So you want to live in Albania…

You couldn’t move here if you wanted to. The real estate industry in the country truly amazes me. Mostly because it doesn’t exist. The only real ways to have a house in Albania is to either inherit one from a relative, get married and move in with your spouse’s family (grandparents and all), or buy land in the middle of nowhere and build it yourself. 

I was talking with one of my coworkers at the school about buying houses in Albania, just out of curiosity (wouldn’t it be cool to have an apartment in the city so I could come back and visit friends after my service is done?!). She smiled, and her smile turned into a laugh as she tried to explain that it would be very strange for me to buy someone’s house here. It’s just not something that is done. Houses are passed from generation to generation. Maybe it’s something that goes back to the time of communism when possession of anything was hard to come by. People clinged to the few things they did have. 

But now that communism is over, you’d think there would be a more bustling real estate industry as people now have the freedom to travel and move for the first time in 50 years. That’s not the case. When you marry, it’s still traditional for the woman to move into her husband’s house and take care of his parents and entire family. And if the new couple has many children, it is still customary for the youngest son to inherit the house so that he can live with and take care of his parents until they pass away. The other children need to find good families to marry into, immigrate to another country, or build a new house next door to their parents’…usually on the same small plot of land (whether that’s adding a third story to the house or erecting a new building on the side). 

So I guess if I want to have a house in Albania after I finish my service here, I’ll have to find a nice Albanian boy to marry. Here’s hoping it doesn’t come down to that!

 

“It’s not better. It’s not worse. It’s just different.”

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