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You Have To Stand Apart(ment) Somehow

, , , , , | Legal | November 21, 2021

I found a well-paying job as a software engineer in Berlin and naively believed that I wouldn’t have any trouble finding an apartment in the largest city in Germany.

As it turns out, the competition for vacant apartments was FIERCELY competitive and applying was akin to buying raffle tickets. Each apartment showing would have approximately twenty to thirty people piling their applications onto a tower of other applications, only ONE lucky applicant receiving the apartment. And as I would leave, I would pass by another crowd of thirty-plus people appearing for the next appointment showing. To gauge the level of competition I was up against, I posted a fictitious advertisement for an apartment — no photos, crappy part of town, more expensive than usual. Twenty-four hours later, there were 315 messages in the site inbox!

I found myself living in hostels, and out of desperation, I decided to try something innovative. I posted an advertisement offering a €2,000 reward to anyone who was either moving and willing to give up their apartment to me or otherwise knew someone else with a vacant apartment they were willing to give me.

As I should have guessed, this attracted a number of aspiring con artists. I say “aspiring” because either I have the word MORON stamped on the back of my head or they’re accustomed to swindling third-graders.

Message #1: “Send the reward money in cash to [post office box] and I’ll help you out!”

Message #2: “I own an apartment in [Area]. Meet me at [Restaurant], bring the €2,000 in cash with you, and we can discuss the terms of the lease.”

Message #3: “I have an apartment I’m ready to move out of. Send the reward money to [bank account number] and I’ll give my landlord a three-month notice, and it’s all yours!”

Message #4: “My mom owns an apartment. Give me the €2,000 and I’ll have her hold it for you!”

I ended up amending the advertisement to say that the reward would be paid AFTER the keys and signed lease were in my hands and I was physically in said apartment. This drastically whittled the responses down to people who actually did have an apartment they were planning to vacate.

Fortunately, I ended up finding an apartment, and ironically, the girl who gave it to me insisted I keep the €2,000.