Apartments and Condos in Ethiopia: A New Way of Life
Aside from apartments such as the old "82 Apartments" near the Hilton hotel, those ancient buildings near Bambis supermarket, and a few others around town; Ethiopians have little to no experience with closed, vertical, block based living common in other countries.
Today, one may correctly describe the availability and construction of these edifices as an explosion all over Addis Ababa and the major cities across Ethiopia.
But how are Ethiopians reacting to this new way of life and how is it affecting their quality of life and traditional culture.
When condominiums first started appearing, everyone was in agreement that these buildings shared many qualities similar to the ghetto housing projects common in the United States and France.
It was believed that the walls were paper thin, the plumbing and electricity an atrocity, and the buildings themselves were claimed by some to already be crumbling apart.
Locals thought it was the government's way of compensating low income families for the land grabbed to make roads and facilitate other development projects.
Ethiopians are unique in that we share and believe rumors like the whole population is one family.
Take for example our fascination with Toyotas, we have a common line of thought passed around through rumors that these cars are built to last and their spare parts are cheap and widely available.
This appears to be true, BUT, there are a ton of other car manufacturers that offer these exact same attributes, none the less, we Ethiopians have already written Toyota's values in stone, and remain they will.
Now, if you try to sell that Honda you unwittingly bought, prepare for a long wait which is not the case for Toyota's as they get sold and bought instantly.
Back to the case in point, during the first years of condominiums in Ethiopia, it was considered something to take for granted and the prices were incredibly low.
Oddly enough, as hard as it is to dissuade an Ethiopian's core beliefs, the value of condominiums began to change in the minds of the local populace.
That's not to say that the walls are not somewhat paper thin or some of the construction is not shabby but other factors began to take precedence.
For one, with a population that is growing rather incredibly along with a surge in the people migrating from the rural areas; affordable housing has started to become a scarcity.
With shortages in affordable housing, more and more people began to look at condominiums with a new eye.
Furthermore, with a middle income population exploding along with the booming economy, necessity overcame neglect and condominiums and apartments became en vogue.
Today, there is a massive waiting list for the government issued condominiums that were once overlooked.
People are flocking more and more towards this type of housing in a city that promises to be an ever growing economic powerhouse in Africa and inevitably the world.
With this surge in interest, the laws of supply and demand have also began to be witnessed, as the once low cost of renting a condominium or apartment are now in the past with prices increasing by the month.
But, nevertheless, every new condominium project has its tenancy rate at almost 85-90% occupied.
Along with this new way of living, Ethiopians have to also adjust with a new way of life. One cannot expect to have their chickens and sheep running around or being slaughtered like in the past.
Most Ethiopians grew up in close communities and every new face in the neighborhood was noticed, today with the condominiums and apartments, it's rare to even know thy neighbor.
All in all, we Ethiopians must also learn to observe the way of living that is associated with close, block type living common in many parts of the world.
Among the many things we have to change, some include: walking respectfully and quietly up and down the stairs at night, teaching one's children to play in the compound as opposed to the hallways and stairs, and attempt to keep balconies and immediate outside areas as clean as possible.
Ethiopians love their gossip and our prolonged coffee ceremony bears witness to that, but respecting the privacy and peace of one's neighbors should always be a priority, that is why Westerners take pleasure in apartment living.
For us to enjoy a higher quality of life, those nosy neighbors with eavesdropping and banging tendencies need to be taught to find a more productive use for their time.
Aside from this, apartments and condominiums are a great place to live and a wonderful opportunity for the enterprising person to invest in.
The income from rent or even a plan to sell it in the future is a great way to plan for the future, as opposed to keeping money in a bank in Ethiopia, earning low interest.
So if you haven't already, it is high time you register to get your condo or look around and invest in an apartment or a finished condominium in Ethiopia.