What brought me here today?
When we moved to Finland, I was entering as a university student. We lived in student housing. Our very first apartment came furnished. It wasn’t extravagant or even mildly fancy. We had a place to eat. A place to sleep. Desks to work at with chairs to sit in. We spent only one year in the furnished housing. When we moved to our last apartment, we spent about a week without furniture while we waited for the Ikea order to arrive.
This time around, we’re spending a little longer without furniture. We do have an air mattress loaned to us by a friend. And the previous tenant left her couch and kitchen table. Other than that, we’ve been working without desks, chairs, lamps, etc. Presently, I’m working at a desk made of four plastic bulk candy containers from Prisma with my computer on top. I’m sitting on the floor with a folded blanket beneath my rear-end, with a cushion from the couch against the wall.
This isn’t ideal, but I know it’s not forever.
It feels strange to say that this apartment is ‘new’. It’s actually the second floor of a house built in the 1880’s. The interiors remind me of the first apartment I had when I was going to art school in the early 90’s. I lived in an old Victorian that had been cut into four apartments, and had previously been used as a Montessori school.
Our new digs are bigger than our last apartment in Finland, and they are a lot more funky and unique. The living room and hallway are carpeted, as is my small studio, There are hardwood floors in the bedroom, and linoleum in the bathroom and kitchen. We really didn’t have a separate kitchen in our old apartment. My husband is happy to have a more separate space for cooking.
There are also two window mounted air conditioners. One in the bedroom and one in the living room. I don’t know that I have lived in an apartment that had air conditioning of any kind, ever in my life. In the southwest, I always had a swamp cooler, which usually did little in the way of cooling my apartment. We’ve had some super hot days here, and the air conditioners have been used. My husband and I both prefer to have windows open for cross breeze though.
One of the reasons we chose Wilmington was because of it’s smaller size as a city. There are several different neighborhoods in the city, each with a distinct vibe to them. We both like that where we’re living is mixed with home owners, renters and apartments. It all just looks like a cohesive neighborhood though. We hear kids playing, people walking around. There are lots of porches and small front gardens where people sit and work too.
Jyväskylä is a very ethnically and culturally diverse city. That’s due in part to the international students studying at the university. After living in Jyväskylä for seven years, we wanted to live in a place that was as diverse as possible. Wilmington so far is a nice fit for where we want to be right now. The people here are friendly and welcoming. What more could I ask for?
Finding a place to live:
I mentioned it in my last blog post that our new landlord is a Finn, didn’t I? It sounds so strange to have moved from Finland to the US and have a Finnish landlord. I honestly thought in the beginning that maybe we were getting played, but then I heard our new landlord speak. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
After more than a month of fruitless apartment searches, we were starting to get concerned that we were having little luck in finding a new apartment in the US. We had been looking for quite some time, and all of our inquiries were met with total silence, or a form letter that asked us to “drop by for a tour“. Other times, they asked for a chunk of money just to submit an application. With no guarantee that we would even get an apartment.
My husband stayed up late one evening looking at apartment listings and came across the apartment we have just moved into. He sent the landlord a short message inquiring about the apartment, and was quickly answered by a man who said he didn’t usually answer out of country messages. But he had to answer this one, because it was coming from his home country, Finland.
Honestly, everything happened so quickly. We had signed our lease within a week of that initial email. Our new landlord understood our difficulties in finding a new place to live in another country. He did want a friend of ours to come and meet him and tour the apartment first. We were so fortunate that a friend of ours could do this on the way home from work!
Once our friend gave us a thumbs-up, and several short videos showing the apartment, we were positive that we wanted this apartment. Our new landlord worked with us through email and phone to sign all the paperwork and finalize the deposits, first and last months rent, etc. The new landlords understanding of how Finnish banking works helped out so much too.
So, now what?
We’re quite content in our new apartment. I must admit, it will be nicer once we have some real furniture! Finland taught me many important lessons. One of the most useful to me is that nothing is necessarily forever. Things are always changing around you. Adapting to that change makes the transitions easier to work through. Yeah. I’m sitting on the floor typing this on an old MacBook Pro, but in the coming weeks, I will have a new desk, chair and computer to work on.
I just need to roll with it for now.
Thank you for reading, and I’ll see you again next Friday.