I’m not a home owner, so I really cannot relate to the headaches the folks go through when trying to properly buy or sell a home. However, we have lived in several different places in this country, and the ridiculousness of actually finding a house is so absurd that you have to just throw your head back and laugh… but it’s the kind of laughter that comes just to keep you from completely bursting into sad, pitiful, pathetic tears. The sort of laughter that signifies you’re definitely teetering on the very last fiber of sanity left within you.
Your first step is to decide where you want to live in this crazy city. Granted, some areas are safer than others, so you’ll need to do a bit of checking around to see what might suit you. Once you’ve decided on a few places, you find a property dealer office in the area (or ask a local friend to take you to one) and tell him what you’re looking for. Let’s say, 3 bedrooms, a yard, and anything around $1200 / month. Sound expensive for the 3rd world? You’re right. Rent is outrageous in this overpopulated city. The huge presence of contracting companies and U.S. gov’t funded NGOs has driven housing prices through the leaky mud roof. So, the little fish with little NGOs like ourselves kind of get the stinky end of the stick and pay the same outrageous prices as the big fish who are making all the big bucks. Anyway, after you’ve told the property dealer what you’re looking for, he’ll assure you he has a place that’s perfect for you. You get in the car with him and he takes you to a giant 4 story mansion with 13 bedrooms for the low price of $8000 per month. Before even entering the compound gate, it’s immediately obvious that this house will be far too big and expensive for your little family of four. You explain again to the property dealer that you truly, honestly only want 3 bedrooms and rent lower than $1100 per month. “Oh, well… I don’t actually have anything like that right now,” he tells you. Great, thanks for wasting my time. On to the next property dealer. He tells you that he has 2 or 3 houses that might work. The first one is lovely. A small yard, nice layout, and peaceful neighborhood. The other two won’t work for a family. You investigate the neighborhood of the house you liked only to find out that there’s a very well organized terrorist group headquarters’ office just around the corner. As much as you don’t mind those guys, your supervisor gives it a big “Nah Uh.” Ok, back to the drawing board. You go out again the next day to try with a new property dealer. The first house is too big, the second is totally trashed and would probably take 3 months of repairs before it’s livable, and the third seems promising, but the property dealer, as always, has you waiting outside the house’s gate while he calls the landlord to ask him to bring a key over. The landlord isn’t answering, which is also not uncommon. You wait for 45 minutes while the property dealer calls the landlord’s sons, nephews, uncles, and brothers all in hopes to get someone to bring a key. Finally, one of his nephews lets him know that the landlord actually went back to his home in Germany last week and he took the key with him. So, no looking at that house today. After weeks of this madness, you finally find it. A great house with 4 out of the 10 things you’re needing in a house. Sure, there’s no kitchen sink, the toilet is actually a squatty, and the yard needs some work, but those things are all fixable. You negotiate a price with the landlord and work out the details of a contract. The contract includes things like 1. Who will pay for damages if a bomb is thrown over the compound wall 2. Who will pay for the necessary repairs on the house (always the renter) 3. Penalties for early contract termination. So, a little different from some terms of a contract in the West…
So the bathroom needs some work… no biggie!
After 3 weeks of non-stop searching, we finally settled on a place. The repairs will begin soon, and we are hoping to be moved into our new little abode in about two weeks. Yes, Laila and her baby brother will be sharing a room… that’s just how it’s going to have to be. But, that room will be cute, fun, and unisexually attractive (is that a correct term for a kids’ room?… maybe “aesthetically appealing to both genders?”) if it kills me. Pinterest and I will be getting cozy in the coming weeks, I’m sure. Yes, we are paying more than double the rent that we paid in River City for a smaller house, but downsizing never hurt anyone, right? I mean, who really NEEDS a couch AND two arm chairs? By the way, anybody in the neighborhood want to buy an arm chair? And maybe some cabinets?