I did this when I served as a missionary in the Philippine Islands. At the time we were living in a nasty old warehouse across the street from a Pepsi warehouse. Our contract was about to expire and my companion and I were not too keen on living in that pit for another year. The landlord wanted to increase our rent to some ridiculous amount without fixing any of the problems. Believe me, there were plenty of problems with that dump. In the end, we moved out from that nasty old warehouse to a very spacious mansion. Elder Orgill and I found the house and then spent several weeks negotiating prices with the wife. Her husband murdered in the home by one of his houseboys. The people in this part of the Philippines were very superstitious and believed that when someone dies a violent death in their home their spirit stays there to haunt the place, making life a living hell for anyone who lives there. Because of that, no one would rent it. She just wanted to move back up to Manila to live with her son and his family. In the end, what should have cost us about $1,000 a month to rent, ended up costing us only $75 a month.
This place was huge. It was situated on about 5 or 4 acres of land. It had so many fruit trees on the place that we had the members harvest and sell the fruit to pay the entire ward budget each year. In addition to that, we were also able take care of all the welfare needs of our ward with what was grown on the land.
Inside the house was a large are where the servants lived. It had two kitchens, a fish pond in the formal dining room, carved peacocks surrounding each doorway and stone mosaics on several walls. All the walls upstairs were made of very expensive Nara wood from the jungles of Mindanao. The members of the branch met downstairs for church and had far more than enough room for all their meetings. The entire upstairs were used for our living quarters. We had full shower facilities and a tiled bathroom, a feature we never had in any other house or apartment we lived in before. All the windows were covered with heavy iron work shaped into the Chinese character for good luck. The front door was so heavy with iron work in Chinese characters that it took two people to open the door each morning. To enter the house, you had to walk over a small bridge that extended over a fish pond.
The only home in the mission that can anywhere near this place in opulence, beauty and comfort was the mission home. This place was the talk of the entire mission. When I first came to Roxas City most of the missionaries who knew anything about the place referred to it as the arm pit of the mission. Months after I left, I overheard several missionaries talking about how much they would love to be assigned to Roxas. Most of that had to do with the house Elder Orgill and I found and contracted to rent.The Church continued to rent that house for several more years until they finally built a full blown chapel for the members. Only then did the missionaries find another place to live.
Just as a side note, two weeks after Elder Orgill and I moved out of the warehouse and into this mansion, I was reassigned to open a brand new area in Bago, a small town on a neighboring island. There was no branch of the church there and there was no home for Elder Carlson and I to live in. I had to start all over again from scratch. The place we lived in in Bago was much worse than what we had to live in before we found our mansion. But that’s another fascinating story.