4 Things People Always Overlook When Moving
If you've ever moved, you've cursed the souls and future generations of dozens of family lines in your frustration to get through what is humanity's greatest failure. That we've not made this process tolerable in any way is a testament to just how abhorrent moving really is. Asking a friend to help you move is more offensive than asking to fuck their mother, after you've already done it, filmed it, and sent them autographed still photos of the highlights. Or possibly even while you're doing it.
Still, move we must, because a rolling stone gathers no moss -- just narcotics and wrinkles and that ambiguously gay video with David Bowie. And once you settle in, it's often worthwhile. But man, someone needs to write a list of things you need to check before you say yes to a house. I mean, I guess there are a million websites that feature things you need to check, but none of them were written by me. So I will be that someone. I'm your someone. Your private dancer. Dancer for money. Do these things before moving anywhere.
Check Your Neighborhood
Here's a picture of a second-story back window in my new place. I'm no ballistics expert, but that's a bullet hole. Someone shot my house. I live in a shooting neighborhood. I could get shot while I write this. This article is a blood article. Think about that. All my fluids, all up in these words. Dripping into your brain. Into your soul. Into your most precious crevices. And then bang, now I haunt your crevices.
You need to walk your potential new neighborhood before deciding on any new house. Do you know what's down the street from me? Some kind of hippie fuck farm made of rocks and garbage. The saying "I can't even" probably came from people walking by this place. It's like a fenced-in trash lot overseen by an artist who constantly drinks gasoline. There are trash sculptures and weird rock formations all over their front yard, which is insanely huge, because the house was built at the back of their entire property. So all they have is front yard -- just yards and yards of trash-covered front yard.
It's like this, but colder.
As an artsy fellow myself, I appreciate the eclectic and unusual. But this is art on the scale of a monkey that sat with Patrick Swayze behind him at a pottery wheel, and they made some deformed flower pots to old-timey sensual music. Then they installed it next to a ball of rusty bike chains with a bird feeder sticking out of it.
What if the people of Trashopolis see me walking my dog one day and pull me into their refuse pile? I could get fingered by more dirty hands than I could count, and who the fuck is ever going to know? The cops will be busy dealing with shootings in my yard while I end my life as a finger puppet, all because I couldn't be bothered to walk once around the block before signing a lease so I could early identify those trash people from near the end of the movie Labyrinth as being my new neighbors.
Save me, Snuffles!
On the corner is a house that maybe doesn't have 1,000 corpses, but probably cracked triple digits a few years back. Everything is grown over, and there are never lights on. If you walk past their fence, you can see how they once thought to mow about five meandering, nonlinear feet of lawn before their rusty lawnmower broke down right where it was left. I choose to believe that they only mowed that path to make it easier to dispose of some feet they had laying around. Basically, what I'm saying is that if Arkham Asylum became a small community somewhere, I moved into it.
Sit On The Toilets
Take a look at this fuckin' bungle in the jungle. Can you tell, based on your knowledge of how large an average toilet is, how much space exists between that toilet and the cabinet in front of it? I'll give you a hint: It's less than the size of your leg. This is my toilet, and I have to sit sideways on it, because I live in an M.C. Escher painting, and why the fuck shouldn't I sit sideways on the shitter and hang from a chandelier to piss?
In case you're not 100 percent sure, this isn't a case of me being a leggy giant who gangles about like some kind of giraffic monstrosity and can't fit anywhere. This is a case of someone installing a toilet after a sink, realizing they fucked up, and then just shrugging it off because they can go home to their proper toilet and shit the day away like some kind of Sheik or lesser Poop Baron. Meanwhile, I have to ease in on the throne at an angle and hope I'm not shitting directly on the seat itself or off the side -- which I can't possibly reach, because this room is so tiny that the only way I could clean it would be by lowering my dog in covered in Swiffer dusters and hoping he runs around enough to get the job done.
Don't get me started on my toilet paper holder.
After sitting on the toilet, if you're with a real estate agent or the homeowner or whomever, look them dead in the eye and say you need a minute. Because this is critical. You need to foul that bowl. You need to foul it for your own piece of mind, because if that thing doesn't flush right, you need to walk away from this deal. Too often in life have I been the victim of low-grade plumbing -- shifty toilets that couldn't swallow a teaspoon of jelly, let alone the Devil's Porridge I planned to gag it with. This is a big purchase, and it's your right to know if you're going to be spending the next few years relaxed and satisfied or frantically plunging madness.
What's one thing you expect in every single room of the house, besides actual walls, the floor, and a ceiling? One facet of a modern home which you no doubt take so much for granted that the only time you'll appreciate it is when you don't actually have it? The thing which you'll only notice you don't have right when you need it and expect to use it? No, it's not Adam Brown's strong but soothing hands. It's power. Like a damn outlet in which to plug in literally everything you use, from your TV to your phone charger to your Japanese-made Adam-San Very Good Number One Lucky Massage Robo Hand.
