Monday morning was Ken's first day working from the hotel in Esteli and this meant I was on my own with my limited Spanish. This was also the day of the Independence Day Parade in the middle of town and several roads were blocked off. I had an appointment to see a furnished apartment in the middle of town. When I say the middle of town, I mean the middle of town! The apartment building is on Parque Central. In fact, I had to park three blocks away because it was in the middle of the blocked roads. During the parade, the crowd of people watching and eating at the food stands had completely blocked the parking spots of the apartment building.
After some confusion about the time I was supposed to see the apartment, (Ken told me 8 am, they thought 9am and showed up at 9:35) I finally laid my eyes on Esteli heaven! I walked through a 2 bedroom apartment with its own bath and kitchen! There was air conditioning and even a comfortable couch. It's an ugly couch, but it's not made of 100% wood like our couch in Guatemala! We could sprawl out comfortably on this couch.
- Location - It's smack-dab in the middle of town. There's a grocery store on the opposite corner of the park.
- Playground - There's a huge Americanesque play structure in the middle of the park. We haven't seen anything this nice since we stayed at the JW Marriott in Panama for Christmas. Wow!
- Privacy - We'd have our own space and wouldn't have to share a kitchen with anyone.
- Comfortable couch
- Parking - a place to park the car right in front of the building.
- Safety - Another resident told me the building was secure and he hadn't heard of any problems. The square is a safe place to live because there are lots of security guards both at the park and in front of businesses around the park.
- Other Tenants - One tenant is an expat that has lived in Esteli for 10 months. He has lots of contact information. Several of the other tenants are players on the professional soccer (futbol) team. They are from Uruguay and Columbia. Their coach is from Brazil and is our neighbor.
- Cost! $390/month, including weak wifi, water, garbage and parking. We have to pay for electricity separately.
- Wifi - The free wifi that came with the apartment failed miserably. Ken wouldn't be able to work off it.
- Beds - There are 2 double-beds and no linens. Luckily, we travel with 2 sets of queen sheets and 2 sets of twin sheets. We could make this work.
- Kitchen - There is a kitchen, but there's nothing in it except appliances. We'd need to buy plates, silverware, cutting boards, strainer, water dispenser, etc. again. We travel with 2 pots, 1 frying pan, 2 baking sheets, several cooking utensils, 1 Vitamix and tupperware.
- Unit location - This unit is in the back of the building and doesn't have a view of the park. Because of this it is also quieter, but can be stuffier in the heat of the day.
Needless to say, I was ecstatic. A furnished apartment in the middle of town with a safe place to park the car for $390/month. This is a big WIN!
The kids and I received a key for the apartment that day. After the craziness of the parade went away, we unloaded the car. We stayed one more night at the hotel (so that Ken could work uninterrupted) and moved in the next day.
Our strategy of driving the roads and calling on For Rent signs worked. While we feel extremely fortunate to have found this place, we know that our focused efforts and diligence played a role as well.
We only stayed 3 nights in the Esteli hotel, which is 3/4 a month's rent!
First Impressions - LOVING LIFE! We found another gem. The kids have never lived in an apartment, and they, too, are enjoying it. We eat out a lot (the food is cheap) and have already found a favorite cafe 2 blocks away. Almost everything we need is within a few blocks. We've spent several evenings wrapping up our day at the park. The kids run while Ken and I get to share our day with each other. Once we figure out how to drink wine while we're there, it'll be the perfect ending.
For those of you that love or envy our lifestyle, can you see yourself living in an apartments like this with 4 people?