When we found our apartment back in July, we honestly couldn’t believe we got such a nice place. It was bright and spacious, it was clean and new-ish, furnished and the building had a pool! I had set low expectations before we flew down, so what we ended up with was amazing to me. Three months later, our landlord says she has to sell the property for personal reasons and would like to work with my family to relocate. Obviously since we had a contract, I didn’t have to oblige, so she came to me ready with an alternative apartment in the same building which I could visit the next day. I was not happy about the idea, but I tried to find the positives, and I had sympathy for her situation so I went to check out the new place.
It just wasn’t the same. It was on a lower level, facing the opposite direction, so the view was worse and there was less breeze. The apartment was smaller, was more dated, didn’t have an air conditioner in the living room and had less cabinet space in the kitchen. The bathrooms had tacky cabinetry and inadequate lighting. My previous bedroom was located on the corner of the building so I had an extra window for light and breeze, but this unit was in the center of the building.
The crew of realtors my landlord had working for her kept trying to oversell the positives of this unit to get me to agree. In my head I knew I would say yes–even if I didn’t agree to move now, once my lease was over I would need to find a new place to live anyway since I planned on staying in Puerto Rico longer. At least this spot was already found for me, in the same building so moving would be simpler, and it was ok (with the low expectations I had set, if we’d seen this one first, we would have moved in). Rent was a little bit cheaper, though it should have been, because it just didn’t have the same value as my original apartment. The landlord said she would pay for movers for my things, and that I could continue to use the furnishings that came with the apartment. I asked about transferring utilities, because getting everything set up in the first place was such a giant headache. They assured me that they would help me do it and that it would be easy-peasy since I already had accounts. She would refund my security deposit plus a little bit extra, sort of like a consolation prize 🙄. Everyone acted like they were doing me a favor.
So I talked it over with Uriah, knowing I would say yes, but I came back to the landlord with a few things I needed to help sweeten the deal for me. I asked for an 18 month lease rather than 12 (that would put us exactly at the time school ends, so we aren’t wasting rent payments if we leave the island). I asked to waive rent in November for my troubles (and there were so many!). A few more commodities were worked out and she agreed to everything, we wrote up a contract and started preparing.
The day before I was to move, I visited the apartment for an inspection and to receive my keys. I had stipulated that I needed a proper cleaning before I moved in, hoping to not have another abuelita show up like back in August. However, this time it was the young owner herself, donning a bedazzled blouse and platform wedges, who was tidying up (while living out of her suitcase in the back bedroom). In the time since my first visit, the living room floor had become warped and tiles were lifted. She acted like it wasn’t a big deal: “I will fix this right away, just put your furniture over to the side, it’s just a couple of tiles.” Ok. Then she asked if she could sand and resurface the entire long wall of the living room, so that it was prettier. I told her absolutely not, it’s not necessary. It looked fine the way it was, not to mention I’m moving tomorrow so……! A detachable showerhead installed in one bathroom was missing its holster, leaving the hose to dangle into the tub. The realtor/inspector mentioned that this needed fixed; the landlord was annoyed. The toilet was installed too closely to the tacky ass sink, so the flush handle needed to be forced down, and must be pulled back up manually or else the water will just run continuously. Great. It’s not like I have 6-year olds who will never forget that 🤦🏽♀️. The ceiling fan in the master bedroom wasn’t functional because the remote was lost. She didn’t want to fix this (which I gently demanded she fix since I don’t even use A/C and the fans were part of the reason I agreed to move there); but she did offer to wallpaper the closet *wait, what?* Then I learned that the laundry dryer was not vented out, and had one of those stupid boxes that you fill with water. I had used one of those when I was in the process of venting my own dryer back in Pennsylvania and it was HELL. I was so pissed, but I handed her the list of shit she needed to do ASAP and went back to my nice apartment for one last night. Again, I told myself, I’m helping this lady out with her situation and I calculated that we would save several thousand dollars when it’s all said and done, so I can deal with inconveniences.
The next morning, the movers show up (almost 2 hours late), none of them speak English and the first guy is going on and on about police? Google translate finally helps me understand that during the night, someone had broken into the floor I was moving into. They had climbed the balconies along the floor-to-ceiling security bars that cover the first few levels and went into the first lowest level that didn’t have said bars. So it appears I’m moving into the least safe floor of the condominium. Cool. Then I go down to open the door to begin moving, and a cloud of dust hits me. There’s a guy in my new apartment, sanding the MF’ing wall I told her not to sand, and the floor is all ripped up. I tell the movers I can’t move; they tell me they can put everything I own into the back room until the work is finished. The sander says it will be three days until he’s finished; I tell them I can’t live there crammed into a bedroom while he’s working; they don’t understand why not lol. It was actually crazy because they really didn’t want to not move me. The fact that they didn’t see my point of view was so comically absurd. My old landlord (who hired them) was on a plane at that moment so I told them they would just have to wait to talk to her until she landed–but I was NOT moving my things. The new landlord showed up, did some flirtatious negotiating with the movers and concluded that they would come back in three days–December 1st (but only after also trying to get me to just move into a “clean” room while they work 🤦🏽♀️). I figured that would be fine because my new lease begins December 1st and the new buyer of my old apartment is supposed to be moving December 1st.
