When you are already living in a home, with your belongings around you and you decide for any number of reasons it’s time to move, looking for a house can be exciting. It can also be frustrating, and time consuming. But you still have a roof over your head and can take time (generally speaking) to find THE ONE.
When you don’t have a home, your belongings are on a ship and won’t be with your for several weeks, when you are new to an area, heck an entire country and you HAVE to find a home looking for one is far from exciting. It’s absolutely necessary. It’s usually No1 on the priority list (cos you usually can’t commit to school until you know where you are living).
You know the lifestyle your family lives, and HOW you like to live.
You know what you want in a home, and what you don’t want.
Sometimes, you might even have a list of what you are prepared to compromise on, and what you are not.
DH find our wonderful home in Meadowfield, Dublin after looking at several places over a few days, and knew instantly it was the one.
I looked at 13 properites in one day around Yokohama, close to school and knew the minute I walked into Leyton House we ‘d be very happy there.
What we don’t have this time is a school, or choice.
Without a house you can’t enroll the kids into school (unless you opt for the International School) and you have no where to put your belongings when they pass thru customs, you can’t explore your local area, cos you don’t know where it is, no point getting used to the shops and facilities where the temporary accommodation is, cos it maybe not be anywhere near where you end up living. You can’t even expect mail!
On top of all that, the local economic situation of your new country has a huge impact on finding a home and it can take time and effort researching and understanding exactly what the reality of news reports are.
In the UK, as I learned today, the home market is still very flat. People are still reeling after the GFC (Global Financial Crisis) and one is now required to have up to 40% deposit before being able to purchase property. So, most people who might be moving from being ‘renter’s to ‘owners’ are staying renters for much longer.
Those who used to be able to afford to have a 4-5 bedroom family home as an investment, have opted to sell if/when they can and purchase several smaller homes or apartments for the same amount of money but increasing their income potential.
Consequently, there ain’t a lot on the market.
I looked at two houses today.
As you walked thru thru front door to your right was a playroom/home office; then a utility cupboard, a washroom, and at the end of the hallway a lovely eat in kitchen (as opposed to a kitchen/dining room as the space was small) and off, forming an L was a skinny sunroom (tho advertised as lounge room). The photos make this space look fabulously large, but in reality it’s not at all.
The second floor had a HGUE master bedroom, with a good size ensuite. Next to that was a formal sitting room.
Third level was 2 more bedrooms and a bathroom; and a junior master bedroom with ensuite.
There’s a lovely backyard with a swing set and the front of the house faces a lovely ‘private park’ that belongs to the estate.
I’ve been thinking how we might live there.
If we made the front room a lounge room with TV, moved the office to the top floor that might work. MissM would be on the second floor with us, tho her room would be HUMONGOUS – we could be creative and divide the space into bedroom/playroom.
The top floor would be empty but for DH’s home office and 2 guest bedrooms.
The second house has the date 1892 over the entrance. It’s a converted vicarage and has the charm and feel of something very special. There’s a basement, and 3 levels.
Again, the ground floor is brilliant! I loved the light, the space, the atmosphere (and it was void of furniture); the windows overlook the enormous backyard (MissM will never need to go to a park, cos the backyard is one) and onto rolling green hills.
The kitchen was lovely with a small conservatory off it, maybe a breakfast nook?
I keep thinking about the atmosphere of the house, the views, the yard, but I’m having trouble making the bedrooms work for us.
Tomorrow we are seeing two more houses. One looks pretty good on paper, so fingers crossed.
Our dilemma is with so few houses on the market, do we take the best of what we’ve seen or be optimistic and risk missing out altogether for something that may never eventuate? Friends who moved to Europe (I won't mention where cos it'll give them away), were so unprepared for the typical accommodation in their new city in so many ways, they spent literally MONTHS looking, getting more and more frustrated)
For all the stress and emotion of leaving somewhere, I think I prefer that to this part of arriving. Being in limbo in so many areas of your life is hard. I feel the need to also comment here about the husbands ... nothing much changes for them. They continue to go to the office, and come home.
It's the wives (more often than not) who are left to research the houses, doctors, schools, shops, and more. Keep the kids occupied while they wait for acceptance into the new school, then set about making friends and creating a social life for the family.
Please don't think I'm complaining, cos i'm not. It's simply 'this part of transitioning as an expat' and it too shall pass.
In a few weeks, when I’m sitting in the kitchen having a cup of coffee, or we've friends around for a BBQ on the weekend, and I look around and see all our belongings in their new positions, we’ll know we are HOME and it will be wonderful.