Day 13: New accommodation, new room mate

I have accommodation!

I’m 13 days into landing in the US. Its been an interesting ride to say the least! Most of this covers Day 8 – 10. But hey its my blog and I’m going to reflect on my journey 🙂

On Day 8, I inspected some apartments with a destination services company that my employer had organised. Destination services help you look for housing, area orientation, getting a social security number, drivers license, banking, and more. I had 3 days available for their services. I chose to use them to help me look for accommodation. I did the other things myself as I figured it would be straightforward.

I gave them my criteria and spoke with them over the phone when I was in Australia. The criteria is what I shared in my previous post. I then had a followup call with them when I was in the US after I got a phone. I then updated the criteria based on my own searches and inspections. They searched Craigslist and created a short list of 5 places to visit. On the weekend (Day 8), they drove me around to visit various places. They also have relationships with accommodation providers which help with finding places. It also makes you look more legit to go with a destination services person. They know the area, the accommodation market and have expertise in real estate.

After inspecting 4 places on my own and 5 with the destination agent, I had seen 9 in total. I was able to make a decision very quickly on the same day cause I had visited places on my own earlier. I knew the neighbourhoods and had visited places that were nearby. I knew exactly how far the Caltrain was and the nearby restaurants. In fact, I visited one place with the agent that was two doors down from a place I had inspected on my own 2 days earlier! In fact we had seen some of the same ads on craigslist.

Due to my own independent research, I was able to see that one place was the best value and also very close to the station. The agent also recommended it as well. It was gem of a place because it also came furnished. The other places I had visited were unfurnished. Whereas this place came with a bed, couch, table, cooking equipment and more!

I don’t have a concern with buying stuff. Its more so the case of getting rid of stuff if I have to move. I’m very happy with the place I’ve chosen because it has a patio, backyard, 2 rooms / 2 baths and has more square footage than any other place I visited. It also has awesome views of the city!

After I finished the tour, I went home. I spoke to a colleague that lived in the area who also gave it the thumbs up. It was about an hour after I had seen the place, #8 that I decided I needed to move on it. I decided that I was going to put down a holding deposit. I called the owner back and told them I could give them a money order. I caught an Uber and handed over my money order. A money order is like a cheque, its treated as cash. The difference is that a money order has a specific amount of money whereas a cheque you can write whatever amount you want on it. So I chose an amount that was decent enough commitment. You want to provide something in the range of $200 – $700 if you’re using a money order. I had to organise it the day before at the bank.

A holding deposit allows you to secure a place but also gives you the flexibility to look elsewhere too. Some people said that it can’t be refunded whereas some say that it can. I knew I wanted the place and I knew that if it was on the market, someone else would take it because it was such good value. I’m also not one to wait. If you know me, you know I take the initiative! I like making fast decisions. The money can be applied against the first month’s rent + bond.

This apartment is in Potrero Hill which is the sunniest part of San Francisco. I need the sun. I’m from Australia and I’m used to the sun 🙂 So now I’m a resident of Potrero Hill! I really like the neighbourhood. It is really hilly though. What I like about is that it has shops and restaurants. It feels like an actual neighbourhood. Whereas SOMA is really urban and almost transactional. Anyone that lives where I’m staying now is because its close to the Caltrain. There’s no sense of neighbourhood. I feel like in Potrero Hill I’ll get to know my neighbours and the local community.

Negotiating a move in date

The place was empty when I inspected it. The landlord wanted someone to move in now. But my accommodation was paid up til 13 May. I was able to negotiate to move in 2 weeks from my inspection. I was able to move in on 6 May. Its in-between when the landlord wants someone and when I ideally want to move. I feel that its reasonable since they also need time to prepare the place, get power and water connected, etc.. I chose that date as well because its the weekend, making it easier for me to move since I’m working during the week.

Finding a place probably caused me the most stress. But it turns out it wasn’t that hard. I found a place within 8 days of arriving. I also did a bit of prep work beforehand by putting together a criteria and searching.

I actually felt this huge weight lift off my shoulders after finding a place. I was feeling really sick for that entire week. From all the travelling, changing jobs, changing countries, changing weather conditions and I was recovering from cold before I left Australia. When I handed over the cheque, my spirits lifted. I felt instantly better. When I got back to my apartment, I felt that my head cleared, my throat wasn’t sore any more. My nose wasn’t blocked anymore. I was on a high. I now have a home.

The hunt for a room mate

Now that I secured a place on Saturday, I knew the next challenge was to find a room mate within 2 weeks. It was a bit daunting committing to a place without another person committing. As I had committed to the whole apartment with 2 rooms!

I did have a few people that reached out to me when I had started looking. I was confident I could find someone in two weeks, particularly with an awesome place. I had seen the demand in various Facebook groups, from talking to landlords and friends.

So I decided to advertise the room via my own networks and at work. I got the word out there and a friend messaged me to say he was interested! Within 11 hours, I had a new room mate! It was an amazing feeling and I’m so stoked!


I’m out like finding accommodation,
Matt Ho

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