This can be quite fraught and many expats follow one another down the road searching for the ideal place to live. Many arrive just as the house has been taken. Others ask to return with their spouse after work so they can make a joint decision, only to find the house is no longer available.
Most houses are expensive and many have added costs such as: generator maintenance and fuel, electricity, gas, guards, food for the guards, pool maintenance, water supplies, haus mere and gardener. Some are only partially furnished and this leads to consideration of length of stay versus an investment which will have to be sold to incoming expats or taken back home at the end of ones stay.
Houses can be leased via real estate agents (like Capital Real Estate on Kukum Hwy. Tel. 25332) and in the newspapers; The Solomon Star and The Island Sun.
Some expats with a critical time span opt to move into a hotel. This can be a short term solution or a lease can be obtained long term (this has obvious cost saving). Comparing a hotel to a house is difficult but taking the average rent and the extras there may be little difference in costs. Hotels such as The Heritage Park Hotel will possibly be dearer; but the advantage is the pool, gym, gardens, maintenance, cleaning, linens and security are all taken care of and this takes a lot of stress out of finding handymen, topping electricity credits dealing with staff problems and ringing for a water tanker halfway through a shower.
Hotels are found in the center of town and this helps with travel and the difficulty of circumnavigating potholed roads. Be aware that most roads are not lit and Honiara can be very dark at night.
There appears to be a housing shortage in Honiara so bear in mind there are few ‘ideal’ properties. It will inevitably lead to a compromise and it’s a question of balance.
How far out of town? How difficult is the drive to get there? Is there parking inside the compound? Is it considered to be a safe neighbourhood? And of course, what length of lease and what is included? One expat found her dream property only to be warned of ‘The Honiara Howl’ which is a fearsome racket of dogs braying for hours into the night. So check with neighbours and if you have time, walk around the neighbourhood and get a feel for your new abode.
Being comfortable at home in Honiara is most important and will colour your attitude and daily life. Make a list of your requirements and try to find somewhere that ticks most of those boxes.
Good luck with the hunt and try to get a friend to accompany you and make the journey fun.
Editor note: For more advice on house hunting, check out this previous article on renting in Honiara