Sunday, 14 February 2010

House hunting in Amman

This week-end (please notice here, that it’s Sunday yet the week-end is already over! and yes it takes a while to get used to…), so I was saying this week-end has been rather uneventful, as we haven’t really visited anything, so I thought I would share with you our house hunting story! We have been in Amman for a month now and are still staying at the hotel. We have found our apartment but haven’t signed the contract yet and there are still a couple of things which need doing before we can move in. But it took us a while to get here! Just want to add they have met people for whom it took 3 months to find something they liked... So I guess that a month is not so bad!

The hotel put us in contact with Abdoun Real Estate, one of the leading agencies and we started visiting straight away. We were looking for a furnished apartment and let’s say it is not an easy task to find something that suits our European taste! Some of the apartments we saw were very nice but the decoration a bit overwhelming. The apartments are generally large – compared to European standards - and with an impressive amount of living area (and sofas) as well as bathrooms! After 10-12 visits we finally found one located in Abdoun (the area in Amman where many expats live) – not very large compared to others but this one was furnished in a modern way! After a couple of weeks of waiting for the contract, the owner suddenly said that there was an issue with the lift and that it was too expensive to repair it! no lift = no apartment – with Bibs getting heavier and heavier there is no way that I was saying goodbye to the lift. So we lost a couple of weeks (bouh) and we were out looking again...

At the beginning of our search we had visited an apartment through somebody at the hotel. His nephew (lucky or not??) was supposed to get married but didn’t after all so there he was with a not totally finished apartment – however he asked for a little bit too much so we had decided not to take it. But then we thought, let’s try again… and this time he was willing to discuss the price :) whoop whoop!!! after a couple of days of bargaining we finally agreed. And let’s be honest we got a bargain here! Ok there are a couple of things we need to take care of, like there is no tab in the kitchen, but that is the biggest problem, the rest is just some lamps to buy and a little bit a furniture. In the end it’s probably better this way we can start buying our own stuff as well. Bobs just called me to say that he got the keys, that’s another Whoop! we just need to sign now…

In every apartment building there is a “handy-man” – don’t know if it’s the right term. I have been told that they are generally Egyptians (don’t know if ours is) and they are paid directly by the tenants on a monthly basis, don’t know how much either :) Lots of don’t knows there! So the handy-man might get his own post later on, when I know more about him! Well I know one thing, that’s that his English is very bad!!

Rent wise (in the nicer part of Amman): you should count between 8K to 10K for a 2 bedroom apartment furnished, up to 15K for a 3 bedroom... but as I have said they are large, a 3 bedroom is easily 220square meter, sometimes bigger. You don't need to go through an agency to rent. If you drive around Amman in the night you can easily see what is available as it is custom to leave all the lights on! Then you just need to find the "handy-man". There are plenty of signs on the balconnies as well.

When you are looking at the descriptions of the apartments, sometimes you see "maid's room". It is very usual here to have a live-in-maid. When we visited our "soon-to-be" apartment with the owner, he walked into the kitchen and then straight to what I would call a pantry and said: "this is where you can have a washing machine and the maid". A tiny room, there is just space for a bed, no window and there is a tiny bathroom (with no door in between the room and the bathroom). I just smiled and said we won't have a live in maid! That's something he didn't understand... Difference of culture.
Furniture wise there are some options: in Mecca Mall there is a shop called “Home Centre” – On Mecca street there are lots of furniture shops, I know some of the mums I meet have had some things made – which might actually be a cheaper option, as there is no IKEA around the corner! For the lamps it’s a good idea to go to Cosmo (on Mecca street) they have some ok things and you can easily bargain the prices as well.

One thing to keep in mind is that most owners will either negotiate the rent or will be willing to change some furniture, buy something you might think is missing. In Amman, when they say furnished, they mean it: it is possible literally to arrive with your luggage. There is everything – even in the kitchen: microwave, coffee maker, kettle, glasses, cutlery...

Wow! I can’t wait! I am soo looking forward to move into our new “home” and getting our things which are still in Aqaba waiting to be send to Amman.

Oh and…
Kung Shee Fat Choy!
Happy Chinese New Year!


Elisa, Croatia said...

Hi, I found you via Expat Women. I have a friend in my class who is from Amman! wait till I tell her about your blog..I too am curious to know about her hometown,I'm so happy I found your blog. By the way you mentioned rent is 8-to-10k is that annually?

A Mexican mommy living in Europe

Babs said...

Hi Elisa!

Glad you like my blog! It's such an existing city:) can't wait to discover it more!!

The rent yes is annually :)

so what are u doing in Croatia??

Elisa, Croatia said...

Oh my hubby is originally from Croatia and since we had our baby Isabela we thought it would be nice to take a break from our hectic life and enjoy time with our daughter and also so she could see the other half of her genetic pool. so we moved from Colorado to Split, Croatia almost 10 months ago.
I forgot to ask you, since you were born in Denmark, but grew up in France what language(s) will you teach your little one?

Babs said...

I speak only danish to her and hubby speak only french - the english am sure she will learn it easily :)
It is scary isn't it to be in a foreign country with a baby?!
Love the way you write in your blog, can tell you are used to it - there is a nice funny touch to it! Am just starting, and English isn't my mother tongue so have some problems sometimes :)

VWbug said...

The handyman is called a "haris" is arabic or otherwise known as the guard. He is hired by the tenents in the building to guard and to keep the common area of the building clean and in working order. Every building has one and yes they are most always Egyptian. Hardly any of them know English but are usually willing to help. The haris at our building is a jewel, he and his wife are so helpful. If you tip them when they do special work for you they will be your friend for life. Our haris just washed all my area rugs to be rolled up for the summer.

Diane said...

Dear Babs, my husband is moving to Amman soon and it is great to find some really practical advice about housing. His office is in Shmisani ( I think!). if he can find an apartment in Abdoun, how would the journey to Shmisani be in terms of time and difficulty ( he will have a car of course)
Thank you again,

Babs said...

Hello Diane!
I guess maximum probably 20 minutes! depending on traffic... and where in Abdoun and Shmeisani! But there are other areas closer to Shmeisani: between 4th and 6th circle. That's nice as well, if he doesn't fancy getting stuck in traffic! Hope he likes amman! and if there is something else please ask.

Sonali said...

Again, just read this and very helpful. I am emailing real estate agents today about 2 - 3 bedroom apartments in the Abdoun/Shmeisani area. My office is in Shmeisani. You mention there are nice areas between Shmeisani and Abdoun - what would you recommend? I hope we only have to spend 1 - 2 weeks in a hotel but maybe I am being too optomistic!

Babs said...

Sonali! I live in between Shmeisani and Abdoun: there are 2 areas: between 4th and 5th circle and Um uthaina (or however you spell that haha). You'll find plenty of apartments to visit, then it just depends on what you like :) here is my email addy: - please don't hesitate to write if i can help :)

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