Wednesday, April 13, 2005


Buying a house

Buying a house here isn't easy.

For a start, there are no Estate Agents, so you can’t just pick and choose from a window display and then make appointments to view. Houses are sold by word-of-mouth, so you need to ask around and wait to see what you hear about. Occasionally one is advertised in the paper, but this tells you that it is probably overpriced and hasn’t sold by the other method.

Having located your dream home, the fun begins. Unless you were born here, you need a licence to buy property. Such a rule is not unusual, and at least it is possible to get one – in some countries it is absolutely prohibited. Here it is just, like so many things, a lengthy process. We understand it goes like this:

Step 1: fill in a form. That was easy.

Step 2: wait. We’re getting good at this.

Step 3: Get a letter back saying that you need to supply: a medical certificate to say that you are fit and healthy; a full statement of your financial assets; and a police check, confirming that you are not a criminal.

The former is easy: just make an appointment to see the doctor and ask him for one. The receptionist can’t give you a certificate without you seeing the doctor, even if you only saw him yesterday. Seeing the doctor involves a wait, but nothing like the wait in the UK so, as my Granny used to say (often) “mustn’t grumble”.

As I work for the bank, the financial assets statement shouldn’t be a problem.

But the police record check is a little more complicated. It seems that I have to ‘phone the UK and get them to email me a form; fill it in; and return it, complete with a cheque or postal order for £10. After forty (yes, really) days you can expect a reply, back to a UK address, or add another month for the letter to reach here, always assuming it doesn’t go via Bahrain, as did my last credit card statement (but that’s another story).

Once you have assembled these, they put a notice in the local Gazette and wait a month for objections. Finally, your application goes to the local parliament for approval. If they ask for further details, you go back down the snake to square 27 and hope to throw a six.

It was easier to get a job running the Island's bank than it will be for me to buy a house.

House prices here are very low compared to the UK. As you would have to be seriously keen to try it, I think I can see why. Whether that is a good thing I’ll leave others to debate.

We are sure we want to settle here, so we will attempt the process. Please wish me luck.

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?