Owning the last two houses I have lived in back in the states, it has been quite a few years since having to go through the ordeal of apartment hunting. And now that I have had to do it again, I would like to go back to owning my own house.
I had been looking online occasionally since moving to Dublin, but taking my time since I was living in corporate housing for the first few months. After talking to people and doing a little exploring I narrowed it down to the areas I wanted to live in, and the appropriate amount of rent I wanted to pay. One of the main reasons in moving to Dublin is to travel, so when looking at apartments size wasn't an issue location was really what I was looking for. The ones online all looked small in my price range, but I'm not a big guy, it's just me living there, and so as long as there was a good pub nearby and was within a few minutes' walk to the Luas light rail line, it should be good. And there seemed to be plenty to choose from. I thought about calling as I was looking, but one of the perks that came with the relocation is that someone from the relocation service was going to take me around to look at apartments.
The first week of August she contacted me, and we discussed locations and my price range, and I even sent her a few of the ones I found online and wanted to take a look at. She replied a few days later with an itinerary and the list of places. Two of which were out of my price range, one of which was out of my range and location, and the ones that were in the locations I wanted and price range, only one was on the list I sent. She told me that she called the others but didn't receive callbacks. At the time I questioned if she did, but after my own experiences now believe her.
I replied letting her now that the overpriced out of area one wasn't worth looking at and sent her a link to another one I found and would like to look at. She picked me up the Thursday morning we were scheduled and we were off. The first place was in a great location, only a few minutes' walk to the Luas that I take to work and was an old brick house converted into apartments. The apartment for rent was on the first floor and walking in the first thing we see is that it is a very large place. It's the whole first floor of the house. The living room has a large fireplace that looks like it hasn't been used in years, and there is a double door that leads to the bedroom. The bedroom is as large as the living room if not larger. The only thing in it is the lone bed looking out of place is such a large space. Through a door in the bedroom was the bathroom. There was a small old clawfoot tub with a shower curtain and a shower head attached to the wall next to it. In some type of fashion that make it clear it was installed by someone who didn't want to spend money on the place. Back in the living room, there was a wall, of sorts, that had been built separating the space for the kitchen appliances. I wouldn't call it a kitchen as it was such a small and oddly designed space that one person could barely fit in it. We thanked the guy and moved to our next location.
The next place it turns out had just been rented, which was unfortunate because it was exactly what I was looking for. It was just off a main area of town that would have been good to live near. It was also in an old house that had been converted to apartments, but this one was clean and well maintained. The downside is that it had communal laundry room, but there were only four units sharing it and there was no additional charge for the laundry. The reason the lady had agreed to show it to us after renting it is, she said the place across the hall was going to be available and it had the exact same layout. I told her I was interested and she said she would get back to us on when.
From there was the one that was priced that I didn't want to see. Walking into the place the agent I could see through the hall out a back door that lead to a play area. We turned left, then right into the apartment he was showing. It was ground floor and had a very odd use of space. The worse part was right outside the bedroom window was the play area. I could only imagine how miserable it would be to try to sleep and have children playing. The kitchen was fine, and it had a small washer/dryer combo. But the crappy layout with a bunch of unnecessary doors and waste of space was too much.
The next one was another out of my range, but nice location and with parking. Parking, I didn't need but whatever. The place as on an upper floor and in a quite area. The apartment not to poorly laid out, and so far was the one I liked the most. After that a tiny studio with a fold down bed. I am okay with the idea of a studio, but after folding down the bed I could see that my short-ass would have been to tall for it. Not to mention that there wasn't any place to sit besides the fold down bed.
I was getting tired and had to get back to work, and honestly felt that I would have better luck on my own.
Back at the office I called and e-mailed a couple places and scheduled two viewings for that Saturday. Both in the area I wanted, and both in my price range. The first was for 12:00 with the agent for the apartment. I arrived a few minutes before 12 at the address, but there was nothing that looked like the front door to the apartment. So I called him at the number listed, and left a message. Waited around, called again and left another message. He never called me back. What a douche.
The next location was fantastic. Unfortunately, that’s all it had going for it. The apartment was on the ground floor, incredibly tiny, and had mold growing on the ceiling of the bathroom. The mold reeked throughout the unit as well. When I looked at the ceiling the owner said, "I'm going to need to do something about that," in a way that implied if he could rent the place without doing something about it, he would. We discussed the place, and I really did think about getting it just based on its location. But I knew a girl once who told me about a place she lived in with a lot of mold. She got mold poisoning. I told him I would call him and let him know if I decided to take it, but still thinking I could do better, I went home to give it some thought and decided not to rent it. I was nice enough to call him and leave him a message letting him know.
I continued the search through the weekend and decided to go for the pricey place with parking. It was quiet and good location. So, I called Jill and left her a message that Sunday. Feeling a little desperate, I looked the rental up online and called the agent we met with directly as well. He also didn’t answer, and I left a message. When Jill called me back on Monday, she informed me that it had been rented. I'm still kicking myself for not taking it when I had the chance, letting my confidence and apartment hunting experience in the US get the better of me in Dublin.
Continuing the search, I called more places without receiving any callbacks, or if they did answer the places were usually rented. I went and looked at another one that week and told him I wanted it. The agent for this place said he would let the owners know and would get back to me. He never did, even after I called him multiple times and left messages. If it weren’t for the different names, he might as well have been the same agent who didn’t call me back from before. Another one I looked at the same night in the same area was huge. I told him I was interested. He was in the process of painting the place and didn't want to rent it until the following week. He said he would call me when he was ready to rent it. I’m sure you can guess by this point if he called me or not.
What I learned from this experience is that most agents and landlords in Dublin are assholes. Sure, most are anywhere, and maybe it has just been so long since I've had to rent a place that I have forgotten what a crappy experience it is. Most everyone I have met in Ireland has been awesome, but I guess jerks are in every country; in Dublin, they are landlords with apartments to rent. But it really has been a miserable experience. I mean, come on, I work for Microsoft. It's not like I'm not going to pay the rent on time. I have a nice upstanding citizen look to me.
Eventually, I went to look at a place one evening with less than two weeks before needing to be out of my temporary housing. The location was great, right near the city on Upper Leeson Street, and only a few minutes' walk to the Luas. The downside was it was the front apartment on the second floor, or first floor if you are Irish, and was on a busy road. The place was recently remodeled, had a nice bathroom, and was in the price range I wanted. There were two other people looking at the apartment at the same time. After the incident with the other places I wanted and taking too long to decide on them, I called the owner right there with the agent in front of me and told him I wanted it. I also gave the person showing it to me a deposit that night to secure the apartment.
The kitchen didn’t really exist; it was more of a nook carved into the side of the living room with barely enough room for a mini-fridge, small stove, and small sink. The entire apartment could fit in the living room of my temporary housing. But after my search to that point, I didn't want to risk not taking it.After spending my first night in the new place with no sleep due to the noise from the road, my worries were confirmed on the noise problem. But, at least I had an apartment, and I could officially call myself a resident of Dublin.
Enjoy reading this story? If so you will find a revised and properly written version of it in the book An Expat's Guide to Ireland: Life in a Second World Country. Included in the book are other stories never before published and advice for anyone looking to move to Ireland.