It is only 2 pm, but already this has been the best day so far. I woke up around 4:30 am after almost 5 whole hours of sleep! My best night so far. I went out for a run at about 6 am after studying the map more carefully so that I was sure to end up in the neighborhood that I wanted to explore rather than the construction zone I found yesterday. It was a few degrees cooler, and it was a Saturday which meant there was less traffic. Perfect running conditions. I ran down to a park that I loved, and one of the streets by the park was blocked for traffic so that people could play tennis on the street. There were tons of families in the park doing yoga, tai chi, and other cute little exercises. I loved how busy the area was so early in the morning, and how active the community seems. This is an area that I will want to run around often in the future, no matter where I live.
Except, I actually know where I will live, because I put a deposit on a place today!!!! Before the big reveal, I want you to predict which I chose from the 3 best places I found. Remember that I looked at about 32 different places and these were the best ones.
First, I will show you a map of Phu My Hung area (District 7). I have made 4 circles on the map. The one at the top left is around Sky Garden 3 complex. The one in the lower left around the red area is my school. On the right side, the circle further to the right and a little higher is Cahn Vien, and the one lower and further left is Riverside. I will describe the apartments in the order that I first saw them. Please excuse my photography. I am sure that I am not presenting any of the places in the best way.
I have an $800 housing allowance each month separate from my salary. I was hoping to completely pay for housing including utilities with this $800. I am finding that to be a difficult task. Also, you should know that we have been told that rent is usually negotiable up to 10% of the asking price and that you can negotiate changes you want to be made to the apartment or furniture.
Apartment 1 – Sky Garden 3 – Asking price $750 – 2 bedrooms/2 bathrooms
About half of the apartments that I looked at were in Sky Garden 3, and they ranged from terrible to this kind of goodness.
Pros – only a 15 minute walk to school; close to many restaurants, bars, smoothie shops; many of my colleagues live in the area; a huge complex filled with many convenient stores and services for residents
Cons – not much green space; no balcony; complex does not have its own pool or gym, but there is a public pool nearby for only $2.50/day; really small kitchen
Changes that I would want – paint the cloud wall; to have more storage or something visually interesting in the master bedroom on that wall where there are only the 2 awkwardly low drawers
Apartment 2 – Riverside – Asking price $900 – 2 bedroom/2 bathroom
Prior to arriving in Vietnam, I thought the photos I saw of this complex were the prettiest.
Pros – right on the water; huge pool, gym, and tennis area; peaceful
Cons – distance from school and going out areas; higher cost; very dark interior spaces and ugly curtains
Changes I would want – recover couch in a different fabric; change curtains; try to bring in lighter colors; replace some ugly lighting fixtures (which I didn’t really capture in photos)
Option 3 – Cahn Vien – Asking price $900 (although one realtor quoted me $850) – 3 bedrooms/2 bathrooms
Pros – 2 balconies overlooking the park that I ran to this morning; lots of natural light and breeze; high ceilings and lots of space; pool and gym included; very open and neutral; not overcrowded with furniture
Cons – don’t really need a 3rd room; higher cost; dark, small and ugly kitchen; ugly tile/counter in master bath; missing some furniture that might be helpful
Changes I would want – touch up some paint in the living room; replace a missing cabinet door in the kitchen; paint the kitchen cabinets to brighten it up; rearrange & supplement some furniture
In a day or two, I will reveal which apartment I chose, but in the meantime you should guess. If you are brave enough, you can even express your guess as a comment. I actually did like all 3 of these places, and if the school had just dropped me off in any of them, I would not have complained. However, when you look at 32 places, you can find fault with all of them and positives about most of them. I feel like I got more picky as the week went on, and while I am not sure that I made the “best” choice (if there was one), I feel really confident that I will be happy in my new home.