Technically this update belongs to last year, since we moved last May, but I was barely in this apartment for two weeks before I flew back to the States, then to the Dominican, then back to the US. So we will just leave it here, bear with us.
For Cam’s second contract year we had the option of staying in the apartment we were at, move to one of the apartments on the school campus, or get an allowance an do it on our own. We chose the last option and lucky for us, we found an apartment after seeing about 3. We decided to stay in the same area where we are for a few reasons:
– No commute: Cam can be in his place of work in 5-7 minutes. It’s a really short bike ride. I can stay close to continue calling dibs on impromptu subbing. Win win.
– Housing is cheap in the boonies: yes, it’s a 30-40 minute cab ride to the city, but we don’t go to the city each day or week. So whatever. Also we are paying here for a 3 bedroom apartment about half of what some of the single teachers are paying in the city for a one bedroom. Yes, maybe they have more fun. But they’re also not saving that much money. The closer you get to the city the more expensive it gets (and there are more money-spending temptations around). Since we are not contributing to Social Security or anything like that, saving for the future is among our top priorities.
– Housing is also a lot more spacious out here, and quiet. Go for a run long enough and you’d be surprised at how fast things turn “rural”. It’s kind of nice. Haha.
Now, we had a very nice realtor who has pretty much helped everyone at school find an apartment. He was very accommodating considering he had his first daughter about 3 days before he started working with us, and really made an effort to help us find something that worked for us. Our new complex has 68 buildings. We live on the very last one. We are much lower now – went from a 17th floor to a 6th. Went from 1.5 bathrooms to only one, and from 2 bedrooms to 3. So why did we choose the apartment? Well, because it had what we were looking for and then some:
– Storage space: the closet situation in our old apartment was less than ideal. We had no linen closet, and only one tiny closet in our bedroom. No closet on the spare bedroom made for a big mess. In this new apartment, we’ve converted one of the rooms into an office for me to study / workout room, and for now the other one is a storage room. But it has furniture so we plan to use it as a guest bedroom in the future. The apartment also has a futon. You’re getting the message, right? We have space for visitors! Family/friends who’ve always wanted to come to China, come visit! We have room!
– We could move stuff out: we could not move anything out of our old apartment because the owner had no place to put it. This led us to take the mattress-less bed on the spare bedroom apart and put in the balcony so we could have some storage space. Our current landlords are totally okay with taking stuff out and took out a couple of pieces of furniture that we didn’t need.
– Western style: all the furniture included in the apartment is IKEA. So, no weird shapes, colors or materials. This worked out nicely because we got some furniture pieces from departing teachers that also happen to be IKEA so it all looks harmonious.
– Our landlords speak English! – the apartment owner is Chinese but studied in London so she speaks perfect British English. Her husband is British and also a teacher and they live very close by. So if there are any problems they can come by and help without having to wait too long – and she deals with the language barrier for us.
– A real oven! – I’m a baking buff. If you know me, you know that. I bake when I need to clear my head. I like it. So having an oven is a big plus. I still keep our countertop oven and even used both at the same time yesterday while baking shortbread cookies. Hurray!
We absolutely love our apartment. Cameron was an angel and did all the moving and unpacking in a day, while I dealt with a school assignment. We still have to hang some things in the wall and do some more decor touch ups but it definitely feels like “our place”, which is always important to stay a happy while abroad.
Here are on some pictures. Sorry about the quality and bad light; these were taken on the iPad on an overcast day. Enjoy!
Another angle of the living room
Dining room area
Kitchen. Still tiny but at least it’s not orange.
Laundry area. No more having the washer in the bathroom!
My office. It needs a lot of work, but I’ve had very productive days here. What should I put as decor? Suggestions?
Our bathroom. The washer was actually in there but we had it moved.
Spare bedroom. Technically this is the master bedroom but the closet is smaller than in the other bedroom so we switched. I love those window areas – make good reading corners/quiet time hideouts
Our little balcony outside of our bedroom. We had two much bigger balconies in our old apartment and never went out there. One was occupied with that bed. Since this one is right outside out bedroom we decided to take advantage of it and out some furniture to sit on. We’ve had breakfast there, and when it’s nicer I can see it as a good outdoor drinking/conversation/reading spot.
This is what we see from that balcony.
Our bedroom. Sorry about the dry cleaners bag on the bed. This bed has a western style mattress so it’s not rock hard. Thank goodness.
This closet is the reason why we chose the bedroom. This pic only shows by bout 2/3 of it. We have plenty of space for clothes, shoes and other things (like our heavy winter comforter).
Well, hope you enjoyed the post as much as we enjoy living in this apartment. On my next post, some pics from our spring break/ anniversary trip to Thailand last March.