Sneak Peak of Our New House

This month my family and I are moving houses as finally we found our house after what feels like ages of searching that I chronicled early last year on the blog. I am immensely happy and grateful to for the first time of my life own (or rather co-own with the bank) the house where my family and I lay our heads, but I haven’t decided yet how much of our house I will share here, as this is no home decor blog! 

…But here is a sneak peak as seen from the street.

sneak peak c2 text

Back here with my normal blogging rhythm in March.

Now I’m off to pack some boxes.

Ghana Housing Market: My Housing Career

As announced in an earlier post, I want to write on housing in Ghana. I believe it is important to my family, and likely to many more Ghanaians. And what better place to start than my own experiences.

Here is my housing career in Ghana:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2007

I move to Ghana in April and into my mother-in-laws small house in Tema. Except for my husband (-to-be at the time) and myself, five other adults and three children and some chickens also shared a house of four small bedrooms, one toilet, one shower and kitchen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2008

We rent our own place, with the savings I brought from Sweden and a loan from my husbands employer, we can afford a four bedroom house (in anticipation of our wedding and the Swedish guests) that even has a small indoor pool! Without a filter, the pool is merely a big bathtub, we discover. We also discover we have a slightly different taste in home decor. In Ghana, the normal procedure is to pay a two or three year advance. We pay for two years.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2010

The two years is up and our landlord want to switch from charging us in Ghana Cedis to US Dollars. In reality, that is a 50% increase in rent and we decide to move. I look at what feels like 100 houses with numerable agents and finally find a house after 3-4 months of looking constantly. I drive a hard bargain and get a three bedroom (minus “pool” plus bats) to a 20% increase from two years earlier. We pay for two years in Ghana Cedis.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2012

After two years, the rent is up again. We have done some saving, checked up on mortgages and with two salaries we qualify for a loan to 13,5% (!) interest rate. We ask the landlady if the house we live in is for sale. It is not. Later, the Tema Development Cooperation values the house (in US Dollars) and it goes on the market for about twice our budget. Time to move again. This time every house both for rent and sale is on the market in US Dollars and we realize that with the budget that we have we cannot afford to stay in our neighborhood. As of now, I estimate that housing prices is up by 100% from my house searching in 2009/10.

What do we do? Where do we move? Should we continue renting or is it time to buy?

In the next parts of this blogging series I will touch on the different options for housing and their pros and cons.

Please add you comments below or on Twitter under the hashtag #GHhousing .

Ghana Housing Market

It is a new year, but many things remain the same. Since some time, my little family has been preparing to relocate. After soon 5 years of renting, we believe we are now ready to purchase a house.

However, the housing market in Ghana (that I have covered earlier under the tag Housing in Ghana) is all other than transparent and easy to grasp, hence I thought I would share what I have learned in a blogging series.

But before I start my stories on renting, contracts, agents, real estate developers, plot purchasing, my dream house and other related topics, let me listen to you, my readers – what do you want to read about in connection to the Ghana housing market?

Answer in a comment below or on Twitter using the hashtag #GHhousing . Thanks!

Back in Ghana and Green Wood Hoohoe

Saturday, Selma and I returned from the cold north to the warm south. Waiting here in Ghana were Selma’s father, her paternal grandparents and our big extended family including many good friends. Some of them we have seen the last couple of days, other we are still to meet this weekend.

Coming back always entails thawing aka getting used to the heat. First night is almost always fine, the second I woke up panting for air. The third day, I woke up to empty taps. I think I am halfway thawed so far…(Selma seems fine. Babies take this much better!)

Much is like I remember around our house, but plants have grown a lot in six months and our house was repainted by Selma’s father to welcome us home!

This afternoon, Selma and I sat outside admiring our newly painted house. But that wasn’t the only thing new! This beautiful tropical bird with an orange-red beak and long tail (called Green Wood Hoopoe I have deduced after some googling of “red beak and long tail”) also jumped around our backyard. Seemingly looking for insects to munch on. Smiling in the sun.

