Are there any cities in the world where it is incredibly easy to find an apartment? In the history of living on my own, it has taken weeks, if not months to find a suitable apartment whenever it is time to move. I know it is the same for many of my friends in major cities such as New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.
Finding an apartment is no easy task in Lima either, especially in the highly coveted Miraflores district, but I’m pleased to say that we’ve put the deposit down for a place right in Miraflores, and the novio and I are pretty stoked about it! It took about 76 emails and lots of wandering around, but after a week in Lima, we’ve finally got a place to call home. It’s not the fanciest place in the world, and we’re sharing the flat with 3 other people, but it’s in a perfect location. The apartment came with FIVE keys – for the two different security gates and the front door. Crazy!
Before arriving in Lima, we rented a room from Airbnb so we could familiarize ourselves with the area before hunting for an apartment, and I would recommend for anyone to do the same. After Asia, I know that if I’m staying anywhere longer than 2-3 weeks, I will NOT book it before seeing it.
We will be moving in sometime next week, so we can get settled before we begin to work. We’re really lucky it worked out this way, but it was a LOT of hard work.
*Quick update: first night in our new apartment and we woke up to no power. Meaning no Internet, no hot water, no fridge. And now we’re at Starbucks! Dang!
For those of you looking for a place in Lima, here are a few things I’ve taken away from the experience.
Tips for Apartment Hunting in Lima
1) Rooms are easiest to rent. We quickly gave up on finding a studio or 1-bedroom apartment here, because it’s just too difficult. There are not a lot of flats to rent because most Peruvians live at home until they get married, and at that point they want a place big enough for family or children. Since that realization, we’ve been primarily answering Craigslist ads to fill a room in a house. ALWAYS check out the place first, because we saw some pretty rough places along the way.
2) On that note, many of the people listing rooms are actually looking to fill rooms in their hostels with long-term guests. Just ask straight up if it is a hostel. We even found a woman renting out an unused room in her office…she just asked that we didn’t cook at all until after 6pm. Bizarro!
3) It’s harder on a couple. Once you decide to look for a room in a house, you’ll see that most of these houses have 4-8 rooms, meaning 3+ people to a bathroom, and no room for your main squeeze. I would have had at least 5 great rooms in a heartbeat if I were living there alone, so keep that in mind. Make sure you ask if there is room for a couple, and even offer to pay a little extra in rent. If they try to increase it by 50% or more, it is probably not worth it.
4) Consider your schedule. We found a ton of foreigners are here working from home, either as tutors, interpreters, marketers, or what have you. You probably don’t want to move in with a stranger who works from home unless you’re SURE you’ll be at your own job most of the day. Ask if anybody works from home!
5) Get a phone. We missed THREE appointments to see apartments because the address was wrong, the building gate was locked and we couldn’t get in, or we simply could not find the house. Us not having a phone is another story in itself, but if I were you, definitely try to get a phone so you can call your potential roommates when you’re outside the building!
6) Finally, location. Miraflores is pretty much where everyone wants to be, as that’s where all of the modern action is. However, don’t turn your back on Barranco, especially if you like the beach and the bohemian lifestyle. And if you’re going to be working, you should even consider San Isidro. If you are a white foreigner without any Spanish, I wouldn’t recommend heading into downtown Lima because it is not nearly as safe as the other neighborhoods.
Finally, places to look: Craigslist, ExpatPeru, InterNations, LivingInPeru, and Google! You can even create your own listing saying what you’re looking for, and you might be contacted.
We ended up with an awesome little room just a few blocks from Parque Kennedy, which is where all the action is. We’re sharing a bathroom with just 2 other people, with the option to move into the larger room with a private bath in two months. This is all for less than $400. A steal! Good luck on your hunt, and if you’ve got any questions, leave them in the comments below!