I decided that I should include this, just to give a preface to where I was coming from before moving to France. I grew up in the middle of nowhere. There are seriously 3 fields around the house I grew up in. It takes 20 minutes to get "to town" by car. I grew up where distances are measured in time, so it takes an hour to get to Toledo, and three to get to Columbus. It took 3 minutes to get to my high school if my mother drove, 45 seconds if it was me. I could not wait to get to an actual city when I went to college.
Now, I went to Ohio State for a few reasons. Number one, it was still open enrollment at the time, so it was my safety school if I couldn't get into Penn State. Penn State wanted me to start at a satellite campus, and I thought fuck right and never looked back. Number two, from what I had heard, Columbus had a huge gay community. Clintonville apparently had a higher concentration of lesbians than New York, and the Short North more gays than the Castro. This excited me.
I lived in the dorms my first two years of college. The first year was with three other guys, and the next year in an apartment like place. I loved being in the center of everything. I always had a roof over my head, food in my mouth, and a bus ride away to get to movies or shopping. Wonderful, it was.
After tiring of dorm life, I moved into my partner's place because the rent was much lower. Of course, it was also a 500 square foot studio. We could take the bus directly onto campus, most of the people there were grad students so there was virtually no noise whatsoever, and there was a strip mall with a Kroger and a Raising Cane's on the corner. I also had just got a car, and he already had a parking pass, so it worked well at the time. Eventually though, we decided we wanted to have a little more.
We started looking around for apartments in November, because we would need to be out of our old place by the end of May that year. (In Columbus, if you don't have an apartment by February, you probably won't have a place to live. Apartments fill up fast!) So we looked around for a bit, and we found these places that were beautiful, but were they $1100 a month beautiful? In our old place, we were paying $500, but that was with utilities included. Most of these places had individual water and gas. So we kept going. We found a place a bit further north that we were looking at, and it was also ridiculously expensive for what you got. So with tears in our eyes, we headed back home.
Well, we would have if I hadn't gotten turned around. It was snowing and I was getting hopelessly lost. All the roads looked the same, and I kept getting turned around, when we came out onto this one road, and we looked across, and through the snow, we saw this grouping of townhouses. They looked really nice, and my partner said we should go check them out. I told him I could tell they were going to be just as expensive just by looking at them. He said there's no harm in looking, so, we did.
I was completely wrong. We ended up signing up for a beautiful 1200 square foot apartment; crown molding, open floor plan, two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a terrace, and a private entrance to a mall larger than the city in which I grew up, for less than $700 a month! Everyone was impressed, and to this day I don't think we'll ever have as nice of a place until we buy or build it ourselves. We were over the moon in love.
Of course, lots of crap happened before. I remember frantically getting our contract up to them to get signed, worries about credit scores, and the move in day was a disaster. Imagine two gay guys, each less than 120 pounds lifting a 250 pound, 6 foot long dresser into a U-Haul, and after getting there, one locks the keys (the only set of keys) in the car. We figured out that water bills are always more expensive than you think, and that satellite dishes are considered an eyesore by most apartment complexes. But it was really our first place that was really ours.
When we left, there were some tears, and an all out rush to pack five years of our life into a u-haul, a neon, and an impala. From that point on, we had our lives spread across two continents. Still bitter about that.