Apartment WantedDateline: Chilangolandia

It’s been a long, hard struggle. But at last, I’ve prevailed. I’m now officially a Chilango, with my own apartment and Mexico City address, where I’ve been living since Friday afternoon.

After my last interaction with “La Mensa de Las Ventas,” I decided that I had had enough, fired up my computer, and determined that I’d live anywhere except a place under the so-called “management” of that loony lady. A quick perusal of Vivanuncios.com.mx revealed a furnished one-bedroom in Roma Sur, amazingly close to a penthouse that had been the subject of some fantasies. I rang the number.

“Bueno?” a voice called out. Wow! I reached him on the first try!

“Hola, I’m calling about the apartment,” I said (in Spanish, of course).

“When do you want to see it?”

“How about now?”

“Sure, that’s fine. ”

“Uh, OK, well in about 20 minutes. I’m in Colonia Juarez and when I arrive depends on the Metrobús, but I’m leaving now.  I’ll just phone you when I get there?”

“Yeah, I’ll be here.”

“OK, thanks. See you soon,” I said and hung up, suddenly excited.

Could this be it? I dashed out of my hotel room and headed for the Metrobús stop. A bus soon came, and given the hour, around 4:30 PM, it fortunately wasn’t too crowded.  When I got to the apartment, there was an aging and dusty Lamborghini parked in front, a tarp covering the passenger cabin, held in place by an old tire. Interesting. Otherwise the street was nice, with lots of trees and lined with lovely houses. Next door was a charmer from the Porfiriato, all of its neoclassical detail nicely maintained.

I rang the cell number, and the owner, a gentleman of seventy-something let me in and showed me the place.  In the courtyard was parked a Rolls Royce, clearly not in current use, but less than twenty years old too.

The apartment, in the back, behind the owner’s house on the second floor, still held the prior tenant’s belongings and could use some cleaning. But overall, it looked great, a one-bedroom with a kitchenette, gas stove, a cobalt-blue refrigerator, and a breakfast counter separating the kitchen from the living/dining area. The rent, $11,900MXN per month (about $650USD)  was on target. More importantly, it included all utilities including super-fast internet, much faster than what I have in Boston. And I wouldn’t have to deal with any bureaucracies, neither Telmex nor CFE, nor with gas companies. I’d just have to pay my monthly rent. To me that was a huge attraction. The best part of all? I had been in the neighborhood about four or five times in the prior week as I was scoping it out due to the availability of a penthouse for sale a block away. All the neighbors I had chatted with said it was a great place to live, safe, quiet, and with a real sense of community.

Main Living Area

Main Living Area

I told the landlord, Rafael, that I wanted the place. He said that the current tenant had moved out, but was running down his deposit. Rafael would call him to see if he could get his stuff out soon, and he would refund the tenant his pro-rated deposit too, so he’d have an incentive. I left Rafael $1,000MXN as a deposit (about $55/USD), all the money in my wallet, and he took my number and said he’d call when he knew when the prior tenant would leave.

View From the Front Door

View From the Front Door

Rafael and I seemed to hit it off, finding ourselves chatting about the global economy, Mexico’s politics and education system, and prospects for Mexico City’s new status as a state. He’s quite an interesting character. With an MBA from ITAM, one of Mexico’s top business schools, he had been an entrepreneur, finance chief for a number of large Mexican companies, former race car driver, and was working on plans to launch a 970 horsepower, Mexican-made supercar to challenge the likes of Ferrari. In short, Rafael was no menso at all, and I felt like we might even become friends.


Garage…haha. Where I park myself at night.

The next day, Thursday, he rang and said the apartment would be available on Friday after it was cleaned. The night before, he had sent me a two-page, very commonsense rental agreement, which seemed primarily focused on keeping the building peaceful, safe, and quiet for everyone, and to not waste energy and other resources. I had a couple of quibbles, and he agreed to accommodate me. On the phone, I agreed to come down and pay the deposit, one month’s rent.

On Friday afternoon, I showed up, paid my rent, and voilá! I moved in and am now officially a Chilango. The process was almost the exact opposite of the endless delays, wrong turns, and general idiocy of “La Mensa de Las Ventas.” In fact, it was breathtakingly efficient.

Kitchen Singing the Cobalt Blues

Kitchen Singing the Cobalt Blues

And the place is perfect for me. About 400 square feet, situated in Roma Sur, near the Chilpancingo metro/Metrobús stop, it’s very quiet, safe (Rafael’s Lamborghini remains unmolested on the street), and convenient. On Saturday’s there’s a tianguis (open-air/farmers’ market) on the next street over. A block away is a small supermarket (Sumesa). There are two Ecobici (bike sharing) stations within a couple blocks, and many restaurants, cafés, hair dressers, laundry places, and other small businesses within a couple of blocks. A locksmith down the street changed the key to my front door for a mere $100 pesos yesterday. (~$5.55USD) I can also easily walk to all the restaurants and other attractions in Condesda and catch the Metrobús to the Zona Rosa. Now that I’ve spent a couple nights here, I couldn’t be happier.

So, at last, the goddess smiled. Now my adventure can really begin. Saludos!