We have an apartment! :D
A friend lives in Alajuela, and the apartment near his was empty. He found the landlord, we talked, and finally saw an apartment. It is about a block outside the center of town, which is important to us because we don't have a car. It is upstairs and has two large bedrooms, one bathroom, kitchen and living room, plus it has an outdoor area for laundry. It also has a small room and bathroom off the laundry area. We wondered a bit about this until we found out that it is actually a "maid's room." Wow! That room is *small*! Just enough room for a single bed and maybe a shelf for clothes.
We saw the apartment a couple of days ago, and given the speed that apartments get snapped up here, I was pretty anxious. But the landlord was in no hurry (he didn't even have a sign up), and so we looked around some more. I know I have a tendancy to get too upbeat about things (almost anything), so I have to tell myself to wait at least a day to think before making any big decision.
So, Rick and I spent about two hours the next morning walking around one small area of Alajuela. Then in the afternoon, I took a taxi for another hour looking at more areas. More and more, it became clear that the way to find a place to live is *not* to depend on papers, signs, or ads. We found out more by asking people in front of their houses - we asked not only if they knew of any houses or apartments for rent, but also if they knew of any that were empty. By the end of that day, we had found two houses and one apartment for rent, and several that might be for rent in a month or two. NONE of them had signs up, and none were advertised *anywhere.* Two more places had signs up, but one was taken and the other - well, we tried the phone number four different times, with no answer. Oh, how silly were were - thinking we could just walk into a town we didn't know, make a few phone calls, and have the perfect apartment...
So! Today, we went to see the landlord again. We agreed on a few things that he was fixing, found out when garbage days are, who pays what and when, when we move in and out, etc.
· Garbage is picked up Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. It has to be out by the street that morning by 6 or 7. NOT the night before (because of the dogs in the neighborhood) - I guess we now have our wake-up time determined :(
· Electricity is paid by us at the end of each month. The landlord will pay for November. The bill is left for us at our door.
· The landlord will pay the garbage and water bills, and the guard (who handles the entire street) is covered as well.
· There is no telephone (there is a hookup, but no line) or TV cable.
· He is replacing the roof, but it will probably take a week at the most (that is his estimate). We were concerned that the workers would need to access the roof through our apartment, but he worked it out that they can get there from the outside laundry area.
· We will bring him the first month's rent tomorrow and get the keys. We will move in SATURDAY!!! And there is no deposit - yay! Rent is c120,000 per month, approximately $240.
Next - SHOPPING! We don't have any furniture with us, and we *definitely* gave up on finding a furnished place.