Apartment shopping in Damascus - Part 1

Syrian apartments are full of idiosyncrasies that we Americans aren’t used to. If you ever move to the Middle East, here’s a list of things to check in the apartment. The first part of this list is practical stuff that you’ll find in many apartment-shopping guides.

  1. Is the furniture in good repair?
  2. Is there any evidence of bug infestations?
  3. Is the mazzot (fuel used to heat hot water) tank full? If not, what arrangements has the landlord/lady made?
  4. Are there signs of water damage on the walls or ceilings, usually indicated by peeling paint?
  5. How many functioning phone jacks are in the apartment, and in which rooms?
  6. Are there enough power outlets in the apartment? If not, are powerstrips provided?
  7. What kinds of businesses are nearby? Will you need to travel to another part of town to take care of basic shopping needs?
  8. Are there cleaning utensils already in the apartment? Are they of good quality?
  9. Is the kitchen adequately furnished with the utensils that you need?
  10. How close is the apartment to the local mosque?
  11. Is there a refrigerator/freezer? Do they work?
  12. Is there an iron and an ironing board?
  13. Is public transportation easily accessible from the apartment?
  14. Are there enough floor drains in the apartment? Do they have covers that fit tightly?
  15. What kind of people are your neighbors? Do you prefer living near all foreigners or all Syrians?
  16. What is the arrangement for paying the rent? Does your landlord/lady want a year in advance, or can you pay by the month?
  17. How close does your landlord/lady live? Is this acceptable to you?
  18. Do you feel that you can have an honest and good relationship with your landlord/lady?
But there's plenty more idiosyncrasies and potential annoyances that they don't warn you about...

Apartment shopping in Damascus - Part 2

Stickers on a hotel window in Deir ez-Zor, Syria