Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Moving house

It occurred to me the other day that we have not had our ‘own’ apartment / house to live in since we left London in December 2009. We’ve been travelling, staying with family and friends, hotels, house rentals, sub-lets (a 2 month sublet in Moema, an 8 month sublet in Vila Madalena, a friend’s house for a month over Xma  and most recently a 10 month temporary lease in Jardins). It is SO nice to finally have our own place with our furniture which has been in storage since March. 

We had been looking for a place pretty much all this year. Earlier this year we looked at places to buy and reform but the currency is too strong, and at the same Tim was offered a stake in his company so we put the money into that and decided to look for rentals. The place we were staying in was pretty convenient – we had a rolling month lease on a 3 bedroom apartment in Jardins, so we didn’t feel the pressure to get somewhere straight away. Tim hated the commute but since having a car at least it was in his own space, even if he was stuck in some awful traffic jam. We had the idea of moving before Olivia was born but the house hunting was disheartening.

We started looking before our Europe trip in August and found a couple of places but firstly, real estate agents were SO slow in responding and secondly the market is pretty depressing – big ugly houses that are our of our budget. We also needed to organise house insurance. This isn’t a problem for most people as their companies will organise this on their behalf but Tim is (will be) a partner in his firm and doesn’t draw a big salary so it turned out to be a pain for us. We found a house we liked literally driving around the neighbourhood we wanted. The owner let us have a few visits and we thought we were in but it turned out she was just using us to put pressure on the first couple.  We found another house we really liked walking distance to his office on a private road, and in our budget but the real estate agent (who turned out to be the owner as well) only returned calls after Tim had left a couple of dozen messages, and insisted that we had to be approved by one particular insurance company which we just couldn’t get. I think he either didn’t want to rent (he wanted to sell it as well) and/or didn’t like dealing with gringoes.

Looking online* is futile – most of the places advertised are probably gone already, don’t look like the photos or don’t have any photos. My favourite agency I liked to look at was AXPE but they were out of our budget. Agents / house owners will also negotiate with you based on who is paying for the rent – a common first question is ‘Is your company paying?’. Unfortunately for us / them, we were paying rent out of our own savings. If you can find a place direct with the owner you are looking at 15-20% cheaper than what is advertised through agencies.

Through a random cupcake contact (thanks Nicole and Myrna!) who had just seen a place in Butanta that was direct with the owner. Tim tried calling but there was no answer, but the next time we met up with my friend she texted the guy straight away and he replied saying it was still available. Tim went to see it, and took it straight away owing to earlier hesitations not getting us the very first place we liked. I didn’t want to get excited but surprisingly (shockingly!), Tim had the insurance (we were able to use a different company) and the rental contract signed within 2 weeks! It came at a price of fixing up the guttering, and we had to repaint and re-do the bathrooms ourselves but it balanced out net/net with the monthly rent. We moved in on the weekend and just waiting for NETS to turn up for the second time for internet (just prepping this blog while I wait) even though they were scheduled for 8am-12pm. Fastshop is the best place to buy electronics – our fridge was delivered at 6:30pm on Friday night, the washing machine on Tuesday night (even though it was scheduled for 8-12pm). We have a great painter, and electrician and tiling man if anyone needs recommendations and have been spending a lot of time at Leroy Merlin.

So Butanta is not exactly the area we were looking at but it’s only a 5 minute drive across the river to Pinheiros where Tim works. I don’t know the area well though I’ve seen a few American style strip malls. We are close to USP which is good for cycling, and Instituto Butanta which I have been meaning to visit (future blogs).  I figure my life has changed with 2 children now. I won’t be popping out to the shops or restaurants anytime soon, even if I lived in Jardins the pavements are barely made for one buggy let alone a double buggy. I just need to learn to drive, on the otherside of the road / car, to get around Sao Paulo. Wish me luck (and other people on the road more luck).

*Here is a list of property websites I used....

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