New Place, New Car, New Start!

Once I flew back in to San Francisco my top priority was to find somewhere to live (and thanks to Margaret and Laura for putting me up when I first got back!).  I gave myself a couple of weeks to find a place as I knew that decent places in the neighbourhoods I wanted to live (North Beach and Russian Hill) were always in high highly desired – and let’s just say that a single foreign guy isn’t a landlord’s first pick!  Incredibly though, I arrived from Australia on Friday arvo and hit the ground running the following morning, and by the end of the day my search was over and I had a fantastic apartment to show for it!

I spent most of the day traipsing over Telegraph Hill in North Beach looking at different properties.  For those of you who don’t know it I lived on Telegraph Hill (one of SF’s mini-mountains) over second year of business school and loved it.  It’s a fantastic neighbourhood, you can get some great views there to both bridges (the Golden Gate and the Bay Bridge), and it’s really accessible and walkable to much of the city from there – Financial District where I’ll be working, Fisherman’s Wharf, Chinatown and Union Square to name a few.  I was ideally looking for a two-bedroom place, but knew my budget couldn’t really support that.

There was a lot of variation in quality between the apartments I saw, but anything of a decent standard had people lining up to put in their applications.  It left me pretty depressed.  Towards the end of the day I read through a very short advertisement on for a place that sounded worth a look but no stand-out “wow”, so I gave the landlord a call on a hunch.  I was able to see it straight away and fell in love with the place immediately.  It was just what I was after.  I expressed as much to the landlord, filled in the application, and they must have taken a liking to me as ten minutes after I left he called me back to say they’d done a quick credit check and it was mine if I wanted it!  Woohoo!!!!!!

For those of you who know the city it’s on Union @ Montogomery, right near the top of Telegraph Hill and about a block and a half from Coit Tower.  It’s a quiet corner of the city as all the streets are dead-ends so there’s no through-traffic, which is great.  The building hugs the side of the hill just before it plummets off a cliff, so there are even some great views east down the street.

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(L) The exterior of the building, my apartment is on the first floor behind all the greenery.  (R) The view from the front of my apartment towards the Bay Bridge.

My apartment is a big (approx. 700 sq ft) one-bedroom apartment, 1960’s vintage.  Both the living room and bedroom face south (towards downtown) so it gets a lot of sunlight, and I get views of the bay and bridge from the apartment.  All the windows are in fact sliding doors which can be opened up to make almost a balcony.  The living room is big enough to for everything I’ll need (dining table, couch, armchair, media unit, shelves etc.) and it even has a working fireplace.  There’s loads of cupboard space for all my things, the bathroom has a decent size bath, and I even have a washer/dryer in the apartment (oh the joy!).  The kitchen appliances are a bit dated but I can live with that – I assume I won’t be doing much cooking anyhow!

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(L) The living room.  (R) The kitchen.

The real highlight of the place is the huuuge rooftop deck!!!  It has unobstructed views north to Coit Tower and Alcatraz and Angel Islands, east to the Bay Bridge, Yerba Buena and Treasure Island (yes it’s really called that), I can see Berkeley in the distance across the bay, and looking south I get a view of much of the highrise downtown.  It’s a great size, perfect for entertaining, there are some deck chairs up there, and there’s even a BBQ for all the tenants to use.  Not that they’ll use it much: I share the deck with just five other tenants in the building, and two of those (my neighbours above and beside me) are only around one month of the year!  Perfect for me then, it’s aaaaall mine!!!  Cocktails at sunset anyone???

The rooftop deck!!!  Looking up towards Coit Tower.

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Looking north towards Alcatraz and Angel Islands, and east towards the Bay Bridge and the Financial District (out of shot).

The apartment definitely looks a little spartan at the moment.  I really don’t have a lot in the way of material possessions to show for my 31 years on this earth (and quite happy for it to be so!), although I do have a bunch of boxes coming over on a ship from Australia that constitute the “rest of my life” that’s been in storage for the past three years (since I left Switzerland).  Once I get those things, and some more furniture, the place will finally be a little more complete and functional.  More photos to follow when I get there.

But in big materialistic news…I HAVE A NEW CAR!!!  Shock, horror!!  Some of you might know that I haven’t owned a car since I left Australia in 1998 (my awesome little green 1966 Mini Cooper – aaah I miss that car).  I really didn’t need a car in Switzerland (although it would have been nice) and couldn’t afford one while I was at business school here.  But times have changed, and it’s time to grow up a little bit more!  Once I start work I’ll be able to afford it, and I really want a “nice” car not so much for during the week (I’ll be working to work and work pays for a car if I need to drive to a client), but for the weekends.  I really want to head out and explore the different corners of California while I’m living here.

I shopped around a short while back and essentially narrowed it down to a choice of two cars; the VW GTI and the Audi A3 (first choice would have been the beefier Audi S3 with Quattro all-wheel drive if it was available in the US).  I didn’t want some huuuge US beast of a car, I was always going to go “European”, and these two cars fit the bill: within my budget, small (ideal for zapping around the city), look great, run well and reliable, and definitely stylish.  It was a tough choice between these two cars as it’s difficult to get a struck match between them.  They’re essentially the same car (same engine, same drivetrain, same suspension, same frame etc.) and are produced on identical production lines.  Both have the zippy little turbocharged 2.0L straight four, and both have the Direct Shift Gearbox (DSG, a gearbox that can be driven as an automatic or as a manual with the little paddle shifters on the steering wheel a la Formula 1).  The main difference is in the bodywork and styling and look of the cars, with the GTI a little more “sporty” and the A3 more “grown-up”.

But I digress…  So, without further ado, here is the unveiling of my brand new car!!!  As you can see I went for the Audi over the VW as it just had “class” written all over it even if it was a tad more pricey – but hey I am a management consultant now so I should play the part, right?!  🙂  In short I got just the car I was after, a hybrid hot hatchback-cum-sports station-wagon.  The colour is a deep “Lava Grey Pearl Effect” and the interior is black leather trim (nice!), it has a sunroof (imperative for California!) and also a “sky window” above the rear seat, some sporty mag wheels and a kick-arse Bose sound system.  It can seat five pretty comfortably but just as importantly I can fit skis/snowboards through the boot and onto the back seat.  Winters at Tahoe, here I come!

I was soooo excited when I picked it up that I just had to take it for a spin, so I drove it up into the Berkeley hills and hooned along the narrow and windy roads up there at twice the speed limit (I couldn’t resist putting it through its paces).  I handles like a dream.  It was a beautiful day as the photos below attest, with perfect views across to San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge.  Since then it’s been life-saver to help me move into the apartment over the past couple of week.  It’s such a nice change to be able to go to Safeway or Target or wherever and load it up with everything I could possibly need.  It’s such a change from the past nine years when I could only buy what I could carry home!


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Finally, the search is still on for a name.  As it’s a German Audi, I’ve been trying to think of all the German guy’s names starting with “A” that I can think of – Armin, Andreas, Adolf (uh, no).  The leading contender is Axel (with the obvious play on words) – Axel the Audi A3.  I kinda like that one.  Any other suggestions??

One Comment on “New Place, New Car, New Start!

  1. Hey Paulie,

    Great to catch up on all your news. Sorry I missed you in SF, haven’t got anymore holidays I can use this year to come and see you but promise that if everything settles down I’ll defo be there next year.


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