Picture borrowed from Wikipedia.

My 80 m2 Dream House

Borrowed from mylife80m.com

As my two year rent is coming up next year (yes, paying rent in bulk in Ghana is common), I have recently been daydreaming about building a simple home that I could call my own for that amount (and yes, likely a lil’bit more).

Recent daydreaming coupled with surfing led me to the following tantalizing  “High Design/Low Budget” site describing My Life in 80MQ2 (although the budget aspect is debated in this blog comment thread). With well thought through design allowing for spacious entertaining areas as well as two baths, a separate kitchen, an upstairs bedroom with a walk-in-closet, a laundry room and a terrace attached to the kitchen this house has it all! (ok, maybe not a guest room, but could you not sleep on that couch?).

Alas this week I am dreaming about having my friends over for dinner parties/ waking up / drinking coffee / storing my fabulous Ghanaian dresses / in this stylish, sustainable, compact living house.

A room of my own…

My Best Home Decor Links

Source: unhappyhipsters.com

Do you like to wind down with looking in home decor magazines?

I do, but since moving to Ghana, the magazines are far and few in between so now I get my fix online. Predominately here:

1. Apartmenttheraphy. They have found the loveliest studios and homes, often with that personal twist that others do not. The winner of their smallest coolest apartments competition 2007, “Jewelery box”, was an all time high with its exquisite furniture, cobalt blue kitchen and custom-built shelving.

2. SvD Bostad/Hemma Hos. Swedish newspaper life style section – articles about real homes for the Swedish feel of home decor. Think IKEA, plus wood, plus white walls, plus old stuff, plus new, colorful eclectic stuff…

3. FOR FUN Unhappy Hipsters, when the magazine images stand you up to here…(via Swedish blog Tuffast)

I would love to add an “African style home decor” website to the list, but have so far not found any worthwhile sites/blogs/online mags. Let me know if you can help out!

(And no, I really do not care about home decor.  I am a full-fledged political animal only allowing myself to spend time on these kinds of capitalist dreams when all other work has been done. I promise).

Paradise Island for Sale

For you who like drooling over real estate here is a very special one from Ghana:

How about your own 27 acre paradise island?

Sandy beaches, safe swimming and fishing in Lake Volta, pleasure boat cruising, bird watching and both  “adventure and therapeutic” is promised by the excited seller.

I say “adventure and therapeutic” on a paradise island close to Ada Foah is exactly what I need for x-mas! If you buy this island, please remember where you read it first!

>Forward Ever, Backwards Never

> Exhausted by the Nkrumah celebrations, I return to the blog with some less than monolithic notes about my daily life, hope thats ok…

Thursday and Friday are my days for research (Mon-Wed I teach and prepare for class or grade stuff) but so far very little research has been done since University of Ghana has not yet gotten back to me on my PhD application. I note my own naiveté in this post from 2007, when I thought the application process would be swift. Ha.

Here is the full story (well, minus all the trips I’ve taken to “check on my application”): I submitted in March. The university then extended the application period with a month. Sigh. Then the Graduate School went on vacation, then they had to check if my application was complete (it was), then it was sent to the department I wish to study at – Institute of African Studies. The semester started. Then their board met to discuss the graduate proposals, I believe that was on the 2nd of September, so now I don’t know what they are waiting for.

I intend to go there today to find out and push my fate. Forward ever, backwards never.

Then I’m having lunch with a very interesting friend and maybe a meeting with Gordon of Aedhotep Developments that I wrote on here.

Later in the afternoon, 3-5 PM there is a meeting on Women and ICT at Kofi Annan Center for Excellence (AITI-KACE). Lets see if I make it there, it does sound interesting.

In the pic, me at University of Ghana in March of last year after starting my application by beginning on my proposal…

>Tropical Contemporary Architecture: How to build a house in Ghana

> What is more urban than buildings?

