Newbie in the USA: Homing in
Encapsulating my experience looking at apartments in Sunnyvale, CA and finding a place to live in and be messy.
The company accommodation we'd been given had an exit date, so we meticulously planned to move into our own rental space to accommodate any eleventh-hour shenanigans. Spoiler alert - there weren't any shenanigans.
My partner and I looked at listings in the area through apartments.com and Zillow (an app). We were checklist ready with preferred location, details of the apartment, and amenities available along with the distance from the supermarkets, the kind of environment - so far and so forth. We realized soon enough that all apartments we looked at were fitted with kitchen appliances (refrigerator, stovetop, oven, microwave, and dishwasher). We also wanted a washer-dryer in the home and a gym on the property.
We were excited about looking at houses as we're both homebodies with occasional bouts of let's-be-adventurous. We'd moved during the pandemic, but more relevant here is that we were looking for apartments in the heat of let's call everyone back to the office. The rentals were on the upswing and apartments were getting rented at the snap of a finger. Now I didn't know if this was the current situation causing the urgency or if it was status quo in the USA. Whatever it was wholly annoyed the hell out of me.
We booked appointments for the apartment viewing which were at times a week away, and at best after 3 working days. We'd go to the admin office where a manager would tell us about the property and then either accompany us to the apartment or simply point us in the direction of the apartment. In some cases, we couldn't view the actual apartment because the tenant's lease was still on. So one afternoon, we looked at the model apartment, loved it, and decided to submit an application the next day. Lo and behold, the next day the apartment was no longer available. This happened a couple of times.
I digress here - but I need to add this. In the US, the ground level is the first floor. The next level is the second floor, and so on. None of the apartments we saw had over 3 floors (what I'd call the second floor in India). So this led to a wee bit of confusion at times.
There was an apartment available for what seemed like a steal. So of course it was gone even before we could see the place! The apartments that we did see, and were at reasonable rents, did not appeal to us. The kitchens in almost all the apartments we looked at were small and did not have enough space to place our appliances let alone cook. And we do love to cook.
We barely had much time to think things through - apartments were going off the market within hours. I was worried we wouldn't find a decent place to call home.
Then came the golden day when we saw 2 apartments and loved both. Of course, now loved meant that we got most of the ticks on our checklist. Objectively, we decided to go ahead with the place with the better location rather than the better layout (of the house). We submitted our application and paid the $30-$50 application fee for each person living in the apartment (the application fee bit was a shocker).
We then had to share a copious amount of details about ourselves and get a guarantor (thank uncle for that!) to avoid paying a hefty security deposit. We did pay a security deposit, just not a hefty one.
A view of the apartment property
So yay, we found a place to live and with pretty much everything ticked on our checklist. We also recently figured that the property we live in is in the same sector (I think) as the fire station. So even the off chance of power cuts is something we'll avoid. There's greenery all around and is calming to while away the blues on the balcony.
Gentle breeze as viewed from the balcony
We met quite a few property managers in the process of viewing apartments. Some of them were so warm and friendly that we'd rate the place higher than the others. As always, I realize, it boils down to people and interactions and how they made you feel.
Random Closing Thoughts because Why Not!
Finding a place to call home, putting my stamp all over the place, and filling spaces with all that's mine are all myriad ways to feel like I belong here. It's too early to feel that I belong. Maybe I never will. I wonder if it's crazy to move from home with the intent to find another one.
Often I imagine I've carried my life, my World to this country. I'm trying to make sense of what it means to be here. What does it mean to try and find a place away from everything I've known?