Experiences of an American woman who was married to a Serb.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

In Which My Husband Finds His Dream Stan

For my husband, all of this stan-shopping has been just like shopping for a prom dress with a very picky teenage girl -- sheer torture after the first 15 minutes. "If it were up to me, by now I could have bought a stan and celebrated four or five times over," he exclaims repeatedly.

Yet, now that I've had to return to the States, he is slogging on doggedly and, to my mind, more than a little heroically.

When he calls me in exaltation, to tell me he's Found *The* Stan in Novi Beograd, I am delighted... but guarded. We've been shopping for property together before. I know what he looks for. He looks for An Extraordinary View. I also know what he doesn't look for -- a nice floor plan, a workable kitchen, comfortably-sized bedrooms, places to install closets, plenty of windows, etc, etc.

"You can see the city and the river and the sunrise and the sunset!" he proclaims. "The terrace is more than 20 meters plus there's an additional terrace you can expand into!"

From his description, I realize I know this stan. It's one of the few advertised on the Internet with the price "Dogovor" which means "ask." As in if you can't afford a lot, you should not bother asking.

As I guessed, the price is far above our budget. "But the realtor who knows our budget says we can afford this one, so I think the owner is really ready to come down," my husband says happily. I suspect it's more likely that the realtor has fantasies about the depths of American pockets, no matter what our officially stated budget.

"Wire more from our savings tomorrow! I want to buy this stan!" my husband orders just before we say goodnight.

I am overwhelmed. Here is a man who's never gotten excited about a stan before in his entire life, and he is all fired up. Forget my doubts about the kitchen. Somehow we can manage. I tell him to start negotiating. Down. Far, far down.

Everything now depends on how much the owner really needs to sell. It feels strange for me to be crossing my fingers and hoping so hard for someone else's desperate economic circumstances. We'll be offering a fair price based on square meters and the location, but as we've learned, owners in Serbia don't make decisions based on fairness. We'll see....


jeju said...

Rosemary, why do you use the word 'stan' instead of flat, or apartment?

serbcanadian said...

Unrelated comment, but can you please help with http://canadianinserbia.blogspot.com/2011/03/no-one-knows-what-american-toilets-are.html

??? I am lost!

Rosemary Bailey Brown said...

Good question. I use "stan" because in the US, "apartment" often implies a rental -- if you own it, then you'd be more likely to use the term "condo" or "co-op". Also, many Americans don't use or even know what the word "flat" means because it's a British English word. "Stan" covers all the bases, and I think it's a much nicer-sounding word than "condo" to boot. :-)

Edward Carlile Photography said...

Hi there.
I came across your old b92 blog about learning Serbian.
Did you manage well enough?
I am moving to Novi Sad in July with my Serbian wife and 2 small children and I need to get my ass in gear to learn the language.
Any tips?!!!


Rosemary Bailey Brown said...

Check out http://livefrombelgrade.wordpress.com for language school advice from an American woman.

Anonymous said...

dogovor in this case doesn't mean to ask, it means to negotiate :) LOL