With my unpacking taken care of…
…it’s, unfortunately, almost time to start repacking again. The lease on my current flat is up at the end of the month, so it’s time to find somewhere new.
This is a real shame as it seems that they are finally starting to do something about the exterior of the building I’m currently in.
I didn’t really want to leave this flat though, as it’s in a great location and, if you’re not scared by the ramshackle entrance, it’s lovely inside.
My only problem with it was the bills. Bills, bills, bills – especially in winter. In Latvia, in the older apartment blocks (which most of them are), the heating is run by the state. It comes on (usually in November) when the temperature drops to an average of 8 degrees, three days in a row. And it doesn’t go off until the temperature rises again to an average of 8 degrees a day, usually in April.
As a result, you’re stuck paying for it for around 6 months a year, whether you want it or not. You can’t turn it up, down or off. You open a window if you get too hot (unlikely) and put on some extra layers if you get cold (far more likely). It works out at around 1 lat per square metre which meant that I was paying almost 70 lats (€99) a month.
It might not sound like much, but then you need to add on the cost of gas, water, electricity, management fees, security (!), waste charges, substation maintenance, yard keeper (!!), TV and internet – oh, and the actual rent. I developed a twitch in my eye when I opened the invoices, and I started thinking of my bank account as my landlady’s, since I basically transferred the entire contents of it to her every month.
As I, like most people, prefer my eyes twitch-free, I decided enough was enough. So now it’s time to start scouring the net and pounding the crumbly pavements. It’s possible to get a pretty nice flat, close to the centre of Riga for around 250 lats (€355) a month, and this is as high as I’m willing to go.
Today I went to view two apartments. The first one was actually really nice. It’s a little smaller than my current place but totally renovated and only a short walk from where I am now. It also has a boiler, which comes in handy when Riga decides to turn off the hot water for days or weeks on end. Amazingly, the heating is self-controlled, but the best part is that it has an oven, which is pretty rare. Even if I only use it to ‘cook’ pizzas, it’s still a nice thing to have.
Words failed me when it came to the second place. I mainly went to see it just to see if it was really as pink as it seemed in the photos.
It was. It was like somebody had let Barbie (or a Russian) decorate it. If I took it, I’d imagine it would be a bit like living in a giant, rundown wedding cake, with extremely dangerous wiring. And a dog barking incessantly next door.
My appointment was for 5 o’clock and I think I was out of there by 5.04. I sent the agent that had shown me the first flat an email saying that I would take it – on condition she provides me with a recent winter and summer bill, just so there are no nasty surprises down the road.
She hasn’t emailed me back yet, so I’m hoping I haven’t missed out by going to see that second flat, mainly for the giggles.
If I do get it though, I imagine there will be a lot of this happening to celebrate.
Wish me luck!