As I wrote the third instalment of my J1 diary, I was sitting in a laundry room in an apartment block in Queens. I had just been doused in alcohol and everything I owned was being washed at the highest heat possible.
The moral of this sorry tale is to always pay attention to where you’ve paid to live, no matter how long or short your stay.
Finding accommodation in New York has been my downfall from the get-go. My companion and I were lucky to be able to stay in my dad’s friend’s house for the first week.
There is no shame in accepting the generosity of friends if it means getting yourself set up. However, after a while we started to feel awkward, as if we were over-staying our welcome.
On top of that we had a 90-minute commute in and out of the city, plus a $30 return ticket to go with it. We needed to find our own place.
We thought that we had landed on our feet, when another friend said that she had found us a place to stay in a nice area in the Bronx. The only catch was that we couldn’t move in until July 1.
The two of us had to find a place to stay for 10 days. Here is where I suggest that, once again, you should sort these kinds of things out before you arrive in the States.
Realistically, you would hope to find a clean living space, in a nice area, not too far from transport into the city that you’re not afraid to come home to at night and that’s relatively cheap.
We ended up in a place that could be described as the complete opposite to all of those things.
A friend recommended that I use a website, similar to Craigslist, to find temporary accommodation. Airbnb.com lets you scroll down the options, using your price range to help you.
The problem is the reviews on these websites lie. We got in contact with the woman who was renting the room and she did everything she could to help us.
When we arrived at the house, we found the situation a bit odd, as everyone in the living room was enjoying some – let’s just call it – “oregano”. However, the room was big and it was our own place, so we didn’t care.
Over the next three days, we had to deal with an array of different disasters: fans falling from the ceiling, sleeping in over-bearing heat, cats trying to get into our room, a nice waft of that oregano and a 20-minute walk to the subway through a questionable area.
But that was all manageable, until we got to the infestation issue. I met my roommate on Sunday evening to her sticking her leg in my face. Freckled with small little red bumps, she explained that a pharmacist had told her that she had bed bugs.
All of sudden we were faced with the rather impossible task of finding a place to live within a couple of hours.
We got lucky again, as a friend of my uncle was able to put us up for a while, on the condition that we completely decontaminate ourselves.
We managed to get some of our money back from the bug lady (who was in denial of course), but our search for a new place continues.
It’s fair to say that when searching for a place to stay in New York, there’s always some risk involved. However, I urge you to be smarter than we were and just check the place out before moving in.