After moving into the house with Annie, Jess, and Nina, I began searching for a more permanent apartment. The competition for the non-sketchy shared room places was insane. Space would be claimed within a day of a posting. After trying a few places, I decided to go for something else-bungalows. Bungalows are basically studio apartments attached to or on the property of full houses. From what I was seeing, most of the houses were family owned in good neighborhoods. The problem- they were far away. But many were close to railway stations, so I decided to give them a shot. I called many places.
The first place I went to was in Dandenong, roughly an hour away from the city. The only technology I have here is my ipad and a cheap phone. The ipad is only useful when it is linked to the internet, and the phone is only able to call and text. I had looked up directions before leaving, but I got off the bus a couple stops early and my directions became worthless. So I began walking in the general direction I thought I should go. It wasn't the right way. I tried to ask one lady for help finding the address. She obviously ignored me and walked faster. I didn't think I looked that scary... too much mascara? Who knows. At this point, it was clear I was going to be later than the agreed on time. I called the lady I was supposed to be meeting and explained where I was, that I was lost, and asked if she knew how to get to the house. It was difficult to understand her accent, but before I could figure out what she was saying, the phone disconnected. There was no answer when I tried calling back. As I continued down the road, I saw a seafood truck with a man setting up a seafood buffet for some kind of party. I went up to him and explained what happened and asked if I could borrow his iPhone to get directions. I knew I was close. He agreed. When I handed it back, he said that he could tell from my accent that I was American, and assumed I probably was doing a working holiday. He said he needed more help with serving over the holidays and to send him my resume if interested. I left with directions and a company card. Finally, I made it to the house, but the family wasn't there. Just then the the lady called me. She had gone to get me from where I was lost! I thanked her and explained that I had found my way. Soon she pulled into the driveway. Out of the car hopped an Indian Australian family. The lady I spoke to, her husband, and their 3 year old son. I appoligized for the trouble and thanked them again for the effort to help me.
The property was beautiful. There was a stone patio, with a grill and outdoor furniture set, all surrounded by orchids and succulent plants. (No Dad, I didn't steal any for you.) The bungalow was one large room with three closet doors at the end. The first closet held a mini fridge and hot plate. The second closet held a toilet and super tiny shower. The third closet was a real closet/pantry. The place came with a small bed. I would have to install my own internet. They informed me that there were three other people looking at the place that day. While I needed a place, the distance, minuscule kitchen, and lack of internet were too much. I thanked them again, and headed back to the closest bus stop. At that part of town, the bus only came by once an hour. I had just missed it. It started raining. So I played bubble shooter on my ipad the whole time under a tiny shade structure. This particular bus stop was adjacent to a school. The kids, in thier adorable oversized uniforms, kept walking across the street, causing a traffic jam and delaying the bus by another fifteen minutes. I swore to myself that I would not get a place so far away.
The next day I went to see another bungalow in Watsonia, which seemed a bit closer. It also was directly across the street from the railway station. The way there was flawless. (I'm slowly getting better at this navigating without GPS thing.) The real estate lady was running late so I stood awkwardly in front of the house for a period of time. A man that I think lived in the house walked out and asked "Waiting for Sew?" (Yes, that is how you spell her name.) I said yes, which he replied by saying "Okay. She'll probably be here soon." Then he turned and walked to the train. Soon after, Sew did show up. She and her husband had gotten stuck in traffic on their way over. They were an older couple. She handled finding tenants, rent, and such. He did repairs and remodels.
This property was almost as pretty as the first. There was a large garden behind the bungalow and honeysuckle growing along the fence. That's right people! They had my favorite flowering vine growing all along the propery! There were bright green and yellow birds flying over and a fig tree in the corner. The bungalow was currently being rented by a foreign couple that spoke little English. They had found a house to buy and would be moving within the week. Inside, the room was about half the size of the previous bungalow. The refrigerator was larger, but not full sized. There was a kitchen sink, counter space, and cabinets, but once again only a hotplate for cooking. The bathroom was slightly larger. No internet. If there had been internet or a full kitchen, I would've probably taken the place, but it was a hard sell without either.
