For an explanation of the term 'headdesk', click here.

(Note:  MsCaroline has been house hunting, as she recently discussed in this post.  She is hoping to leave behind life in a 34-story high rise building in one part of town and move to a low-rise building, or 'villa' in a different part of town.  So far, there is no indication that this is ever going to happen.)

If you have not already gathered as much from the title of the post, allow MsC to cut the tension immediately by telling you up front that, no, she has not found a new apartment. Yet.  (The 'yet' was added to prove that she is keeping a positive attitude and optimistic spirit in the face of adversity. )

In fact, she is just about as far away from finding a new apartment now as she was when she started the whole process a few weeks ago.  She is also beginning to feel a certain rising panic and frustration as the whole incomprehensible process drags along, pulling her in its wake, similar to what the Yellow Dog does to the person holding his leash when he senses he's getting close to the dog park.

MsC is certain that at least 80% of her problem is that she doesn't understand what is going on.  Some of it, she is sure, is due to cultural differences; some of it, to language differences;  and some of it to forces of nature that cannot be fully explained.

She had envisioned something like this:  MsCaroline calls the realtor and tells her what she is looking for.  The realtor says, "OK, I can help you."  Over the next days or weeks, the realtor and MsCaroline view a number of residences that fall within the guidelines (location, price, size) MsC has specified, after which MsC narrows down the choices, brings MrL along for a final viewing, and after convincing MrL that the budget is much more flexible than they had originally agreed  an offer* is made  on a suitable dwelling.  If this is unsuccessful, an offer is made on #2 on their list, and so on. 

It goes without saying that this has not happened.  Yet. (there's that positive outlook again.)  What has happened, though, is the following:

  • MsCaroline has seen high-rise apartments (not villas) in both her requested neighborhood and other neighborhoods which she does not wish to live in.  She is still not sure how or why this happened, since she has stated since day #1 that she is looking for a villa.
  • MsCaroline has seen a number of sad, frightening dwellings that make her think of post-WWII East Germany or Dickensian orphanages, or both.
  • MsCaroline has been shown several apartments at the rock bottom of her price range, which-in addition to disturbing her emotional equilibrium- only reinforces her conviction that the housing budget needs to be extremely flexible in the other direction. She is ready to spend a lot more money, but she is having trouble getting the realtors (yes, there are more than one) to show her more expensive apartments.  Yes, she finds this strange, too.
  • MsCaroline has been shown the same apartment twice. The first time, she stated that it was Too Small and Their Furniture Would Not Fit (and it also made her feel melancholy.)  The second time, she stated that she had already seen the apartment and had said their Furniture Would Not Fit and did not need to see it again.  This was a very odd and awkward conversation, since the realtor refused to believe that she'd already seen the apartment, and MsCaroline had to describe it to her as sort of a test  to prove that she had already been in it.  The fact that this conversation took place while the landlord and present tenant were waiting on the doorstep to usher MsC and her realtor into the apartment made things quite uncomfortable.
  • MsCaroline has been double-dipping (and will soon be triple-dipping) her realtors.  This is, by the way, OK in Korea, where there are no central real estate listings and realtors tend to find things by word of mouth or else they represent buildings or specific landlords (a likely reason why MsC got to see that apartment twice.  Maybe they thought it would grow on her, if they kept showing it to her.) MsCaroline is used to monogamy in her real estate relationships (there's a contract involved in the US) which is probably why she has felt begun to feel slightly dirty as she flits from realtor to realtor, giving her particulars to all and sundry.  When MsCaroline poured out her heart to a Korean friend after her first disappointing  foray into house hunting in Seoul, her friend whipped out her phone and gave her the phone number of a different realtor.  Thus it came to pass that MsCaroline and MrL, after looking at 3 villas with Realtor A, made their farewells and casually strolled a few blocks away where they met Realtor B. This had a bit of the wacky sitcom flavor to it, since they felt they had to keep the meeting with B clandestine and were trying to remain unseen by A, who kept offering to drive them back home.  Since then, they have gotten no fewer than 4 more recommendations, and, at this point, they plan to call them all, in a desperate attempt to find a place to live before their present lease expires.

Today, MsCaroline had an appointment with Realtor B.  She had spoken with her on Friday, at which time B had assured her that she had a number of suitable villas in her price range and they would be looking at them all on Monday.  MsCaroline looked forward all weekend to Monday, hoping against hope that, out of all the villas she would be seeing, she might actually find The One That Would Work.

B picked her up and drove her to the first villa, (which, as described above) MsC had already seen and crossed off the list.  When MsC pointed out that this villa was at the bottom of their price range and-as she had stated clearly on Friday - she wished to see some things on the higher end, B looked blankly at her for a few seconds, then made a hasty phone call and stated that she had a larger place to show her.

The place was indeed bigger and more expensive, but too far away from the station, and, in fact, was in a building that MsC had already stated was Too Far Away From The Station when they had looked at a different place in the same building on Friday.

It was still Too Far Away today.  And the other apartment was still Too Small.  And that, according to the realtor, is all that's available.  Unless, of course,  MsCaroline would like to see something in the high-rise around the corner?


*In Korea, apartment prices (and what they include) are often negotiable.  The final price agreed on may differ considerably from the original asking price.


Holly said…
I can't even begin to comprehend the total lack of a real estate system there. I am banging my head in sympathy!
BavarianSojourn said…
Oh gosh... So frustrating! Reminds me somewhat of our house search here. Property in Munich is incredibly hard to come by, and believe me I saw some shockers (strange cat lady tenant living in basement who would still be resident when we moved in was perhaps my favourite!), BUT we did eventually find this place, and I love this house. I have my fingers crossed for you! :)
So what I'm getting reading this is that there's the same hassle/different version househunting everywhere in the world!

Argh! Good luck with it! :)
MsCaroline said…
Holly - ah, ah, ah - there *is* a system - we just don't understand it!!!!! ; )

Emma- Oh, I'm sure! A couple of my co-workers are repatriating this summer and they started the hunt before Christmas via word-of-mouth. They still haven't found anything! It's not quite that bad in Seoul, but it's still been a challenge to keep a positive attitude!

Michelle - You're absolutely right! The only difference is that at least in the US I understood the basic rules. I'm starting to get it, though...

Unknown said…
I'm floored - how do people even live like this?

It should be so easy - I have X money - show me what matches - here. for sweet God's sake -- TAKE MY MONEY!

You are such a better woman than I!!

MsCaroline said…
Traci- well, in their defense, we are being extremely narrow in our search, in a very small part of town (like, 8 streets or so) with specific space and budget requirements, so the pool of prospects is not very large. I get that. Tell me straight up either a) you don't know of anything but you'll look; or b) we've exhausted the possibilties. But I think the cultural issues at work end up causing a lot of the problem. I think that in their mind, showing me something - anything - that vaguely fits is better than having to say 'no.' I could handle 'no' better than getting my hopes up only to see something that is not even a possibility. This is definitely the part of the show where we learn that living in a different culture is far more than just learning a few cute phrases and how to eat with chopsticks. I still wouldn't trade it for the world, but I'll be happy when it's over and done with!
Trish said…
I was about to read your latest post but thought I had better digest the whole sorry tale so I can fully appreciate your pain.

Will now have a look at newer post and hope for something positive!?
MsCaroline said…
Trish, I'm surprised you have any time at all to read blog posts - I have been falling behind on reading many of mine, what with all this house-hunting. But yes - things are finally looking more hopeful!

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