Tuesday, April 29, 2008

peeking into the civilian world...

Our next duty station is in the civilian world. So despite being in a large metropolitan area, it feels like we're going to a remote location. No commissary. No military hospital or military doctors. None of the usual groups and services that I usually just take for granted: Spouses' groups, LINKS, base childcare, base chapel (I secretly like them because I know everyone there "gets" it), oh the list could go on forever. So, as you can see, I'm a bit nervous of leaving the safe harbor of military living and making this initial foray into civilian living.

Well, let me tell you, my recent house-hunting trip did very little to allay those nerves! I spent almost a week (and let's not talk about how much money) going to the area with my mother-in-law and looked for rental property. It was incredible frustrating. My first choice, while not ideal was in a great school district, had a grumpy landlord and/or property manager who refused to do basic things to make the house fit to live in. So cross that one off. My second choice wouldn't come down on the rent (I didn't really expect them to) so cross that one off. My third choice... well, I thought it was decent compromise of the things we were looking for and, at first blush, the landlord seemed great and accommodating. We signed a rental contract and I handed over a deposit check and a check for the first month's rent. And I returned home.

The following week, the lease was faxed to me for approval. I could feel my blood pressure rising as I read through it. Stretch probably thought I was going to have a stroke as I kept saying things like, "No! Um, no! What?! Is he crazy?" Bottom line: the lease didn't come close to resembling the terms of the rental contract. For starters, deposit and rent amounts had been increased. The military clause had been left out. And from what was written, it appeared the landlord intended to return very little of the security deposit. After going "high and to the right," I calmed down and put on my lawyer hat. I emailed my realtor with a list of why I viewed the landlord as being in breach of contract and gave examples of him showing bad faith (one example was he'd cashed the rent check despite not having a signed lease!) and expressed the need to have all money returned to us immediately. (We did eventually get our money back, by the way.)

So what did I have to show for my week in the area? Lots of stress (and physical manifestations of that stress) and we STILL don't have a home.


trying said...

good luck! technically we are at a remote duty station (although we do have the USMA near us but lets be honest not much help to a marine family!). it has its pros and cons, I think its harder on the family. Although its a little easier to perhaps leave a little bit of life as just your own. Notice I said perhaps!

at least you will still have all of us online!

Jody said...

I'll be praying for you as you prepare to move and all the stress that brings with it. I know first hand that the transition from military life to the civilian world is difficult. Keep in mind that this move is temporary and you are a very independent and capable person!

callee said...

Goodness...that sounds like some of the renters around here. There are plenty of horror stories to be had! I hope you find something soon!

Linda said...

Ouch a hundred times over. That sounds horrible. But at least you had the common sense to go over it all and realize that things were different. We have had to provide a military clause to most of our landlords. They all claim that the "standard state agreement" they have us fill out covers us. Ours is much more in depth (and has more "outs" to help us...and it IS a legal M/C because I got it from the Soldiers' & Sailors' Relief Act). One landlord didn't want it included. We told him we'd walk, thankyouverymuch. He accepted it. Some landlords don't realize that they'll be guaranteed rent for at least one year...perhaps 2 or more, if they treat you right.

We are headed into our 3rd year here. While I wish we didn't have to lease a duplex, at least we've had a decent home in a good school district. I do hate noisy neighbors, there's a construction pit next door (granted, it wasn't there when we moved in 2 years ago, but it's there now).

I hope that you can find a home soon, one that fits your needs, wants AND desires.

Butterfly Wife said...

No fun. But at least that lawyer hat came in handy. :D

So you are entering the civilian world as I am entering the military one. I am concerned about dealing with all those things you mentioned that you rely on. I am sure we'll both be just fine, wait, we'll be great.

Meredith said...

Ack. I'm sorry. I have been out of it. My husband recently GOT a job after so many weeks unemployed (a good one, he is happy). So I have been off.. and in la la land. I should have checked in sooner.

I'd be as lost on a military base as you are in civvie-land. I hope it gets better, fast.

How long is this duty station assignment? Any ideas?