I started Monday with high hopes of finding a place to live in Nagoya, after our search the day before turned up several
interesting rental houses in the Bukit Mas area of town. With our taxi early, Sylvia and I started out about 8:30, with several phone numbers in tow that we had to match up with houses once we reached the area. The first house we tried was one for Rp$24 million for a year’s lease ($200/mo), payment up front. However, we learned there was no furniture, not even a refrigerator. The second house we called also had no furniture or kitchen appliances. Same with the third. We actually went inside a fourth – very dirty, no furniture, no kitchen appliances and squat pans instead of toilets. My high hopes were fading.
We then seemed to drive around aimlessly as our driver tried new areas, and as we scanned the buildings for rental signs. Finally, we asked someone, who directed us to the Avava Mall area. There was a 3-bedroom apartment on the third floor, with ragged furniture and suspect kitchen appliances. We had to walk through several restaurants and stores, and an outside market to get to the rental office, where we were told the rent was SG$500 (about $400). If this was my last, best option …
I could have tried other areas of the island, such as Sukajadi or Batam Centre, but they would require transportation, a
significant added cost to my budget. Finally, completely frustrated and with no idea where to go next, I decided to give in and look at a studio that several people had suggested from Day 1. The reason I had balked at this apartment was that it was in the bar district (kampong bule) and above a bar playing loud music. It was very centrally located, however, and the rent was low.
I called Steve, an American who had been helping me from afar in identifying various options and was representing the unit for the landlord, an Australian I know from Smiling Hill. The unit is on the third floor, almost across the street from the Nagoya Hill mall. Across the street is the outdoor fresh food market and also nearby is a wet market for meats, poultry and seafood, even pork. All in easy walking distance.
The studio is one of several apartments being renovated above a kampong bule mainstay, Lusy’s Pub, also owned by the landlord. Steve and two other expats are residents. It is a fairly large one-room apartment, with modern furniture and appliances, a decent bath, TV, A/C, free WiFi, double bed, work area, security box, microwave and gas counter-top stove. Rent is SG$300, or about $270, paid month to month with no deposit. There is also a 1-bedroom unit for slightly more that may open up in a month or so and for which I have first option. We agreed I would return that evening to judge the sound level coming from the bar downstairs, which I did. Maybe it was because it was Monday night, but you could hardly hear the music.
Today I moved in.
There was plenty to do once I brought my 2 bags and a pack to my new home. First was a trip before unpacking to the mall
to purchase all those things you need for the kitchen and bath – soaps, condiments, coffee maker, canned goods, various other foods, silverware, pots and pans, linens, towels, etc. Spent about $200. Tomorrow, I will check out the outdoor markets, which typically you have to visit early in the morning but keep operating until early afternoon. Then there will be a trip to the cable TV office, wherever that is.
Amazing what I can stuff in my few bags. Took me two hours to put it all away. Still need to get things like a dish drainer, shower caddy and some other portable shelfing.
Next, I can focus on getting my retirement visa, including acquiring medical and disability insurance, picking up my sponsor letter from Amber’s travel agency, have several documents printed, and get four headshots of myself. Sylvia has agreed to accompany me to the immigration office to act as translator once I’ve got all my ducks in a row. I understand that the fee for this visa is about $100 a month, and you renew annually. You can renew for five years and then are eligible for another long-term visa.
While I’m waiting for the visa application to work its way through the system, I will be forced to do visa runs to Singapore
every 28 days. This means a ferry trip ($40) back and forth without any required stay in Singapore, and paying for a new visa on arrival every trip ($35). They now offer an every-other-month alternative, where you go to the immigration office in Batam Centre and just pay for the visa on arrival, without the need to go to Singapore. Hopefully, the retirement visa process won’t take too long.
One other thing before I sign off – I will be able to bring the cat I had at Smiling Hill with me to my new home.