Renting an apartment may be quite expensive, especially if you’re moving to a big city like Los Angeles, California. I come from a small town in southern California called Escondido, and I decided to taste a little LA action so I took off to study at UCLA.
I first came to my aunt’s house in the San Fernando Valley, but after a few weeks she began to get a little edgy and started to ask when I would find a place of my own. My studying expenses were pretty high and freshman year was hard on my schedule, so finding an apartment was an extra task for which I had little or no time.
As I walked trough the campus I found not few but many ads by people searching for roommates to share apartments with. I figured, why not. The first girl I met was an Asian sophomore who hated rugs. She said she was allergic to dust and rugs were nothing but dust factories that would make her sneeze till she bled. I didn’t see a problem with not having a rug so we signed a 1-year lease on a two-bedroom apartment in Venice. Big mistake! She began to annoy me when she decided we couldn’t go in the apartment with our shoes on, but I thought what the heck she’s Asian, its her culture. But by the sixth time I woke up at 11:00 pm to the loud sound of the vacuum cleaner, I decided we had to have the cleaning fetish talk. She was very condescending about the vacuuming hours and never vacuumed again after 6:00 pm. I consider myself quite tidy, but this girl went overboard. After the vacuum incident, she got the idea that it would be good for us to set some kind of cleaning schedule. We would take turns doing the dishes, cleaning the bathroom, wiping the windows, etc. The first couple of months were ok, but then she began to criticize all my cleaning habits, the bathroom was always done wrong, she cleaned the kitchen right after me and my allowance was mostly spent on Windex and Clorox. I decided it was her time to move out, the only problem was telling her.
We got in a big fight about kitchenware and furniture, but I was so anxious for her to move that I let her have a lot of the stuff we had bought together. Packing was a real hassle. She was very picky about letting strangers go over her stuff, so we had to do her packing. Of course I helped because she was taking so long. After the self-packing experience I decided when I moved I would hire a full service moving company. I guess they know how to pack things better, since I ended up breaking a few porcelains and dishes. I don’t really care about movers going trough my things as long as they don’t keep anything, but it sure is a lot better if they do the packing. They have the experience and knowledge in handling stuff better than me, it’s their job to know.
Choosing a moving company was also a big deal. She wanted to speak personally to the manager, and not many moving companies are willing to let customers into their office. I have no idea why, since they come into your house and you trust them with your belongings. I think the offices are located at the storage facilities and warehouses and letting people in might be dangerous for them in case anything gets lost, or maybe they’re just messy. Who knows? When she finally moved out she paid about twice as much as the initial quote from the moving company. I thought it was a scam and if it had been me, I wouldn’t have paid them, but I really wanted her out so I encouraged her to pay.
We never spoke that much again after she moved out. But I don’t really miss her that much either.
I posted an add for a while at the university campus and not long after that, people began to call my cell phone looking for the advertised room. Whenever I had space between classes I would go and meet with all sorts of characters. I interviewed about a hundred people before I decided it would be best if I picked a stereotype and just went for that. My friend told me guys are better roommates because they make less fuzz about details. So I thought I would go for the American, male, clean student. I met with a few but I was always going back to my ex-roommate and thinking she gave me the ability to be extra picky about neatness so it was pretty hard for me when all the people I met were hairy and most of them looked like shower was a luxury they couldn’t afford. Most of the people at the university don’t shower not because they’re dirty, but because studying gives you little time for anything else.
I finally went with the guy with short hair and khakis who studied some engineering major. He didn’t have that much stuff to move and that was a good thing because I didn’t want to get into the whole packing and moving deal again. He had a truck and it was a smooth easy self-move. His friends helped and two days later we were sharing breakfast. My mother wasn’t too happy about me living with a man I barely knew, but I was ok, I felt I had someone to take care of me, even if we weren’t in a real relationship. As a man, he liked beer and football, but specially girls. In the beginning I didn’t care if he invited his pals over for games. But hey, I like beer too, especially the one I buy. He would offer my beer to his friends and when they were gone, he wouldn’t even pick up the cans. I decided I wouldn’t buy any more beer and after the super bowl the apartment was pretty quiet for a while.
One night, when I was coming home from ladies night out in the city, I came home a little late and what I saw would have made me really angry if I hadn’t been so drunk. There he was on my couch with a skanky girl that looked like he took her out of a strip club, in her underwear dancing on my coffee table. That night I went to my room puked and went to sleep. The next day I woke up with one of the worst hangovers I’ve ever had and didn’t even remember the couch incident until I went in the kitchen and saw this girl going through my fridge and asking me for skimmed milk. Wow! I couldn’t believe her nerve. Out came Mike from the bathroom and started talking to me as if nothing was happening. I went back to my room and got really pissed by myself. I didn’t want to make a jealousy scene, although I wasn’t really jealous, just mad. As soon as she left I told Mike we had to set some boundaries and girls over would have to stay in his room, not all over my coffee table. I cleaned the table and dusted the furniture like my old roommate had taught me and went to school.
