22 December 2011

An apartment (maybe) falls in our lap

 Countdown:  34 days

Sometimes late at night I google some of the apartment complexes I know to be close to Chaoyang Park where we want to live.  I look at pictures, imagine us there, examine maps, roads and bus routes.  Occasionally, I send out an email query to an agent.  Many many people have cautioned that one should first go to BJ, THEN look for an apartment, because things change so quickly there and it’s easy to be cheated.  I started making an apartment search spreadsheet but abandoned it since I figured we’d need to be there first.  That means that I don’t have a record of the searches I’ve done or the emails I’ve sent.  So when my San Francisco cell phone rang a couple of nights ago and the woman making the call was speaking Chinese, I didn’t know what she was calling about.  I called for LiLi to come to the phone and the woman switched to English.  Turns out, she’s the owner of an apartment in one of the BJ complexes!  I’d  emailed her one late night who knows how long  ago.   The owner lives in NYC and just doesn’t use her BJ apartment so much anymore.  It’s 3 BR, 2 BA, fully furnished, and faces the park.  Wow!  Fantastic.  It’s quite a bit more expensive than I had in mind, but it’s furnished and includes internet and TV.  It also has a washer and dryer (the latter being rare) and an oven (also rare.) 

She sent some photos of the place and it looks great.  Very sunny and with wood floors.  The rooms are not large but there are two bedrooms with full beds (probably on the hard side by our standards; LiLi will need loads of pillows) and one small bedroom set up as an office.  The livingroom is a corner so there are windows on two adjacent sides.  Since it’ll just be me and LiLi until family and friends visit, it seems plenty large enough for us. 

But what next?  We had an email exchange about the rent and may have an agreement which is still a bit higher than I wanted but seems reasonable when compared to what is being advertised. 

We Skyped with Lee Ayi at 6 pm (her 10 a.m.) the night before last and asked if she could go and see the apartment if the NYC owner could get a relative to show it.  At this Skype session, we had LiLi’s SF tutor with us on our end for better communication.   As an aside, I’m convinced we are all a good fit and continue to get a good vibe from Lee Ayi.  I think everyone is wondering how I plan to manage the language issue since it’s clear to everyone I have a pathetic inability to hear and use correct tones.  But I have high confidence that I can make myself understood if LiLi goes on strike and refuses to translate or isn’t around.  Pantomiming, drawing pictures, using google translate!  Ah well.  I’ll learn a lot of Chinese because I will have to.   Lee Ayi is going to come to meet us at the airport and bring along her bilingual college student son, plus organize a large van taxi for our luggage.  Incredibly helpful! 

Yesterday I heard back from the apartment’s owner who said her relative will show Lee Ayi the apartment.  So…we shall see!  We may be in contract for an apartment and be able to land in BJ and move in straight away.  Sounds a bit crazy and hasty but this journey has unfolded in this way so I’m trying to be present and open for the opportunities when they drop out of the sky. 

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