June 12, 2013
It's hard to believe we've been in Encarnación for almost a year now, but the fact that our rental contract ends this month makes it offical. We're on the seemingly never-ending hunt for a more economical place to live. We definitely want to cut down on our monthly expenses, through gas (currently about $7.25 per gallon) and cheaper rent, by putting our family within walking distance to where our next big ministry project will be taking place. More about that later.
We've been checking out downtown apartments and talking to more landlords in any given day than should be legally allowed. The fun comes in when we ask if there's parking and if we can bring the dog. As you'd expect, those who have clean, safe apartments generally say no, and those in places where I'd be afraid to let the girls ever leave the confines of our triple-bolted doors are totally cool with our live-in security system also known as Niko.
I've learned a whole new set of vocabulary words and honed in my phone voice. Sadly, I still get mistaken for a Brazilian by my accent, which puts us in the "give them a special price" range. I've learned that the renter pays for the real estate agent, rather than the owner of the property. And I've found that very, very few building have elevators, despite having a whole lot of floors. Imagining us hauling our bookshelves and beds up these narrow stairwells--okay, just imagining myself walking up and down those stairwells every day is a little daunting, but we keep looking, and in the process, my stairclimbing is improving.
But there's something I'm missing in this process. Shouldn't it be that I see the advertisement, call and ask the right questions or show up in person, then see the place and pay the money? Nope, it would seem not. Some of the conversations I've had lately, to illustrate my point:
ME (to current landlord): "We really like this place but need to work out something more economical. We can only pay ___ per month."
LANDLORD: "Oh, have you looked at the slum apartments on Elm Street yet? Yeah, I'm okay with my property sitting empty. I have another rental that's been empty since February last year. I want to get the price I'm asking." (Let me mention that the dickering over price is usually for a $50-100 price difference, but it is expected that you will argue a bit about the price and not pay what is being asked. That conversation was the clue we needed to know that it was time to get really serious about the apartment hunt and give up this convenient little cottage near the river.)
ME: "...and how much is the monthly rent?"
LADY (seeming a bit befuddled that I'd even ask): "Well, of course, that would depend on how many of you there are, since we pay for the water. Oh, 4 of you? Well, we'll see. Come by tomorrow and I'll tell you then how much."
LADY (two days later after putting me off each time I called): "Oh, rent would be 8--no, 9. Yeah, 9 for you."
MAN: "Yes, I know you called me all weekend and all day today and I was never in the office at the times they told you I would be, but I can show it to you right now. Can you be here in 5 minutes? Call me when you are in front of the building."
MAN (5 minutes later when I called to say we were then in front of the building): "While I was waiting for you to arrive, someone walked up and wanted to look inside and they liked it, so I'm taking their money right now. Sorry. You should be happy, though, because they are your fellow countrymen. Brazilians."
REAL ESTATE AGENT: "It's late and I want to go home, but I'll call you in the morning and tell you if the owner accepts your offer."
ME (a little bit later): "I know you said you would call us tomorrow, but people have been renting these apartments right out from under us and I'm wondering if, by chance, you already spoke to the owner. Like I said, we're ready now to pay for this and seal the deal."
AGENT: "Oh, yeah, I went back to the office after showing it to you and someone else wanted it, so I went ahead and rented it to them."
REAL ESTATE AGENT: "I can't deal with that property until after 5 PM. Call me then if you're still interested."
SAME AGENT (at 4:45 PM): "Oh, I rented that one a few hours ago."
For real?! What am I missing here?
Loads of fun, Ladies and Gents!
PS--Don't forget that next week is Bridge Week. I know, I know. You don't know what Bridge Week is. That's the idea. ;) But you don't wanna miss it!!!! It's happening right here on this blog, so check back in for the fun!