My landlord arrives in Puerto Rico and she calls me “How did moving go this morning?” “Well there’s actually an issue with that…” “What?! Oh, no…well I’m outside, can I come in?” Girl, lol. No, actually I would prefer if you not come to my home, even if it is your property. But I let her in; and why does this chick show up with all her luggage and plops down in the dining chair, ugh. So I tell her what’s going on and she’s mad. She even says “Ugh, I was hoping everything would be in order so I could just lay by the pool!” 😑 She makes a few phone calls while I’m awkwardly waiting for this stranger to get out of my house. I give her the new landlord’s contact information and she finally leaves.
That night (after relaxing by the pool because I am the one that needed it with all this craziness), the realtor calls me and says she found a new apartment in the building to look at since everything went wrong that day. Someone else was looking at it right then, but if they didn’t take it, I should. I didn’t think having to wait until the 1st was such a big deal, but apparently they really needed to keep this buyer happy and wanted me out. So now I’m nervous, like, I hope the other person doesn’t rent this place, I hope it’s nice!
She calls me back around 8pm (on a school night lol) and says to come up and see it. It’s near the top of our building, still on the opposite side of the beach; however, since it’s so high, the view is great: you can see the lagoon and the mountains. It’s the same size as my current unit, and it is still on the corner, but the opposite corner so there’s actually a better view of the ocean than I had! All the appliances are new, the bathrooms are new, and all the ceiling fans work lol. Rent is a little higher than the crappy unit, but still cheaper than my first unit. Yes! Give me the lease to sign now!
All the drama doesn’t end right away though lol. The movers come the next day and they start. I had previously asked my landlord to make sure the movers bring boxes and she laughed, like Puerto Ricans don’t use boxes when they move? But she said she would tell them to have some. Of course they show up and they don’t have any boxes 😒 So I start packing my smaller things into reusable grocery bags while they begin loading the big furniture. The kids are in school, Uriah is in Pennsylvania, I’m going back and forth moving my things. These guys are in slow-mo while I’m working my ass off, when I shouldn’t be working at all really (since our agreement was the landlord would arrange to have my things moved). But hours later, it’s getting done.
While I’m in the old apartment, the new buyer and his family show up and wanna look around. Sure, I don’t mind that you’re all gawking while I’m pouring sweat, trying to hurry and get out of here while you all ask questions. Then when I’m in another room someone comes to me and says “Hey, I didn’t see the gate key over here [on the keys hook], do you have it?” Yo, why are y’all in my keys? First the landlord’s unannounced visit, now this; how invasive can people get?
A bit before I have to stop working to pick up the girls from school, the old landlord shows up because she is curious to see my new apartment. Apparently, people can get much more invasive (this isn’t normal behavior right? Or am I just really that introverted?) lol. She’s going out of her way to be extra loud with her oo’s and ah’s. Then she comes to me, while I’m still hauling ass, to say that she had her math wrong when she gave me the amount she would refund me once I move. That “consolation prize?” Oh, that was an accident, I meant something else. Lady, we have a contract is all I can think. The last thing I want to do is start arguing about money when I’m so close to being done with it all, and this LAWYER comes to me to say she made a mistake?! At first I just said “I verified with you twice that the figure was correct, and you confirmed.” She still just said it was a mistake, and I couldn’t help but feel like she was trying to play me–a lawyer should know that, mistake or not, we had a contract. Sensing my hesitance, she changed the subject for a moment and asked in a concerned voice “Do you know anyone who can come clean?” because things were still dusty from the new floors and bathrooms. No, of course I don’t. “Well here, here’s $40 because you’re not gonna be able to cook in here tonight. But yeah, my math was wrong, I’m sorry.” I was still frantically working while we’re having this conversation and I just ignored the cash in her outstretched hand. I told her I still had to hurry and run downstairs to grab more things and I had to think, but also “That figure was agreed upon and I was anticipating that payment.”
As I went down to grab more items, all of the things I could say to her were going through my mind, like how I was doing more work than the movers had done (because they actually left after moving the big items, smh). But mainly just that we have a contract, simple as that. By the time I came back I guess she decided to just give in and said she’d “figured it out” and gave me my check. I guess the $40 was off the table 😂
We both went our separate ways, I picked up the girls and they helped me go up and down four more times to finish getting our things. On the elevator we met a family with children who live on our floor. A few days later we met them again at the pool and they invited us to hang out and the girls are just so ecstatic to have “new best friends.” This whole crazy situation was really not even unexpected of Puerto Rico. But in the end, everything always works out just the way it should. We are a week into this spot and it is more than I ever expected, we are so blessed and so grateful!