As you know from our previous newsletter, March was to be a month of house hunting. With our leases expiring at our apartments, we decided it was the perfect time to look for more permanent housing in our target area. The good news is that both families have found a place to live. I’ll give the details a little later but first you need to hear how we found these places.
There have only been a few times when I really wished that things functioned here in Peru as they do in the U.S.; this was one of those times. In the states we would find a realtor we trusted, give them our criteria, and let them search for us. You might say Peruvian realty is more of a self-service industry. It turns out that Arequipa has only four or five neighborhoods where realtors operate and if you don’t want a location in those places…then you’re out of luck. The area we wanted to move to, Miraflores, is an old residential neighborhood that has no realtor activity. And not only do realtors not work there, but homeowners in these areas rarely list their homes or apartments in the paper, so while there may be a few listings, the majority of available housing was unlisted. So before we found even one home option we had two strikes against us, but you already know we didn’t strike out…
With papers and realtors unhelpful to us we resorted to walking - yes, walking - around the areas where we wanted to live and stopping in every little store and barber shop to ask if they knew of available housing. Sometimes there could be three or four such shops on one block, but it was important to ask all of them because often we found that one person knew something the other three didn’t. Most often the exchange went just like this: “We are looking for houses or large apartments to rent in this area, do you know of anything?” “No” or “There is nothing in this area, try further up” or “Try further down” or “Try a different part of town.” For every few negative responses there was someone who knew of something. Often this turned out to be someone renting a single room or a small apartment not big enough for a family with kids. After one day of walking, Greg and I realized that there simply wasn’t much available. That makes our finds truly remarkable, truly an answer to prayer.
After that first day of walking around Greg decided that a place we had found might work for them. The McKinzie’s went back and looked at it together that evening and decided that they would take the currently available apartment, as well as another beginning in May. Located next to a huge park in Miraflores, these two apartments are in fact the first floor of a large house and have a semi-private breezeway running between them.
Not finding anything nearby, I widened my search area in the coming days, trying to stay near the McKinzie location and the office. After a week of searching we found a place in Alto Selva Alegre, one mile from the McKinzies. The owners originally intended to rent out individual rooms, but quickly agreed to hand over the entire house. It has two indoor stories, plus roof space and a fully-enclosed garage for the team van. I knew that, though it costs a little more than we planned on, we had found a home. Both locations are roughly eight blocks from the team office. Our finds are so perfect that I would call them luck if I didn’t know any better.
We do know better. We know that so many of you prayed for us this month as we searched and the results are a testimony to your faith and prayers. Continue to pray for us as we move and adjust to our new locations. Both families are eager to be good neighbors and make new friends in our neighborhoods.
We moved the McKinzies to their new place on Monday the 23rd (some birthday present Ana!) and we (the Smith’s) take possession of the house on March 28 and will move in a few days later. Follow the links (on the last page) to our family sites for more information and pictures and keep checking in for new pictures as we make these places our homes.