I love watching the show on HGTV called International Househunters. The format is a couple or family moving to a new international city are shown 3 options and they choose one. There are pros and cons to each option and some variance in price. Ultimately they have to select one. I couldn't help thinking about this as I looked for an apartment in Auckland.
First, I looked in the Central Business District (CBD), the center spine of which is Queen Street. Within the CBD are two Universities and about 20,000 students. The first apartment I looked at was about 600 square feet and at the very bottom of Queen Street. The ad said "only mildly noisy" as it was on the 7th floor. $250 a week plus water and electricity, plus a whole months rent in additional deposits and fee to realtor. It is centrally located, no doubt about it. Too centrally located. I want a more urban experience, but coming from 25 years in the suburbs with open lots around us, I could not see myself sleeping well here. Needed something less Times Square, more Chelsea.
Next I tried to look at a couple of places in Mt. Eden. This is a fun, hip neighborhood that is just 5 minutes up from the CBD. The Friends Centre is located there as well as a defunct volcano that makes for a great park. One bedroom apartments (glorified studios) were renting at $315-330 per week plus water and electricity. There were two apartments in the same complex offered by different realty agents. I finally got a hold of one on the phone and learned that it was highly competitive--he already had 4 applications. It was becoming clear that without a job I was not going to be a very attractive tenant. I may end up in Mt. Eden at some point, but I think it is more for 30-something professionals.
Finally, my friends encouraged me to look to the Eastern Suburbs of Orakei, Mission Bay, Kohimarama, and St. Heliers. They stretch along the Harbour in that order; all of them creeping up the hill to the Kepa Road. I walked by one place in Mission Bay at the top of the ridge that seemed promising on paper, but the street had a cold, transient feel. Sure enough I learned that it is actually colder in that part of town and somewhat geographically separated by the Kepa Rd and a reserve from the rest of the community.
Last Wednesday Jill and I walked along the Tamaki Road (along Waitemata Harbour) in Mission Bay and St. Heliers asking real estate agents if they had any rentals in my price range. No one seemed to have anything, and then I asked Arthur. He did not respond right away and fortunately I did not say anything but waited. He thought some more and still did not reply. Finally he said, I have a friend who might have a studio apartment available. Do you mind if I call him? One thing let to another, and this serendipitous encounter led to my new place.
This one is just right and I am moving in today. Victor and Jovita are about my age and they also feel like it is serendipity. They thought this apartment would be for their daughter and then their mother, but each time something else worked out. Now I will be the first person to live there. We have made a short term commitment to one another since we both have to see how it works out.
I will live just 3 blocks from the sea and 2 blocks from the library! The village of St. Heliers is charm itself. And it is just 15 minutes away from the CBD by bus. I will post pictures as soon as possible!