Apartment Hunting

It’s never fun – apartment hunting. But, when you don’t know the city, don’t know the language, can’t walk around because it’s either too hot or a torrential rainstorm and where hardly anyone except Gucci takes credit cards you get the picture on the rising stress levels. Add to that the fact that Marilynn has a little case of Uncle Ho’s revenge and the picture gets even clearer. That’s our situation in Saigon. We have two extraordinary co-workers doing everything they can to help us find something, but it’s not easy.

It might be easier with a cushy corporate overseas housing allowance, but we’re working for an NGO (non-governmental organization/a non-profit) doing humanitarian aid work and money is tight. We’re on a budget, and the Vietnamese landlords know what the market will bear. We’d be concerned if our children had to live in the places we’ve looked at, and the going rate is still $1000/mo and up. Our needs are clear, a clean, air-conditioned, two bedroom place that has some measure of security. That means a high rise, and they’re all pretty much the same. The ones available to ex-pats like us are furnished with tacky, beat up furniture, and smell like a swamp because in this climate if they aren’t lived they start to sweat and smell the minute the A/C is turned off.
So far, we’ve looked at 10 different places. Location has become the mantra. We’re never going to find a place we’d really like to live. We know that. But, if we can be within a 10 minute cab ride from the office we can make some concessions. Tomorrow is another day and we have 2 more to look at.

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