Playa is a tourist town, and I'm in the unique position of technically being a tourist but having the budget and needs/desires of a resident. I wanted something close enough to the tourist zone so that I could easily enjoy the beach and restaurants on foot, but not an expensive vacation rental that typically can run $1000/week or more. It had to be big enough to accommodate the occasional guest that will be visiting me, and it had to have wifi so that I could accomplish necessary things at home from here.
I have so many things that I am grateful for in the hunt for an apartment.
I'm grateful that I had the wisdom to book my usual condo for the first 2 weeks of my 3 and a half month stay. This is threefold: at first it was "in case nothing else is available this close to holiday season"... then it was "so that I have the opportunity to see with my own eyes what my potential apartment options are"... then it was "holy smokes, this is not as easy or quick as I was led to believe; so glad I have a place to sleep for 2 weeks!"
I'm grateful for Manuel, a local friend who took a day off work to walk the streets with me for hours looking for apartments, calling the numbers on for rent signs, and making it a pleasant experience! We literally walked one day for 4 hours, and a second day for 2 hours, probably calling at least 40-50 numbers listed on for rent signs. About half answered. Half of those didn't actually have anything available (I quickly learned that all those for rent signs are permanently fixed and don't actually mean that there's something for rent right now). The other half said they'd call back with what they have available, and not one single person called back. It was not at all a waste of time though, as it really impressed upon me that the rental market here is by no means a suffering economy, and that I'd better adjust my expectations really quick! Sure, a deal can be had... with a lot of luck, exceptional timing, proficient command of the Spanish language, perseverance and local connections.
Which leads me to the third thing/person I am so grateful for: Elizabeth.
Before finding Elizabeth, I emailed several property management companies, real estate people, and owners directly about finding something for rent way back in October. The ones who bothered to email me back told me there was really nothing available, but that it was probably best to wait until a month before I need it, because that's when people give notice to vacate. It made sense, so I believed them. Except that when it came to that time, and I emailed them again, I got at best one option to consider... that either was out of my budget or didn't fulfill my needs in some other way. And then they stopped emailing me.
I found Elizabeth by chance. She was mentioned on another traveller's blog as a local person who would find and negotiate a rental contract for a fee. Her name has never come up in my usual circle of Playa experts. She does this more as a hobby and favour for people, as she has another full time job. She's not an agent and asks for the fee upfront. Honestly, at first I thought it was a little sketchy and a bit risky to do it this way, especially after so many people and agents who seemed interested at first ultimately disappeared. I was reluctant, but a little desperate when I emailed her just a week before I arrived in Playa. Her response was like a breath of fresh air with her honesty, directness, and her follow through! In a few days she had a place, pictures, and an appointment for us to go see it together. After we met, she invited me to go to salsa lessons with her and her friends. Now that's a personal touch! I almost don't want to give out her contact info because I'm afraid that she'll get so busy that she won't be able to help me next year! However, I am grateful for all the generosity that has been extended to me, so in return I offer to share my secrets so that more may benefit. You can find Elizabeth on Facebook here.
A few photos of my next home! It's cute, cozy, a little rustic but fresh, clean and well-maintained.
Sitting area with fold-out couch for my guests, and stairs that go up to a loft.
Well equipped kitchen.
Bedroom in the loft.