I didn't realize we lived in a "shabby house," but apparently, we do :)
We explained that we live close to the school where Doug teaches, so it's perfect for us.
Without a car, it's more convenient for us to be able to live downtown and walk where we need to go. We also don't live where all the foreigners live, so I think that is pretty strange to him, as well.
I think that because our house hasn't been covered in tile like almost every other house, it does tend to stand out, but there are benefits to that.
Their boldness in speech an be pretty shocking at first to a foreigner.
At the first tea I hosted, every woman in the room was promptly asked how old she was and how much each family paid for rent. Apparently, asking about rent is pretty common, and even if you don't want to tell them, they will find out anyway, so you might as well tell them.
Nevertheless, you are most welcome to come and stay in our shabby house.