Hunting a flat in a new town can be both frustrating and exciting. Arriving to Bucharest on a warm summer day, I entered my shared dorm room near the university. I don’t mind sharing my space, but I do get the itch to have my own space every once in a while. Some friends told me flats are cheap to rent in Bucharest, all you needed to have was a good broker.
And so, the adventure of flat hunting in Bucharest begins.
(Spoiler: I never got a flat in the end and stayed at my dorm room, but I think these stories are too funny to be kept for myself.)
I pissed off a flat owner
Yes. I did piss off a flat owner. I found a broker who found me a flat in the centre of town, not too far from the university. The location was perfect. I just needed to see the flat and seal the deal. I couldn’t believe I already got a flat after the first appointment!
The broker called me endlessly while I was still in class. I rushed after the class, took the metro, got of the wrong stop, got on the metro again, took the wrong exit (LIKE SERIOUSLY?!) and I was happy that I was only 20 minutes late. I finally met my broker, a lady in her mid 40s who looked elegant in her suit, she greeted me and said the worst thing a flat hunter could possibly hear “The owner is very angry that we are late…I’ll try calling him..”.
Minutes later as I gave her a look of despair and hopelessness, “No, he is very angry, he doesn’t want to see you”.
Yikes. Oops. There goes my cute flat in the centre of the city.
The Romanian guy who spoke little English, little German, little Italian…
So my hardworking broker got me another deal. The place was a little bit far from the centre, “but that’s ok, it’s near the metro station” she convinced me. She told me she was out of town, or her daughter came, or whatever the reason was (I think she was secretly still pissed at me for pissing the last owner off) so I was told to directly meet the owner.
I took two of my friends, one will share the flat with me. We took the metro, waited outside for a while and no one came. After a few minutes a guy in an old car came. He asked my name (it was easy to spot us, “find the three foreigners standing in front of the metro station looking lost”).
We shook hands, introduced ourselves, though he only responded with an unconvinced nod then he took the three of us into his car. It was probably not a good idea to trust a stranger and get into his car, but I needed a flat!
In the car he spoke Romanian, which none of us understood. I asked “English?”, he said only a little. “French?”, he shook his head. “Spanish?”, he shook his head. “Italian? German?”, he paused and made a sign with his fingers showing he knew a little. Then he started speaking in an amazing hybrid of languages, mixing German, English and Italian. It was TOO funny because no one understood him, not even sure if he understood himself as he started to laugh too.
We looked at his flat. Between the languages he tried to speak, what I think I got was the guy was recently divorced and he will live on the first floor, while I get the second floor. It was not the perfect arrangement, the flat itself was also not great. I decided to say no.
Still in his hybrid language he tried convincing me, then he gave up, called my broker in Romanian. He soon gave the phone to me, my broker spoke in English translating him, then I spoke in English giving my side of the argument, then the phone was given to the owner so my broker could translate in Romanian – it was like this for at least 30 minutes!
At the end he understood that I didn’t want his flat. Still, he smiled and took us back to the metro station. He was really a nice guy and waved at us while he drove away. It was a very adventurous day!
During the week, my initial broker told me I was now a client of her friend as she had some things to do. Her broker friend was actually a very cute Romanian guy – who was a student of the same university as me, who was also living in the same dorm area as me! Hah! Apparently the broker job was his summer job (as he told me while walking from the metro station to our dorm, wink wink). At the end he couldn’t find me a deal, so a (guy) friend recommended me a “very nice” broker. He means, she’s cute and pretty and sexy.
The lost broker
Seriously, if you’re a broker and showing a client a house, the least you can do is to know the location of the place. This time around I took my friends, both guys, one was the one who recommended me this very nice broker.
We met, I was not surprised my friend called her “very nice” – she was petite, pretty with a nice smile. She said she has the perfect flat in the perfect neighbourhood. We met at a metro station and took the taxi. In the taxi, she was not sure where she was going so she asked the driver in Romanian. We went round and round, and finally found the neighbourhood she wanted. “It’s very near here” she said as we walked between the bushes of someone’s front garden (I’m sure we were trespassing unintentionally).
30 minutes later, we still couldn’t find the flat.
45 minutes later, she asked my friend if he had Google Maps on his phone.
An hour later she said, “Why don’t we take a break and have a beer”.
SERIOUSLY? (My friends nodded enthusiastically while I gave them the “we-are-not-drinking-beer-with-this-pretty-broker-before-I-get-my-damn-flat” face).
Some minutes later (I lost count), I was tired and hungry and was not in the mood to find a flat anymore. She FINALLY found the flat. It was cozy and cute. I loved it. I said yes and will pay tomorrow.
Tomorrow came, my broker called me and said the owner increased the price of the flat by 50%.
Finding a flat in Bucharest was a definite challenge for me. My friend, on the other hand, seemed to found his flat in a matter of second. Bad luck? I guess I was just meant to stay at the extraordinary dorm in my university complex (which I guess was not super bad). I love these stories and always find myself smiling when I think back at them.
Have you ever had a funny/annoying story on flat hunting, especially in Bucharest? Share them with me!