After 6 weeks of living out of suitcases and lugging things back and fourth to our car we were done. We were ready to find a home and unpack...and fast.
The first question is not where but how? How do you find a safe, clean, affordable place to live in a small town in Guatemala when you really don't know anyone. We quickly found out there were two options. You can go with one of the town's realtors or you can run around town looking for signs that say "Para Alquilar" (for rent). Since we were ready to land, we did both.
VOTE - This post highlights six of the eight places we looked at during a 2 day search. If you want to play along and guess which place we chose you can by voting at the bottom of this post.
1. Los Manos Condo - Located about a mile from the center of town and the kids' school. This gated community included on-site property management, came fully furnished, included a partial bedroom for the adults and a loft for the kids, and all utilities.
PROS: Fully furnished, very low price, all utilities paid, condos and management have a great reputation
CONS: Very small, no privacy for the downstairs/adult bedroom, a mile from school/town
2. Barrio Monterrey House - located 1/2 block off the main tourist drag of Calle Santander and 3/4 mile from the school, this very private free standing house has two bedrooms, two bathrooms and includes a very big yard with fruit and avocado trees.
PROS: Very private yard and house, free fresh picked fruit, 2 bathrooms
CONS: Most expensive property we saw, big, three story condo building being built next door with workers waking you up 6 days/week, sparsely furnished, very small kitchen
3. Apartment for Rent - Located across the street from house #2, this apartment includes two bedrooms and two bathroom and comes fully furnished.
PROS: 2 bathrooms and fully furnished! The landlord is also willing to swap out a double bed for two twins, giving the kids their own beds.
CONS: A lot less privacy, especially when you have you have young kids that scream. The floor plan of this apartment is made even smaller by the fact that the furniture is full sized. It's cramped.
4. House Near the Boat Dock - this house is located about a mile from school and the center of town but about 100 yards from the public boat docks which could come in handy when crossing the lake (or could be smelly). It's located on the same property as a hotel and two other houses but has it's own private yard. It is two bedrooms and two bathrooms and is sparsely furnished.
PROS: It's near the boat dock. Two bathrooms!
CONS: It's near the boat dock. It's a hike to get to places. The kitchen is so small the fridge is in the living room. Sparsely furnished. Probably the least attractive house we saw.
5. Calle Frutal House - located about 1/2 mile between the school and the center of town this house sits on a piece of land with two other houses and has its own yard. It is 1 bedroom and 1 bathroom with a loft for the kids and comes partially furnished.
PROS: Location, location, location. Big wall of closets. The bathroom has a bathtub (very rare and Tag prefers baths). Well maintained house and yard.
CONS: One bathroom and partially furnished. We'd need to buy a bed. The owner requires the tenant to pay the lawyer's fees for signing an official lease (not crazy expensive but the only place we heard this from -- Gringo landlord!).
6. Barrio Jucanya House - located just across the river from the school and about a mile from the center of town this house sits on the property of a hotel. It is one bedroom and one bathroom, unfurnished (except for fridge and stove) and just underwent a big remodel that looks very nice.
PROS: Everything except the bathroom was just remodeled. Very good price.
CONS: Size, we'd all need to share a bedroom. Unfurnished, we'd need to buy three beds (plus everything else). Limited privacy since it shares property with a hotel.
Since we were looking so frantically, these were our top choices.
Now, vote for your favorite. Which place do you think we chose?