Well, that hasn't gone very well. After getting a cheap line from my 'friend,' I started searching on my own. The realtor was nice and showed me some smaller and cheaper places. I found a great little place, just big enough for me, but not the tiny places that are smaller than my freshman dorm in Carey Quad. It was a 5 minute walk from the beach, and close to two friends of mine. I was totally sold on it. I filled out the paperwork that day, and went home to relax and plan how I was going to move in.
Then Sunday happened. Why do all the bad real estate things happen on Sunday? I got a call from the realtor saying the owner didn't want to rent to me, that he was worried there might be a 'communication problem.' In other words, he thought I was going to be a bad gaijin. He probably didn't even think of what I could do, he'd just seen something on TV somewhere that somebody'd had a bad experience, and it's tainted him for life. The worst part about being in this situation in a country like Japan is that you never know if they really are worried, or if it's just a cheap line to avoid conflict. Like the guy who decided not to room with me, it's not big loss to them, but it is to me. I'd lost a month looking with my friend, and another week with this prejudiced owner. Everyone said I'd been looking too early. Well, now it was almost too late.
After that rejection, I was kind of soured with the agent. She really hadn't done much to help me out, maybe explain to the owner that I could actually converse in Japanese (not that it would've changed his mind), not to mention she was never prepared and seemed to know next to nothing about the places we saw.
I checked out another agency, which was much more helpful, even though they didn't speak a lick of English. The very kind and helpful agent showed me a decent place and I decided to take it, even though it was a bit old. Then I had more problems with emergency contacts and pseudo-guarantors. I've probably mentioned the guarantor deal before. In Japan it's required to have a guarantor, somebody who will vouch for you and become liable if you don't pay your rent. It's a pretty big deal here, but parents will almost always do it for their children. Unfortunately for foreigners, we can't do that, which makes it mor difficult. We either have to find a very kind person to guarantee us, or shell out a half month's fee for a guarantor company. I went this route last time, and it was rather troublesome. The owner could never direct withdraw from my bank account and, instead of trying to rectify the problem, just waited and then complained to the guarantor company that I wasn't paying. They, in turn, would call or send threatening letters. Nevermind the money was sitting there the whole time, waiting for somebody to do something. And because of my job and the stupidly short hours the bank keeps (and remember, the ATMs are only fully functional during banking hours; after that you can only withdraw and deposit until about 7pm), I was never able to do the bank transfers. Basically, it led to a 2-year headache that would regularly come up at rent time.
After not being able to find anyone to guarantee me, because my friends are all roughly my age, many of them female, I was ready to give up. A guarantor must meet certain requirements. They must make a certain amount of money, they must be at least a certain age, and they must be male. I think the last one is a lie, the guy who told me worked at an agency that I've since learned is very biased against foreigners. I know other friends who've had a woman guarantee them. So I decided to save my cash and find a temporary situation. This has led to some problems itself.
I'll move in with my friend Todd, but only for a couple of months. The best news out of all this is that I'll be back in the US from March 16th through the 30th. By not shelling out thousands to move, I can afford a plane ticket home to see my family and friends. The downside is that I'll have to move twice. I have a possibility of taking over someone's apartment if/when they leave in April, but it's not certain and even then, I don't know if it'll be fully furnished. So I've gotta find a place to stash my fridge, washer and aircon unit while I'm at Todd's, since there won't be enough room. Currently I should be packing/cleaning, but I'm taking a break after 2 full days of it. I'm amazed at how much junk I've accumulated. Unfortunately, I'll be coming home after I move to Todd's, which means I've gotta take all the stuff I plan to take home with me and organize it separately. Oh, the headaches it's causing. Not to mention I've got a very limited time frame to sort it all out. I never get home before 5pm, and on Wednesdays and Thursdays I work until 8pm, and it takes a good hour to get home. So packing and cleaning time is limited.
Not to mention I've gotta either find a moving company, or find a person to drive, then hire a truck. Plus find a temporary storage place for my large items. Yuck. Hopefully it'll sort itself out in the next couple of days.
But one way or another, see you all in March!