Finding the right home is always an ordeal.We have been known to look at houses for 13 months straight before finding one that suits our needs. (Yes, our faces pop-up on realtors' screens with a big red "X" so that everyone knows not to accept us as clients.)
Now that we are able to decipher the rental-speak in Rome, we must naviagte the cultural waters of practices that would almost seem...a bit shady in other countries...like the United States.
For instance, many owners insist on having the apartment do double-duty as both a storage unit for their own things as well as a place to rent. You will not receieve a discount for the fact that you are living in someone's storage unit. And in fact, you may pay more as they consider they are doing you a favor by allowing you to live amongst the items they do not wish to have in their own home. And, no, this is not the same as renting a furnished apartment. This is the same as renting a storage unit that has a bathroom and wi-fi.
Another interesting but little known practice is that renting is not the usual first-come, first-serve, suitable applicant basis. Standard background checks, references, proven steady income, first and last months rent, none of this is taken into consideration. This is not because the landlord suspects someone is not really a suitable renter and that at the end of the lease the apartment will be in shambles. It is because these things do not matter. What does matter is whether or not the owner's dog likes you. This will decide whether or not the owner likes you, determining if you may ask to rent the apartment.
And then comes the bidding. On the rent. Of the apartment. You are not buying it. You are not making an offer on a house which may or may not be counter-offered. You are presented with the monthly rental fee, and then you haggle to get the price down. If you do not do this because you feel the current rental price is more than fair, you will not get the apartment. Because obviously there is something wrong with you if you aren't willing to bargain.
As always, Mike's natural charm has served us well(see Getting the Visas) and we have secured a lovely place (light fixtures! stove! bed-size bedrooms!) in a beautiful area. The owner's dog found Mike delightful, as did the owner, who addressed Mike as "Carino" and he was chosen over the other potential renters. Who presumably were not carino and did not know how to dog whisper. Or fill their pockets with Milk Bones.