The Quest for an Apartment


Pine Hills Apartment - August 2008

Hey, August is here! 

In one wet summer exactly two years ago we moved to this apartment, located in Pine Hills area in Albany NY. It’s not the best apartment but we really enjoy staying here. The size is perfect for the two of us and the location is also very convenient. It’s just around 20 minutes to my office in downtown, and it takes about the same time for my hubby to go to his uptown campus. The neighborhood is nice too… there are two parks and public libraries within walking distance. There’s also a supermarket, restaurants, an old cinema, a bar and a café just in a block away!

I’m happy that we found this apartment. Finding an apartment in America can be tough especially if you’re an international student. You don’t plan to stay for long so buying a car seems to be out of the option. That already puts a big constraint to the location of the apartments that you can choose from. It has to be close enough to the bus line, to the supermarket, the laundry, your campus, etc. Not to mention the budget constraint. This means that the apartment has to be in a good location and also in a price range that you can afford to pay. That doesn’t leave you with a lot of options, really.

We spent months trying to find this apartment. We browsed Craiglists every day, went looking for the “For Rent” signs in the areas that we consider to be reasonable for us, calling landlords, leaving our number in tons of stranger’s voicemail, setting up appointments for viewing, and so on. Once we find one or two that we like, we have to apply for them and pray hard that they’re going to stay available in the market until the time that we have to move. The entire process was time consuming and tricky especially considering all of the constraints that we have. So you can see how grateful I am that we actually like it here, that way we don’t have to go through the process of finding an apartment all over again.

This was only our second experience finding an apartment overseas. Our first apartment-hunting experience was when we were in the Netherlands. Our campus has provided a nice housing arrangement, but of course being a student you want to save every bit of Euros that you have 🙂 Some of our friends have moved out of campus housing and live in cheaper apartments, although of course the location was not as good. So one day we decided to call and set up an appointment to view an apartment in Waalstraat, near Den Haag Centraal. The apartment was nice and the size was also good for us. The only catch was that the apartment has no fridge at that time, and the landlord didn’t seem to plan on buying one soon. That was a big turn-off.

From my Gondelstraat apartment window. Can you see the rainbow?

In the end we decided not to move, and I’m happy we didn’t. Our place in Gondelstraat was really nice…  with the Scheveningen beach just minutes away, a swimming pool nearby, a beautiful Rosarium park, and also all the stores in Keizerstraat, it’s hard not to love it! Had we moved to another location, my memories about Holland might not be as pleasant. My life experience as an international student might not be as wonderful.

I’m glad we didn’t trade that awesome experience of living in Gondelstraat with more Euros 🙂


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