Sunday, June 12, 2011

Moving (well, we're actually moved...)

As our first school year is coming to an end, so is the lease on our apartment. Frank and I were met with a decision: do we take the easy way out and stay put, or do we venture into the unknown and search for a place that better meets our needs? Throughout the year we have wavered back and forth with our decision. Finally though we decided that we would casually begin searching for a house with ground floor access.

Deciding to move was just the first of many steps. Housing here is at a premium and most people live in high rise apartment buildings. If we wanted to live in a house, we would have to move deeper into the jungle and higher up the mountain. These houses are not sought after by the local population as living away from restaurants and thousands of other people is not considered advantageous. So as we searched, we knew we would be living in a community with other westerners and far away from modern conveniences like 7-11’s and shao bing (our favorite breakfast treat).

Most people here hire agents to find them housing. Many of the complexes will refuse to speak to any one but the agents and so it is extremely difficult to find living arrangements on your own. With agents taking ½-1 full month’s rent, they can be expensive. However, their services don’t just last until you sign that initial contract, you can go to them for the entire first year for help with anything dealing with the house. We knew that if time became slim, we would be enlisting the help of an agent but initially, we thought we’d try to see what we could find on our own.

The community - just behind the row of plants is the swimming pool.  So nice on hot days.

A few weeks ago, a house fell into our lap. We simply had to decide if it was the one for us. With 8 flights of stairs, 7 floors and 4 bedrooms, we weren’t so sure. That was until we saw the yard. Looking out of the kitchen window, there was an actual lawn! After having to take the elevator down 8 stories to a tiled breezeway and out to the concrete street for the past year, this was paradise. However, rentals are quite different here than in the US. We made a list of all of the things we wanted changed about the house-almost like we were actually purchasing the house. The landlord agreed to some and not to others. With the lease signed, keys handed over, we were officially ready to move into our new home!

The neighborhood view

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