Sunday, May 31, 2015

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Apartments for Rent in Kuwait - Recommended Realtors and Online Sites (2015)

My Favorite Realtors
(Se habla Engles)

The realtors below are all pet-friendly realtors and will NOT ask you stupid questions, give you funny looks, or try to talk you out of pet ownership because they want a commission.  I have found them all to be sincere and trustworthy also; they don't try to up-sell you or show you something that you won't want.

Zamina Huseynova, Comfort Real Estate, 99464866  or 6659-3911. www.comfort-realestate.com
Zamina has been helping my friends find new homes for about a decade.  She’s a lovely woman from Bulgaria.

Omar Dawood, Easy Homez, 50198999, omar@easyhomez.com, www.easyhomez.com
I met Omar recently and like him a lot.  He’s one of those people who, like me, gets rattled by insincerity and injustice.  He’s Kuwaiti – and the only Kuwaiti realtor I’ve met. 

Tomas Czerwinski, Kuwait 4 Rent, 66663091, tomas@kuwait4rent.com.  www.kuwait4rent.com.
I met Tomas recently.  I think I found his website by mistake – and let me tell you it is outstanding!
Tomas is Polish (we have the UN of realtor listings here!)  Mr. T (no where near the same appearance!) was with another rental group until recently.  I called there and spoke to someone else and I got the standard, "You're single and you have a dog?!"  She never called back.  Thanks, girlfriend.  BAM.  You don't get a listing here.

Ahmed Enezi.  Ahmed is a hustler and will drive high and low to get you what you want.  You need to be reeeeally specific on what you want, however.  50679778

Apartment finder Sites 
(I’m not listing the ones that I believe to be sucky)









  
Pet-Friendly

For the love of God realtors, would you PLEASE list “Pet Friendly”  (like Comfort Real Estate does), so that we don’t have to call them all and get negative or even rude responses?  One of the main reasons that I am willing to pay commission to realtors is so that they (and NOT me)  have to deal with nasty people.   Call it a pre-screening fee.

Get this:  Many westerners CHOOSE not to have children.  Shocking, I know.  But once you pull yourself up off the floor, realize that westerners are also likely to be considerate of their neighbors and landlords.  Most westerners understand how to actually TRAIN their pets to be quiet and clean (unlike some nasty children runnin round here).

Landlords:  You can ASK for a pet deposit.  It is standard in most Western countries if you rent to people with pets. You can also limit the size of the pet.  For example, "Dogs allowed under X kilos."  Most of the fuss about pet deposits in the West is because apartments have wall-to-wall carpeting.  NOT SO in Kuwait where most apartments are tiled because of the weather.

My goodness!  With the amount of greedy landlords there are in Kuwait, you would think that they could have figured out by now that money has no religion.  Rent to people with pets – there are a LOT of us.  Put pets and terms and conditions in the contract.  Attract even MORE tenants.  Gee…. Duuuh.

Religion and dogs:   When people say, "It is against Islam to have dogs in the house, " (With the exception of protection dogs which - by the way - mine is.)   I call bullshit - and for several reasons.   But let me just cite the one inside my head right now:  Many landlords take religion and bend it to their particular whims.  For example, treating your tenants unkindly or illegally; raising the rent when they have agreed to a period set by law and in their own documents; causing harm to the elderly or the sick, lying, cheating or coercing tenants into leaving.  None of these factors have anything to do with religion, do they? So save the bullshit about not renting to people with dogs.   I'm not hearing it.  And using pets as a reason to evict is not only illegal, it is merely a ploy for unscrupulous landlords to evict and then rent at a higher rate.  And it is happening all over Kuwait.



Monday, May 25, 2015

Cheatin' Lyin' Realtors in Kuwait - Lookin for dat special crib


I was going through the same BS looking for an apartment in 2008 (and it took me 6 months to find a suitable place).   I thought that this time, if I tried more upscale realtors and maybe since I was looking for a place that cost a little more, I wouldn't be lied to by scumbag realtors.  I've been selective about who I CHOOSE to do business with.  .... and it is business.  I'm giving you my money.  You are doing a service for me.

