We spent our first few days in Queenstown trying to sort out an apartment, and quickly learned that our search for a flat was going to be a bit of a wild goose chase, as available flats were only listed at the individual leasing office that their respective owners worked through. With 10+ leasing offices in town, ‘making the rounds’ quickly became part of our daily routine- get up, grab a notebook and pen, and start walking the circuit around town, checking in at each office to see if anything new had become available. The problem was, we weren’t the only ones on such a quest- it was slim pickings to begin with, and with the hordes of other travelers all vying for the few flats available, we were a bit nervous about our prospects…
Luckily, we ended up catching a break, and were EXTREMELY fortunate to have a flat basically fall right in our laps. We were actually standing in the rental agency, anxiously waiting for the fax machine to print out that day’s available units, when the property came available. The 2-bedroom flat had opened up that very day, and sounded pretty close to being exactly what we were looking for. We wasted no time getting the address, and headed straight over to check it out.
When we reached the property, we actually bumped into the owner- he was fixing a tile in the bathroom. He gave us a quick tour- turned out, it WAS exactly what we were looking for- and said that it should be ready to move into in the next couple of days. We thanked him, emphasized our interest in the place, managed to get his and his wife’s mobile numbers, and headed straight back to the rental agency to get the paperwork started before anyone else beat us to it.
Back at the rental agency, we were ready to get the rental forms started, only to find out we needed several ‘rental references’ to complete the application. A brief panic, averted by a few phone calls and emails back to the States, and the referrals were literally pouring in (The rental agency eventually asked us to send out emails requesting that no more referrals be sent in… Seriously.) Still, we thought it would be a good idea to try and have the owners out for a beer, maybe buy them dinner- you know, so they could get to know us a little better and feel comfortable about renting their pad to US, as opposed to some other randoms… So, we called and invited them out. “Thanks mate, but we’re booked for the noight. Good on’ya though- I’ll mention it to me woife, and we’ll see how she goes… Sweet as! Cheers mate!” That’s about how it went… Still, we had made the effort, and sometimes that’s what makes the difference. We headed back to our hostel, an excited nervousness settling in for the rest of the afternoon.
Over the next day or two, we tried to distract ourselves with exploring Queenstown and getting into the Winter Festival, but we were still a bit nervous about the flat. We hadn’t heard anything from the rental agency, and were getting a little antsy. Finally, Haley, our rental rep, called, and asked whether or not we had in fact asked the owners out for dinner as some kind of bribe. “Bribery?” I said. “Me?? Never!”, to which she just chuckled, stating that the move had won us some points and that the owners like our style. Elated, we asked her what the next steps were. She said there was just some last paperwork to settle out, and we should hear from her early the next morning, if not later that afternoon. Thankful for our good fortune, we dropped our stuff at the hostel, booked another night (hoping it would be our last), and headed down into town to check out the Opening Ceremonies of the WinterFest, excited about the prospect of having a permanent roof over our heads the next night.
The next morning, having not heard anything from Haley by midday, we had growing concern that something had happened with the apartment, and began to expect the worst. Frustrated, Cory and I decided it was best to head out and start ‘making the rounds’ again. Needless to say, we were a bit distraught, and the prospect of going back to the flat-hunting routine was overwhelming. Wouldn’t you know it- as soon as we rounded the corner to head into the nearest rental agency, the phone rang… It was Haley. A deep breath before answering the phone, not knowing whether I wanted to hear what she had to say or not… “Hello Nick, its Haley here. Just sorting a few final details out on the apartment… Yeah… Hmmm… (Long pause)… Ummm… (Longer pause)… Its all yours.” Sooooo cheeky!! She had me hanging, that’s for sure. A surge of adrenaline followed by a surge of relief (odd combination), and we were literally dancing in the streets. We thanked her profusely, and she said that we might need to help the owner get the second bed out of storage later that afternoon. “No worries” we said, happy to do whatever we needed to. We set up the lease-signing appointment, and then headed over to meet Richard (the owner) at the flat to lend a hand. We helped him move a couple of things around, and then had a beer with him, just talking about life and what he’d been up to. Then he gave us the keys, and we were on our own. Done and DONE- we had an apartment in Queenstown!
We quickly realized that though this was an awesome achievement, the sun was dipping fast, and it was getting cold. First thing to do, get the power turned on, as we didn’t want to freeze to death on our first night in the new pad. We called up the power company, went through the New Account procedures, and then were told that a technician would be by to turn the power on at the main switch. Being accustomed to the usual ‘Between 8am and 3pm’ vagaries typical of American services of similar nature, I was compelled to ask when said technician might arrive. “I don’t know exactly, but it will be sometime tonight.” Great. Very comforting, considering I was already cold and the sun hadn’t even set yet. But, he did arrive, and got things fired up for us. We switched on the hot water heater, and then crammed into one of the bedrooms with the lone electric heater for the first couple of nights. Thank God for that little electric heater- without that, Cory and I might have had to share a sleeping bag. I know we’re good friends and all, but that would’ve gotten a little awkward.
The next several days were spent making trips to the store to outfit the apartment with linens, towels, etc. We had an electrical issue with the main heater in the apartment, and were freezing while waiting to get that sorted out. Not that it made any difference- the electrician came by and fixed it, and we were STILL freezing. No matter- we had found a place to live, and were ready to get the adventures underway.
BRING IT ON!
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