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  • Writer's picturewassa123

House Hunting

I thought that as a native New Yorker, I knew tough housing markets. I was wrong.

Finding Western-style housing in/near Abidjan isn’t difficult, but it is very pricey. Furnished, air-conditioned apartments, with a washing machine, stovetop, microwave, and other common western accommodations require expensive imports and the prices will reflect that. The cheapest viable option we initially found was $1,400.00 USD per person.

Housing Option 1

On top of the costs, it is common for landlords to ask for six months' rent upfront in addition to a booking fee and security deposit (equivalent to one month’s rent each). This can be almost half (if not more) of your initial grant installment. And in most cases, they expect this in cash. Sometimes you can talk your landlord down, or if they’re on Airbnb, into an online payment. Just be sure to thoroughly inspect the apartment before you move in and get all of the payment arrangements (payment method, payment date, prorated months) in writing before you get settled in. And ensure your bank allows you to move that kind of cash around without major issues.

If you get stuck paying your rent in cash, I recommend using a money transfer service like Western Union or World Remit. Western Union is easier to find, but World Remit has a lower service charge. If you’re in Abidjan, you’ll have to go to Zone 4 to pick up the cash and keep in mind that banks here tend to close around three pm.

One note about AirBnB. I looked into it before I got here, and it isn’t helpful before you know where you’ll be living and working. Also, many have a habit of showing you a beautiful interior, but fail to show you outdoor/the neighborhood. It isn’t uncommon for modern apartments to be in older buildings, so never let a building exterior turn you off to a home. (though keep in mind that your landlord may only own the unit and can’t control building-wide issues) However, I still really encourage you to visit and see what is nearby. You don’t want to be stuck in a beautiful apartment in the middle of nowhere or a place that isn’t well lit or populated at night!

We got lucky being near a major landmark, but I would HIGHLY recommend choosing a place near a well-known pharmacy, landmark, or road. I’ll get into the challenges of navigating Abidjan in a later post, but you never want to hop in a cab and the driver does not know how to take you home!

Depending on your priorities, you can try and find a place in expat city (tons of western-style homes and nearby shops/restaurants) or try and experience more of an average Ivorian lifestyle. Just be sure to know what you want and what you’re willing to concede.

Happy house hunting!!

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