Kuwait can be biased and realtors can ask personal questions (and get away with it under the law). This includes stuff like marital status, religion, nationality, age, if you intend to have male visitors (hell-to-the-yes I am!)   Whatever.  It is a frickin free-for-all.  They discriminate the MOST against single male Kuwaitis of all ages.  That would suck.  You're a professional guy who doesn't want to live with mommy and daddy anymore and no one will rent you an apartment in your own country.

I digress.

The question I hate the most is, "Are you married?"  Many places rent to families only.  Let me 'splain something to you, Lucy.... children are not your best bet in renting an apartment.  My dogs aren't going to use crayons on your walls or tear out your lighting fixtures or scream all night.  They don't bark and no one sees them.  Being married doesn't make you a better person (it just gives you the opportunity to pile more shoes in front of the door and in the hallway).  Your "family" status doesn't either (and go to any party in Kuwait and see how many married people are cozied up - either they are hoochies or they are cozied up to hoochies, drink in hand, loud music playing).  Being married is not a quantifier in my opinion.

So what is my standard answer when asked that question?  'I am a manager, not a prostitute.'  and no - I am not going to provide you with a fake marriage certificate just to get me in the door.  I'm not a liar either.

Be firm with realtors:  "I am NOT married.  I have dogs.  I want an apartment for X amount of money."  If you can help me, I will pay you.  If you can't help me and have already formed an opinion of me based on marital status or pet ownership, stop calling me.  There are enough realtors out there who CAN and WILL help. (And I'm going to list them on another post with explanations of why I like them.)

Ok, so here is what happened to piss me off (this time - shut up!):

I had friends call realtors (cause I got sick of the stupid questions/answers).  They gave them my requirements (in Arabic, English, Farsi - whateverthefuck they wanted to hear).  My friends pre-qualified the realtors, in effect.

So, one seemingly nice man showed me the perfect place - a basement apartment, 3 bedrooms, same rent, run on the side for the dogs, private entrance with shaded car parking right above. Perfect.  Dogs?  No problem at all!  Dogs seriously?  No problem!  You can even put gates here and there so that they can play outside.  I was happy and already planning the decor and how to fit my furniture.  Happy, happy, happy.  BFF was beaming from ear-to-ear.  All good.

The contract was ready even before I provided all the necessary documents.  The mandoob came to my office so I could sign it. All good so far.  So I had someone translate the contract to me (it was only in Arabic).  I told the mandoob, "You know I have 2 dogs, right?  Is it in the contract?"  Mandoob:  No dogs, madame! Not allowed.  He called the owning company immediately and they verified.  No dogs.  I called the realtor and he literally shouted at me, "Why did you TELL them that?!  Why did you tell them you have dogs?!"  Huuuuuh?  Maybe because YOU didn't, a-hole.

No deal.

Why are people dishonest?  I don't get it. It is so easy to be honest and you don't have to remember your lies or feel guilty (not that dishonest people would) about them.  (I complain about this all the time and I think it is something that most inherently honest people are befuddled by.)

Disclaimer:  To say that I don't lie is a lie. I do lie, but little lies.  However,  not even to the extent of saying, 'Of course not!' when my sister or BFF throws something at me like, "Does this make my ass look big?"  Sorry, but your ass looks big.  (But then, I'm not going to go on and tell them that,  'It doesn't matter what you put on because well, you have a big ass.')  Big asses ARE in fashion though, right?  Especially in PuertoRicoKuwait where it is Land O' Ass.  

... I digress....Sorry

Next little ditty about dogs and apartments (not asses, sorry again.)

A Kuwaiti home owner advertises his basement apartment in Bayan.  It is frick-in BAgorgeous! (Cribs - Kuwait)  Marble, elegant fixtures.  Price is eh... ok, but for what  you get it is fine.  I'm in love.  He also advertises "No realtors/commission.  Deal with owner."  So I call him.  Dude is "hmming, emmmming"  about the dogs. He's also talking to friends at the same time he's talking to me (why list your number if  you don't want to do business - or just call me back dude?)   He said he has a dog, but he knows dogs bark.  (I could counter with "that's because you haven't trained him properly and your kids probably scream too... but I don't... think pretty apartment....)  He's not too convinced and tells me to go see the place.  Having been traumatized recently on this very subject from Assmonkeys from Hell in Rumaithiya, I decide not to look at the apartment.  The following week, I see the same apartment listed with a realtor on their site.  I decide to call the realtor and ask him to negotiate on my behalf with the owner (and I provide the name and phone number of the owner and tell realtor that I don't HAVE to pay his commission by phoning him/realtor but that I am willing to pay him to negotiate on my behalf).  About thirty minutes later, realtor calls me and says, "He doesn't want dogs."  Well yeah - no shit.  But I thought you would have at least tried.