My bathroom, the one I can't fit into, also has no power. It has lights, so there are wires behind the walls, but no one thought to include an outlet in the room. I realized this when a lady friend asked where the hell she was supposed to plug in her hair dryer. I also noticed the upstairs bathroom has the same problem.
It's like they think I'm stupid.
Head to the kitchen next and bring a tape measure. How many square feet of personal space do you feel you need as an individual to be comfortable in your surroundings? Whatever that is, multiply it by the number of people you feel likely to have in your home at any given time. Now measure your kitchen and see if it can accommodate that number, because as sure as my cupboards are full of canned soup and Ramen noodles, the moment you enter the kitchen, at least half the house will follow you in there like hungry cats after a grandpa with a pantsload of tuna (your grandpa does that, right?). If your kitchen is one of those one-seater deals, you just drove yourself insane, and will continue to do so about three times a day forever.
An outlet? I'm sold!
As much as you want to look for blood stains, roach nests, and bottomless pits in the floor when you're perusing real estate, you need to look for the mundane as well. Things that should be there are as important as things that shouldn't. Maybe even moreso, because you're going in wary of those bottomless pits, but you're probably pretty secure in the knowledge that you can plug in your Vitamix in any room in the house if you want to. Well, that's what I thought, too.
Have I told you about my bathroom yet? Let me take you back there. It has a shower, like you'd hope a bathroom would, and I, inexperienced home shopper that I am, assumed that was good enough. There's a shower; surely it showers people. What else would it do?
I soon learned that a shower fixture does not a shower make. There's another ingredient in taking a shower, and dare I say it's even more important than the fixture itself: water. Water is needed to shower. And this shower head, though it was massive and chrome, like something Immortan Joe would use to wash his tumors, delivers all the water pressure of a drooling baby. What the fuck happened here?
When you turn on the hot water -- which, incidentally, comes out so scalding hot that I feel like I'm one of those melting Nazis at the end of Raiders Of The Lost Ark -- it piddles out at the force with which you'd turn on the tap to get a drink at 5 a.m. after a hard night of boozing. The cold somehow comes out with even less force.
I've tried following the pipes in the house to determine where I could perhaps turn up the water pressure, from the water heater itself all the way through whatever exposed floors and walls I can creep into like some kind of human roach. But I'll be jiggered if I can piece together what the problem is. All the valves I can find seem to be set to full on water-time fun, so do I just have no pressure at all. I guess so. I guess this house was built on some kind of sacred burial ground of a people who hate water pressure. I don't know what else to guess.
Solution: ALL THE SHOWER HEADS.
Elsewhere in the house, if you have ceiling fans, then by God try them. They're not just decorative. Or, more specifically, you may be about to find out they're just decorative. The ceiling fan in my room -- which is hanging about seven feet off the floor, making hand-raising a precarious exercise at any time -- is not a fan for using. When you turn it on, the blades spin, but the entire fan itself wobbles like a drunk trying to manage the stairs in an earthquake. To the best of my knowledge, this means it's been installed off-balance and probably can be fixed fairly simply by one of your more skilled fan engineers or environmental warlocks out there. But what's some asshole like me to do? Google it? For the love of God, my days are packed as it is.
Finally, do you have curtains? How about curtain rods? Because I have neither. I know I could buy curtain rods, and I probably will someday, in the same way I probably will try traditional Icelandic cuisine one day. It's just not on the schedule, and maybe I'll die before it happens. Who's to say. But if you don't want your elderly French Canadian neighbors staring at you through the windows at midnight while you binge It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia, you may want to check ahead of time to see if you need some.
Keep in mind that they may be the only ones around to save you when your DIY electrical work inevitably goes wrong.
Conclusions: You need to expect the unexpected. The perfect house has nothing wrong with it, but your new house isn't perfect. It never will be. Instead, it's a puzzle box of messed-up dumbfuckery and lazy repairs, installations, and bullet holes, all of which the person trying to sell or rent to you will assure you adds charm or was specifically installed to encourage positive airflow.
Open those cupboards to make sure they're not just unfinished boxes under a sink. Pull out the stove and make sure it's not just a hobo with a blowtorch living in a metal frame. Put a Gatorade in the fridge, and make sure it doesn't boil, freeze, or fill things with piss when all it should do is make them cold. Read those guides on home-buying for all the obvious things you should ask. "Has the basement ever flooded?" "Are there swarms of bees in the attic?" "Was the basement often used for ritual murder?" Then ask all the non-obvious questions, like "Can I fit on the toilet?" and "Has anyone ever lived in the walls?"
Let me tell you, when the day comes and you find out there's a guy living in your walls, and you never bothered to ask about it, even after I just told you, you're going to feel like a dummy. And you probably won't even get your security deposit back when he leaps out of a mirror to kill you, because I literally just told you it was going to happen, so you have no more excuses. Toilets. Plug outlets. Bullet holes. Guys in the wall. Make a checklist.
Get more moving tips in 5 Awful Things Nobody Tells You About Moving and learn why you can never win a battle against your landlord in 5 Mistakes You'll Make The Next Time You Move.
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