I’m going to take the bus to Vlorë on Sunday, to try and find an apartment to rent from now until summer. I’ll be there for 6 days. I contacted a few agents who have apartments for rent but so far nothing has been exactly right. Maybe I’m too fussy, but I’d like a place that has heat and air conditioning, and maybe a stove in the kitchen? This one place was really beautiful but no stove or refrigerator in the kitchen?? Oh HERE they are, out on the balcony about 15′ from the rest of the kitchen! And this was not a cheap place either! Yeah….no.
I’m learning that yes, you can find apartments for $180-250 a month but they are most likely in older buildings without elevators, heat and AC, or maybe stoves in the kitchen! $300 seems to be the norm for a nice apartment with all the modern conveniences we wimpy Americans want.
My requirements are that it be on a lower floor (4th or below) with an elevator because they do have power outages here and having to hike up 5-7 flights or steps would probably do irreparable harm to my fragile knees. It’s not like a flight of stairs in a house! These buildings have thick cement floors and 10′ ceilings. Getting from ground floor level to my 3rd floor apartment means 54 steps! (Huff puff!) I also need a good kitchen, stove with an oven, microwave or space to put one and an outlet to plug one into. My apartment here is only 10 years old, very modern, yet there’s only one electrical outlet in the kitchen! And not a duplex outlet, just one. If I wanted to use an appliance, I’d first have to unplug the microwave. Perhaps that’s why there are no appliances here. Most Airbnbs provide at least a coffeemaker!
I spent hours poring over the apartment ads on the Century21 and Remax websites, only to find that they are woefully out of date. None of the apartments I was interested in were available.
I have a few more resources plus there’s an online website called MerrJep,à similar to Craigslist that lists a lot of apartments for rent.
I have learned that getting Residency is fairly easy but costs about $600, plus it requires Apostilled documents from the US that a friend would have to get for me and send. And an Albanian bank account is required, plus a one year notarized apartment lease. It seems to be a lot of red tape and it’s only good for a year, then the whole thing must be repeated! After 5 years of doing this I could apply for permanent Residency.
But Americans can come here and get a free 12 month visa. After the 12 months are up you leave the country for 90 days, then come back and get another 12 months. So that’s what I’m going to do for this first year anyway. I’m looking at spending the summer in either Pristina, Kosovo or Ohrid, North Macedonia. Ohrid would be my first choice, as it’s just a 6 hour bus trip from Vlorë. It’s on a big lake, with lots of kayak rental places! It’s cooler than the south coast, plus I’d escape the summer crowds.
I was going to go to town yesterday but looked out and saw the huge cruise ship Oosterdam in port. It holds up to 4,000 passengers so there’s no way I wanted to get into that mess! It blasted it’s whistle as it was steaming away.
I finally made it to the good meat store this morning! It was quite a hike but well worth it. Another meat store I went to had ground beef for 1500 Leki per kilo! That’s $5.67 a pound! Of course it’s all grass-fed, but that still seems outrageous for here. So the A Stillo Shpk meat market had it for 900 Leki, $3.45 a pound. I spent $47 there and now I’m all stocked up for a while. I got 2 kilos (4.4#) of the ground beef, a nice beef roast, some pork chops ($2.88/lb), a pork roast and some chicken breasts.
I passed a guy on the sidewalk selling the biggest walnuts I’ve ever seen so I had to get some. He didn’t speak English and he also started shoveling some normal sized blackish walnuts into the bag. A passerby said the dark ones were local, the big ones were from the north but they were both the same price. So I got some of each, mainly because I didn’t know how to refuse. A huge bag of them cost $4. The big ones are 2 1/2″ long!