Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Condo in Chicago

Being a landlord abroad is really a pain in the ass.

I bought a small condo in Chicago's up-and-coming Wicker Park in late 2005. I thought I was being responsible - buying a starter home in an appreciating area. A nice investment, right?  I don't have to tell you that a year and a half later, the housing market crashed. The "up and coming" area slipped further back as the residents became increasingly unemployed, desperate, hopeless.  And now that pretty little investment is under water to the tune of a number I get too choked up to mention.

Like many, I turned to renting to buy some time for the market to recover. It's now been rented for nearly two years. The first year I had two french girls in there who worked for an environmental waste (isn't that a fancy word for 'garbage'?) company. At the last minute I was worried they were going to be smoking in the house (they are french, you know!)  But they were sweet and all was fine until they wanted to move to South America. I guess a winter in Chicago will do that to you.

Enter the next round of tenants....two student sisters. Who turned out to be a complete nightmare. Six noise violations, a bout of nasty texts to my neighbors below and an incessant doorbell ringing / knocking at midnight episode. Seriously. How old are you?  They didn't change a single lightbulb in the place til I told them they had to. Oh and they removed the doors from the bedroom closet. Oh wait, one of the subletters apparently did that. That's right, they've sublet twice and this time they even managed to get more money out of the subletters than the original rent. So they're making money off of my place!

At least someone is, I guess.  I'm not. And neither is my friend Jill.  Given that I'm 4,000 miles away, I'm  dealing with this all by email and an occasional phone call. My dear friend Jill is my 'woman on the ground' and running around replacing keys, meeting new renters, doing inspections and more. What would I do without her?

Thanks, Jill.  I really owe you.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, that is a drag. Are you planning to move back into that condo eventually? Hopefully it's value will recover. We just spent some time in Chicago and while we covered a good amount of the city, I'm not sure we made it to Wicker Park. Anyways, sounds like you are enjoying your time abroad in spite of the hassles at home. This is Jamie M from high school by the way. :)


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