Let me start the born-again blog with posting something on Ghanaian architecture or more precisely things to think about when building your house in the tropics.

Currently, there is a building boom in Ghana and virtually every other person seems to be building a house. Cement prices just hit the roof (see this article) and this coming weekend Ghana’s first ever (?) home improvement fair is taking place. Also,this is a topic that just recently has started to interest me, I guess with the opportunity of one day building my own house in Ghana drawing nearer…

First of all, lets think about the property/land you need to acquire. Fortunately, the blog Makola Law has done a checklist on what to think about here.

Second, there are ways to build a house that is environmentally friendly, cost effective and automatically cool. Forget expensive and unhealthy ACs! Check out the inspiring and sometimes surprisingly simple tips for tropical design at Aedhotep Developments. Just to give you an example of something easy to do:

Plant tall trees on the east and west sides of the house to shade walls

Other options include using a new technique to build, such as the one provided by ItalConstruct in Ghana which uses polystyrene sheets and iron mesh to create a house that imitates a cooling box! See a video on the technique here.

Third, when you have a plot and a sustainable structure…what makes a house Ghanaian? Is it Kente style design of the exterior that I wrote on here? Or adinkra symbols like a friend has incorporated in his home exterior? Is it a compound style design like the traditional Ghanaian houses? It is using Ghanaian materials like bamboo and clay bricks? Using African architects? Or is just any house in Ghana a Ghanaian house?

Picture of a, in my view lovely, Ghanaian contemporary designed house courtesy of Aedhotep Developments.

>Help, House Bats Are My Neighbors!

> Their high-pitched screams were a sound I could not place the first time I heard it. But at dawn as I was standing in front of our new house I must have been blind to not see them…the hundreds of bats that came out from under our roof…
As for me I thought it was highly exciting and exotic to share shelter with some tropical insect eater, but I soon was made aware of how much they disturb with their screams and …shit (which can also be a possible source of disease).

Our new neighbors get hungry around six in the evening, just like us, however that is also the time they ”go to the market”. This turned out to be the key to their moving out. Yes, moving.

The exterminator we called made us understand that bats are an endangered species and cannot be fumigated, poisoned, trapped or in any other way killed, however, one can lawfully seal the roof one wishes they do not enter. Hence, a carpenter came to seal the whole roof with metal netting after dark and after they had flown out yesterday.

Later in the evening as they returned, they started circling the house looking for a way in. At one point there was like a cloud of bats trying to get in. But they didn’t get into the house again and last night just one or two of them returned to try again.

However they managed to enter my dreams. I was tossing and turning all night, agonizing over what I’d done. In my dreams however, the bats and I were living in friendly coexistence.

>Moving Houses

> Today, the time has come to move from buzzling community 8 to the more calm – from the looks of it at least – community 11 here in Tema.

I’m just now going for the key from our landlady and then arranging with my gardener to come move my garden (!).

Today we plan to do the most part of the move – big stuff, books, clothes, TV etc. but then come back here and sleep (and more importantly use the Internet one last time).

Pic: A new door opens…beautiful door of new house.

>Kente Houses called Villaggio Vista

> The real estate developer Trasacco Group, who is also behind the big suburban area Trasacco Valley in East Legon and the luxury apartments Villaggio Primavera at Tetteh Quarshie interchange has done it again.

This time it is luxury living in three different buildings, Villaggio Vista. The highest of the three buildings “Alto” is planned to have 27 stories they brag on its website- the highest residential building in West Africa – and all three will have a very modern appearance. There are concrete shapes like large upside down letter L:s. Reportedly inspired by Kente cloth, the houses will have colorful geometrical patterned sides. Its not exactly beautiful, but is a completely new style for Accra.

Even though I will probably never afford even one night in the buildings (pool and garden on the roof top, 200+ square meter appartments, lobbies with consierge etc.) I do look forward to seeing Accra enter the 21st architectural century.

Pic borrowed from the developers here.