Praise the Lord, today Michael and I celebrated the SIGNING of our apartment lease. Our 30 MONTH lease. Which is totally normal here. And maybe 30 months doesn’t sound so long to most people, but for a girl on her 15th or so move, it is a serious COMMITMENT. But it’s a good commitment. So, in light of this momentous occasion, I thought I would take this opportunity to fill you in on what it’s like to rent an apartment here in São Paulo.
First of all, it’s EXPEN$IVE. We feel like we got a great deal on our place but I’d say real estate here is comprable to San Francisco or New York. Some people will say it’s more, some will say it’s less, but all in all I think the rental market is pretty similar. Although in São Paulo, when you are calculating your monthly cost, you have to remember to factor in 1) Rent, 2) Condominium Fees, and 3) Taxes. Instead of the landlord taking everything into account and giving you one bill, it is the renter’s responsibility to cover all of the costs. You will quickly see that this is a common theme.
So secondly, when you rent in São Paulo, you are usually renting a place BARE BONES. I’m talking no appliances, no light fixtures, sometimes no toilet seats or shower heads. It is NORMAL for there to be random wires sticking out everywhere. Renters here purchase their own appliances / fixtures and TAKE THEM WITH THEM when they leave. This translates into being a major pain that ADDS to the cost of renting. Our place LUCKILY had light fixtures and faucets, but we will definitely need to purchase appliances. A quick note on this — appliances (and basically EVERYTHING else that one might need to buy in Brazil) are about about twice the price that they are in the US. I can’t get into this right now (as it deserves to be it’s own post) but in the meantime I will link to THIS POST by my friends, the Joneses, on cost-of-living here. BOOOO.
OK so next up about apartments in Brazil… the built-ins/small bedrooms. All of the apartments that we looked at had TINY bedrooms. This is influenced by the fact that all bedrooms have these random built-in closets which eliminates the need for Brazilians to put much furniture in their bedrooms. Sounds OK but in my opinion the closets are usually really unattractive, poor quality, AND hello, we are bringing down a ton of bedroom furniture that will most certainly NOT fit in our bedroom. It’s OK though. We have a plan to re-do the built-ins and we’ll squeeze some of our furniture in the second bedroom. (Hear that friends?? Second bedroom = room for you to stay when you come VISIT!!!)
Another oddity that we had to get used to here is the inclusion of a Maid’s room/bathroom and a service entrance for each apartment. This is really amazing to me for a few reasons. First of all, we were not looking at large apartments. These are small, compact, 2 bedroom places. And yet it is such the cultural norm to have hired help (that often lives with you) to the point that even in these small apartments, there is still a designated (albeit TINY) room and bathroom for the maid. The rooms seem hardly the size of a double mattress and the bathrooms are like those on an airplane, but nonetheless, there they are. Usually they are off the laundry room which is off the kitchen. Which leads me to the point that most kitchens here are more closed off and separated from the rest of the apartment. The tradition is for the Empregada (maid) to work in the kitchen/laundry area so you would want to be able to close it off. This is a bit sad to us as our place in San Francisco was totally open from the kitchen to the living & dining area and we loved that! Oh well. And, as I mentioned, there is always a separate “service entrance” that opens into the kitchen whereas the “main entrance” usually opens into the living area. All a bit ODD to me.
So, when will we move in? Well, this is a little tricky because we still haven’t gotten any of our stuff yet. Supposedly our air shipment landed in Brazil on March 30th and is going through customs and our sea shipment is set to arrive in Brazil April 26th, but we expect 2 months of customs nonsense after it arrives so…we’ll see when we get it. Right now our plan is to do a little work on the apartment and get our appliances this month so that we can move in May 1st, and we’ll just be renting furniture until we can get our stuff. At this stage in our lives flexibility and a sense of humor are the key to happiness. And tonight, we’re just happy that we found a place that we can commit to for the next 30 months.