• A local, slice-of-life story from a Monitor correspondent.
“Mustaheel,” (impossible) has become the typical refrain of young Syrians asked about their plans to move out of the house.
Exorbitant real estate prices and limited access to credit – mortgages are a recent development here – stand in their way.
Despite prices falling from their 2008 peak, real estate company Colliers International found buying in Damascus averaged $380 per square foot; renting, $20 per square foot per year. These are extremely high prices in a country where annual income averages $2,900.
Real estate agents trace the high costs back to the liberalization of the Syrian economy post-2005, which caused inflation to rise. As a result, there are not enough low- to mid-range housing options for the poor and the middle class.
The prices are creating social consequences for young men expected to buy a home before getting wed. “You have to save forever or move far out of town,” says Aboud al-Qabbani, a young Syrian who works at the British Council in Damascus.
Those who are more intent to get on with their nuptials are forced to move their bride into the family home, providing ample fodder for Syrian jokes exploiting the tension between the bride and her mother-in-law.