Living in a College town has its perks – relatively cheap [albeit usually terrible] housing, a range of bars to suit any taste and (especially when you work at the University) easy accessibility. It also has its down-sides. Not only does every bar become overrun with 19-year-olds (I swear I wasn’t that annoying at 19!), but the housing market is aimed entirely at students. The transient nature of the student population (leaving town for three months over summer, anyone?) means that landlords lock their tenants in to full-year leases so that they don’t lose their income when about 20% of the town’s population vanishes for months at a time.
This doesn’t help the groups that are actually transient residents – young professionals that have exciting places to go, or change jobs, or move cities, or get married, or move in with their significant other or lose their jobs. Point is, there are lots of reasons why twenty-somethings might want to move. There are also lots of reasons why living in a College town makes this really difficult.
I don’t have any reason to move – I lucked out and got the amazing package deal of a lovely apartment and a lovely roommate. Unfortunately, the lovely roommate is embarking on a Great Overseas Adventure, leaving me with only one half of the amazing package deal and meaning that I really need to replace her.
Easier said than done.
I advertised for a new roommate, suggested that the apartment would be ideal for a Graduate student or young professional (please note the deliberate absence of the term “undergraduate student”) and expounded the virtues of my adorable, sunny apartment – it’s close to town, it’s warm, recently renovated, mostly furnished by yours truly/our really awesome landlord who provided us with a killer TV. I have received some responses, but overall it’s not looking promising. In this town, people move once a year – at the beginning of the university year. I.e not now. So I’m not exactly left with the pick of the bunch.
Responses to my advert have ranged from mildly encouraging – “Hey, saw you want a flatmate. Can I come view please?” [sic]* – to downright depressing – “Hi, I’m just send email, can look at apartment? After work you have free time? Actually, I hope I can look it on today. Because, I’m uni. Student now and today I do not have any lecture.” Let’s ignore the fact that it takes ignoring a lot of fairly serious grammatical errors in order to read that one through to the end, and remember that I really don’t want to live with an undergrad. I know I’m being very judgmental and I should be an equal opportunities roommate-finder, but seriously?? If you can’t string a coherent sentence together – in English – I am probably not interested in living with you. Same goes for the guy who came to view the apartment, barely said two words to me, hauled out a tape-measure and proceeded to measure up not just the room up for rent, but my room too (for some sort of comparison, perhaps?). He then made things even better by poking around in my kitchen cupboards and trying to get me to give him the lease on the spot. Um. No.
There was an English “bloke” who smelled like he hadn’t bathed in weeks – again, a resounding no. If his personal hygiene is anything to go by (the leftover lunch in his teeth was pretty telling!), my beautiful, clean apartment would be beautiful and clean no longer. Then came the very shy girl with a job at a shoe store in town – it was pretty difficult holding up over two thirds of a conversation, but I get the feeling that she might improve with time…? There was a Master’s student from China who spoke little and loudly and a very pedantic girl who seemed more like she was interviewing me than the reverse! Finally, my luck turned and there was another University staff member who seemed really lovely, if a little quiet, and a dental assistant from near my hometown who was also really nice. Still to come: a Canadian PhD student, a French artist and the girl who couldn’t type a coherent text (hey, everyone gets at least the pretense of a fair chance). I know I’m being really judgmental in my roommate search, but I’m being forced into making a snap judgement. If you don’t write a coherent text or email, is it because you can’t be bothered to? If you’re ten minutes late for your viewing, what does that say about you? If you won’t talk to me about how we split up bills or how I like to heat my apartment now, will you ever be able to talk about it – and, by extension, pay it? Is it so much to ask that I want a roommate that I can have a conversation with? One who won’t come home and immediately hole up in their bedroom? One who will pay the bills – and their rent – on time? I don’t want someone that I can’t share a pot of tea with or, in an even more distressing turn of events described to me by my [lovely] current roommate, a roommate who never seems to eat anything.
I have a beautiful apartment, the type of apartment that is hard to find in a town like this and I don’t want to leave as long as I live in this city. I really want someone to share it with me who will also watch a movie with me, share baking and bottles of wine, let me in when I forget my key. (The latter actually happened yesterday. Carolyn, please don’t leave!)
To people trying to be someone’s new roommate, I have one thing to say: you have around 15 minutes to impress me and make me want to live with you. Try. Harder.
I want a roommate. One who isn’t crazy or socially inept. That’s all. Thanks.
*It’s taking all of my will power to type these as they were received and not do a quick edit job – I really want to fix the spelling and grammar!