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October 11, 2010 | by  | in Opinion |
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The rules of engagement

It’s getting closer. The time of year when all go a bit crazy. When it’s survival of the fittest, when every other human represents a potential threat to your territory, when your search for the ideal runs like something like a really bad rom-com. Flat hunting: it’s worse than a job interview.

The Art of Flat Hunting

Some people are going away for the summer. Some aren’t man enough to compete for space in their flat with mould. Others, like me, can’t afford their rent without the aid of the magical Studylink tooth fairy. Regardless of the reason, October marks the progression into an all-out frenzy when students and tourists battle it out for the best pads in town.

The problem with visiting the mysterious house of a stranger you’ve never met in order to investigate their bedroom and the water pressure of their shower (aside from the obvious), is that it always goes something along the lines of an awkward first date.

1. The greeting

You arrive at the house, palms a little sweaty from the prospect of the unknown. They greet you at the door: do you linger outside, waiting to be invited in? You don’t want to be pushy. Do you shake hands, or go for the awkward side-hug? You have to judge quickly; doing nothing just makes you look aloof and might ruin their opinion of you. And you so, so want to make a good impression.

2. The speed-date

This is the worst kind of dating, and of flat hunting. You know that your time is limited—a line of people start to form behind you, waiting impatiently to get in. Your prospective flattie/date-ee might even go for the double date, showing more than one of you around at the moment while you try to give off the appearance of having the most enthusiasm without coming off a little too ADHD.

3. The banal conversation

What do you do once you’ve smile-and-nodded your way around the house? What is there to say? You don’t want to leave straight away, and so you stay to make chit-chat. And usually end up telling them your condensed life story that justifies the moment when you knew, you just knew, this was the flat that you wanted to spend your life with.

4. The lies

People need to know the truth. It isn’t nearly so sellable. “It gets all-day sun, no, no it’s not damp at all,” you say of your Aro Valley flat. “And it’s like, five minutes to uni!” Yeah. If you can fly there on your magical liopleurodon. But they believe you; you can see the hope shining out of their eyes.Flat hunting is a bit like musical chairs combined with that story about the Three Billy Goats Gruff. It’s fun at first. “Look,” you exclaim, “at the prettiness over THERE!” And so you dance over in the direction of “there”in your clompy little goat shoes, filled with hope and the expectations of new love and fulfilment… And then you get eaten by a troll. Or someone steals your kidney.

Flat-hunting: Just Say No.

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