Conundrums continued. Over the weekend we looked at several more houses and out of those have added a third possibility to the list. Each member of our house has personal likes and dislikes with each. I personally want the kitchen and open floor plan from one house, the rooftop patio with cooler breeze, built in closets, and my own bathroom from another, the two house layout and convenient closeness to the school of another, and the list goes on. If only we could pick and choose and conglomerate. But we can’t. Someday life will be perfect and everything will come together just as it should. But in the unbalanced broken present I find it quite amazing that the Lord has shown us three possible affordable options all within 100 yards-1 mile of where we currently work and live. Honestly, we do not want this just to be about our personal preferences. We want to choose the house that is not only a good fit for our family but also a place of hospitality that will be a good fit for others to come and stay. We will have to deal with issues of transportation, electricity, laundry, and personal space in any of the three houses we choose. This is just part of living in Haiti. Our problem is that we can’t decide which issues we would rather deal with over others. What we want to know is if you came to visit us which of the following would be your preference? We would like to hear from those who have experienced Haiti and plan to return, those who plan to visit Haiti (us?) in the future, and friends already living in Haiti whom we hope will come stay with us when they come this way to go to the beach. Your votes would really help us make a decision. At least I hope. I really hope we don’t end up with equal # of votes for all houses. If we do, we will probably draw a # out of a hat!
Starting/asking price =$8,000/yr.
Negotiated price=$6,000/yr. (we think they will take $5,000)
This is the first house we found that we deemed a possible good fit. I talked about it already and posted pics HERE
Positives for House #1:
House #1 is the closest to the school we work with. It is literally across the street from the elementary building where our children attend. This is not only a convenience for us but also for teams coming to work with the school and staying with us.
House #1 has 7 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms, 2 separate kitchens, and 2 separate common living areas. It is essentially two separate appartments. Our family would use the apartment on the bottom floor that has 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, living, dining and kitchen areas. The top floor would be for guest and Genise (our Haitian friend who lives and works with us). One side (that can be partitioned off from the main living areas) has two bedrooms and a bathroom in between. Genise would be using these rooms and would have access to upstairs kitchen where she would help prepare food for visitors. There are two additional guest rooms on the other side of the upstairs with a bathroom in between and another room where we could put extra bunk beds if we need more room for guests. There is an entry way room upstairs that I would plan to use as a souvenir shop. We want to be able to help local artisans and also give support to other great organizations in Haiti. We would have items for sale from different ministries and artisans we know from different parts of Haiti. St. Marc does not have anywhere good to shop where we can send teams who want to take things home from Haiti, and there is usually not time or a way to get people around to shop in other cities. So we would like to have Haitian made items available to support our Haitian friends and ministries. I plan to have a Haiti shop in whichever house is chosen, but House #1 and House #3 actually have entry way rooms that would be specifically suited for this purpose. In summary for this part, having two kitchens and separate living quarters is a VERY BIG POSITIVE. This is the only house that has two kitchens though House #3 does have separate floors of bedrooms and living quarters. The layout of House #1 gives the most privacy to everyone.
House #1 has easy access stairs to a flat roof with a beautiful ocean view. The roof would also be a perfect spot for a rooftop gardening project. Anyone staying here will definitely experience what it is like to live in a neighborhood in Haiti. I’m not promising all those experiences will be pleasant, but there will be people observed and perspectives gained that we think should be counted as positives.
Negatives for House #1:
House #1 needs repair work. Some of this the landlord has agreed to do before we move in such as: fix the concrete on driveway, raise security walls, and patch and paint over wall areas in disrepair. The things we would have to fix ourselves include installing kitchen cabinets and preferably new countertops in the upstairs kitchen, repairing tiles and fixing up at least two of the bathrooms, installing concrete or metal railing along rooftop (for safety reasons), installing lights and/or ceiling fans, installing some form of closets in bedrooms, making sure windows are screened and secure, and installing good locks on all gates outside. We are not handy enough nor do we have the tools necessary to complete these kind of projects on our own. We would need help. Any volunteers?
House #1 biggest negative at this point is that we do not have a decent electricity source. The other two houses have their own transformers/meters that plug into EDH (Electricite d’ Haiti)/city power which is not very reliable, will give power more often than one without a transformer. Transformers and/or wiring to a transformer are expensive. We already have an inverter and batteries that can be charged whenever EDH is given, but we would need to purchase a generator asap as well. We do realize that we will need to purchase a generator eventually no matter where we are, especially if we have a lot of people living in or visiting the house that use up electricity. The generator we need costs $10,000. We were hoping to purchase a car for about the same amount. 🙁 Never again will I complain about air conditioning bills in the U.S. What I am talking about here is just to keep power on so we can have lights and fans.
House #1 is on the same busy dusty road where we currently live. It will be dusty. It will be loud though I think not as loud as our current house. There will be mosquitoes. It will be hot though I think not as hot as House #2.
Eric says that it is not a fair that I did not take any pictures of the inside of House #1 (hence the previous long explanation). There is a reason for that. The inside has been filthy each of the 5 times we have looked at it. I will admit that pics from the inside of this house would not look like pics from the other two houses. However, this house has good bones and I think once we moved in, I got busy cleaning and decorating and we got some help to fix the things that need fixing, it would be a great house. This house represents more of what I feel a home should look and feel like. My imagination transcends the dust, peeling paint, bare bones bedrooms, and kitchen cabinets in need of repair. What I see is potential. I see curtains on the windows. I see cute. Eric’s imagination does not work that way at all. It is for this reason that I showed him house #2.