When I came back I found movers in my house. They were packing everything!!! My couch, my table, my fridge, everything was going in the truck. I freaked out and began to scream at them, but they showed me the moving order and my stupid roommate had hired full packing and moving service of my entire apartment. I tried to convince them it was a mistake and told them they would be stealing from me, but they just shrugged their shoulders and said to me, “take it with our boss”. I called the moving company and got in a big fight with the manager before he gave me the only solution possible: pay for unpacking. In the meanwhile, these guys were sitting outside my house on my couch, laughing and having their coffee break in a mixture between Arab and Spanish language that I think they didn’t even understand. This pissed me off even more. I couldn’t understand if they were laughing at me or what.
I put the foreman on the phone with the manager and they spoke in Spanish for a while. After he hung up he asked me for a thousand dollars. I told him I didn’t have that kind of money cash and that I would write him a check, but he sat on the lawn and said he would wait for me to go to the ATM and take out the cash. No check, he said. I figured if I left the house, they would finish up packing my stuff and by the time I was back I’d be furnitureless. I asked him to please come with me to the bank but he refused. I called my friend and told her to meet me at the apartment, she had class but I explained the situation to her and she skipped class for me. 40 minutes later my friend was home. I told her to stay there and keep the guys away from the door while I came back from the ATM, which was fortunately about 8 blocks away. I took 1200 dollars from my account and felt I was being drained unfairly from my long saved money, but I went home thinking, it would all be over soon.
When I came back, the foreman said it had been 3 hours since the incident and I had to pay those extra hours too. He said he had missed another move in Long Beach and I had to pay for his time. That really annoyed me. So I told him if he didn’t put my things back immediately I would call the police. We got in a heated discussion for a while and he was so undisturbed with the idea that I began to dial the phone. He took the phone from my hands and told his crew to unpack the truck. I guess he was scared inside, but seemed really calm in the outside. The only one that barely spoke English was the foreman, and I believe he cursed at me in Spanish as they left.
I gave them a thousand dollars just to put my stuff back in the apartment, and they didn’t even bother to unpack. Now I had all my things in bubble wrapper and carton boxes. But Mike was the sole responsible one for this mess. Although I was pretty furious about all the fighting with the moving company, I knew deep inside they weren’t responsible for anything. In the end who knows how many weird people they move every day, how many boxes they pack and unpack everyday, how much a fridge or a washing machine weighs in and out of a moving truck everyday. I wasn’t really angry at them I was angry at Mike and I was angry at myself for believing guys were simpler roommates than girls.
I decided to try and live by myself for a while; I was sick and tired of roommates. But rent was high and living is expensive, especially for a student, I cut down on everything from toilet paper quality to peanut butter. I began to steal the ketchup and mustard sachets and napkins from fast-food places where I barely went in except when my friends invited me. After my friend saw me taking the soap from the ladies room at a restaurant I felt really miserable and ashamed so I told her I was having a hard time keeping up with rent by myself. She told me to give it one more try, she encouraged me to place an add on Craig’s list and assured me that 2 out of 3 was more than enough. She said a third roommate would be a good one and that it was statistically impossible for me to go wrong again.
So once again, I did. I went through interviews again and again. I asked for references and called parents, but I thought inside myself, “parents know nothing, they believe their sons and daughters are all wonderfully perfect. Asking parents isn’t really an objective option.”
I was about to give up when I got a call from my cousin in Caliente Nevada, asking me if I had a room available. She said she would be studying at West Los Angeles College and needed a place to stay. I hadn’t seen he in a while, probably since we were 10, but I figured family is better than nothing. Since she was moving from Nevada, she hired a local moving company from the area. It was a 2-man crew. They were permanently calling her and me about the status of the move. They wanted to know about elevator access, stairs, address, truck access, everything. They asked me when I would be home so they wouldn’t interfere with my business. I thought they were pretty careful about all the details. Not like the other guys, which left all my things lying around for me to put back in place. They got home at about 5:00 pm and began to unload everything, asking where it should go, if it was ok for them to unload here or there. They even helped unpacking the dishes and clothes. Since my cousin wasn’t there yet, I told them it would be a while for her to arrive, but they didn’t seem to mind. They sat out in the truck until I felt bad and invited them in. We spoke about moving companies and my experience with roommates. They laughed at me and recommended me to read the contracts before signing any binding estimates. They also recommended I go to moving portals online and read the articles on moving tips and personalized moves. They said it was also a good idea to background checks on moving companies and ask for references from friends before choosing a moving company. I guess the moving business is a very competitive one and that’s why customers have so many tools in order to make the right decision. I was very happy about their service and promised them I would recommend them to everybody. My cousin found them online through www.123moving.com and we were both very grateful with their service.
My cousin forgot to tell me she had a dog. At first I thought it would be a real problem since dogs are noisy and hairy and messy. But I kind of fell in love with the mutt and he’s fairly clean. I take him out everyday and although I hate to pick up after him, I think he gives me a few minutes to think about the importance of patience and tolerance when you live with a roommate. I’ll be finishing my studies soon and who knows, maybe I’ll get a job out of town and will have to move again. Anyhow, now I know about all my possibilities and I won’t have to think twice before taking my time in choosing a moving company that can offer me the real deal without going through all the trouble I went through before. My best advice now to anyone who reads this article is read a lot, ask a lot and remember cheap is sometimes more expensive, so get the best, its your stuff on the line when you move, when you pick a roommate and when you decide to share a place.