgotten my “brolly” for the 99th time and I was crying to myself about how “hard” my life was. (bear with me please, I was 21 and overly dramatic.) I snuggled onto my couch-bed, ate some peanut butter from my secret stash and fell asleep to a new episode of Girls.
I was making cups of tea for all my colleagues the next morning and chatting to my new bestie Alan about how miserably I was failing at being an independant single woman due to my apartment situation. That’s when Alan dropped a lifesaving bomb.
“I know someone who is renting a flat, it’s attached to their house in the garden. I used to rent from him and his wife years ago, but they stopped renting it out at some point. Anyways, they just got divorced so he’s going to rent it out for some extra income. You’d technically be living by yourself, there is even a separate entrance, but the rent would be as cheap as if you had a roommate.”
You don’t have to guess how quickly I jumped on board that train. A flat that’s in my price range, without a roommate, within walking distance from work and the bars. JACKPOT. Plus, i’ve got Alan vouching for me so that should give me some extra brownie points if I have renter competition.
Alan got ahold of my potential landlord Oliver who said he was happy to show me the place that night. I rushed over after work with Alan, praying that Oliver wouldn’t object to renting to a foreigner. We walked up to the main entrance of the house and Alan knocked on the door. When the door finally swung open, Oliver was standing in front of us barefoot, wearing dark jeans, a forest green sweater over a white button up top and brushing shoulder length, sandy hair out of his green eyes.
Please remember that my expectations of a roommate were pretty low. Since Oliver was going to be my landlord neighbor, and not my roommate, I was just hoping he didn’t look a serial killer that would sneak into the flat at night to chop me up. What I didn’t expect to see was a walking version of Brad Pitt. He was in his late 30’s, tall, lanky, with lots of curly hair and stunning blue eyes. I had never been into older men, but when Oliver opened that door, the word DILF finally had a real meaning for me.
I tripped up the step while I was trying to get my libido under control to shake Oliver’s hand and introduce myself. I prayed I wasn’t coming off as an idiot as he showed Alan and I around the flat. It had its own private entrance in the garden, a living room, bathroom and small bedroom. Everything was included in the rent and I could even use his wifi since the signal was strong enough to reach the garden addition.
I could feel Oliver staring at me as I looked around the place and it made my cheeks heat up. The bedroom had floor to ceiling doors that looked out into the garden and there was even a small upstairs alcove with a little desk where I could write. It was so charming and it was just screaming INDEPENDANCE. I desperately wanted it, but I was so uncomfortable about my attraction to him that I was slightly hesitating. I had just gotten out of a 2.5 year relationship. The last thing I needed to get my life on track was to be living next to my gorgeous, recently divorced landlord neighbor…. right? Or maybe that was the perfect way to get my life back on track?
“It’s yours if you want it Kate,” Oliver said running his hands through his hair again. “If you’ve got Alan’s seal of approval, I don’t see why not.”
I silently weighed the pros and cons. Couch with Sanna vs. perfect apartment with problematic scrumptious landlord. I was so uncomfortable in his presence because I felt like he could hear my insides screaming, “TAKE ME HERE, RIGHT NOW. “
“Whatever,” I thought to myself. “The liklihood that this Greek god is interested in my scrawny 21 year old butt, is slim at best.
Great,” I said breaking out into a smile for the first time. “I absolutely want it.”
“Perfect!” Alan said giving me a good bro shoulder punch, completely oblivious to the tension I felt in the room.
“Yes, this is great,” I said focusing on Alan instead of Oliver because I could feel a blush creeping up my neck again. “I can move in on Friday if that’s ok.”
“Sounds good,” Oliver said as he led us out of the apartment. “I work from home so I can help you move your stuff in whenever you come.”
“Oh, uhhh don’t worry, you don’t have to do that. ” I stuttered as I followed him to the door.
“Oh don’t worry Kate, I know I don’t have to. I want to.” He said grinning as he handed me his business card with his cell on it. “Call or text me if you need something before friday.”
“Ok, will do,” I said staring at the card because I really couldn’t bring myself to look him directly in the face and was secretly hating myself for acting like an adult baby.
“Thanks Oliver!” Alan said shaking his hand and turning to leave.
“No thank you Alan.” Oliver said back as I shook his hand too. “It’s not every day I get a new tenant like Kate.”
“Yea, she won’t cause you any problems!” Alan yelled back as we both walked down the front path out to the street. “Thanks again!”
I can’t even recall the conversation I had with Alan as we walked back towards our work. I wasn’t just on cloud 9, I was on cloud freakin’ 10!
I kept looking behind me until the house had disappeared, hoping it wasn’t just a mirage. I had done it! I was officially an independent single woman- minus my parent’s financial help of course. I had managed after the break up to get a job, a group of a friends and a perfect apartment with an absolutely edible landlord. Things were finally starting to look up and I couldn’t wait to see what single adventures Aberdeen had in store for me into I made it to France…