Starting/asking price =$12,000/yr.
Positives for House #2:
House #2 as you can see from the pictures is beautiful, clean and other than (if deemed necessary) installing the upstairs bathroom, has no repair work that we can see.
House #2 has its own transformer (electricity meter) on a pole that is inside the gate of the house. <
House # 2 seems safer (though we have not experienced any safety problems in our current neighborhood). Eric thinks he would feel more comfortable leaving us here when he goes on trips to other areas in Haiti and if he has to travel to the states for speaking engagements.
House #2 has A GORGEOUS KITCHEN with hookups in an enclosed cabinet for a washing machine!
House #2 has a hot water heater (though we would probably rarely use it more than 1 month out of the year).
House #2 does not have much space around the house for playing and for dogs, but it does have more than House #1 and House #3.
House #2 is on the corner of two paved streets. This will help with dust.
House #2 puts a distance between home and work. This could be a good thing. It is also a hardship as mentioned in negatives.
Negatives for House #2:
House #2 is more expensive (though we can justify that we could spend this much or more for house #1 in repairs).
House #2 is on the corner of a very busy street in town. Because the street is paved it will help with dust. It will not help with noise.
House #2 will be loud even with windows closed and louder with them open.
House #2 has 3 less bedrooms that the other 2 houses. We think it would still work well for guests, but not for Genise (and family) to live with us. Because it is such an open floorplan there would be much less privacy. We have decided that if we move to this house Genise and Evangeline will not be able to live with us much longer. That thought makes us sad, though we have talked to her about it and she is ok with it. It will just put a different (not necessarily bad) spin on life for everyone.
House #2 is the farthest away from our school. We have arranged a ride coming that way to take Eric and the kids to school in the mornings and possibly bring them home in the afternoons. But we know there will be times when we have to take/pay for multiple motorcycle rides. It would be very difficult for Genise to run her snackshop business at the school if she is not within walking distance of the school. It will be harder for me to watch her nursing baby if she is not close by. It will be harder for me to go back and forth to the school to help out and teach my reading classes. These are the immediate concerns but might only last for about 2 months until school is out for the summer. Lord willing, we will have a vehicle before the next school year begins.
House #2 has no view. The house itself is pretty but there isn’t anything lovely about its surroundings. Because there is no elevation and no sea breeze, the house seems to be hotter than our other options. Mosquitoes do not like breezy. They do like hot. We can spray and use nets but…
Negotiated price=(think we can negotiate between $5-6,000)<
It does have a lovely ocean view outside the sinkside window.
It could be made cute with its brick countertops and country wood cabinets if not for the gaudy pillars that grace the entry to the kitchen in the picture above.
They did say they would fix the cabinets.
I would have to put an oven with stovetop where the refrigerator is and put the refrigerator in the adjoining breakfast room. I am pretty bummed with such a tiny kitchen for such a big house, but we could make it work.
Any kitchen would be a great improvement.
It doesn’t really matter I suppose. Because unless the house has two kitchens (like House #1) or Genise does not live with us (like House #2), I will not be in the kitchen much at all.
Genise is always in the kitchen as are the majority of Haitian women. It is just how it is.
There is typically no room there for me.
It’s a good thing I don’t particularly like to cook.
4 of the 6 bedrooms have built in closets.
We can choose to use some of the furniture if we like, though I’m not sure that is included in price.
If. Only. It. Had. A. Kitchen. Up. Here.
There is an area to the left that would make a great little kitchen.
But unfortunately there is a giant concrete bar area there that is blocking any makeshift kitchen I might invent.
We asked if it could be removed or just moved out a little ways.
The owner didn’t like that idea.
There are 2 bedrooms to the right and a master bed and bath to the left on this floor as well as another bathroom.
This would be our family living area.
Positives for House #3:
House #3 is still within walking distance of the school. It isn’t too long of a walk and would give us some great exercise every day.
House #3 is probably going to be the least hot house due to the large open windows. There are windows with glass that open and close in the bedrooms and living area on second floor. The main problem with open air Haitian houses (and the reason I didn’t want another one) is because they let in a lot of dust and mosquitoes. We’ve been told the mosquitoes are not as bad here probably due to the elevation and good flowing breeze. I did not experience any mosquitoes. Because the road leading to the house is paved and because the house goes straight up, dust didn’t seem to be such a huge problem either except on the first floor.
House #3 has only one room other than the garage on the first floor that would be a great spot for the souvenir shop I mentioned earlier! Otherwise that room could be used for an office or storage.
House #3 has it’s own electricity transformer/meter.
House #3 has built in closets and we might even be able to use some of the furnishings we like already in the house. There isn’t much we would have to buy/fix on this house.
House #3 has the best views and has easy access to hiking the hills behind the house. The awesomeness of the roof of House # 3 almost comes close to the kitchen in House #2.
Negatives for House #3:
House #3 has no place I can think of to do laundry. There is always laundry being done, so this is a problem for us (not for guests).
House #3 has no outside space surrounding the house other than the rooftop.
House #3 has less than desirable kitchen. Kitchen is in use nearly 100% of the time.
House #3 has some gaudy components that I detest, but know I simply cannot be that picky. Such components include giant bar areas that take up space along with giant gaudy painted pillars. And unfortunately for this Aggie, the master bedroom is painted nicely in a very distasteful orange. I told Eric that would have to go. He refused to budge on that one because he is not an Aggie.
Well, there you have it. Please cast your votes for the place you would most likely want to stay if/when you come see us in Haiti!!