House-hunting this time was much easier than last year in Alajuela! This is partly due to all those lessons we learned from our previous attempts, and partly because the economy is not so strong.
Last year, we were staying in Alajuela, and we started looking for an apartment or house in San Pedro. Since San Pedro is on the other side of the capital city from where we were staying, it was difficult to even know where to start looking. So lesson #1 – stay near where you want to live while you look. We were also looking exclusively for a furnished place. Even after we gave up on San Pedro, we found it very difficult to find a furnished place – so, lesson #2 – go for unfurnished if necessary, and buy the basics. We tried craigslist (online) and La Nación (a newspaper), but without exception, the advertised apartments were rented by the time we called – even on the same day! So, we started walking around the neighbourhoods asking people in the street about unoccupied apartments or houses; we looked for posts in ICE offices, internet cafes, and pulperias (small grocery stores). We put the word out to anyone who would listen, and finally found an apartment. Lesson #3 – walk around and ask *everyone* - don’t rely exclusively on advertisements.
This year, we stayed in Apartotel Los Yoses (www.apartotel.com) - we booked a week (lesson #1). Yesterday, while walking around the neighborhood, we went into two hostels to ask about housing. We decided to reserve a room at one of them (www.casayoses.com) for the following week, just in case. We asked (lesson #3) at the coffee shop in the mall, we asked the bank guard, we asked at the lunch counter down the street… I even posted for help on my favorite forums. The hostel folks pointed us in one direction, and on the way, we talked to the street guard. He kindly called his boss, who drove down, picked us up, and showed us his apartment for rent in Los Yoses. It was nice! 2 bedrooms, 1 ½ baths, Living room, dining room, kitchen, pila (laundry patio), and a maid’s room / bathroom. Unfurnished (lesson #2), for $400/month. The only real problem is that he required a year’s lease – and we aren’t certain enough of our plans to commit to that. So, when we got back to our hotel, we got out La Nación and Al Día and started calling. We got through to a couple of places, and made an appointment for today to see one.
Today, Paulina came by to pick us up and showed us an apartment in San Pedro – it is about a block off the main road, close to UCR, close to the outlet mall, close to… pretty much everything we need :-D. It is partly-furnished (lesson #2), has 2 bedrooms, 1 bathroom, kitchen, living room, and pila. Short-term is no problem, and the rent is $400/month – we look around the apartment some more, Paulina drives us around the neighborhood, pointing out grocery stores, dance classes, bus stops, the Monge, restaurants, etc. As she drops us off at our hotel, we say we’ll take it! Woo hoo! We move on Wednesday!
Now – to work! And play some – the James Bond movie is still playing at the mall…