“So I called up one of the landlords… she didn’t even speak English!” I said.
“Oh man… that’s not good,” replied the buyer.
I had just finished my lunchbreak at work, where I called four different apartment listings in the Denver area. I was scraping the bottom of the real estate barrel, trying to keep the monthly rent under $500 per month. It wasn’t yielding good results.
I got a cold, sick feeling in my stomach as I admitted to some of the landlords that I had terrible credit
It was closing a lot of doors. But I found a couple leads. Something had to work out. I’d already given notice at my current place, so I had to move somewhere.
I drove to one complex located next to a giant Uhaul storage facility. It was actually tough to tell the difference between the storage units and the apartments next door. These were month-to-month cubes. When I asked about bed bugs, the leasing agent replied, “Yeah, we spray whenever there’s a problem.”
I plunked down $25 for the leasing application. A day later they called to say I was rejected, based on credit.
As I tried to negotiate some sort of an upfront payment, they hung up on me
Back onto Craigslist. I figured I found the perfect job there, so the perfect home would show up too. I stalked the listings, scanning them every single day. I knew that a decent place with a low price would go fast. But how could I jump on one while working full time?
Then I had a day off. And that morning, after meditating, I found a listing describing itself like a one-bedroom “ski condo” complete with parking, a vaulted ceiling with skylight, balcony, and even a fireplace! For $525 a month. I called the owner and as we talked, I explained that my credit was bad but my rental history was perfect. “So don’t give me a credit card, but I can definitely pay the rent.”
“I totally understand,” he said. We made an appointment for 3:30 that afternoon. I scheduled another place to look at right before.
That one felt… and smelled… immediately wrong
I politely left and raced to the “ski condo” place.
It was on the eastern edge of Aurora, Colorado, a place my friend once jokingly called “Saudi Aurora.” For someone used to living near downtown Denver, the Kansas-esq rolling plains felt like falling off the edge of the earth.
Upon arriving and meeting the owner, he struck me as a high-strung sweetheart of a guy. He began showing me around, and there was indeed a vaulted ceiling with skylight, fireplace, and balcony. Within two minutes there was a knock on the door. A couple had just arrived to look at the place. He politely asked them to wait.
The place had an interesting history… and future. The owner evicted the previous tenant for drug use. Turns out the man and his girlfriend were doing fine when they moved in. Then he started doing drugs, lost his job, and crashed his BMW.
The owner said he “wasn’t happy at all” about being evicted
But the home’s future sounded much nicer. Years earlier, the owner had brought on board a mentally-challenged man as a temporary assistant, who eventually became a loved family member. This home was to be his, years in the future when he became ready.
My whole life, I’ve made snap decisions. This would be no exception.
I confessed to being in the middle of a bankruptcy and the owner had an admission of his own: He’d been through one too. I asked if I could put down a deposit right then and there and he affirmed it would put me “first in line” for the place. I cut the check.
Later that afternoon and the next day, he texted saying my rental history checked out and… so did my credit?! Odd, but I didn’t question it.
All that was required of me was another signature and the place was mine
The agreement was for a six-month lease, at $525 per month. My new landlord admitted that whenever he’d done a year-long or multi-year lease, something always went wrong and the relationship didn’t work out. But when he’d done short-term leases, the tenant usually stayed longer. That sounded like a universal law in action to me.
The move-in date was about a month later. It felt good knowing I had a home lined up. I marveled at my luck and that, for the first time in years, I’d have a steady income greater than my expenses. Actually it’d be for the first time in my adult life.
However, that became little solace as I packed my things and moved out of the apartment I once declared as my home, and claimed I’d stay in no matter what.
Before finally leaving, I stood in every room, saying my goodbyes…
And then cried as I finally shut the door
(Years later I would, in a way, return – a story for another day.)
After quickly settling into my new digs, I settled into a life that felt more and more on pause. It consisted of little more than working outside alone, meditation, testing business ideas, and recovering to start the day all over again. Mental stress was minimal.
I’d eventually stay in the place for almost two years. Most of that time felt oddly peaceful.
The final four months were painful chaos.