Friday, October 26, 2007

Finding a Place to Call Home

We just realized that November will be here next week, and soon we will have been here an entire month. And it also occurred to us that we hadn't made much progress on finding a place to live for the next 2-3 years. So yesterday Eric and I spent a good part of the day going around looking at apartments with one of the secretaries here who speaks English. (We are able to get around real well on our own with the Portuguese we know and are learning, but it gets a little complicated when you are dealing with something like this! The help was very much appreciated!)

We've been having a lot of discussion with Eric's coworkers and our Portuguese tutor about the best part of the city for us. Everyone has a different opinion, but we've been hearing a lot about the Lourdes area. It is an older section of the city and is the site of many of the government offices. A lot of the government officials live in the area and they have made sure that it is a very safe area. (It is the only place in the city with surveillance cameras on the streets and there is a fairly strong police presence. It is also one of the only neighborhoods where all the shops along the streets don't have garage doors that they pull down at night to cover the glass and secure things.)

We ended up looking at 6 apartments yesterday to get a feel for what is available. Our first week here, we also looked at a townhouse that is still under construction, but should be ready to move into in December. (This is the house that Andre and Carol started building before they decided to move to Italy for a few years. They have offered to rent it to us if we want it.) Of all the apartments we looked at, there was one that we liked a whole lot. It combined everything we were looking for: secure location, quiet area, within walking distance to necessities, and large enough that we won't get all claustrophobic. It is in an older building - over 20 years old and maybe closer to 30 - but it has a lot of character and is very spacious. There would be a few things that we would want to update, but it has a lot going for it!

Eric's biggest concern about where we live is still the safety issue. For being so laid back and not being a worrier at all, he stays pretty on edge about me being safe. I am fully aware of the fact that I am in a big city and I stay real aware of my surroundings and all, but I can't stress enough how comfortable I am here. Nobody here looks at me twice when I'm walking down the street and I've yet to feel threatened by anyone. Honestly, there were nights I came out of my Donnellson, Iowa office alone after dark and felt more uneasy than I do here! Of course, it is very important to me too that I am in an area safe enough for me to walk to the grocery store; I just find it kind of cute how much Eric thinks about it given his usual 'no worries' demeanor. So we went to the Lourdes area last night and spent some time driving around, walking around, and having supper. It certainly does have a safe feel to it and might become a real viable option for us.

We are going to try and start coming to some conclusive thoughts about where we want to live, but right now we are weighing our options between the Lourdes apartment we saw versus Andre's townhouse.

It is hard to really get a feel for the apartment through pictures, but I'll try.

This is in the common reception area. You can only reach this though if the 24 hour door man will let you through the gate.

This is the living room. It has huge windows behind the camera and along the wall on the right. I liked the floors a lot - stone. I'm still convinced I can make my Iowa boy fall in love with solid surface flooring. I love my hardwoods and tile, but he thinks you have to live on carpet. Remodeling / building a house together later in life will be much simpler if we can resolve these issues now . . . you know, make him see things my way. ;)

This shot doesn't do justice to the master suite. But you get an idea with the hardwood floor and decorative exposed beams (not actually structural). It also has an absolutely huge walk in closet and an additional smaller closet built into the wall.

This is a guest bathroom. Okay, I still laugh looking at the picture. But hey, if I give my guests a jacuzzi tub and glass encased shower, can they really complain about the avocado green sink and toilet???

Again, I couldn't really capture a good picture, but the kitchen has granite counter tops, 2 sinks, a place for 2 refrigerators or a fridge and upright freezer, stone flooring, and a TON of cabinet space. The cabinets are all around the kitchen and go all the way up to the ceiling. It is larger than you can see here. Also note the absence of a stove. No appliances come with the apartments here. In fact most of the apartments we looked at didn't even have light fixtures or shower heads. I guess this way you can get what you want, but it is somewhat strange to see just wires hanging from the ceiling!

We'll keep you updated, but hopefully we can make some decisions soon and be able to tell you where we will be calling home. (And even share with you an address down here where we can receive mail and where you could deliver yourself if you got the hankering to come visit us in Brasil!)

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