“Remind me, again,” Rachel announces to her boyfriend Jason as he arrives into the room with two cups of tea. “We want at least commuter distance to Dublin, right?”
“That’s right,” Jason responds, handing her a cup.
Rachel turns, looking directly into Jason’s eyes. “How about Cavan?”
Jason rolls his eyes and walks over to the window, muttering some expletives under his breath as he goes.
“Hang on now, hear me out,” Rachel struggles. “For the price of a Dublin bedsit, we can get a five-bed house in Cavan. A five-bed house! Two of the rooms are en-suite!”
Shaking his head, Jason comes around the desk and sits back down next to Rachel. He takes a sip of tea. Rachel stares at him expectantly. He meets her gaze for a moment, quickly looking away as he carefully chooses his words.
“Should you be looking at a five-bedroom house down the country when you can’t even drive?” Jason inquires.
Rachel shrugs her shoulders. “Maybe, maybe not… but, should we only be looking at shoe-box flats in Dublin where rent will be 90% of our combined budget?”
“Probably not –” Jason begins, leaning towards her, “but I’d rather be poor in Dublin.”
Rachel sits back with her tea, exasperated. Jason carries on flicking through ads. It’s a never-ending search. Obviously, both want particular things from their first true home together. For Rachel, it needs to be a place they would be proud to call their first home. For Jason, the least possible disruption to their current lifestyle is a priority. Neither want to compromise but, as the options decrease day after day, the conversations tend towards their minimum requirements more than Rachel and Jason’s ideal living situation. Jason pauses on an apartment. They sip their tea, reading the details and agree to save the ad for further consideration.
If nothing else, Rachel feels exhausted by the added chore of having to translate every property ad. The language of real estate agents needs to go through a number of filters before only the raw fact remains. A “studio flat” describes any sort of modular box with maybe a window and without excessive luxuries such as doors. If it’s also described as “quaint”, there would not be room for two people in all likelihood. Any property that has “charm” or “character” could easily cave in at any moment – particularly if the ad admits that the property could benefit from “extensive modernisation” rather than “cosmetic refurbishment”. A back garden is, in this alternate reality, a “site with great potential”. “Ideally situated” location is effectively anywhere within a commutable distance to Dublin. After all, why wouldn’t you be going to Dublin every day when you should know the government doesn’t care about anywhere outside the M50. The whole process is exhausting. At least the tea helps, Rachel thinks, leaving her empty cup down by the laptop as Jason scrolls down the page.
“Oh, hold on, this one is new” Rachel says, taking control from Jason and opening the link, “this one is in budget, a very good location, has two bedrooms, one en-suite, it’s…”
Her voice trails off. Jason is looking at her, not the screen, with a wry smirk. Rachel already knows where this is going.
“Any photos of the inside?” Jason asks nonchalantly.
Rachel inspects the link and shakes her head.
“Too good to be true,” Jason says, gulping the last of his tea before grasping Rachel’s cup to make a fresh cup each.
As Jason leaves the room, Rachel clicks away from the ad with no interior photos in disgust. The only certainty of their online search is that when an ad is too good to be true, it is just that; too good to be true. Rachel clicks back through a few recent searches and sighs.
“Why can’t we just live in Cavan?” she wonders aloud. Rachel shakes herself, upset by her own rhetorical question.
“Because it wouldn’t be living,” Rachel answers herself, “… it wouldn’t be living.”