I apologize for my recent absence from the blogosphere. For the past month, Seth and I have been busy dealing with the bureaucracy of applying for, securing, and moving into our very own apartment. Yes, you read that correctly; a process that would have taken us no longer than one week in the United States somehow occupied four and a half in Colombia. Efficiency, people. Efficiency.
To be free of our former roommate—or the Hellbeast, as Seth so lovingly calls her—has made the whole dragged-out process worthwhile. Not to mention, our new digs come with some pretty fancy stuff. We have our very own kitchenette, equipped with a full-size refrigerator; our very own bathroom, featuring a glass shower and proper lighting; our very own laundry room, complete with a working washing machine; and, perhaps most importantly, FURNITURE. A one-bedroom apartment in Chapinero Alto that not only offers proximity to everything but also includes a washing machine, a refrigerator, and a full set of furniture is pretty much the Holy Grail of Bogotá Apartments. This is what we had to do to secure it:
- Thursday, September 13: We heard about the apartment from Seth’s former coworker Andrés, whose female friend accepted a last-minute offer to study abroad in Paris. We visited the room-for-rent that very same night. Initially, we were not impressed with the space; the two-story layout seemed kind of tight and awkward, and from what we could see, the views were terrible. More importantly, the rent was too high. The owner was asking COP$1,200,000 (US$600) a month, including the administration fee. We told her that if the rent were to be lowered, we might reconsider.
- Friday, September 14: We received a call from the Current Tenant telling us that the monthly rent, including the administration fee, had been lowered to COP$1,050,000 (US$525). Perfect.
- Monday, September 17: We met the Property Administrator at her apartment building in the north of the city. She gave us the application to the new apartment and explained a few things that we did not quite understand, namely the guarantor issue. Together, Seth and I easily made more than three times the rent. Would we need a guarantor? The Property Administrator said we would not; we would probably just have to pay a deposit equal to three months’ rent. Annoying but doable.
- Tuesday, September 18: We took the bus to the Mapfre office in Unicentro to turn in the application and the additional required documents, namely copies of our cedulas and paystubs. Keep in mind, this was the third middleman we had to deal with, in addition to the Current Tenant and the Property Administrator (who was most certainly blood-related to the Current Tenant). We knew nothing, and we still know nothing about the Apartment Owner.
- Wednesday, September 19: We checked the results of our application online, only to find out that because we did not have a guarantor, we would have to pay a substantial security deposit of eight months’ rent. We did not want COP$8,500,000 of our money sitting in some obscure account where we a)could not access it and b)could not earn interest on it, so we temporarily gave up.
- Thursday, September 20-Wednesday, September 26: We asked our coworkers if they knew of any apartments available. Ultimately, we decided not to pursue any potential leads.
- Wednesday, September 26: Seth explained our predicament to his office secretary, Luz Angela, and asked her for advice. She said that surely their boss Mauricio would agree to be our guarantor. She was right.
- Thursday, September 27: Seth received all of the necessary documents from Mauricio and delivered them to the Mapfre office.
- Friday, September 28: We checked the results of our application online, only to find out that we needed not one, but TWO guarantors to prevent us from paying the COP$8,500,000 deposit. WHAT?!
- Monday, October 1: I explained our predicament to my boss. Without me even having to ask, he offered to be our second guarantor.
- Tuesday, October 2: I received all of the necessary documents from my boss.
- Wednesday, October 3: Seth delivered the documents to the Mapfre office. (His office is only a few blocks away, so it made more sense for him to make the trip.)
- Thursday, October 4: We were approved for the apartment, sans security deposit! I received a call from the Property Administrator, demanding that we and our guarantors meet her at a notaría in the north of the city on Saturday morning. (All semi-important documents in Colombia must be notarized because no one in this country trusts anyone else.) Although we were SO CLOSE to securing our very own apartment, I drew the line here. I was not about to ask my boss to give up a Saturday morning to look over our apartment lease, and Seth was not about to ask his to do the same. We had inconvenienced them enough.
- Saturday, October 6: Seth and I met the Property Administrator at the notaría, sans our guarantors. We told her that we would happily sign the lease on that day, but if our guarantors needed to sign, they would do it on their own time. I think the Property Administrator was somewhat taken aback by two seemingly meek gringos standing up to her, but she complied with our request. After Seth and I read over and signed the lease, we took a taxi to the new apartment to go over the things that needed repair.
- Monday, October 8: My boss signed the lease and had it notarized.
- Tuesday, October 9: I handed the papers over to Seth. Mauricio signed the lease and had it notarized.
- Wednesday, October 10: We received a call from the Property Administrator, asking us to meet her at the new apartment on Thursday morning.
- Thursday, October 11: We met the Property Administrator at our new apartment, examined the repairs, received the keys, and were introduced to the security personnel.
- Friday, October 12: We moved our first set of suitcases into the new apartment.
- Saturday, October 13: We moved the rest of our things into the new apartment, dropped off the keys to the former, and breathed a sigh of relief.
Whew. And after all that, it turned out that the views were not so bad after all. I will try to post a few shots of the interior next week.