Next I went to an "open inspection" for a studio apartment in Kensington. This was an actual apartment complex with a vacancy on the second floor. There was a middle eastern family finding an apartment for their twenty something daughter there as well, but only one vacancy. It was awkward. This place was in a great location to the city. Like the others though, there was only a hotplate for cooking and no internet. In addition, there was no furnishing.
I decided that maybe bungalows/studio apartments weren't the best places for me. I really like to cook so I wanted a kitchen with at least an oven. I can't go six months without baking cookies! Plus, I'm pretty sure all of my family would think I died if I didn't have internet for any more than a day or two. So I shifted my plan and began looking at shared houses again. I upped my price range by $20 a week and started looking for shared houses with individual rooms. I found another website called flatmates and created a profile. I put my general wants for a place and contact info on the profile, then scrolled through apartments needing roommates. I emailed back and forth with many people but they either wanted longer lease agreements or the apartments were too far from the city/in a bad part of the city.
One evening I got a text from a guy named Kevin. He said that there was a house in Kensington with a room available. It was four girls looking for another girl to move in. I asked how he was related to the house and he said he owned it. I asked for him to send pictures of it. He sent one picture of the outside of the house and one of the bedroom. The outside of the house looked overgrown and in disrepair, but the room looked good. I asked when I could come see it in person. He said he could pick me up from the train station around 4pm. One problem- he had said in the description he sent that it was very close to the station. I refused the ride and said I'd just meet him there, but I needed an exact address. He sent the address. I already had it of course. It was fully visible on the photo of the outside of the house. The addresses were different. I was curious and it was still early morning, so I hopped a train over to see for myself. I found both houses. They were two blocks apart, but totally different houses. I went back and and text him that the pictures and address didn't match. He never responded.
While searching the flatmates website, I found a much less sketchy apartment. The girl I contacted, Ellen, was moving to the UK after just graduating college. She wanted someone to take her lease over until fall (March). She had two roommates, a guy and a girl, both upperclassmen in college. I went to go see the apartment and it was perfect. We all gathered in the kitchen to discuss me moving in. Ellen seemed okay with me moving in within the week. The roommates seemed hesitant, so I asked what they thought about it. It was then that they revealed they had no idea Ellen had started looking for someone to move in. This was all a surprise to them. I explained that I understood, but I did really like their apartment and needed a place for the same amount of time they needed someone to live there and to please consider me. I continued emailing and texting back and forth to Ellen and Hayley, one of the roommates. Finally, they all agreed that I could move in.
Moving was quite the ordeal. I had to buy a new bag to fit my magically multiplying luggage. I bought a cheap rolling grocery bag because I've wanted one after seeing all those lucky people not straining thier biceps on the walk back from the grocery store. I stuffed both bags completely full, cleaned the room I was leaving, and headed to the train. Now, I had a heavy purse on one shoulder, a much heavier bag over the other shoulder, and was dragging behind a very full rolling grocery bag. I wore healed boots because they were too big to fit in the bags. While making my way to the train, the wheels of the new bag started falling off. I had to sit all my stuff on the ground to fix the wheels. Shoulda gotten the expensive bag! This delayed me from getting to the station and I missed the train. I took the next one scheduled twenty minutes later. The walk from the train to the apartment is pretty short, but boy it felt long! My shoulders couldn't take all the weight of the bag on one shoulder at a time, so I make-shifted it into a backpack. Not what it was made for, but it helped a lot! I arrived at the apartment feeling simultaeously exhausted and like super woman. So I am now in Moonee Ponds, a suburb of Melbourne, living with Hayley and Kevin. (Please note that this Kevin is in no relation to the creeper who gave me the wrong address.)