the expat diaries | adventures with corporate housing

Welcome to another installment of The Expat Diaries. Link up your travel and expat stories below and be sure to visit other bloggers. The next link up will take place on Thursday, December 5th.


Today I’m going to discuss our adventures with corporate housing. Why? Because living in different places all over the globe is hilarious… and also a pain in the ass. I’m sure other expats can relate when I say that we’ve seen (and heard) everything. We’ve now been living out of our suitcases for the past couple of years and here are just a few of the funny situations we’ve encountered.

Scotland Townhouse


When we first moved to Scotland, University students were flooding the city so it was difficult to find a flat. Therefore we lived in a small hotel room for a couple of weeks while we tried to find something to rent. Like I mentioned in a previous post, this process was funny because we literally had to run to the leasing offices after showings. The fastest person usually won (I should have participated in cross country in high school), and even if you offered more money per month, they wouldn’t accept. Not only were we slower (I blame beer calories) but we were Americans, so the odds were not in our favor. After weeks of viewing way too many places, we finally found a small flat next to a famous pub so we were happy.

When we moved into our new flat, my allergies went nuts. I was popping Claritin like an addict and we found out that this was due to the two inches of black mold in the spare bedroom and bathroom. We called the leasing agent and for the next couple of weeks, a nice Scottish man frequented our flat to make repairs. Seriously, it took him two weeks to remove mold and paint because he talked the whole time. He was the nicest guy but he would show up unannounced and that’s not cool when you’re in the shower. After six months of living in this little moldy, damp, smoke-filled flat, we decided to take off.

The main reason we moved from our city center flat was to find a bigger place with a garden for the dog — Oh, and to find a home without black mold covering the walls and ceiling. We had always loved our friends’ place on the other side of town, and since they were moving back to the States right when our flat lease ended, we called the office to negotiate. The owner of the unit agreed to allow us to have one dog on the property as long as we paid a little more per month. Done!

On the weekend after we moved in, the weather was beautiful. We were busy organizing the house and playing with Malcolm in the yard when someone knocked on the door. It was our upstairs neighbor who shared the garden with us. B answered and right away our neighbor started scolding him, insisting that the backyard was for “human use only” even though our contract stated otherwise. B explained to the neighbor that the owner of the flat and the leasing office approved our request for a dog. Neighbor started swearing and finally retreated back to his flat. About twenty minutes later, there was a knock at our door again and it was him. He went on and on and on about the yard and how dirty pets are (even though we cleaned up after Malc every single time) and showed B his contract for the backyard which was pointless because it didn’t say anything about pets not being allowed — umm? He retreated once again and then sent his wife down to do his dirty work. She brought a document that he had printed out called the ‘Dog Fouling Act of Scotland’. She basically told B and that they didn’t want Malcolm stepping foot in the backyard, and threatened to contact people because it was unsafe for their children. Unsafe? Malcolm is a fluffy nugget that loves children! Finally, we agreed that we would buy a stake and leash to keep Malcolm close to our door. This made me sad because Malcolm couldn’t go Westie crazy in the grass.

The next annoying neighbor I will be discussing lived on the opposite side. Thankfully we didn’t share a yard with her, but we still dealt with her odd ways nonetheless. She owned a black Ford hatchback and every day after she parked her car on the street, she spent almost forty minutes buffing and waxing it with one of those clothes you see on informercials. If you happened to be walking on the street, she would stare you down and scowl. She also felt the need to watch my husband from either the street or her upstairs window when he returned from work, and semi-stalked and yelled at one of the women in my expat group. The woman in my group parked in front of my flat (it’s open parking so it wasn’t a big deal) and crazy neighbor #2 started screaming and waving her hands. She then walked up to the car and said, “I’ve never seen your car in this neighborhood. Why are you parking here? You need to leave.” Expat woman told her that she was stopping by my house to pick up a dehumidifier we had just sold to her and said she would be quick. Crazy lady got upset and asked, “Are you really going to be quick? I’m going to watch you!” She then stood on the sidewalk with her arms crossed and watched my door until the expat woman left and then stomped back to her black Ford to buff it some more — in case she missed a spot.

