New Home: Jauna Māja

New Home: Jauna Māja

It has been awhile since the Spanish Incident; in fact, it seems like forever ago. Today is my first day off after a very busy week and weekend. I am recovering from some kind of sinus infection that has been the source of a three-day headache, but I have some time, and the story is calling to me.

New Home

Jauns Dzīvoklis

5 September 2015

When I moved to Latvia, I had an intention to live with Ansis and Monta for a few months while I settled in, learned the language and the lay of the land, and then, eventually, move to Riga. Somehow, that plan has been greatly accelerated. It began during the last weekend of August when I suggested to Rita that maybe we could start looking for a place to live together. I was thinking in a practical way because she and her daughter have been thinking of finding a bigger place for years, and now, with a job in Riga, it would make sense for me to live here.

So, she sent a few emails, made a few phone calls, and suddenly we were looking at flats in Riga. I say “flat” because that’s what people call them in English. In Latvian they are “Dzīvoklis.” In America, we would say “apartment.” Anyway, her daughter, Anna, was also in on the search.

We first visited a pretty awful flat that was being rented for a good price for its size. I had three rules for a place: 1) It cannot smell, 2) It must not be more than 2-3 floors up 3) I can’t remember what the third rule was. This place violated rule 1, so it was obviously not going to be on our list.

The photo makes it look okay, but the rooms were all strange, the kitchen was unfinished, and the bathroom was just a little bit awful. The floor was covered in this terrible laminate that squeaked and moved with every step. Edgars, the guy who was showing us the house, was likable and courteous, but it was clear that this was a place for young, college-aged students wanting to just crash with boxes of pizza and beer. If I were 21 and single, sure, but this place was not for us.

Rita and I left knowing that this wasn’t going to be our new place. I was happy to have seen it because this is what I kind of figured most of the flats in our price range would look like. It was both discouraging and encouraging. Know your enemy, right?

The next place was on Krasta Iela. Krasta means “coast” and the street is named that because it follows the Daugava river on the right bank all the way through Riga into Old Town and beyond. The flat we were looking at was just outside of old town, but a stone’s throw from the Central Market. It was a nice location, especially for Rita who works right across the river, and me with a short commute to Gymnasium 2. This particular flat was found by Anna. I have to give credit where credit is due!

We arrived at the building, which houses a used appliance store called “Big Ben” downstairs. I waited for Sanita, our landlady, to arrive by exploring the used toaster ovens and microwaves. The shop is interesting because many of the appliances come from Great Britain, and the shop is decorated with some British flare like one of those guards with the big puffy hats.

Sanita arrived and showed us into the flat. It was on the third floor, my upper limit. Rita’s main concern was that the entry way had to be nice and well-maintained. This one passed her test. There was also no distinguishable smell on the landing. A good sign.

View of the Daugava

When we entered, we were all immediately in love with the place. It has huge windows that look out over the river on one side, and into a private courtyard on the other. The floors are all wood, refinished from the original “old-school” planks. The living room is a parquet design, and both bedrooms are spacious and clean. The kitchen is very nice with new appliances, and there is even a storage room. My only complaint is that the bathroom is a bit small, and it does not have a mirror or any towel racks, but we can add those if we like, or so Sanita told us. The final selling point is that there is a room on the ground floor to store bikes, so no clambering up and down the steps with our bikes? SOLD!

We had one more appointment to keep that evening to look at one more flat which was in the City Center, closer to Anna’s school, and a bit less expensive than this one. We went, and we looked, but it was nothing compared to the Krasta iela location. It was cramped, and had a weird layout. Once you’ve seen heaven, nothing else looks quite as nice. Right?

So that very night, we had a long discussion about what it would mean to live together. We considered the pros and cons of the new space, and ultimately decided to go for it! There was some nervousness about the final contract. We had some help from Ansis who read it and gave us some advice. Then we had to wait to get a final copy and close.

Everything happened on Friday, September 1. School started for Anna and me, we closed on the apartment, and I officially moved to Riga. We celebrated with a dinner at an Indian restaurant where I had to ask them to make vindaloo because it wasn’t on the menu. Too spicy for Latvians, we found out. I thought it was delicious! Anna and I sort of bonded over spicy food. She bought a tabasco plant so we can have our own peppers growing in the window.

Taco Night

It has been extremely busy since then with school, and moving and all of that, but we did have a nice little party at Monta and Ansis’s house. I made tacos for the family, we had wine, champagne and beer. Ansis’ taxi driver gave us all a ride back to Riga, and we stayed in the Krasta iela flat together for the first night.

Oh, and my crate showed up! I finally got it out of customs, and because I am a repatriot (officially), I did not have to pay customs on all of my stuff. Martins, the Latvian Shipping Guy, was super helpful, delivering the crate to the new flat and even helping unpack it! Everything I now own is at the new flat, kind of in a cluttered mess, but it will soon have a place.

I has been a week of adventures in trying to find some furniture and get everything in the flat up to speed. We had to have a water meter installed which was a bit of a drama and a mess. I made a delicious stir fry dinner and pizza. I am enjoying cooking again. It is always nice to have a place to call “home”, especially in the wonderful city of Riga, Latvia!


Side note: I had planned to keep the crate as a possible future storage solution or something, and Ansis loaned me his van because I measured it and the crate would just exactly fit in the back without the seats. However, in my uncareful measuring, I did not take into account that the crate company had added a 4″ pallet to the bottom of the 36″x”48″x36″ crate, thereby rendering it two inches too tall to fit. #sad So Martins, the friendly shipping guy, came and picked up his free crate. Maybe it was karma. I hope he puts it to good use! Meanwhile, let’s just take a moment to remember the crate and all it went through!

The Crate


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