So now I want the Bayan apartment.  It is stuck in my head.  I send what amounts to a 3 page typed SMS via Whatsapp to home owner, complete with my LinkedIn bio link, and the promise of references - personal and professional - from high places to low places. (Hey - worth a try, right?)  I notice that dude has a photo of himself on WhatsApp with what?  A little dog - looks like a Pomeranian.  Ok, now I get it.  A "yap dog".  They yap. Its what they do.  Little dogs often make better watch dogs for that reason.  You want a dog to silently bite a thief's arm off?  Choose a big dog (like a German Shepherd or a Rottie).

Why don't SOME dog owners understand dogs?  Sigh.

You want the best dog to guard your farm and wake you up when any intruder large or small comes in?  It's actually not a dog, but a peacock.  Best warning systems ever.  Better than motion detectors; Those bitches scream their heads off at any little thing - and they're so pretty!  (Wait... that reminds me of some girls I know.... stop it, Desert Girl. Bad, bad, bad!)

I've seen a LOT of apartments and heard a lot of BS advice from people.  "You'll never find a place that will accept dogs.  Moslems don't like dogs."  Bullshit.  "You'll never find an apartment in your price range (600KD).  Most good places start at 700."  Bullshit.  I've seen apartments that are willing to rent to pet owners (and GOOD realtors like Zamina/Comfort Real Estate will place ads that specifically state "Pet Friendly" so you don't have to ask and feel bad when they say, "No".  I've also seen some nice ones around 450 KD (which is what I was previously paying).  They are out there. You have to HUNT and be willing to work for it (and maybe have time).

What I do NOT want:

  • An apartment for upwards of 600.  
  • An apartment where the owner lives in the same house OR right next door (been there, done that). 
  • An apartment where the owner talks to or looks at me suspiciously (refer to the "I'm not a prostitute" above).

What I DO want:

  • Pet friendly (2 dogs - a German Shepherd and a Maltese/Poodle - blind/deaf)
  • Single-woman friendly
  • 600 KD and below
  • 2-3 bedrooms
  • Prefer a ground floor with a yard or a basement with a yard area
  • Areas:  Rumaithiya, Bayan, Salwa, Mishref, New Messila, or Abu Alhassania

Anyways, that's all the griping I'm going to do for today.  Really.

Life Messages

I wrote the following story which was featured in Bazaar Magazine in 2009.  I was reminded of it because some business came up with his company, SOC (same contract, different year...).  This man is still one of the nicest people I've ever met and I still carry his message with me.


A Guy I Met on a Bus

I met a guy on a bus.  I was on a military site visit which wasn’t anything extraordinary.  We were a group of sixty people on two buses for four days.  We got to know the people seated next to us pretty well.

The guy I met on the bus cheerfully started my day with, “Good morning, sunshine,” which is an expression that my dear friend regularly uses, adding an air of familiarity.  The gentleman was in his 60’s and we began the conversation with an exchange of “where are you from?” leading to other details like family and travel.

The guy I met on the bus spoke fondly of his wife of many years; a former stock car race driver who had won so many events that she had decided to stop, as it was “getting too easy”.  She now drives a Corvette; he, a ‘57 Chevy.  They have a daughter who was thrown out of school for fighting; she just loved to fight, he laughed.  She fought so hard that she managed to get an undergraduate degree in economics and a master’s degree in marketing.  He spoke of the power of women and how proud he was of his wife and daughter; although he didn’t need to say much as he beamed just mentioning them.  They live in Nevada and he travels around the world.  I told him that I thought he had an enviable life and he admitted that yes, it is pretty good.