We also went through around four or five recycling bins when we lived in that flat because someone kept stealing ours. And that was Scotland…


I won’t say much about Arizona because honestly, it wasn’t that bad. A bunch of college students lived around us so they like to party and knock on apartment doors in the middle of the night, but the location was convenient and I was able to foster 4 dogs and adopt 2 others — one for us and one for my younger brother. The office never found out. Muahahaha.

The worst part was packing up our apartment to move to Florida because they picked up a water-filled iron and threw it into a box (this belonged to corporate housing) and mixed my nice DSLR with shoes in a box. They just had no idea what they were doing.


I think Florida may have been the worst because our upstairs neighbor was a creep and he liked to look in our windows while Brandon was at work. My desk was right next to the window and he would startle me almost every day. When I went outside to walk the dogs, Malcolm and Ollie would bark at him and I’d have to hold the little buggers back and one day, his car was parked in front of our window and it was seriously steamed up. Like… was he in there? Needless to say, I started closing the blinds.

And I still have nightmares…


Our next door neighbors really like to smoke weed — and they don’t open windows. I text Lisette almost every day when the hallway fills with smoke, and every day I tell her I’m going to call someone. I don’t though because I really like the neighbors. And I don’t like it when people hate me.

There’s also an old lady down our hallway who’s strange. She likes to slam her hands on my door and scream at the dogs while I’m home. She calls them stupid and tells them to shut up, and then Malcolm and Ollie get nervous and end up barking at everything for the next two hours. It’s fun. Last weekend she left a note on our door asking about the “lost dog”. She would like to purchase the white dog from us because he would be a great companion for her. Malcolm hides under the bed now.

As for us? I’m sure people probably think we’re odd. We talk to our dogs in baby voices and have dance parties on the regular.

Have you ever lived in corporate housing?


Filed Under: Expat32 Comments
  • Helene

    i can’t imagine living so many different places as I’ve ONLY lived in Dallas my entire life ( i clearly need to get out more) but this is really interesting and comes with lots of great stories! but ugh florida… really dude?!

    • Postcards from Rachel

      Yeah, he was nasty. I will not be surprised if I see him on the news one day for doing something inappropriate!

  • Georgina

    Your previous neighbors were absolutely MANIC! I cannot believe all that you had to deal with!!

    • Postcards from Rachel

      Oh, I know! I couldn’t believe how obsessed they were when it came to keeping our puppy out of the yard. And that lady with the Ford… ugh. Crazies!

  • Kayli Schattner

    Oh boy, sounds like you have had some interesting times! Where did you live around when you were in AZ?? I’m 19 and living with college kids kind of bothers me…like it’s a Tuesday and you’re out smoking and drinking in our hallway at one am?? And one of them has a three year-old…that’s usually out there running up and down the hallway WITH THEM. We also live in a pretty nice area and complex- just happened to get that one unit…lol. The Florida dude would have creeped me out too! Ah. I would have def had the blinds permanently shut.

    • Postcards from Rachel

      Aww, you remind me of my sister! She’s almost 18 and while all of her friends are out drinking and partying on the weekends, she’s painting, reading and enjoying the outdoors. I hope she does OK next year at college because you’re right, when you aren’t into that scene it’s difficult to live next to party animals. They’re always loud and obnoxious (that’s how I was in college, at least. Oops). But I can’t believe they have a 3 year old with them while drinking and smoking. Ummm?…

      We lived in Scottsdale on East Thomas Rd. but I’m totally blanking on the apartment complex name!

  • Betsy Transatlantically

    I’ve never done corporate housing – oh, the joys of moving alone – but it’s incredible how you can move somewhere with 2 suitcases and pack up to move out with at least twice that!

