House Matters.

Shelter is a basic need. We all need somewhere to go home to, a place to call our own, a haven from daily work struggles and a place to be safe from the elements.

Where I come from, a lot of people believe that one of the things a person should aspire to have is his or her own piece of land, where they can go ahead and construct their own home. For those who do not own property near the city, it is assumed that by the time your working life ends, you will have finished constructing a place in the village to retire to, complete with a cow and chicken coop and space to grow your own vegetables to boot.

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I grew up about 15 km from Nairobi, in a rural village juxtaposed with a college campus on one side, a farming area on another and a busy highway on another end that connects the capital to the Rift Valley. Folks made fun of it a lot, but it is home. We lived on our own land, so no rent, had our cows, chicken and eggs, and a land to farm on, which meant food was easily accessible. Back then a lot of people believed living in town (within the city and suburbs) was the best life. Well, not anymore. I keep reading and seeing more people opting to move to our area and beyond and farm life and waking up to the sound of birds singing has more appeal now.

Times have changed. We are no longer living within our tribal communities’ geographical boundaries. People are choosing to settle anywhere they feel comfortable. This could be in different towns, countries or even continents.

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With the pandemic, a lot of people have had to cut down on living costs. Housing is one of the things that takes up a large chunk of one’s income if you live in the city where rent is high. A lot of people are opting to move farther away to the country side or different counties altogether where life is more affordable, which is a good decision. Adapting to Covid 19 has taught us that it is possible for many to work from home, as long as you have a reliable internet connection, you can work from anywhere.

Land is very expensive too, not all of us may afford to get that land to build our dream house on. One can opt to get a mortgage and settle on an already built housing unit or just decide to rent for life. Which is fine.

Culture is dynamic, there is nothing cast in stone, we need to adapt to these changes and respect each others’ decisions on what is best for them. That does not mean however that these decisions are easy to arrive at.

Is there a need of having to build a house in the village that you will head to once or twice a year for a week tops, that will then stay empty till the day you retire to the village? On the other hand, it will be great to have a roof over your head with no pressure to pay rent in case your income lines dry up.

What about buying an already built property; if you do not have the ability to pay cash upfront, are you willing to be burdened with a mortgage for almost 3/4 or even all of your working life?

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Or you buy land somewhere, then extreme changes in weather, like what we have been experiencing worldwide, force you to move. Lake levels are rising here and old dried up waterways are filled with water now as well as wetlands we thought are dried up. These are places people settled in and lived for years until recently, now their homes are gone!

Some properties are also controversial in terms of location and land ownership. Imagine taking out a loan to buy a house that turns out to built on land later claimed by the government or somebody else, or buying a house that ends up not being structurally sound?

Once you hear all the horror stories some people go through, renting suddenly looks more appealing than ever.

No matter the decision, shelter is a basic right for all. We all need somewhere to live, rest and sleep in. Choosing where to live depends on our economic situation, affordability, access to infrastructure, quality of life and also access to quality education if you have kids. Security too. And not just burglary and the likes, there are certain areas that are prone to tribal clashes every few years.

There is a lot to consider when making the decision where to live, and there is no perfect place that one will pick and say “This is it.” It is all about weighing all that you consider important, the pros and cons, do your due diligence, and make the final place you decide on a home fit for you and your family.

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I just came across one of the first entries from my actual Kampala Notebook, dated 6th December 2019. We had just moved and Hubs had to travel for a couple of weeks. We were housed in a furnished apartment but imagine no friends yet, no kids ours could be friends with and not knowing our way around?  Little did we know this time in a kind of isolated bubble was a preamble to our life under lockdown. Isn’t it amazing how fast the world has changed since then? Here is part of the entry:- “My little princess just turned 7! No party as her Dad is still away on work travels. We are also yet to move into what will be our house while we are here. I fell in love with it the minute I saw it. I call it “Casa Gialla.” it is indeed a yellow house, beautiful and big enough for us. And it comes with quite a big compound and three lovely dogs. 
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I love how the sun plays on this side of the house in the afternoons.
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The garden is beautiful and big enough for us to play in and even workout in. Should try a camp out one of these days.
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Here are two of our new babies:-)
Baby girl is feeling bad about having no party but we are yet to make new friends here so it will have to wait. They begin school in January so it is going to be a long holiday for the kids, but at least they play so well together and don’t get bored of each other’s company; something I am very grateful for.  I have however been having bouts of sadness loneliness and a kind of apprehensiveness I can’t place my finger on.  Increasing irritability and impatience with the kids – is it because we are together the WHOLE time? I have also been checking on various Masters programs I can enrol in the new year. Mama has to get back on track when the kids start school. A few months later and Coronavirus has ensured we are in lockdown. Sigh.