We went to the city we're moving to to find an apartment. We had much more time to look for one than we did when we moved to this beach town, so we used that time to our advantage. Last month, we drove around our potential neighborhoods and talked to people at leasing offices. (That's the way to go in Brazil -- from what I understand, renting directly from the owner, Craigslist style, is usually reserved for the poorest people here.) Anyway, the leasing office people gave us tips on what to look for and what neighborhoods would be good for us. Luckily, most of the offices in this city have websites where they post the details about apartments that are available for rent. So all month, we've been checking those websites and calling the agents if we saw an apartment that we liked. There was one posted online that was extra, extra great and it became our first choice. Of course, we had to see if the pictures were too good to be true.
We made appointments with some agents to see the most promising apartments on Saturday. The in-laws live kind of close to the new city, so we stayed at their house on Friday night and then got up bright and early Saturday morning to drive on over.
We gave up on the house idea, mostly for budget and maintenance reasons. So our big debate was deciding whether to go for "centrally located but small and noisy" VS "away from the hustle-bustle part of town and quiet but a bit harder to get around". This is a quintessential housing decision for a Californian, so I sat back and evaluated my various housing experiences in my adult life and whether I'm happy being "in the middle of it all" or a bit farther off. I realized that I've been consistently happier being a bit farther off if I can come home to somewhere nicer and quieter and relaxing.
So we saw two apartments that were really close to Alexandre's hospital, with restaurants, stores, and a main avenue close by, but the apartments themselves were old and not in great condition, parking was a challenge, and it was noisy. We saw one that was within biking distance to the hospital and the building itself was really fancy (gym, pool, etc), but the neighborhood around it was kind of shady and there were no buses and not much was in walking distance.
Buuuuuuut we saw our first-choice apartment, which turned out to be a little farther away (Alexandre will need to drive to work). However, it's in a gorgeous new apartment complex in a much quieter, safer, cleaner neighborhood, with a lot more nature around (nice trails to run and walk on). The apartment itself is beautiful. The current owners haven't lived there long, but they're moving for the husband's job and are renting it out. They've kept it in great condition.
So yes, our first-choice apartment worked out, and we signed papers on Saturday! We get the keys the first week of January, but we won't be moving until later in the month (still no exact date... thanks, Brazilian military!). I'm so relieved and excited and optimistic. There isn't much within walking distance, but there are 3 different buses that pass by the complex, and then it's just a 10-minute walk to a big supermarket (hipermercado!) that is accessed by a whole bunch of buses. (It also has a bakery, a pharmacy, and a place to pay bills, which covers most of my basic day-to-day errands.) Since I don't even have students in the new city yet and since I'll probably have students in different places around town, it was impossible for us to try to find something that will be close to my job. But I think this bus situation will be totally doable. (Of course, Alexandre and I will also have the option of alternating bus/car days, depending on our schedules, and I'll have the option of inviting students to have class at our apartment for a cheaper rate.)
So I know you're dying to see it, right? I stole some pictures off of the leasing office's website. The apartment is furnished in the pics but it won't be when we move in. Have a gander, and try not to drool or squeal in jealousy:
Isn't it adorable? It's a little on the small side, but it's organized in such a way that it doesn't feel small and the space is useful. As you can see in the picture, it has a good-sized balcony. What you can't see is that the balcony has its own little built-in barbecue, plus enough room for a table and/or a hammock (you can see them if you look really closely in the second picture!). Then, of course, there's the hardwood floors and the brand new tiles in the kitchen and bathroom, along with a door separating the kitchen and the laundry room so your clothes don't smell like fried meat (no, that doesn't happen to us in our current apartment, all the time...).
Then there's also the apartment complex itself. It has a pool/barbecue party area, a soccer ...court? It's a fake field that doubles as a basketball court. You won't see the 24-hour doorman or the electric gate or our own individual parking spot (so no more neighbors calling us at 2am to move our car out of the shared one, and no more people blocking our car and then leaving on foot!). You also won't see the signs posted on the doors of each building that said "RESPECT SILENCE LAWS, ORDINANCE § 95636589" and had a list of annoying sound-related things that neighbors can't do. FANTASTIC.
Yaaaaaayyyyy! I'm sure we'll eventually discover some minor annoyances, but I don't think things can get any worse than they are where we're living now. Heck, I don't think things will even come close to this current craphole. (I'd go out and take pictures for you to compare if I weren't afraid of some crack addict stealing my camera.)
But hooray! We're movin' on up.
So!? Who's gonna come visit?? :D