All These Luxury Bedrooms…

… And STILL no rest for the weary.

A picture collage of all of the new luxury properties being built…

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There are goodies from Spintex to Cantonments to Osu.

So where is the affordable housing you ask? I am still on a hunt myself… when I find it,  I will let you know.

There are so many factors that exacerbate this issue of real estate discrimination and prejudice. I spoke to a cousin of mine who goes to school at KNUST. She was telling me how the price of student housing has sky rocketed, and even individuals renting their bedrooms in their houses will quote outrageously high rental fees when they know you are a student. What makes this market bubble particularly crippling is that, when you rent an apartment, you have to pay one year, often times two years in advance. This means that if the rent for a month is $1000, you need to provide $12,000- $24,000 at once. The average white collar working Ghanaians who makes, at BEST $1,000 per month or on average $300- $500 per month, will have to live in their parents house for at least 2 or 3 years (assuming there is some triage on salary for personal expense… and… well… life.) before they can begin their foray into the society they that their education was meant to afford them.

These kinds of markets are what propel people to engage in all manner of dark and twisted behavior. When you have set your sights on a certain lifestyle, and it feels like going the ‘straight and narrow’ will NEVER afford you that opportunity, you eventually have to find alternative forms of income. That may include… writing people’s MBA papers, selling illegally downloaded movies, donating sperm to a bank… suddenly any form of income seems like an acceptable form of income. This is where the kpa kpa kpa-ing goes wrong. Some might say, well this could push people into innovative enterprise and could spur the entrepreneurial spirit— that is until you realize that the people who inhabit these luxe apartments are not entrepreneurs— at least, not in the legal sense. Those that are Ghanaian, some of them have hoarded money from ‘contracts’ they were given for ‘services’ they provided by purely being related to or in good company with the ruling party. Others are of the Turkish/ Lebanese/ Indian persuasion, having taken capital from their home countries to set up mega import businesses crippling local markets. Yet another group are the expats, consultants… diplomats… middle eastern royalty, that have rent paid by their host countries.  I would say about 2% (this is my rough, anecdotal estimate) of them are people, born and bred in Ghana, with Ghanaian degrees, working for Ghanaian businesses, paying SSNIT and income taxes and abiding by the law (a lot of qualifiers… I know)

Literally… slim to none.

So what does that mean for aspirations? And how does the absence of meritocracy wear on the spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship? What kind of behaviors are spurred and which are quelled by the mere promise of luxury apartments in your country that you cannot afford?  What does it say about expats and diplomatic missions and NGO workers who’s salaries create unfair disadvantages for hard- working, earnest Ghanaians? Should the government require these buildings to become mixed rent apartments, similar to the systems in gentrified New York City? Will the government ever begin to monitor the real estate market and curtail the 2 year requirement on rent?

I sit on trotros with people and we all literally stare at these billboards. To be fair, I know that I can walk the straight and narrow, and make it to a comfortable life. I have no doubts largely because I really do not have to build my life in Ghana… but for those who genuinely have to, why can’t the “Ghanaian” dream include working hard and being rewarded fairly and justly.

I mean…

…can a sista get a nice apartment without having to sell her soul body identity?

I wonder…

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