Sunday, September 30, 2012

Picking up where we left off: Meeting some waves upon settling down in Nice

Well, sorry it's been a while, but the moving process hasn't been as smooth as we had hoped, even though it hasn't been completely terrible either!

The first issue was that the agency which is managing the apartment we had picked in Nice was just inflexible regarding having someone with a long-lasting credit history in France guarantee the lease. Q's parents could be of help with that formality, but unfortunately the agency also insisted that the person would come to Nice to sign the lease with us. Timing was not optimal for them (Q's parents).

So we decided to pick another apartment at the last minute, and we asked the moving company that had our stuff from Aarhus to put it in storage until we'd found a new place.

Where we almost moved (top left 3 windows) but ended up staying only for a week

We did find a new apartment, larger, with brand new hardwood floors, a nice sunny balcony, well located, in a more quiet street, but still within the same neighborhood. We moved in knowing that the apartment would require some painting work before being completely livable — we did not see ourselves enjoying for very long walls which had been painted 20 years ago with yellow glossy paint, neither did we like the cheesy wallpaper mural ;-) We thought we had understood we would get financial support from the owner to do that work (expenses amounted to at least 1,000 EUR). But once we moved in, the son with whom we had interacted up to that point was replaced by his dad who was the actual owner, and thus the final decision maker. And he was not willing to help us as we had expected.

Oops. That was our second issue.
Glossy yellow paint and now grey baseboards
The mural: Did that ever look nice?

How did we solve that one? The owner gave us two options: 1. "You paint and I will fix the ceiling in the hallway" — oh yeah! let's not forget about the ceiling... Over 25 years ago the landlord had covered the ceiling in the hallway with some linen in order to "mask the pipes" at the request of the tenant at that time. Of course the cloth was dirty and dusty after that much time, so we had removed it with the plan to paint what was covered instead. Option #2: "You can stay until the end of the month in order to find another place [we were in early April] and you get your money back".

C and I thought the paintwork amounted to more than what tenants should be asked to do (even though in France it is more or less expected that paintwork is up to the tenant and not the landlord), because moldings on the ceiling needed to be painted as well, paint chips were coming off the heaters, and so forth.

Furthermore, we were both feeling uneasy about having been caught in between a son and his dad from the outset, and we did not feel very comfortable either that the apartment was geographically located precisely in between the dad's house and the son's apartment. We could actually see them on their respective balconies on both sides, and they had a full view on quite a few of our windows. Talk about privacy!

So our feeling was that instead of asking for a rent of 1,000 EUR per month, the owner and his son should probably agree with each other to do the renovation work and then just increase the rent to 1,200 EUR or more — the actual rent of most places that size in that part of town. Had they done that, we would just not have been interested on the first place.

Too much work if we're just renting!

Hence, we decided to accept proposition number two, and all went smoothly with the landlord from then on. We just had to move out our stuff again, which we had just moved from C's former studio or that we had recently ordered. That included new appliances, such as a washing machine, a fridge, and an oven. We hired somebody for that! We found ourselves crammed in the little studio until a new solution would present itself...

We were back to square one — still without an apartment to move into — but we knew we had made the right decision when the owner called Q one day and asked him to "please close the shutters when you leave so that the sun would not damage the new hardwood floors"... We also came across the guy who would have been our neighbor and he told us he was sad we were not staying, but then he also told us about his "battle" with the landlord after water damage from the roof that the landlord did not want to take responsibility for.

"Sun-sensitive" hardwood floors ;-)

Fortunately, by the end of this mini-saga, we were close to the Easter vacation in France. Q called up one of his very best friends in Eastern France, and she actually ended up being the one who would guarantee the lease for the first apartment we had considered. She and her family were looking for a beach vacation, so why not Nice and helping us out at the same time. Needless to say we are eternally grateful for their gesture!

So we signed together for the apartment I am writing this blog post from!
More about that on the next post (and with a few more waves...).

Apricot pie by the balcony of our apartment in Nice

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