At home in Kentucky, and in many places across the States, owning a house is still a real possibility. No, it’s not easy, but a lot of my stateside friends can still viably dream of a white picket fence. There’s still property available to buy, and it’s still in a price range semi-feasible for a human being who doesn’t go to work in a suit every day. On the flip side, the cost for any kind of labor, especially after you’ve just invested in buying a house, is usually laughably out of budget. Want the walls painted? Want new cabinets installed? Want a new light fixture in the dining room? Whelp, you better know a guy or own a toolbox (and hopefully know how to use what’s in it). DIY is huge right now. Seriously, some of the folks on my Facebook feed have turned into one-man/woman design squads, totally revamping entire rooms via some thousand or so individual Pinterest projects. It’s impressive.
In Lima, we’ve got exactly the opposite situation. Property is virtually unaffordable. At this point, unless you inherit one that somebody bought back when property was still in a human price range, you’re not going to own a house in Lima. It’s an apartment or nothing. Most people live at home with their parents as long as possible, up until they’re married and ready to move out (into an apartment, of course). Living with family wasn’t an option for us in Peru, so we had to find our own apartment. Ivo spent several months hunting down the right choice, and he finally found it in a beautiful new building being built on Avenida del Sol (Avenue of the Sun), about a block from the Costa Verde overlooking the ocean. We’re across from a park, which is great for dog walking, and we’re just a 5-minute walk from the local gym. The building, named the BOEM Barranco, is located smack in the heart of my favorite Lima province too, so we’re surrounded by cafés and street art on all sides.
So, in Lima at least, the general population does have to give up the dream of buying a house. If you’ll be living not with your parents, you are going to have an apartment, and apartment neighbors, and all the cramps that come along with that: getting serenaded by that chick down the hall, getting serenaded by every cat that finds its way onto a balcony, ensuring that your super fashionable gay neighbors will see you in the elevator taking the dog out in a sweatshirt and yesterday’s makeup because taking a shower and putting on a bra just felt like such a freaking chore, etc. However, the top benefits of apartment living are (1) sometimes neighbors are really cool, and (2) as noted, labor is super, super affordable.
It took a fairly frugal year in Kentucky, but knowing we were saving up for our apartment was seriously motivating. As the building was being constructed, we saved and planned and picked out design photos we thought would work for both of us and (simultaneously) for people we might rent to in the future. Finally, we got the email that the building was livable, and Ivo embarked on the final stages of pulling the apartment together. While I tied off our loose ends in Kentucky, Ivo oversaw the final changes he’d asked the architects to make to the interior plans (opening up the kitchen was the biggest change), picked out the appliances, and finally hired a designer.
Our designer, Maria DeGracia, did an amazing job. Ivo and I are pretty tone deaf when it comes to design, so we just handed over our photos and let her work some magic. Not too long ago, she visited us again with her brother, a photographer, to take some photos of her work for her portfolio. Since she was kind enough to share the photos afterwards, to design a gorgeous apartment for us, and to bring doughnuts when she visited, she’s pretty high on my list of quality human beings. So for now, without further ado, and to satisfy all the questions I’ve gotten about where we live, welcome to our apartment! For the record, no it is not always (ever?) this clean, but yes, it is really fun to live here.
To some extent, it’s a bit of a tragedy that our building isn’t facing the opposite direction (i.e., towards the ocean). Nobody has been able to tell me exactly why that’s the case yet, but I’m sure there’s a reason. Still, though, our view from our living room is pretty impressive. During the day, if it’s clear, you can see the mountains from the desert in the distance. At night, it could steal the “city of lights” title from Paris.