Over the last week back in Abidjan, I had the pleasure of living again in the house we bought in 2010. Previously we’d been hiring a small studio for my wife to sit-out the Ebola crisis with our new baby, but the (terrible) tenants who’d been living in our own house moved out, so we took advantage to move back in, even if only for a few months. I’ll be honest and say I wasn’t sure I’d ever be sleeping in the house again.
When I first left Abidjan at the end of 2012, I went through a period of being disconnected. It wasn’t a conscious ploy, but those first 12 months in Dubai were a time when I almost stopped any activity on Twitter, the only time I’ve not blogged regularly since I started, and a period of nearly 1.5 years where I didn’t visit Abidjan. In comparison, in the last 12 months my passport testifies that I’ve gone through the arrival gates at Abidjan airport five times.
Coming back to the topic of the house again, I sometimes wonder if I’ll live there long-term again. It really is a decent place, and the roads have improved significantly around the area. There was a shortage of piped water in the sector in the last week, but hopefully this shouldn’t be a long term problem. It has plenty of rooms (three bedrooms, two lounges, a maid’s bedroom, and a three room apartment out the back, up some steps) and there’s really as much space as a normal family would ever need.
Still, I don’t know if I suffer from a lack of contentment but it has two major flaws (not uncommon in Ivorian construction) – there are almost no windows, particularly in the most important rooms, and the garden has long been almost entirely built over. All I ask is that the next place has a garden that can host a decent barbecue, and some windows that show something semi-attractive. A home on two levels might be nice too – I haven’t lived in a home with stairs since Norwich (c. 2005). Perhaps if I had those things, I’d be dreaming of a swimming pool, but we’ll see.
I’ve actually been thinking of buying a second property in Abidjan but I don’t think I can afford/justify buying the right place at the moment. The market does seem buoyant, with prices / rents rising and land being snapped up as the city pushes ever outwards. Many of the buyers (I hear from one friend in the sector) are from elsewhere in ECOWAS. Burkinabe and Nigerians (“Hausa”) were nationalities mentioned by name. I imagine Abidjan makes an attractive investment proposition for rich people in the region, perhaps some of them with cash of dubious provenance (there are less questions and pesky taxes than in Europe). The land ownership laws are liberal, the legal structure is reasonably sound, the currency is stable and secure, the economy is doing well, Abidjan is liveable, and property prices still seem low by regional standards.