    • Postcards from Rachel

      Yep, that’s us. We moved with suitcases and now we have lots of extras. Luckily all of our apartments have been furnished so we don’t have to move furniture, but we bought a tent and sleeping bags – and who knows what else! I swear, our dog toys and beds take up the most room. Spoiled dogs.

      • Betsy Transatlantically

        haha Charlie is 95% of the reason Jon’s moving here instead of me moving back to the UK at this point :P

        • Postcards from Rachel

          Aww, that’s nice of him. I think that when he arrives, you should celebrate by adopting a friend for Charlie. :) We will be getting a 3rd dog when we settle down (and hopefully have a yard). Crazy dog lady status, here I come!

  • Beka Johnson

    I can’t say all that sounds normal but for living overseas it is a bit normal. When I lived in Brazil the neighbor kids would climb over the wall and stare into our dining room. They especially LOVED doing this during the holidays. So weird.

    • Postcards from Rachel

      Ha! I can’t believe they took the time to climb over a wall just to watch you guys. Did you decorate for the holidays?

      • Beka Johnson

        One time he fell off the wall and I didn’t feel too bad. On a bright note though … when we went back to visit 12 years later I got to see the kid who peeped over the wall and he turned out to be one great guy. Yes, we decorated for Christmas … we had a Charlie Brown tree with Christmas lights that were plastic red hot peppers. Weird now that I think about it. Christmas in Brazil was in the middle of summer so it was quiet different than here. =)

  • Kate Hall

    I have never lived in corporate housing but yknow, this sounds a lot like what the lower ended renting situation in the UK was like when I lived there. Mould everywhere and just general mayhem over what should be the simplest of things.
    Think of it this way, it’s a learning curve to grow from now ;).

    • Postcards from Rachel

      The mold situation was the worst. We actually bought a filter to remove anything in the air and also a massive dehumidifier. Our place was just so dark and damp! No wonder the mold went nuts.

  • Gesci

    We’ve never lived in corporate housing, but we’ve become pros at the pet-lease negotiations! We carry letters of recommendation for our pets from neighbors and previous vets as well as their complete records (to show that they’re well cared for). I don’t know if the letters help, but with two large dogs and a cat (our current area had a lot of “no cats” rentals… weird!) it can’t hurt! We do have to watch for a lot of breed discrimination, though, because of Sloan and Max’s size/mixes.
    We left our first house in England because of a neighbor. The house was an old (by American standards; it was built in 1782) farmhouse and wasn’t in the best shape, but we had a great garden, LOVED our village and location, and were fine with the house overall. But one of our neighbors, who was very vocal about hating dogs and kids (and screamed at other neighbors’ kids for using sidewalk chalk because it would “bring down property values”… uh huh) had a non-confrontation with Max (we were getting out of the car, the dogs were off lead as they always were, and he came out from behind a bush, startling Max, who barked and bounce/darted down the driveway- Paul immediately said “MAX, COME” and Max turned around and came back, but the neighbor started screaming that Max was aggressive and he was going to report him as an aggressive dog and there are laws against having aggressive dogs there and if Max comes near him again he’ll throw his trowel at him, etc.) and we were already past our lease, so we notified our landlord we’d be moving and we did. Even though we knew we’d be fine in court (aggressive dog challenges go to court, but when there is no evidence of physical violence character witnesses hold the most sway and Max has PLENTY of people who adore him) I didn’t want to feel paranoid our remaining time there, I wanted to enjoy it. Our next house was a modern barn conversion, so the house was a lot nicer, but the location wasn’t as good. Much better neighbors, though!
    Haven’t had creepy neighbors, though… but maybe having two big dogs helps with that as well!

    • Postcards from Rachel

      What an awful man! We found that there were LOTS of dog lovers in our area of Scotland, but dog haters were more vocal, if that makes sense. Who in their right mind would knock on someone’s door just to scream at them about a dog? And I cannot believe your old neighbor threatened to report Max as an aggressive animal. I would have moved too.

