Real Life House Hunters: Best of the Worst

February 23, 2012 · 1 comment

in daily life, Kyrgyzstan

Gold tunduk chandeliers? Offices with showers? Marble staircases? Houses only half-constructed? All of the above. Even though there were a few gems in our search for a new house/office, the majority were not even up for consideration. A few of them deserve special mention for their ridiculousness.

This one wasn’t so bad, but it was just a bit strange. It was owned by the same man who owned House #3 in the previous post, and the house was almost an exact replica of it. (First house on the left, strange copy on the right)

But not quite. Some of the rooms were just a bit smaller. One of my future roommates noticed it first, prompting Farrell to say, “No way! Why would they deliberately copy a house just to decrease the size by such a small amount?” Comparing photos of corresponding rooms between the two houses, it was clear.

There were other things wrong with this place too. The neighborhood was more difficult to get to without a car, was situated in a not-so-friendly part of town, and was called “VIP City”. I mean, I know we’re looking for a mansion, but “VIP” is not the impression I’d like to give.

The most heinous problem with this house was to be found in the kitchen though. Look closely. There is no oven. We know my feelings about houses without ovens, and luckily the other housemates agreed that made this place an immediate “NO WAY” for all of us.

Next for ridiculousness, we have the first house shown to us by a real estate agent who was not Svetlana. The way this showing went should have tipped us off not to stray from her. This agent, Vadim, was a smooth-talking guy who wore all black and treated us like he had better places to be, better people to deal with. He let us know right away that a Chinese company was interested in this place, so we better make up our minds on such a hot property.

The house was reminiscent of some playboy’s palace from the 1970s. Opulent, tacky, and dated. Farrell mentioned that he could imagine a drug dealer living there, plying mafia clients with caviar, expensive liquor and prostitutes.

All of that aside, the house was gigantic. We just kept walking through room after room, down more stairs, through more hallways. It was a dizzying labyrinth.

Even stranger? It was only $2000 per month, far cheaper than any other place we looked at for the amount of space (400 sq meters, or 4305 sq feet).

As we left, Vadim sneered that we probably wouldn’t like what our next agent had to show us. Turns out he was right.

The next agent never quite absorbed our needs for a house. Everything she showed us somehow fell short of what we were looking for. The first was very nice, brand new, in a nice part of town, fit our budget… sort of. It was unfinished, and the owner pleaded that if only we could pay him some rent money up front, then he could totally finish the kitchen, bathrooms, and install light fixtures and other finishing touches. But we’d also have to pay extra for him to buy all the furniture. And finish the outdoor kitchen. And install the security.

Then the electricity went out. That pretty much sealed the deal there.

Next, we drove to a nearby neighborhood to look at another place. We got lost on the way and started knocking on the wrong yellow/green building (which was apparently empty). I’m not sure who initiated it, but when the next-door neighbor pulled up in her car, the agent went to speak with her and suddenly we were invited to look at her house after we finished with the other showing. “Hey foreigners! Would you like to rent my house?” (“Wait, was she already planning to move or did she just decide?”)

We did find the right yellow/green building a few minutes later. It was perfectly fine, except it wasn’t a house. It was a straight-up office building. Things that make an office building unsuitable to live in include the lack of furniture (other than desks and chairs), full bathrooms (there was a random shower in an unused office), and kitchen. I think the agent thought we were looking for office space or living space. Or maybe she thought someone would want to sleep in a conference room.

For the very last showing, we intruded into the above-mentioned neighbor’s home (at her insistence, of course, but I still felt uncomfortable) for a quick look. I can’t even find the words to describe how extremely decorated every square inch of it was. Different wallpaper in every room, different stones and materials on every surface, different themes and colors, and 3D cut-outs on every ceiling and wall. In addition, on every cut-out, there was a series of lights in different colors and strengths, each requiring its own switch to operate, which the owner attempted to demonstrate in every single room. Switches everywhere! She didn’t even seem to know for sure what they all did.

The living room was a golden tribute to Kyrgyz motifs. In this picture, Altynai is awed by the big shyrdak swirl on the back wall, the wallpaper with Kyrgyz cave drawings, and the pièce de résistance, a gold chandelier shaped like a tunduk (the top of a yurt).

The owner’s daughters’ rooms were also over-decorated; an explosion of pink, swirls and girl power.

And then, after all of that, it wasn’t nearly big enough to both live in and work in. When we mentioned this to the agent, she seemed a bit exasperated that we couldn’t make up our minds about what we wanted. The last place was too office, this place is too house.

At this point is was dark, snowing, and we all unanimously decided that none of these houses were right for us. A choice was solidified the next day and we start moving in this Sunday. Stay tuned and I’ll reveal which one we ended up choosing!

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