So like I said, we were looking for an apartment (departmento) …for several reasons. The most important reason of all? SPACE. If you can remember at all, our dwelling has been a one room cottage. It was really cozy and charming.. but I get where “cabin fever” derived its name. We just needed more space, and some much needed privacy.
So we looked and looked, but it was difficult to know where we wanted to live without knowing the area all that well. I asked around as much as I could, Grant took buses around to check out different areas, and we had to keep in mind that we are still volunteering at the orphanage, so something close by. (Although, I just found out yesterday that some of the Tias from the orphanage travel 2 hours from and to work!…puts things in perspective)
Anyway… How do you search for an apartment in Quito, Ecuador?
Online is clearly the easiest because you can see pictures, and do quick searches, etc. If you want to be charged as a gringo, you search the way you do as a gringo, or like most things around here, you ask how people that live here would do it. For example, If you were to search on Craigslist, you would find a few pages of apartments running from around $500-1200 or more. I asked an Ecuadorian if they had a version of Craigslist and she pointed me to OLX, which I believe is international, but just not something I ever knew about. Anyway, that is how we found ….drumroll….our new apartment.
We first found an apartment (3bdrm 2 bthrm) for $280, which is in a neighborhood close to the orphanage, called Carcelen. We went to check it out but it was in pretty poor condition (One of the bathrooms had a toilet in the shower and no sink….it just didn’t know what it was). We looked some more and found a 4 bdrm 2bthm for $350. Our ideal was anything under $300 but we went and checked it out anyway. It was in Carcelen like the other apartment (5 minutes from FHC). It is in walking distance from all the shops, on a quaint street, and in beautiful condition. The owner had just had the apt remodeled. Needless to say, we wanted it. It seemed ideal but it was just a bit outside of our budget. So with the help of our friend Jen (Volunteer coordinator at FHC), she spent the day haggling a price for us, and settled on $320. We accepted, because if we can cut corners on our furnishings for the house, we can still meet our budget goals. (THANK YOU from the bottom of our hearts Jen!!)
(Learning to dance the salsa in our new home)
So right, it is unfurnished! That to me seemed impossible when we first moved down here. I had it set in my mind that I needed a furnished apt. Well, I have just proved myself wrong. Our other place cost us $400/month (everything included). That definitely met out $$ goals, but it was not practical for visitors or even for our sanity. Poor James! haha, next time he will get his own room:) With our utilities, our monthly house bill is about $350 , that gives us $600 of savings we are able to use towards furnishing our new place. This means: beds, appliances, cookware, plates, cups, silverware, pillows, blankets, towels, dining set, living room set, washer dryer, and fridge.
How do we do all of this and make it worth it for maybe a year? First, we didn’t do this on our own. Remember our Spanish teacher Ms. P. (Paulina)? She has been most valuable in helping us accomplish our furnishing goals. We first created a budget that we needed to stick to, then we began our purchases.
Paulina took me to her neighborhood, Comite Del Pueblos. (It’s amazing how different prices can be neighborhood to neighborhood…so find out which one is most cost effective) I will give you my shopping list including $$:
6 twin mattress 2 full mattresses = $213
10 warm blankets = $90
10 pillows, 8 sheet sets, bath towels, dish towels, hand towels, wash cloths = $149
10 glass cups =$2
12 sets of silverware = $12
I will stop there because I don’t want to bore you, but essentially I made out well.
Paulina is lending us her oven (We haven’t had an oven for 2 months!) I am very excited to use an oven again haha. It is a gas oven. You literally swap out an empty canister of gas for a full one from these trucks that go around for $3, which Paulina said would last probably about a month. $3 a month for cooking, not bad.
She lent us her couch and chair, a bunch of kitchen items including a blender (with all the amazingly fresh fruit here, it’s a necessity!).
We just got a fridge for $145, a dining set for $130 (that I found on a site called Mercadolibre.com ) and now we really just need a lavadora y secadora (washer and dryer). Our utility bills should be under $20 a month and instead of getting our own internet, we have a wifi extender and are paying our landlord $10 a month to borrow off of her wifi. So there are definitely ways to cut corners.
What also makes it nice, is when we leave Quito, we can sell most of this stuff and make some $$ back (and I know just the sites to use). We did sacrifice here and there, Grant and I have always shared a King bed, so going from that to a full…well I think it’s cozy and my main goal now is being able to afford to live and experience this country and life. To us, small sacrifices and not doing what is convenient (like we used to do) is worth it, so that we can do all of this.
Jen from FHC (the orphanage) has been such a huge help to us in this process as well. She drove us to Paulina’s place to pick up a bunch of furniture and my recent purchases. Paulina, her husband, and Jen helped us load up the van and move all of our stuff. Then Jen had us all over for pizza afterward (Naomi specifically wore her “You had me at pizza shirt” in anticipation for this meal). It all came together amazingly well and we couldn’t be happier with our new set up and all of the incredible help and effort from our friends.
Jen invited us on an amazing adventure Saturday, which I’ll have to fill you all in later. Amazing? Kind of incredible actually. She kept me in anticipation and didn’t really let me know much of anything until we arrived. So stay tuned for that.
Also, 2 of my sisters, Sarah and Liz and Liz’s kids Ingrid (Zoey’s bestest friend) and Aidan are flying down here tomorrow!!! Can’t wait to show them this beautiful country.