One of the best things about the Foreign Service is that nearly everywhere you go, your housing is provided. No apartment search in a foreign city, no navigating leases in a foreign language, and best of all – no paying rent! This is a huge bonus for us, and it allows us to save what we would be spending on rent in order to buy a house when we eventually return to the US.
Housing varies widely from post to post as you can imagine. Obviously I have no personal experience with other post housing, but I’ve seen pictures of tiny apartments in Tokyo and huge homes with yards the size of a national park in Africa. In my opinion, Bogotá has an excellent housing pool. Everything is apartments and all about an equal commute from the embassy. Housing is divided into two areas – one on the edge of the city in the mountains and a newer area that is a little flatter and more walkable. There are pros and cons to both and almost everyone is happy with their assignment. Other things I didn’t know to be grateful for are: hardwood floors in every room, a dishwasher, lots of storage space, and potable water (!). Every embassy apartment I have been to in Bogotá is nice, modern, new and comfortable.
Since we arrived, I’ve been meaning to write this post and share a few pictures – but I wanted to wait until it was “done” or “perfect”. Except, that will never be the case. There will always be things I want to change or that I don’t like. But with only 8 months left at post and one income – I’ve accepted the “good enough” and learned to be happy and content with the way it is.
Our main living area consists of a living room, a small family room, a formal dining room, and a kitchen. The Embassy provides basic furniture for the entire apartment, and luckily in Bogotá they are pretty flexible about providing more or taking back extra pieces to the warehouse.
Before joining the Foreign Service, we were living in a tiny two bedroom row house in Columbus, Ohio. All our furniture was hand-me-downs, craigslist, or Target, so we opted not to ship any of it to post. That being said, I wish I had shipped our couch and coffee table because I love them and miss having some of my own things.
Furniture, lamps provided by Embassy. Rug, art, decor, accents, plants are ours. Fireplace is not allowed to be used. 😦
The furniture collection in Bogota is a collection by Drexel Heritage called King Louis. It’s heavy, neutral, formal furniture that isn’t my style at all. But, it’s comfortable. And we make it work. The biggest downside to the furniture is that it is ridiculously expensive. As in, I would never ever ever buy this furniture in real life. And if we ruin it, we pay for it. Which means $1000 for a used chair or coffee table. My kids are still pretty little and not too destructive, but at our next post I may invest in slipcovers for some of pieces to minimize damage.
Our family room/sun room/play room is my favorite room. It has great built-ins and best of all – huge corner windows with a lovely view of Bogotá. At least… I thought it was amazing until I saw the view from my friend on the 11th floor’s apartment which was truly jaw dropping.
This room has a sliding door which helps turn it into an extra bedroom when we have guests.
I never thought I’d have a china cabinet, but it actually works out great as a way to store/display my grandparents dinnerware. (It was their “everyday”, but it’s my “fancy” ha!) I feel silly carting it around the world as it’s so likely to be shattered or lost during an international move, and it doesn’t help my total weight allotment, but… I have no easy way to get it back to the US and into storage.. and at the rate we are breaking my every day dishes – it may just be promoted to our everyday dishware soon enough. 😉
Another example of “good enough” is the tiny and not-so-pretty light fixture. I found one I really liked at a hole-in-the-wall store a few blocks away, but opted not to buy it because a) money and b) I didn’t want to pay an electrician to install it and then uninstall it when we moved. 😉
Our kitchen is long and skinny with the laundry room and maid’s quarters attached to it. It has nice appliances, a gas stove, and more storage space than I need. The only downside is that I would prefer to have more than 3 drawers, and I barely use the cabinets at toddler height because she takes everything out of them. 🙂
The master bedroom is enormous. I wish we had invested in a king bed before coming here, but hopefully we will do that when we arrive at our next post. On the wall opposite the bed are built in cabinets that are always covered in random stuff (right now, donations from my konmari project in my closet) but very nice to have for extra storage. In the back corner of the photo is our walk in closet (!) that leads to the master bath. I didn’t take a picture, but one of the things we requested on our housing form was a bathtub (they are rare here) – and we basically got a pool! Very handy with the kids and I loved having it when I was pregnant.
We have two other bedrooms. One is my daughter’s that has an additional twin bed for guests, and the other is the guest room/baby room/my room (until the baby doesn’t wake up 2349720 times a night). 😦
To the right is a wall of cabinets and built in drawers which has been wonderful and reduced the need for more furniture in already small bedrooms.
Guest bedroom/baby room.
When we were moving to post we asked them to provide a crib for our daughter who was 11 months at the time since we wouldn’t get our crib until our UAB (air shipment) arrived for a few weeks. We planned on returning it after we received ours… but then we got lazy and decided to wait until our HHE (ground/boat) shipment arrived to send it back with the rest of the furniture we wouldn’t need. But by then… I found out I was pregnant. And since no one was demanding the crib back, we kept it. It was nice for me because I didn’t have to move my daughter to a “big girl bed” before she was ready and I didn’t have to buy another crib or bassinet, etc.
THE REST OF THE APARTMENT
Not pictured, but the apartment also has 4.5 bathrooms (a full bathroom in each bedroom!), an office area, a maid’s quarters (where we store an extra twin mattress!), a laundry room, and two balconies. We feel like we hit the jackpot with housing and are bracing ourselves to be disappointed at every future post. 😉