Househunting in times of Covid-19 | Jack Marshall's column
It’s human nature; a perfect smoothie of curiosity, jealousy, pride, capitalism, espionage, judgement, aspiration and about a million other things all wrapped up in a bundle of innately feeling like it’s probably something you shouldn’t be doing. A house is a man’s castle and all that jazz.
Unless you’re bonkers enough to go on an episode of Come Dine With Me, the only time you can maintain your status as a respectable member of the community whilst rooting around a stranger’s home, swiveling and evaluating like a meerkat Sherlock Holmes as you examine every inch of the place this undoubtedly lovely person supposedly feel most safe, is when you’re looking for a new home.
And in times of Covid, that process is even weirder, as I’m currently finding out.
As a card-carrying Millennial who chuckles at the thought of such lofty ideals as being able to afford to actually buy a place without some estranged relation - perhaps a wealthy count from old money or a second cousin with curiously few descendants who has mysteriously bequeathed her entire estate to me in her final will and testament written in quill and ink who will likely go on to haunt me - renting is the only option.
Thankfully, a handy buffer by the name of “crashing on my parents’ sofa for a while” was available in between leaving one rental property and, hopefully, finding another. But nevertheless, the hunt was on.
Given that traipsing through other people’s homes willy-nilly during a pandemic would quickly get you branded as a vicious super-spreader, masks are obligatory, hand-sanitiser is almost as plentiful as sleazy estate agent speak, and properties are splayed open like a semi-dissected frog in biology class, with doors and cupboards open wide so you don’t have to touch a single surface.
Add to this bizarre cocktail of emotions the fiery singe of restlessness, anxiety, and mild panic that comes with looking for a new place to live, and the whole experience is very particular indeed. Clammy hands thrust deep in pockets, there is a permanent itchy urge just to touch, try, open, move, knock, and tap as you awkwardly float from room to room picturing where still-nonexistent furniture will go.
Then you leave and see that the estate agent has another viewing immediately after you and ohmygod what if they really like it do I even like it what shall I do here just take all my money I’ll move in next Saturday. Then it’s back to the sofa ahead of another day of sterilised viewings