The topic du jure is housing. My friends Tawfiq Al-Rayyash is livid that one of his ex-colleagues at Al-Wefaq political society has suggested that Bahrainis should go vertical – we should be content enough to live in flats rather than houses – but in the process, Tawfiq also shares with us some juicy details of the inner workings of Al-Wefaq!
Mohammed Maskati is teed off too, but from the angle that the Ministry of Housing has now put procedures in place that only those who earn less than BD900 in combined salaries (working couples) are now ineligible for subsidized government housing, and as he is fortunate enough to earn much higher than that limit, he feels that he is left unfairly out although Bahrainis are constitutionally guaranteed adequate housing and jobs.
Guys, I understand your frustration but although I am thankful that I own a house, financed through sheer hard work over 15 years in business I was able to save the required down payment and plonk it down to buy it. It will be a while before I pay the off the loan, but I am happy enough to do so.
The inability to buy a house of my choosing and the lifestyle that I wanted were actually the chief reason for me leaving Gulf Air all those years ago although I was earning much higher than the current BD900/1200 limits, I saw that “a salary” will never allow me to live the way I want to live. So I opted out and started my own business and that has been difficult to be sure, but the reward at the end is worth it.
I am no where near the goal of self sufficiency and I am already seriously looking into ways to double my income. There is no way that I could do that by holding a job.
My advice? Manage your finances and create and abide by a personal priority list. Read Ammar’s excellent pointers on managing your finances and start implementing them now. If you feel that you don’t have time and want to have that house NOW, then maybe you should think of creative business ideas (which are full time, part time for this just doesn’t work) and start making your “serious” money! But that’s just a pipe dream as businesses can very easily fail and do carry various risks. There is unfortunately no easy short-cut for you to take.
Either way, I would rather not wait for a hand-out from the government – even though it is my constitutional right to have subsidized housing provided for me – and go out there and get it myself and that’s exactly what I did.
But let’s put things in perspective: the housing provided by the government and its subsidies for this housing/land purchase/building/renting etc is meant specifically really for those with limited income and those who earn BD900 and above could hardly be called limited income! Those are well within “the middle class”. The issue then transforms into that person’s inability to buy a house or land to build on because of the prices involved. Well, let’s look into that: Bahrain Credit asks for 25% as down payment and they would be happy to finance for 15 years.
I know in other societies, first time buyers are encouraged to buy small and then sell and move up the scale as their financial abilities become better. Taking this principal in mind, an average first-time house or flat would be in the range of BD50,000 – 75,000. The down payment required (BC KFH) would be in the range of BD12,500 – 18,750. If a young couple both work and save BD500 per month from their combined salary they would need just 25-38 months. That’s a reasonable timescale I think.
If you would rather wait until you can afford to buy a BD500,000 house then you’d probably be ill-advised in doing so as the waiting period is far too long for most people and all that time you are waiting you’re paying rent which does amount to a considerable sum.
The above, I think, is not the real issue though – but detractors are latching on to it because it is an easy to understand issue, they know the level of frustration associated with it and they also know that their audience will be receptive to what’s coming next, the real issues they want to tackle: absence of social justice, unequal distribution of land and wealth (pdf – 8.6MB – arabic), etc.
Unfortunately, doing it this way brings passion into it and it becomes an emotive issue which robs it of its importance. These entangled issues should be separated and explained in a concise manner to people so that they can be realistically identified and addressed to seek resolution. Continuing to shout that “we don’t have affordable housing” and then point at the vast tracts of undeveloped land while the Ministry of Housing continuing to maintain that all but 3% of the land is available to it to develop for the public good (97% in private hands) just mushes up the issues.