      • Gesci

        Yeah, I’d say 95% of people LOVED dogs, and both of our landlords were surprised when we asked if dogs were allowed, like it would even be a question- our second landlord said “In Yorkshire, they’re required!” GB was definitely the best place for a dog-family to live, for sure! We didn’t take a second of it for granted, but we sure lament the lack of pet-friendliness here even more after having lived there!

  • Bailie @ The Hemborg Wife

    Right now we live in a student housing building so we deal with all sorts of craziness, one morning when I went out I saw someone had kissed all over our nameplate which was so weird and gross since it is out in the hall and I sure would not want my lips on it!

    • Postcards from Rachel

      Bahaha. That’s random. Ok, so this is random too, but there was a man in Nebraska who used to rub vaseline all over his… ummm… bottom. Then he would leave marks on shop windows all over town. I believe they called him the “butt bandit” and finally caught him in the act months later. Your story reminded me of that. Ha!

      • Bailie @ The Hemborg Wife

        Ok so now I am really happy that it was just red lips!!!!

  • Kaity

    holy crap. this makes me experience with on-campus housing seem really pleasant!

  • Jessica

    Okay my neighbors seem normal compared to these people, but I had a really hard time adjusting to even having neighbors, since I have lived in the country my whole life and grew up on a farm. I just moved into a condo where we own the house, but they are attached to other town houses…..and we have a ‘condo director’. He’s this creepy old guy who will knock on my door for the silliest things, like “hey, when are you going to weed your garden, something that is none of my concern and I have nothing to do with?”. Um, piss off you weirdo, I own that garden and its none of your damn business! lol.

  • Casey

    hahah! At least you get good stories!

  • Chantal

    Oh wow. What stories! We got off good on neighbors haha

  • gabrielle

    these stories are hilarious. the guy looking through your window in florida is seriously creepy though — i think i would have definitely called the cops!!


  • Sara Louise

    What the what?! You have the weirdest neighbors! At least they make good blog fodder :)

  • Chelsea @ Lost in Travels

    what the crazy? i never would have expected those things from scotland! living in provided housing is such a gamble! we had severe black mold in our first place in korea and every time we told our boss she would get frantic apologizing and promise she would do something. this happened three times and still nothing happened. i agree with casey though, at least it’s good stories AFTERWARDS!!

  • thediynurse

    oh. my. god. I’m dying. I mean, I knew there were strange people out there but geez… can a poor girl get a break here?! Ha I guess it gives me something to look forward to lol

  • Amanda

    Love these! You’re completely right, housing across the world is a completely different ballgame! However, I’ve had my fair share of stories from the States too!!!

    You know all about my housing stories in Korea. No further explanation needed. ;)

    Great post Rachel!

  • Amanda

    OH but i forgot to mention about that time I was living in Branson, Missouri with my college room mate. We had a creeeeeeepy landlord who seemed like he really was kind, but went a little too far. He would come over a lot just to talk, and ended up snooping around on our bookshelves and cabinets.

    I had the condo all to myself one Christmas, and at 8am, Christmas morning he waltzes into my condo with a big ‘Merry Christmas.’ No knocking, NOTHING! I had worked at American Eagle doing a floor set/ restock that night and was still dead asleep. He came in with another woman, and they were walking around my condo just talking about it and how much he loved what my roommate and I had done with it. It was far to awkward for me just to get up and go say hi, so I stayed in bed and prayed they wouldn’t come look in my bedroom. Thank goodness they didnt, I was definitely sleeping in my undies!

    I honestly thought about hiding in the closet.

  • Dee

    Eeps, you’ve had your fair share of weird neighbors. The pervy ones are the worst, definitely. *shudders* One of my neighbors once found a guy standing up on a box and looking into my open window (which I stupidly didn’t close) while I was sleeping while he did unspeakable things. She reported the incident to the police but we never found out who he was. Needless to stay my window has stayed closed forever since that episode.