Thursday, February 24, 2011

Apartment Hunting - the last part

We’re now moved in to our new apartment and like any place, it has it’s pros and cons. The good news is the pros outweigh the cons, which means we made the right decision. And, as nice as the hotel was, it feels really good to be in our own place (even if it means I have to start doing my own dishes again! ;)

I’ll start with the cons because they’re more entertaining and I can leave you on a good note. The first thing I noticed was how poorly some of the apartment features are constructed. The kitchen is a mess – plastic cupboards, a very cheap stainless steel sink and a stove too tiny for the area it sits in. Then, you’ve got these beautiful granite countertops … with a huge seam running through one side of it. It’s as if they had some nice stuff to work with, but just didn’t know exactly what to do with it. Even so, the floor plan of the kitchen is open, which we love and there is plenty of counter space for the straightforward cooking I tend to do. The fridge is another funny thing. It’s outside the kitchen and inside a cabinet, which means every time you want to go to the fridge, you need to open the cabinet first and then open the fridge. It beeps at you if you leave the fridge door open, and it also has a lock on it (almost everything does here) so we’ve joked that our new diet plan will be to lock the fridge after 7pm!

The bathrooms are another con of the place. We have two and they are both really small with only one sink (so we’ve decided we each get our own bathroom, which isn’t too bad). Again, the construction is shoddy with glue smeared all over the edges of the mirror and uneven tiles … The grout is the biggest example of crappy labor – I was scrubbing at what I thought was some dust and it was simply the concrete under the tile showing through because the grout is so thin and uneven.

The final con I’ll mention is the lack of a clothes dryer. The great news is that appliances were included in our rent, which saved us a lot of time and hassle, but what we didn’t realize until I went to do our first load of laundry is that the washing machine is just that … no dryer combo unit like we had in the hotel. Come to find out, that’s very common here as most people dry their clothes on clothes line or drying racks on their patios. This will take a little getting used to, but now I understand why there are as many if not more fabric softener choices in the grocery store as detergent. It also explains the fact that every hypermarket carries drying racks, clothesline and clothespins. Doesn’t seem so strange now that I understand the cause. I just keep telling myself how much we’re going to help the environment over the next 3 years. :)

Okay, enough whining, here’s what’s awesome about the place. First, overall it’s very good sized for this city – we have a decent sized dining/sitting area that is open to the kitchen, which makes the place seem even larger. The ceilings are at least 12 feet high, so it feels very open and airy and there are lots windows and as a result, lots of light. Also the bedrooms are both pretty big and about the same size, which means we’ll be able to make the 2nd bedroom into a really nice office. Lots of tile floors so the place will stay relatively cool in the summer and even better all the electricity and water charges are included in our rent so if we want to hike up the air, we can!

The compound itself is quite nice and pretty quiet (except for the construction noise at present). They are in the process of finishing the gym, a small water park area near the pool and a BBQ area with some kids play equipment. Once everything is finished, it will be a very nice looking complex. Our building is full and we have another married couple living in the top 1 bedroom apartment – we’ve only met him briefly, but think they might be from Australia given the accent. And we think a single guy living in the 3 bedroom above us – he mentioned something about another guy joining him later, but we’re not sure we heard him correctly and haven’t seen anyone else yet. We think he must be from the UK – man, they talk fast! You’d think we’d be able to understand their English most easily, but the pace of speech and the slight vocabulary differences can make it challenging. Everyone seems quiet and pretty easy going, so we’re grateful that neighbors don’t seem like they will be a problem for us.

My favorite pro of the place, as I’ve mentioned before, is the patio that runs the length of the apartment. You can access it from the sitting room or the 2nd bedroom through huge patio doors and since it gets morning sun, it’s really comfortable out there most of the day (at least until the hot summer hits). I’ve had the doors open, but then had to temper my excitement as I realized how much dust I was letting in. I’m hoping that once most of the construction around the area is complete, I’ll be able to leave them open in the winter months. High on my list of purchases is some patio furniture, so I can take full advantage of the space.

The trick to greenery and flowers in the desert? A drip irrigation system!


  1. Did I see the Little Mexican Cooking School bag? Looks like a nice place! Nancy

  2. You did! I did bring that bag with me. :) Hoping I'll be able to make some sopas soon!