01 May 2014

house hunter's international: tanzania, part ii.

You've never seen a sequel you didn't like, right?

Don't answer that.

About a month ago, we informed you of the first ten houses we saw in the Mwanza area, hoping that one would become our home for the next three years. Unfortunately, the House Gods had other plans. Although we were enticed by certain elements of some of the homes, none fit the bill of what we were looking for. But have no fear! As soon as we returned to Mwanza after language school, we got back on the house hunting bandwagon.

While we were still studying Kiswahili in Musoma, our friends in Mwanza scoped out three additional homes for us. Aren't friends great?

For this blog post, we'll do this REAL House Hunter's International style. On the show, there are three different homes shown and then, the big reveal at the end, right?

Well, good news! We ended up picking one of the three houses shown below! Hip hip hooray! So instead of telling you here, we'll keep you in suspense until next week. Comment below with your guesses as to which house we chose and you'll get the awesome prize of bragging rights and just generally feeling good about yourself if you end up being on target. Coo? Coo. 

House #1: Great Neighborhood

House Numero Uno is a good house for a good price. As we drove through the neighborhood, we could picture ourselves shopping at all of the dukas (shops) lining the road and buying fresh produce from market stalls.

Pros: The house is on a shared compound, which is our preference. This means that while we have our own house, there are additional homes on the same piece of property. There are many benefits to this situation: instant neighbors, built-in security, and some shared costs. The house is also the perfect size for us with three decent bedrooms, a living room, and a kitchen. 

Cons: Although we got a good vibe from the landlord, we realized that the others living on the compound were single men, not families. Not exactly what we were hoping for, though they could be perfectly decent dudes. The drive to the house was marked by a long, bumpy road which was annoying. We were forced to think about three years of driving on those roads and the toll that would take.

House #2: Biggest Yard Known to Mankind

Okay, so this is a bit of an exaggeration, but we fell in love with this home's yard at first sight.

Pros: Michael and I have dreams of keeping our own chickens as well as playing our hand at some simple gardening, so this yard screamed, "Holla!" as soon as we saw it. We were practically drooling when the landlady pointed out that avocados, lemons, and eggplants were already growing. And the house is awesomely huge. The three bedrooms are ginormous as are the separate kitchen and living and dining room. We could have guests over all the time! (Hint hint.)

Cons: The landlady was not exactly the best salesperson we've ever met. When we pointed out a major killer bee infestation in the roof, she didn't seem overly concerned and made vague overtures that she could remove the bees IF we paid for it. The house itself is strangely exposed to the neighborhood, with only a partial gate surrounding the house, leaving the front side without much protection. We might be able to make some renovations but we'll have to pay for it ourselves. 

House #3: A Solid, Little House

The referral for this house came to us through a friend's family connection, so we were immediately skeptical. Would this be the classic case of a not-so-awesome place that we were obliged to see because of a relative? Good news: it wasn't. 

Pros: The house is small and compact, but in great condition. With three bedrooms and two bathrooms, it's just the lay-out that we had in mind. The yard, although not super green, is obviously well-maintained and cared for. The landlady seemed open to our proposed requests and ideas for renovations… and hey, she's family! So she can't get too far from us. 

Cons: The compound isn't shared by anyone else so those instant neighbors we had hoped for might take a bit more work. In addition, there are three shops right in front of the house, one of which is a grocery/bar. The landlady alleged that this particular place closes every night by 10PM but do we want to risk it? We've heard horror stories from friends who've lived near bars and aren't sure it's something we should leave to chance.

So what do you think, Sherlock? Which one did we pick? Tune in next week for the finale!


  1. My husband and I live in Dar Es Salaam so know the troubles of house-hunting in Tanzania. We live on one of those bumpy roads (more a dirt track) and it was particularly bad during the worst of the rainy season. That said, it didn't take away from our lovely little home.

    Obviously I don't know you guys at all, but I'm going to guess that you went with property number three (or one, or two!)

    1. Amy, thank you for your comment! I'm glad to hear you've braved the dirt tracks that are a rite of passage here in Tanzania. Regardless of the house we choose, I'm pretty sure we'll have to put up with one, no matter what!

  2. Hi Ashley,

    I giggled at this post when i cam across your post as I am looking for expats living in remote areas for a new series called House Hunters International: Off the Grid. I wonder if you might be interested in getting involved?

    The original show, 'House Hunters International' is a half-hour TV show currently airing on the Home and Garden Television Network (HGTV) in America and the Travel Channel in the UK. The series is designed to de-mystify the international home-buying process, by going behind the scenes of a house hunt where expats and their real estate agents tour 3 homes. At its core, House Hunters International is a travel show concentrating on the idiosyncrasies of the locales and what makes them special and different.

    Here are some links to show you what our show is all about!


    We are working on an exciting new spin-off show called House Hunters International: Off the Grid and we are looking for adventurous expats who have recently bought or rented properties in weird and wonderful places. Ideally they should be outgoing and fun and have moved within the last few years. I thought perhaps you might fit the bill!

    Please do get in touch if you may be interested in the show.

    Best wishes,


    Michelle James
    1-3 St Peter's Street, London N1 8JD - +44 20 7704 3300


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