The Insta-home Challenge: Miami

by Mike on May 18, 2012 · 7 comments

Part One

We wanted to put to rest any notion that we live this charmed, oh-so-easy life on the road. Yes, we do get to experience a brand new city in all its glory every month. But the cleaning out, packing up, mapping through, moving in, unpacking and cleaning is proving harder with each city that passes. EVERY MONTH. Yes, it’s exciting, but also exhausting. We’re so lucky that Max and Turkey are extremely adaptable for being a toddler and a cat, switching homes so often. Mama and Dada, however, may prove to be a little harder to please…

The housing we’ve found in all the cities up until this point have fairly exceeded our expectations. Richmond and New Orleans were dreams. Orlando served its function, and then some. Then we get to Miami.

For Miami, Ang secured us a downtown condo just a few blocks from the Adrienne Arscht Center for the Performing Arts, via — and she found this way back in November 2011, SIX months ahead of time! Yes, my wife is a planner. But she saw the hop-skip-and-a-jump-to-work location, and the price was right for the city. Paying $1900 for the month, for our 1-bedroom, 1.5 bathroom condo on the 24th floor of The Grand, as part of the Doubletree Hotel with all its amenities (pool, fitness room, food delivery, retail shopping on the ground floors, valet even!) was a terrific deal. As others in the cast and crew have looked for Miami housing closer to the date we arrived, they’ve come up empty or expensive. We’re also here over Memorial Day weekend, which puts a crimp into any rental that overlaps that busy time.

Then one month ago, the owner emailed Ang one last paper to bring with her to the parking permit office upon our arrival. This paper said our condo was on the 25th floor, not the 24th. The owner had tried to slip that by her! But my eagle-eye wife saw it, and called him immediately. He assured her that he owned TWO condos that were exactly the same layout, had the same view, etc. Already perturbed, she said okay, but was not happy. And we all know how Ang gets when you’re off on the wrong foot with her.

This is the photo of the living room of the 24th floor unit, which we signed the lease for, as the owner had advertised it:

And this is what the 25th floor condo, looked like when we arrived. Seemingly plush, high-class and luxurious, right?

This is what Ang and I saw instead:

To say the living room was not kid-friendly would be an understatement! Max immediately went for the sharp-cornered, glass coffee table and started his climb. Again, and again.

The owner also overstuffed our condo with furniture. Big, bulky furniture. If he had taken out maybe 2 pieces, and put in an area rug to soften the floors, the room would be great. As it is, we are constantly navigating our way across the room to avoid severe bruising.

Our bedroom (which also had this marble flooring throughout!) has TWO queen sized beds, with these bulky bedframes that we cracked our shins on the first time we walked in. There was no room to spare to put Max’s blow-up crib!

I ended up putting one bedside table in our closet, and pushing the two beds together.  With their thick bedframes, there was a 10-inch chasm in between them, so we stuffed it with pillows to avoid things falling in, like books, Max and Turkey. Finally we had a little room for Max’s crib in the left corner, with practically no room to spare.

Ang and I had to decide… do we sleep together in one bed? Or sleep apart, on our own beds like sixty-year-olds? The whole room is basically one huge bed now. I’ve been battling a bad cold since Orlando, so the first few nights it was  more peaceful to sleep apart. It seemed rather sad, but in the morning, we both remarked at how comfortable we were. Is this a sign of oldness?

To provide Max a play area atop the cold, hard marble floor, we decided to purchase an area rug. We ventured out to the nearest Home Depot yesterday which was in Little Havana, 4 miles away. That was a mistake. Traffic was nuts. Once at the store, it took about 15 minutes for them to track down the right person to help us in the carpet aisle. And when the guy finally came, he was so casual and inattentive, and Max was melting down because it his naptime. We ended up overspending on an area rug ($60 instead of $20 for a remnant) just to get out of there.

We put the glass coffee table in the closet and laid out the rug. What a difference it makes!

Last but certainly not least, we have a bug problem in our place! AND THE OWNER IS CONVENIENTLY ON VACATION OUT OF TOWN! These teeny ants crawl erratically and swiftly on the nice granite kitchen and bathroom countertops. We can’t leave food even for a few minutes, or they appear! Ang is completely disgusted. She keeps saying she feels itchy all over and wants to puke every time she sees them. That’s not grounds for a romantic evening, that’s for sure. We had the building services office bring in an exterminator. He finally came to spray today (2 days after we asked), and informed us that we were looking at “crazy ants” — which is a real name for an insect — and to let the pesticide residue sit for THREE DAYS. And, the chemical is not safe for kids.

So… we haven’t been able to have full use of our kitchen since we got here and won’t until after the weekend. The money we’re spending to eat out is extraordinary. The owner (via email from his vacation spot) offered to refund us our money if we wanted to move out, but there was no way to find something in our price range to accommodate our time frame right now. Everything is booked solid here downtown! And to pack up again, load up the car, etc.? No thank you.

To add insult to injury — not only am I sick, and we can’t cook, it’s been overcast pretty much every day we’ve been here. We’re going a little stir-crazy cooped up in our bedroom (which is literally a room made of a huge bed at this point), here at The Grand. Miami has a strange smell as well. People love their musky air fresheners here. The lobby smells like someone’s grandma. This is my first trip to Miami, and so far it’s not what I imagined. Was there a beach somewhere?

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

June Han May 18, 2012 at 7:08 pm

Oh man! I hope it gets better for you there! It’s Miami after all, you should be having fun! Best wishes for those bugs to be outta there!


Amanda May 18, 2012 at 7:10 pm

My stay in Miami years ago was the same kind of experience, except we were in a ratty hotel on South Beach, paying top dollar for mediocre amenities. I guess as long as you can get to the beach, it’s all worth it. I’m sure your time will get better as you go 🙂


Keex May 18, 2012 at 7:39 pm

Oh, how I hate to laugh at someone else’s misery, but I can hear & visualize you telling this entire story and I’m CRACKING UP RIGHT NOW! I’m truly sorry you’re uncomfortable, sick & frustrated; while still being jealous of your gypsy lifestyle, if that’s okay. (((BIG HUGS)))


Julia Kaufman May 18, 2012 at 8:50 pm

Now you see why 4 years of living in Miami was more than enough for us! Good luck. I hope it gets better fast! And, trust me, crazy ants are better than other species of insects that we encountered there…


steve m May 18, 2012 at 8:50 pm

Aside from the bugs, you guys seem to have everything else under control. Enjoy your time there — hit the beach and getaway! You deserve it after all the redecoration.


ANGELIQUE May 18, 2012 at 8:51 pm



Ron May 19, 2012 at 7:05 pm

We sympathized with you all and are keeping you in prayer, too.


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