Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Finding an apartment

I was a bit worried if I could find a place to stay where I could feel comfortable. The apartment standards here are different from Denmark. For example there are usually no regulators on the heating system because the heating is distributed equally to everybody. Many apartments are not very well isolated either and a thing like warm water directly from the tap should not be taken for granted. I usually feel cold very easily so that could be a problem. Another sort of luxury problem is that people here have a different sense of aesthetics. No matter how much you pay it may be impossible to find something appealing to a western taste.

Making all the necessary arrangements also was a bit stressing. For one, I was crashing at Jeppes place and I could not do that forever. Communicating with Ukrainian people who do not speak English very well also let to many misunderstandings and unsuccessful phone calls. I ended up writing a lot of mobile text messages instead, I think I must have written about 40 text messages with one of the agencies. I also made a lot of wrong turns until I understood some of the special banking rules concerning credit card limitations, all sorts of different fees and things like that.

The banking stuff would have been a lot easier though if the apartment people did not insist on being paid in Dollars and in cash. Dealing with these people was actually the most stressing part. It did not feel comfortable giving them 1500$ in hand, because I thought they were running a quite untrustworthy business. For one, the reason they want to be paid in cash is that they do not pay taxes. But that is the norm in Ukraine I was told. Though, it is not the norm in Ukraine to demand a deposit, which they did. Another thing was that I would never meet the administrator I was communication with, only some of her people who came to me in the street. I was told it was not possible to meet her and I couldn't find an address an the website either. It also felt a bit strange sometimes when they were showing me an apartment and some people would come home, maybe people who lived there. I was told that one guy was there to fix the bell, but clearly he was not.

I wonder how it works when foreigners like me rent an apartment in Ukraine. The people I was dealing with were not from an agency owning a lot of apartments, but actually from an association of a lot of apartment owners. So I would be paying the rent to one owner of an apartment with some percentages going to the association. I would pay around 1000 to 1500 Dollars which is actually an insane amount of money in Ukraine. I take it that when I rent an apartment from someone I actually drive them out of their homes. But for them it is such good business that they are willing to move away for me. It makes me feel kind of strange that they will feel lucky when I do that to them.

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