Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Flat-hunting in Stockholm ends, but continues...

I found an apartment!

In the morning, I finally managed to receive a reply from one of the landlords whom I sent a message to show my interest. He suggested viewing his flat at 7 pm. I agreed. The ad of his flat was one of those appearing around noon yesterday, and I contacted him by 1pm. It seems checking Bostad Direkt very frequently and contacting immediately after finding an apartment of interest is the key to success in viewing a flat.

But this flat is available from 1 July. I have to find a place to stay in June. What's worse, I'll be away from Stockholm between late June and early July. I may need a storage space for my belongings while I'm being away.

Asking around in my workplace reveals that Shurgard is the storage space provider of the city and that finding a weekly apartment in June may be difficult given that the Royal Wedding over the weekend of 19-20 June attracts lots of Swedes to the capital city.

Most apartments on Bostad Direkt is available from early June to late August. Finding one only for June seems difficult.

Then suddenly my cell phone rang. I thought it was someone whom I contacted. But no, she found my own ad on Bostad Direkt. Her flat was not yet advertised on Bostad Direkt. Some landlords seem to prefer contacting on their own to potential tenants rather than waiting for them to contact.

Her flat is in Södermalm, a relatively more bohemian district of Stockholm, and available from 1 June to 30 September. That's what I was looking for as the second best option. During July and August, Swedes leave Stockholm for their summer house in the country side. Rental apartment markets get even thinner. If I can stay until the end of September, I can search in September.

I decided to view her flat at 5:30 pm by canceling my schedule in the last minute.

The Södermalm apartment is located in a residential area planned rather well with lots of green space and playground for children with architectural design reminiscent of the last days of modernism (lots of geometric motif including circles). There are several supermarkets nearby. The landlady wants to rent this apartment as she stays in a summer house during the summer. She leaves quite a lot of her stuff in the apartment. So storage would be an issue. Of course no washing machine, although she told me many tenants in this apartment building own their own washing machine, making it easy to book your laundry time slot according to your own needs rather than to everybody else's needs. It's got a nice balcony. I thought I wouldn't live in this kind of modernism apartment in the middle of city center in my life if I passed this opportunity. Also the landlady speaks English very well and is a nice person. A metro line from the station 6 minutes walk away directly takes me to the workplace.

Then I went to see the other apartment at 7 pm. It's located in an area called Gullmarsplan. Compared to other suburbs, there are quite a few stores in this area although most of them are of a nondescript kind. A nine minutes walk from the metro station (which will be a bit too long during cold winter) took me to the apartment which is rather contemporary unlike others in the same area.

When I rang the door bell, a young couple came out with one more girl who turned out to be another prospective tenant viewing the flat. This couple invited all the potential tenants around the same time. A few more arrived while I was viewing. They want to lease this apartment because they bought their own and will move in early July. Since renting an apartment directly from the owner (usually the government) is very hard in Stockholm (usually you have to wait at least 2 years), many people are unwilling to give it up even if they don't need it. Thus they come into the subletting market, which is a good thing for foreigners in Stockholm. But this sounds like something really wrong.

Anyway, their idea is that the contact will end at the end of December, but if both parties agree, it will be extended. The apartment is spacious, build only 3 years ago, and very pleasant. No washing machine, of course, but since the apartment is on the ground floor, a few steps take you to the laundry room. But all the evening slots for the next 7 days were booked when I saw it.

If this apartment were available from 1 June, I would probably take it. But given the expected hassle to find a way to survive June (so I cannot focus on my job), a rather long distance to the nearest station (which matters a lot during sub-zero temperature winter), a rather depressing neighborhood, and most importantly no assurance of getting this apartment due to many competitors (whom I actually saw in my eyes), choosing this apartment over the one I saw before today seems to me too risky.

So I decided to take the apartment in Södermalm. And the landlady happily take me as her tenant.

My flat-hunting in Stockholm resumes this September...

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