We have started the search for somewhere to live. At the moment we are staying in the team house which has a steady throughput of people. In anyone year over 370 people stay here!! We don’t mind sharing our space but it’s a bit disconcerting when the key goes in the lock late at night and you are not sure who’s on the other side.
Flat hunting in Nairobi is a bit hit and miss. There are no handy websites that you can type in an area and price range and hey presto get a selection. There are no estate agent windows you can browse or small ads in the newspaper. You have to trawl round shopping centres and take down numbers, follow rumours of people moving out or start knocking on gates at the housing compounds and speak to the caretaker.
Our property criteria is also a bit different to back home. The checklist goes something like this;
Security – Efficiency of the guards, electric fence, barbed wire, window bars, door grill
Amenities – Generator back-up, water storage supply, on site borehole
Access – No ground floor flats
And lastly do we actually like it!!
At the weekend we drove round areas we liked the look of and wrote down mobile phone numbers written on trees. One of these numbers led to a meeting with two comedy, aspiring property-dealers. Here you arrange to meet the “agent” at a petrol station, you are responsible for transporting them to the property and then some of the cheeky ones ask for money for their “air time”. These guys handed us a crumpled business card, jumped in the back of the car and directed us to an empty, rather dismal maisonette. The extent of the tour was switching lights on and off with huge grins on their faces. They had obviously just heard that the property was empty, paid the guard to let us in and were hoping to pocket a bit of money.