I can’t even rent an apartment in this country.
ROCHESTER, New York- The USA is a needlessly complicated, needlessly expensive country.
I have this dream of setting up a long-term base of operations in Rochester, Buffalo, or Brooklyn, where I would travel out to do my projects and return to process the content that I collect. But I know this is just a fantasy.
This country would be excellent — it has an array of everything — but it has been rendered “unlivable” with all of its rules and regulations, legal protections, background checks, insurances, and fees, fees, fees. You can’t live free here — you can’t even go to a f’cking doctor here without indenturing yourself to an employer — and for those who have seen the view from the outside it’s difficult to live here at all.
I like the country that I grew up in. It’s still the big show in the world. There are just so many stories here. I travel around the USA salivating about what I could do if I could only work out a way to stay. But I have to rein myself in. I know that I can’t work like I do and stay here too.
We tried to rent an apartment in Rochester for a month as my wife does some work at a school. No big deal, right? We rent apartments by the month regularly in countries spanning the world from China to Latin America We have the ability to pay a little more for the flexibility of not entering into a year long lease, we have the cash to pay up front.
We looked on AirBnb — they’re hosers but the efficiency of their service makes them (barely) worth it. The options were surprisingly few and many hosts were trying to charge thousands of dollars to stay in a room in their house. That’s not going to happen.
Hannah found a sublet on Craigslist. $850 for the month. Not bad. We checked it out. It wasn’t the worst place we’ve ever stayed in … but that doesn’t say much. We agreed to rent it. They guy handed over the key and we went to meet with the manager the following day.
The guy was sketchy. The bullshitting got going right away and just kept rolling.
The $850 simple sublet turned into $865 for the month + $865 security deposit + $50 application fee …
We would need top get criminal background checks.
We would need to get credit checks.
“Why do we need a credit check? We’re paying the full amount of the rental agreement up front plus a 100% security deposit. We’re not receiving anything on credit.”
“It’s company policy …”
“Why do we need to pay a security deposit when you already have the security deposit from the original renter? Why do you need two security deposits?”
“It’s company policy …”
Sure, policy for a company that has a reputation of not paying back said security deposits.
Even if we were to be given ours back the manager informed us that this isn’t done until seven days after our rental term ends. We’re leaving for Prague the day after we check out of this place. I could hear him now:
“Sorry, but it’s company policy to wait a week and we can’t give it to someone else on your behalf or send it electronically for security purposes …”
For $1780 we may as well just go rent a nice Airbnb in a better location and save this guy the work of stuffing his pockets with our cash.
Anyway, I wouldn’t have passed the credit check. I can’t even rent a car in the USA.
We’re looking at a Gattaca-esque underground society of felons, molesters, and people who didn’t pay back their student loans. Technology has given us the ability to investigate and ostracize. We have a social scoring system that’s not unlike that of China. People are pushed along the path of state obedience for fear of not being able to get a job, rent an apartment, see a doctor, rent a car, or, in the future, even stay in a hotel room.
Where is this new underclass to go?
I know where I go: I leave. I go to other countries where life is cheaper, easier, and less constrained by government and social control.
I love the USA. I love being here, I love traveling here. But it is by far one of the least free countries on earth.
My fear is that the entire world will someday be like this. I’m starting to feel like I’m running from something.