Searching for a Place to Live

Our stay with host families ended in late November.  Peace Corps Volunteers moving to other locations in Mexico are supposed to live with new host families for one month and then find their own place.  However, since we’re staying in Querétaro for our two years of service, we can go out on our own as soon as our pre-service training is over. 

We will receive a monthly allowance to cover rent, utilities, food, and other essentials.  Within the total, the Peace Corps country director has set a limit for rent of MXP4,000, which is about $300.  He created that limit because one volunteer couple a few years ago decided to supplement their allowance with personal funds and rented a place that was rather expensive.  The place was apparently quite elegant and overlooked a lovely plaza and church in central Querétaro.  Their lifestyle was beyond what other volunteers could afford and clashed with the Peace Corps image of how volunteers should live.  The current limit represents what is believed to be a more reasonable and acceptable standard of living. 

Julie and I have seen a number of apartments and houses in both central Querétaro and its outskirts.  It is possible to find a decent place for MXP4,000, but you really have to look around.  We’ve checked out places that we saw when walking in town that had “for rent” signs, others advertised in the newspaper, some recommended by fellow volunteers and friends, and others suggested by our host families.  

Some of the apartments were in small or medium sized complexes.  They were in varying levels of maintenance, some good and others poor.  One surprising aspect of the search was that refrigerators and stoves are not always left behind by the previous tenant.  In these cases, the Peace Corps provides either an additional stipend to purchase these items or makes available refrigerators and stoves from volunteers who have returned home after their service was over.  We also looked at some small or shared houses far from the center of town, but decided it was too inconvenient to live there without a car. 

It turned out that Charlie’s host family knew many people that own houses and apartments in Querétaro.  My host mother pointed out that while they may be the poor relatives, their family goes back 300 years in this area and they have an extensive network of family, friends, and acquaintances.  The mother of a friend of their adult son has an apartment not far from the center of town that is close to the office where we both would be working.  It’s on the top floor of a two-story apartment building and includes access to a rooftop that has a good view of the area.  It needs a new coat of paint, but the landlady is willing to rent it for MXP4,000 including basic utilities.  There are two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a small dining room, and an even smaller kitchen.  We could adapt one of the bedrooms to serve as a living room and office and make it available to guests as a bedroom when we have visitors. 

The landlady prepared a rental contract for us, but asked that the Peace Corps cosign as guarantor.  That in turn required that the Peace Corp’s local lawyer review the contract to make sure its terms were acceptable.  We needed a few days to sort things out, but finally were able to sign the lease, make our security deposit, get the keys, and move in on November 29.

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2 Responses to “Searching for a Place to Live”

  1. Tracy Says:

    Congratulations on the new digs. We miss you in the Sutta group.
    -Tracy

  2. Alan Eisen Says:

    Google reminds us (they changed their logo today) that its the birthday of L. L. Zamenhof. Which made me think of you.

    “Ludovic Lazarus Zamenhof (pronounced /ˈzɑːmɨnhɒf/ in English; born Eliezer Levi Samenhof, December 15, 1859 – April 14, 1917) was an ophthalmologist, philologist, and the inventor of Esperanto, a constructed language designed for international communication.” –Wikipedia

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