November 26, 2009

All is well that ends well – finding an apartment in Santo Domingo

We finally have moved into our apartment in Santo Domingo. It is an amazing apartment, much nicer and bigger than we actually need. I can’t believe how lucky we were with finding this apartment.

When you walk into the apartment, on your right is a nice patio with two rocking chairs. Just past the patio is a sunroom – a lovely room with windows all around – that I am using as my office. (This is my favorite part – my own office!) It has a huge living room and a separate formal dining room that we may never use. The kitchen is ample, with a built-in breakfast counter – great for feeding the children.

There are three large bedrooms, each with their own full bathroom. Our bedroom is enormous. The large bathtub has a Jacuzzi built into it, and there is a walk-in closet with a built-in dressing room. (The Jacuzzi is the girls’ favorite part!)

Finding this apartment was a stroke of luck – at first it seemed like bad luck, but it turned out completely differently. When we were still in Guatemala, my friend who lives here found us an apartment in a neighborhood called Bella Vista. The owner agreed that we could sign a contract for three months, and that we could move in immediately. The day after we arrived in Santo Domingo, we went to see the apartment. We then saw a couple of others, but by that Wednesday afternoon, we decided we could move into the apartment in Bella Vista. We let the rental agent know, and she told us she would contact the owner.

The next day, we enrolled the children in a nearby school and set about getting familiar with Bella Vista. The agent didn’t call us back, but we were too busy getting everything else in order to think much of it. On Friday morning, however, I called the agent and asked her what the deal was. She came to our friend’s house, where we were staying, and told me that the owner wanted to wait until Saturday. I began to get a little suspicious, and told the agent that, if we waited until Saturday, the owner would have to pro-rate the rent. She called the owner, and she agreed to meet with us, on Friday at 4pm.

Thinking all was resolved, I went with the agent to the apartment on Friday afternoon. We met the owner. She was in her fifties, and dressed up in business attire. She had a serious, slightly demeaning, air about her. Once we began the negotiations, she began to come across as downright unpleasant. There was no electricity in the apartment, yet she wanted me to sign the contract before being sure that everything actually worked. Even though we are in the Dominican Republic, she wanted the payments in US dollars. Once we began to sort out those details, she noticed the name of my co-signer – my friend who had found the apartment. She said she could not accept that person, as she did not know who she was. She had presumed the U.S. embassy would be co-signing for me. The only other way she would give us the apartment was if we paid the three months up front, in addition to a full month’s deposit. She wanted four months rent before handing over the keys and turning on the electricity! In addition, the electricity wouldn’t be on until Monday, so we still could not move in. We left, telling her I had to talk about it with my husband.

Our agent felt bad for us, as she knew we wanted to move right away, and that we had expected to move on Thursday. So, she called a friend of hers and asked her if she would rent her very expensive apartment to us at the same price as the other apartment. Miraculously, her friend agreed, and we got this palatial, luxurious apartment out of the deal.

We still had to wait a few days to move in, but, luckily, our friend didn’t mind us staying at her house for a few more days. On Tuesday, we finally were able to move into our palace!

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