To House or Not to House

Its about that time when I have to make a decision about my permanent living situation.  I can stay where I am until the 23rd of this month, but I had hoped to move after four weeks into my own place.  I haven’t unpacked, I’ve done no decorating, and although its starting to feel like home here its still a long way from feeling like home.

There are several issues that I have to balance in making my decision:
Access to a kitchen
Proximity to work

I love to cook and I’m not in love with the food here (yet). Getting a house gets me a kitchen which gets me anxiety-free meals.  This is a plus.  But, is buying and preparing food actually cheaper than eating at stands geared towards locals? My boss tells me that it is so I’ll just have to take her word for it.  I would love to learn to cook some Lao dishes, but I can see myself in the interim just buying veggies at the morning market, and then grilled meats on the street to eat for dinner.  The operations manager told me he’d show me where I could get super cheap breakfast of sticky rice and chicken and I’ve found a cheap place for lunch that doesn’t make my tummy hurt, so is a kitchen worth it?

I had heard that there is a possibility to share a house.  I love that option.  Only now, there isn’t anyone else looking to share their house. Or move into a house.  So it’d be just me alone.  Which I’m totally fine with except I’ve been shown some ridiculously large houses.  The first house I looked at had 5 bedrooms.  Way too much space for me!!  I don’t feel lonely (much) here, but if there were 4 empty rooms in my house I think it would feel that way. The second place I looked at had three.  I much preferred the layout and location of that house, but it was out of my price range.

I went to my boss’ house the other day for lunch and her place was so nice!  Even the view from her porch was unobstructed and you could see the mountains.  Its not that I want to be living in luxury, but I’ve learned from experience that home is the last place where you want to feel uncomfortable. I’d also love to get a place where I can host people or have at least one spare bedroom for if I had visitors or if there were interns or something coming to town that might need a place temporarily.

Today there is another place I’m going to look at, but I have to take a tuk-tuk to get there which already makes me think its not worth it if its that far away.  I do feel most alone, when looking for a place to live.  I think the reasons for me to get ripped off just keep stacking up: I’m a foreigner, I’m a woman, I don’t speak Lao, I have no male accompanying me, I don’t even know what questions I should be asking about the house.  Another downside to the house issue which is causing me stress is having to pay rent a year up front! I don’t know if this can be negotiated by place. Again, I’ve heard that it can, but it depends on the person renting out their place.  I wonder if I should just stay in guest houses until the opportunity comes up for me to share a house with someone.  But with the irregular way that expats come and go I could be living out of my suitcase for a year.  Even if there were expats that wanted to share a house, our budgets might not be the same.  But I’d really like a kitchen…Argh!! Thinking about this is making me sad so I’m going to stop.  But any *thoughts* for finding a place within a 5 minute bike ride of work, for $250-$300 a month, with a kitchen would be greatly appreciated.

3 thoughts on “To House or Not to House

  1. Grace says:

    Can you ask your boss to accompany you on a house-renting trip? You can always offer to buy her lunch in return!

    • feetcrymercy says:

      My boss is a little busy now and has assigned one of the staff members to accompany me. The thing about the staff is that they’ve never looked for a house before and they don’t know what kinds of things I wouldn’t think to ask, know what I mean? Like to them it may be obvious that there is a water tank or some other feature that I can’t tell so they wouldn’t ask… I’m going to email an American here who has rented and ask them what I should ask about.

  2. Jonathan says:

    That’s a good idea. You could also wait a couple weeks for your boss to not be so busy (though that gets you close to the move-out deadline). I moved three times in Taiwan, but it was basically from one concrete box to the next (and I have learned now the same lesson you have: home should feel like home, not a concrete box), so the only amenities that mattered were water and electricity and preferably a window. Anyway, two years is a long time. Get a place with a view, as long as it’s within 15 minutes of work (door to door) by some form of transportation. (Don’t forget: you could get your own scooter!)

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