Wednesday, February 19, 2014
Temporary housing in Abidjan
Looking for a place to live in Abidjan can be an exercise in frustration. I've heard that leases can be hard to break, so there is no room for buyer's remorse. To try to not end up living somewhere I hated, I decided to find temporary housing first before moving into more permanent digs.
Luckily, I have a friend who came to pick me up at the airport (I landed at 4am) and let me crash with her and her parents. She lives in Riviera 3, an affluent suburb walking distance from the American school. It is a huge house in a really nice place, but for someone who doesn't know how to drive, it can feel isolated. Taxis are expensive and it costs quite a bit to get to the city center. Also traffic is a MAJOR issue. I have spent every morning and many evenings sitting in snarled traffic. So far, it's been bearable because I am commuting in an air-conditioned car and because I am not the one doing the driving.
Within days of landing, I decided to start looking for temporary housing in Zone 4 (where many expats live). I knew it was going to cost an arm and a leg and I was mentally prepared to settle on something overpriced. A real estate agent took me to 4 or 5 different places, and I think I got PTSD. You see, the studios I visited were so expensive and so shoddily built, I am not sure I can un-see what I saw. Every studio cost at least 500 000 Francs a month. They were dark, poorly built, and tried to pass off hot plates as stoves. One place was weird, and I couldn't quite figure out why until I noticed that there wasn't a right angle in the entire place. In case you can't quite see what I am talking about in your mind's eye, think along the lines of a motel near a rest stop, then transpose it to West Africa. Now, you're getting close. It was so bad, I couldn't bring myself to take pictures...
Because the housing Gods must have sensed my despair, I ended up finding someone looking for a room mate. The place is far from ideal, but it's affordable, and it'll do until I can find something more permanent.