The guy I met on the bus has lived a healthy life.  He was obviously fit and talked about his disregard for people who smoke.  He had been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and believes it came about after being exposed to Agent Orange in Vietnam.  He humorously chastised another rider on the bus, a fellow diabetic, for eating candy on the trip.  “Let me see that package,” became the trip mantra.  We laughed and had good conversation as the hours passed traveling all over Kuwait.

The guy I met on the bus is an executive from a security services provider with contracts in Iraq.  “We don’t go in with guns blazing,” he said, “We take the quieter, lower-key approach.  You might not have heard of us.  We’re not Blackwater.”  Good for them.  Perhaps we all need a quieter approach.

The guy I met on the bus took the time to talk to low-ranking soldiers on the visits and finding out a little about their lives.  We weren’t supposed to, but it didn’t dissuade him from discreetly paying for the soldier in line behind him at the lunch line; as was his habit.

As we passed through the desert on a very dusty day, we talked about aging and the importance of calling your parents.  “They don’t need your money.  They probably don’t need your time.  They don’t need much at all, but a phone call once in a while to let them know that you love them.  I tell my young people at work all the time to call their parents; even if it is ten minutes on my company’s money, I don’t care.  I just want them to know how important it is.  Call your parents.”  I wondered how this lesson would have affected me at a younger age if delivered by someone who I considered to be a mentor.  I am sure that his employees must be affected by this and how it would most likely have a carry-over affect to other compassionate acts in their lives.  They must be very loyal employees, I imagined.

I got off the bus and quickly called my mother just to say hello and tell her how much I love her.  She knows, but I tell her again and again at every opportunity. 


I thought about the current economic situation and all the inhumanity around me all of a sudden.  There have been waves of unkindness and indifference.  This gentleman (and it is unfortunate to note that I use that term sparingly these days) reminded me that it isn’t universal; people do care.  Sometimes you meet people and they are there to teach you some valuable lessons in life; or perhaps just to make you recall true decency.  I try to listen to voices in a variety of packages; as you never know where the major life lessons will come from.  In this case, it might just have been from a guy I met on a bus.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

In the news today: Shot in Her Head and Agility Embezzlement Allegation

We get fascinating stuff 'round here.  From the Arab Times today:

Murder Case Hearing Against ‘Royal’ Adjourned To June 3rd

KUWAIT CITY, May 13: The Misdemeanor Court adjourned to June 3rd the murder case filed against a ruling family member of rank ‘Captain’ employed at Ministry of Interior for allegedly murdering a Kuwaiti woman. The plaintiff counsel Attorney Ali Al-Ali demanded temporary compensation worth KD 5,001, presenting evidences to prove that the murder of his client was planned. He also requested to present witnesses at the court. According to the case file, the defendant was chasing a vehicle when he shot the victim in her head, supposedly by mistake, which led to her death due to brain hemorrhage

Agility in the News Again

On the other hand, MP Askar Al-Enezi presented questions to Finance Minister Dr Anas Al-Saleh about the violations of Agility Company, specifically the allegation that the company has embezzled government funds. He claimed the company has been granted government-owned land areas under the pretext of building warehouses, but it rented out these areas to the government and individuals illegally. According to the State Audit Bureau report, Agility forged documents submitted to different governmental bodies to obtain State-owned land; thereby, embezzling public funds estimated at KD 63.5 million.  In light of the above, Al-Enezi asked the government to clarify the issue as he wants to know if an investigation has been carried out. If yes, he demanded for copies of the investigation results and the relevant documents. 

Monday, May 11, 2015

Living Arrangements

I haven't found an apartment yet.  I  haven't been as aggressive as I was (in 2008) in looking for one - mostly because I am comfortable where I am and I know that my dogs are being well cared for.  I can't continue to live off the kindness of my friends for forever and I know that, but I don't want to be in the same position with an apartment that I was with this past one (Hell House in Rumaithiya).

I saw one lovely apartment in Salaam, courtesy of My Favorite Realtor, Zamina.  It was grand and OTT and huge, but the problem was that the owner lived on the other side of the wall, right smack next door.

