09 April 2014

We Move in Tomorrow

Yesterday we took a trip up to Ballinrobe, about 29 miles north of Galway, where we had an appointment with a letting agent. It was quite a process just getting the appointment. We'd been clicking around for a couple of months on Daft.ie, a website dedicated to real estate listings--both rentals and places to buy. We would look at a place on the site and then have to try and figure out where it was and whether there was bus service there. It was a fun thing to do while we were still in Maine, but it did get a little old after a while and the listings and places all started jumbling up in our heads. We did try to contact a couple of people through the site while we were in Maine, but didn't get a reply.

When we got here, we started to narrow things down a bit. Bill emailed a letting agent about a house on Friday night and called Saturday morning, but again got no reply. We narrowed our focus to a small area in and around Ballinrobe and discovered that the same letting agent had almost all of the listings we were interested in. So on Monday, I called her and left a voice mail--a long one--saying who I was and telling her that we were just arrived and looking to rent something quickly. I said that most of the places we were interested in were her listings and we were quite confident that one of them would prove quite satisfactory, so we would like to set up a time to come and view some of them. Then I got cut off, so I had to call back and leave the phone number and my email address, which I spelled out. I knew the message would be too long, but I'd been told that things might be a little more laid back than I am used to and it might take a while for her to return my call. Since I was hoping for a faster reply than that, I tried to provide some incentive for her to call sooner rather than later--and she called back an hour later.

We were in Galway at the time and had no idea about the bus schedule, so when she called back, Bill said we'd have to call back to set up a time after we knew what time we would be able to get there. We turned around and walked back to the tourist info centre, got the info we needed, and left another voice mail--turns out that every time you call, you go to voice mail. She must've called back after that, but Bill didn't feel the phone vibrating, so it was a missed call. When we got back to the BnB that afternoon, Bill called and left another voice mail. She called back and while they were talking, she suddenly entered a "no coverage" zone and the call was dropped. He called back. Then he found her email address and I sent an email--the address wasn't that easy to find, so I figured she probably didn't use it much, but just in case...

Finally she called back and we set up an appointment for 2:45 on Tuesday.

We caught the bus on Tuesday morning from Oranmore to Galway and then from Galway to Ballinrobe. We arrived at 1 and walked around town. We'd planned to look at a duplex and an apartment on the same street. There were other places we'd saved as possibilities, but time was short since our bus back was at 3:45, and those were our top two. In our wandering around town we found the duplex, but had no pictures of the front of the apartment to go by, so we didn't know where that was. Both are in a good location--near Main St, but not on it, 2 grocery stores (Super Valu and Tesco) within walking distance--the former just down the street, a fruit and veg market, the library, and the post office on Main Street, and a Polish market down the street. There's a large Polish population here. We also went by a couple of charity shops. So we will be able to get what we need on foot :-) Both the apartment and duplex are furnished, so we knew it wouldn't be necessary to figure out how to get heavy furniture or appliances there.

Anyway, by the time she got to her office and we were on our way it was 3 and I was feeling the time crunch. It was all very rushed, but both places are small, so there wasn't much to see. The duplex was nice, but it seemed like it was more space than we needed. Plus there were some drawbacks. There is a small yard with that, so there would be yard care and neither of us are into that--cutting grass and trimming hedges aren't our cups of tea! Inside, when you walk in, there is an odd little room, which is very narrow. There's an electric heater on the wall and a couple of feet from that is a loveseat. That's it--the loveseat and the heater. That is a room we would never use. The kitchen is tiny--so tiny, in fact that there is no room for the refrigerator, which sits in this odd storage room that leads outside. The dryer is there, too, and a lot of cabinets for storage. I wouldn't use the dryer or need the storage--what do I have left to store? I thought that having to go out into that room to get something from the fridge while I was cooking would be a real hassle. It was also pretty chilly out there, so every time I opened the door between the kitchen and that room, I'd be letting heat out. The bedrooms upstairs were fine, but small. The heat is oil and there is a "solid fuel stove" in the sitting room. Another thing I would not use. Fumes from burning stuff usually do not agree with me.

Then  it was on to the apartment. The kitchen and bedrooms were bigger and nicer, as was the bedroom furniture. The fridge is in the kitchen. Everything is nicely laid out, with no space that will just be sitting there unused (the extra bedroom won't get much regular use, probably, but it will get some). There's no grass to cut. I think it will be more energy efficient. There's a nice deck outside and a clothesline. And it's 10 euro a week cheaper. We chose the apartment. It was 3:15.

We rushed back to the office and did the application. She said she could see no problems and asked if we could leave a deposit. We did. She said she'd get approval from the owner and get back to us and that she'd try to set it up so we could move in today. The bookkeeper said, "Welcome to Ballinrobe. I'll be seeing you around town!" We left to go stand at the bus stop across the street. It was 3:30.

Last night came and went. This morning came and went. Most of this afternoon came and went. The phone did not ring. We were getting annoyed and a bit stressed because our time at the BnB is up tomorrow and we needed to know whether we should try to extend our stay. We'd also worked out transportation options to Ballinrobe in the morning, since the luggage makes the bus an impossibility. From what we'd been told, it seemed unlikely that the owner would refuse to rent to us, though you never know. It seemed likely that she'd forgotten to let us know, so at 4, I called and left a voice mail. she called back a few minutes later and apologized for not calling sooner. Approval had been given and we are off to Ballinrobe in the morning to sign some papers and get the key. Yay!

Since we're so unfamiliar with the country, we decided that we would find a place to settle and use as a home base from which to explore. We can move to a completely different area if we decide to do that later. Because of this, our search criteria were few--we had to be able to walk for necessities--like groceries, there had to be a bus service, and we didn't want more than 2 bedrooms. This all works out.

In addition to the Bus Eireann service that we used yesterday, there's the fabulously named Burke's Bus that leaves Ballinrobe every weekday at 7:20 for Galway and returns at 5:30. On Saturdays it leaves at 9:30, I think. So we have choices. Burke's is cheaper than Bus Eireann and the times are better. It seems like a great choice for commuters.

So there's another chapter ending and a new one starting. We've been in a liminal state for a while now, either in the process of leaving, traveling, or being at the BnB. Now we transition into a beginning. it'll be interesting to see how it all unfolds!

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