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March 29, 2006

Battling to rent somewhere

Didn't make a great deal of headway with the house hunting today but did find out some useful info. I went on another info-hunting walk and came across an estate agent I hadn't pestered yet. I popped in and asked if they dealt with long term rentals. As luck would have it, a friendly guy with a New Zealand accent greeted me saying, "Funnily enough we were just discussing that!".

It turned out that he had recently moved to Xania with his wife and daughter. He explained that they had experienced exactly the same trouble with house hunting - absolutely no information available and no estate agents wanting to get involved. This wasn't really good news, as I was hoping he could shed some light on the the whole renting situation. However, knowing that Martin and I weren't being complete idiots in not finding somewhere, made me feel slightly better.

This chap turned out to be a fountain of knowledge. Because he himself was new to Xania, he knew exactly the type of thing we'd be wondering about. He took me outside the shop to show me what the local 'to let' signs look like. "No wonder we haven't noticed any", I thought. They are small (30 cm long) yellow rectangular bits of paper, with one word printed on them - RENT. You idiots, I hear you say, but wait...it gets more complicated. RENT is obviously in Greek, and these bits of paper aren't outside a particular flat for rent, as you'd assume. These rent signs are stuck to street signs, lampposts, and walls, but this just means that there is a flat to rent somewhere in this block of housing. You have to phone a number to find out which place is for rent, and hope that someone on the other end of the phone speaks English. Uh, hum. So this wasn't going to be easy but at least it was something we could try.

New Zealand man also told me about a second hand shop. The organiser of the Crete International Community runs the shop (good to know) where they sell the second hand furniture that expats get rid of when they leave (also good to know). Aparantly there is a little notice board in the shop where all useful info re. lettings, jobs, activities are posted. Before I left he also told me about an estate agent in town that sometimes deals with rentals.

So, all in all a very useful chance meeting. It was terribly kind of him to spend the time helping us out - but I guess that's all we can rely on at the moment. Word of mouth, some local knowledge and a few helpful strangers.

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