05 September 2011

Apartment in Haiti Lessons

Whitespacelover Haiti apartment
Living room / dining room where I love to work.
Much has been said about Haiti and its daily catastrophes, but not much about expats moving to a new apartment… and after months of skirmish with landlords and ladies, Whitespacelover has moved to Montagne Noir! A.K.A. my excuse for blog inactivity! 
So it’s time for a useful entry for expats and for those who are moving to Haiti. 
As a graphic designer, I put much emphasis on my personal environment. In a perfect world it would be silent and well-designed but I live in a not so perfect piece of Haiti in Montagne Noir. So, here are some tips to keep in mind when finding a place in Haiti.

1. Hire a local real estate agent. Sure they may charge a 50%-of-the-rent-fee but they will find you a place with your budget and specifications. They will also help you out with issues that you might encounter. They also make the process of finding a place in Haiti faster and easier.
2. Location, location. Take places close to PV (P├ętion Ville). Higher than PV like Laboule and Kenscoff is nicer but travel time to PV ranges from: with traffic 1-1.5 hours and without traffic 10-20 minutes. Lower than PV, well, good luck. Also, never take a place that is too isolated. 
3. Once you find a place, check if it’s structurally sound. Then check if you have electricity 24-hours a day and "clean" running water—clean meaning you don’t see green stuff or particles floating on the water and it doesn’t smell too much of Clorox. 

Whitespacelover Haiti apartment study
Custom-made corner desk in the study room that is rarely used. Dining room is better for work. ;-)

4. Very important, prick your ears. If you can hear cars passing by or people talking then it only gets worst. So, abandon or buy some earplugs or noise cancelling earphones. 
5. Look for generators. If you see it, you’ll probably hear it. The only choice here is to go look for a new place. Otherwise you’ll never get peace in your new place. You don’t want to sleep to the hum of diesel engines at night or wake up to the early morning fumes. 
6. They say the devil is in the details. Look under the sinks, inside the closets, toilet bowls and turn on faucets and showers. If you see something leaking or water trails ask to get it fixed before you move. 
7. Test the doorknobs and locks. Though not common, it’s not unheard of people getting locked in or out of their apartments. 

So, there you have it. Keep in mind though that we’re in Haiti and most places may not be up to the standards of the country that you used to live in. Be patient and learn to adapt to it. 

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