|Cheers, Google Images.|
As you might gather, expat life is pretty normal once you've moved, unpacked, sorted the kids into school, settled, made friends, found your way around the suburbs, worked our where to shop, get your hair done, settled with a GP etc.
However, like most things in life, to every ying, there is a yang.
IMHO, one of the downsides to expat life is always living in rented properties. There's always compromises.
We've lived in numerous rental properties in several countries and it's pretty standard attitudes. Japan was absolutely unique in as much as you never ever ever had your bond returned. It was always kept and invested back into the property after you left so that the new tenants benefited from an exceptionally clean and fresh place, just like you did. It's super annoying if you don't know this beforehand ... but once you do, it's weirdly accepted as 'the done thing'
Two of our homes were former residences of the landlords. The moved out for personal reasons and were not completely happy about having tenants so they really bumped up the rent compared to the suburbs they were in. The real estate agents brief was to find a corporate family, no pets, older children (we've only one, so that usually helps), and a short lease in case it didn't work out. Needless to say, we fell in love with both properties and moved in. They were lovingly renovated, with great colours, and modern appliances. You could TELL it was a 'home' and not just a building people lived in. They were house proud and so were we.
Get a group of expats together and we all have a few things we wished our respective landlords would fix or consider doing to make our time in their home more enjoyable. It's not that we are fussy, tho some of us probably are, it's just that we are living in the property that they have possibly never done. Most landlords have the property as an investment so their attention to details is not as high as if they lived there. They don't know the stair creak, or there's a constant draft. They might not know the place needs painting, or the carpet is dead, or there are cracked tiles in the bathroom, or the water pressure is non existent.
What usually asked for is not over the top. It's usually stuff that, if they lived in the property or indeed, the tenants were the owners it would be attended to.
I will never understand the lack of owner pride or the uneconomical thinking of letting things go til the last minute then having a huge job to do.
They know they have a captured audience as the location of their property is usually close to school, or train stations. These attributes contribute to high rents anyways, but add the pressure of moving internationally and needing a home to put your stuff in when it arrives and you'll pay anything!
More often than not the answer to request is no. Sometimes they might agree but you pay for it and then pay to have whatever you've done reversed. That's when you and your partner discuss just how important the thing you want done really is for the time you live there.
Friends have painted their kids rooms and then paid to have them repainted the nondescript creme when they left; others have landscaped gardens, or repaired fences/side gates, or had tradesmen in to fix the draft/water pressure etc.
Our current landlord is OK. He's explained he's not paining the place or recarpeting as we negotiated a good deal on the rent. He did repair the water sodden cupboard in the laundry when I asked him to as it was a health hazard (so much mould). But he won't attend to the creaky stairs as it's a major rebuild job, which I guess is fair enough but OMG it's so annoying every-single-time we walk p'n'down.
We are currently having a conversation about one important (to me) alteration that landlord has said we can do but won't pay for and it's the backyard.
I would like something solid under the table n chairs ... Hubby doesn't think it warrants the couple of hundred quid for what a amounts to a few sunny days a year.
We put said table n chairs on grass this morning and will wait and see if they sink into the grass and/or aren't comfortable to sit on (can imagine a slow sinking feeling while enjoying a long lunch)
I'm kinda complaining and kinda not.
I get the landlord not wanting to invest in concrete slabs or commissioning a huge patio but a few decking squares would suffice!
Hubby really doesn't want to spend the money on something that he sees we'll use a few days a year and then have to get rid of before we move on.
My argument is that over the long school holidays it'll be nice to sit outside and read a book, or have lunch and that it's only a couple of hundred quid to which he reminds me of all the couple of hundred quid we've spent on temporary things. That leads us to talking about our expat life, and how much longer we'll be here before we move to where ever we move to, and what large items we'll sell (probably the outdoor setting and definitely the BBQ, which we scored for free) amongst other things.
But now I'm rambling and whinging.
|Bet you read this with a vampire voice!|
Just thought it might be interesting to share what really amounts to a ridiculous situation but confronts us often, to often.
Compromising on the way we like to live, in a house that's not ours, creating a home environment to be proud of.
Think that's why when friends renovate I get so damn excited for them!
I will never be able to decorate our home with the colours we want. We will never spend months looking for that one piece of furniture for a specific place. I will always make do from the homes available when we move and turn them into our home. We will spend money on things for the time we are there knowing we will (a) sell, (b) give away or (c) trash before our next move.
So, for now our table n chairs sit on the grass and we'll see if we need to invest in temporary decking.
How about you? What compromises do you make when it comes to your home?