“Everything we have looked at and think is possible is impossible,” Matthew said to me the morning after we decided not to pursue the Grandma apartment.
As we have watched the bidding wars escalate the prices of teeny apartments in the city, we decided to stop and take stock. What were the lessons we learned from this episode with Grandma’s apartment, and all the other places we went to see?
The first lesson, we think, is either that we would have to spend more money, or live outside the city. We have looked at places outside the “Ports” — the gates that mark the main city center. These apartments tend to be in large apartment buildings the size of cruise ships, some from the 1960s, some from the early 2000s. Some are on the water, which is intriguing. Their values as measured in meters-per-kronor are much less, meaning larger spaces (an extra room, say) for less money. Most require a longer commute for Matt. Most are in cultural deserts. They are also about a million kronor less than similarly sized apartments in the city proper.
Another of our options to stay inside the main city is to find a lease — but we would have to do this through the private market, which we don’t even know is legal or not. Is it “gray” to look for a place to live through a landlord? Should we get back onto the public posts (equivalent to Craig’s list, but with 3-6 month leases) to see what we can find? Last time around, when we were looking for a place for when we first moved here, that did not work well at all.
The bidding situation reminds me of a weird poker game, or strangely more like the kind of hazing that young medical interns must go through before they become doctors, and then impose on the next generation: everyone here who buys an apartment goes through this. I feel like just a few days ago my naivete was staggering! Now I know I have to have a poker face, and not get too attached…
But I have to say, this situation makes me want to shout: this is not Manhattan, people! The amount of money spent on the staging, photo shoots, brochures, and more — even to sell even a 50-square-meter apartment must be staggering!
But then I have to remind myself: No, this is not Manhattan. Nor are we looking to live in Manhattan. We are looking to live in Stockholm, Sweden, and this should be the context for our decision-making processes. Yet in some ways, it is Manhattan: An island of city dwellings surrounded by a sea of forest and actual sea.
So, yesterday, in a last ditch effort to see if we could get a place before we put our second-place plans into motion, Matt put one last bid on an apartment that we have decided is very similar to Grandma’s — “fungible,” we keep saying.
Much closer to both the city and Matt’s work, without a balcony, possibly without sun, some characteristics still have made it very attractive: low fee to the management company that includes a gym in the basement, a sauna, and broadband; good layout in a modern building (which means modern bathroom); and even a guest apartment. When Matt runs the numbers on his spreadsheet comparing the loan, tax refunds, and what we would pay monthly — it all looks good and substantially lower cost than Grandma’s.
This morning, the question was whether we would get outbid by the other motivated buyers on the bidding list. Matt couldn’t sleep last night. I was distracted all morning. If this didn’t work out, we would take a break — and yet, Matt already printed out listings to look at this coming Sunday, while I’m out of town for a meeting. And I sent information to start the rental search…
Next post: The outcome.