It feels like yesterday I had my housewarming party, but it’s actually been 4 very happy years. Sadly, I am being evicted because my landlord’s grand children will be starting school nearby and so they will be moving back in. I really love where I am. For me it’s the perfect location, next to the Yu Gardens, a 10 minute walk to the Bund, to my office, to Xintiandi. So I am limiting my search for a new home to the same complex and ideally, the same block.
As I expected, the search for a new apartment has been a stressful experience. Some places are just unfit to live in, others are nice but overpriced. And some are unfit to live in AND overpriced. But yesterday, to add to the stress, I encountered a landlady who told the agent she will only rent to foreigners. When I asked the agent why, he said it’s because she feels foreigners cook less. But as there have only been a limited number of apartments available, I decided I had to investigate even if the landlady was a blatant racist.
I instructed the agent to explain my situation (technically a foreigner, but ethnically Chinese) so there wouldn’t be any awkwardness when we met. I’m not sure what he told her, but she didn’t seem too welcoming when I showed up with my Chinese face. I poked around a bit but didn’t stay long as it was clear she wasn’t very keen for me to rent her property.
The agent of course, wanted to close the deal, so he discussed with her as we were leaving. She kept saying she couldn’t make a decision because there were so many people viewing and she only rents to high quality tenants. Charming. Bloody charming. She even said Japanese or Koreans are better if she couldn’t find white skinned foreigners.
Anyway, the apartment is currently being occupied by 3 westerners and the place quite frankly, was a complete mess. So I am not really sure why she feels westerners are better tenants, but I told the agent that I wasn’t interested, even if he miraculously managed to convince her that I was worthy of living in her apartment. It wasn’t worth the hassle.
In the shadow of the George Zimmerman verdict, there has been a lot written about race. I quite enjoyed this piece by The Roots front man Questlove about what it’s like being a black man in a posh apartment building in New York City. I kind of know how he feels!