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Sunday, March 23, 2014

Dentists and Departmentos (how to buy an apartment)

This month is about tackling new challenges, at least for us. We've spent a lot of time wandering around the city, familiarizing ourselves with the neighbourhoods and local offerings. We've found hat makers and a Greek yogurt place, a beer maker and our favourite veggie seller. But it was time to get down to the real life things that we all do...things like go to the dentist.

Almost everyone in our building goes to the same dentist, so we decided to book an appointment for a cleaning to see how we liked her. The bonus is that she's fluent in English, which is helpful, as our vocabulary hasn't expanded to things like teeth grinding, fillings and other dental phrases. I know some of you up in N.A. are thinking YIKES! "How advanced are their skills?" "What type of tools do they use and "Is it safe?" (How appropriate, for those of you that get the reference!)

One of our happy little bird friends.

The office seemed like a normal dentist office...mediocre-ly comfortable chairs and magazines in the waiting room, a receptionist and regular dental chairs with very recognizable dental lights and the persistent sound of "zweeeee zweeee" from the polishing head of the dental machine. It was a fairly quick in and out visit. What was different? No paperwork...nothing, no forms about allergies or operations and all the other crazy stuff you get in North America and we didn't have any x-rays. We both got a good thorough cleaning and were sent on our way. Ron needs to have a filling changed out as it's loosened, but beyond that, no problem. She kept us waiting a little while, because of a dental emergency so she gave us a discount. Total cost? $45 for both of us - with discount. Prices have been increasing, or so we've heard. Try and remember the last time your dentist apologised (and I mean came out, sat down with us and earnestly apologised) for keeping you waiting 30 minutes and then offered a discount! I would never happen!

We've also decide to tackle the home buying challenge. I know...we said we'd wait for a year, but we came across something that we can't resist. You might wonder if the process is complicated. Nope. It's not terribly different from North America, where you place an offer with conditions which is either accepted, rejected or countered. This offer usually is accompanied by some good faith deposit (called earnest money, here) of any amount you care to offer, but 10% is not unusual.

View we'll have from the Condo

The BIG difference is paying for the property. We're buying an apartment that is still being constructed, so with our promise to purchase they want 40% down, right away, preferably by wiring the funds. Then we are to pay in increments until the property is completed, only holding back 10% to secure the actual property title. Basically, you pay for the whole thing in advance. Not what we're used to. Despite this nerve wracking process and giant leap of faith, we're proceeding. 

Guest room view
Fees for the lawyer vary, and we paid a premium to have bilingual lawyers, but in this case, we were happy to pay more to ensure we understood everything that was going on. On top of lawyers fees are notary fees equaling almost the same amount as for the lawyers.

Kitchen cabinets (excuse the dust, work is still in progress)

Built in wardrobes
Once the condo is complete, we will have to wait for the title transfer. We've built in a time line for this in our contract to buy, as the process can take a L-O-N-G time (we've heard up to 5 years!). Once we actually have the deed in our hand we then have to cough over the final 10%. (On a side note: we can also hold back our installment payments if we feel the work  isn't progressing as we liked, but this was written in to the contract.)

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