Sidebar:  If you are looking for an apartment, call Zamina at 99464866.  Someone should take that apartment.  It has 3 bedrooms, huge balcony terrace outside, very good/private separated rooms and long hallways, enormous maid's room and bathroom, and a huge kitchen.  It isn't exactly my taste - not simple.  HUGE crystal chandeliers and oddly decorated (nothing you can paint over or try to re-arrange).  Ok, the shit is tacky.... just sayin.  But it is still a great living space.

I saw another one in Salwa that would have been suitable - had it not been for the tear-down.  Why do people SHOW apartments when they are in a state of destruction?  Literally - the entire tiled floored surface of the place was torn out.  The light fixtures were torn out (although you could tell it used to be a F flat by the lighting system and a few other details).  "Oh, don't worry, madame. That will be fixed by the time you move in."  Really?  Seriously?  And you couldn't have swept up the 3" cockroach in the middle of the living room? (They thought that my question was hilarious.  NOT!)  What is WRONG with people?  Also, as soon as they saw the blonde, they called back and said that the apartment was going to be 50KD more than they had told me when they showed it to me. Apparently, you pay more for the roaches.  KMA mofos.  You have no idea...

Another little ditty along those lines.... Saw an apartment  (in 2008) in a new building in Maidan Hawalli.  Nice looking building.  Centrally located.  All new.  I walked into the apartment and (get this shit - I can't make it up):  someone had sprayed the place with machine gun fire.  Every wall.  Straight lines (obviously someone who knew how to hold a gun).  I'm like, "Dude!  Who died here?"  Again... here comes that South-O-The-Pyramid's line, "Oh, don't worry, madame.  That will be fixed by the time you move in."  Really? Seriously?  I couldn't run fast enough (in heels) to get out of there.

Sigh.

Anyways, I'm holding out for the right apartment. It will come.  I have no doubt.

I moved some of my furniture to the farm to my room there, so I have a little piece of home.  It is more like a nun's cell (as if!) but I have my things and my space and that makes me happy.

I took Mikey to the beach this weekend.  He had a great time chasing waves and running up and down.  He's staying with the 2 angel friends at Dogs Spa Hotel (9494-0004 or Instagram @dogs_spa_hotel) and they're not only caring for him, but socializing him with other dogs and training him.  He got to visit his girlfriend, Lucy, this weekend at our farm also.  He gave me lots of dog hugs and was constantly aware of where I was. Desert Dawg is with another angel down in Mahboula (or Mangaf - not sure and I always get that area confused).  My friend, SalonGirl, has known Desert Dawg since she (DD) was a puppy.  I know she's in good hands.  I miss my kids.

I've been a little vulnerable during this whole trauma and I may not have been thinking clearly.  I put my trust (again) in a man who has done me wrong in the past and again - he proved himself unworthy and walked away.  Sometimes you just want someone next to you to give you a hug and tell you that everything is going to be ok.  I didn't get a hug.  I didn't get a goodbye even.  Just left again.  (Wish you well and hope you find what you are looking for, my Lost Boy. I fear for your regrets down the line, but there's nothing more I can do to help you.)

When this kind of destruction happens in your life, you immediately become aware of who your friends are; and who are not.  I hate being taught that lesson.  Sometimes you would rather just leave people as "acquaintances" and not consider them friends and learn that they are not.  Some people are just there to kick you when you're down.  Some are holding you up and giving you comfort.

I kind of had a meltdown at the farm the other night - in front of my real friends who have never seen me cry before.  Two of them (and one was a man) started crying with me. I ended up consoling them. If I hear one more person tell me, "You're strong..." I am going to whoop somebody's ass.  Even strong people have their limits.  My limits have been reached and exceeded.  One of my little goats even died during all this.

My real friends keep telling me how blessed I am (and I am blessed, Thank You, God!).  Because God is closing doors to open others.  He is showing me things and teaching me things and helping me help other people (I hope).

What is weird is that I have slept so well every night since all of this happened.  I can't explain it because usually under a lot of stress I can't sleep, but OMG - I'm doing so well in that regard.  I still look like crap, but that's to be expected (having some work done as soon as I can get back to the States!  Woo hooo.)

Anyhooser, enough gloom.  It's another beautiful day in Kuwait. The sun is shining.  I'm having a good hair day.  I'm sippin on a vanilla soy latte (iced) and I'm going to kick some contracting butt at work now.

Have a blessed day, everybody.