Thursday, April 22, 2010

House Hunting

Country Change part 2

How do you shop for a house in a town 400km from where you live?

At first our attempts were limited to the couple of times per year that we passed through the town on our way to visit Gloria’s family. We would take a break from our journey (which we used to complete in one day) by taking a short detour to our chosen town where we would stay overnight. This gave a few hours to check the real estate situation.
Clearly this wasn’t ideal. It would take a lot of luck to be in town at just the right time when that perfect house came onto the market. It would also give us only one chance to see a house before we had to make a decision on whether it was the right place for us.

To help our search we made a list of the things we wanted in a house. There were the essentials, and there were the desirables. After living in a small two bedroom flat for over ten years we each wanted a little space for ourselves to pursue our different interests. Gloria wanted a room for her crafts, where she could leave things out until her project was finished instead of packing everything away each day. I wanted a study/library where my books could be brought out of storage and where I’d have a suitable environment to write. We also wanted enough land to suit my ambitious gardening plans.
Other requirements were more cosmetic and not considered essential, things that would give the place a bit of character such as polished floorboards.
Overall we had a lengthy list. We were planning a major upheaval and we wanted to do it right and leave no room for regrets.

When we were looking around for a suitable town, one of the key factors was the cost of housing. We spent a lot of time looking in the windows of real estate agents, to see what kinds of properties were available and for what price. The town we eventually chose had several four bedroom houses advertised, on a few acres of land for less than a quarter of the price of a run down house in Ryde where we were then living. Our dream seemed very attainable.

When we moved on from window-shopping to actually inspecting houses, we were given a sudden reality check. Most of the houses didn’t come up to expectations. There may have been four bedrooms mentioned in the advertising, but some were so small I’m not sure how a bed would fit into them, not that we were going to use them as bedrooms, but we still needed them to be a reasonable size.
No matter how many houses we saw, there was always something lacking, nowhere had that feeling of “home” and we were becoming a little discouraged.

Then we were taken to a house that had everything. The floor plan was perfect. The house had more than we had hoped for. Some of the cosmetic requirements were missing but the layout of the house itself was exactly what we wanted. It had four very good sized bedrooms, a workable kitchen and dining room with plenty of storage and workbenches. There was a formal lounge room AND a separate, less formal family room. At the back of the house with access from the family room and the dining room was a covered veranda with views of the countryside. There were also additional rooms under the house providing a potential fifth bedroom or private guest retreat with en-suite.
We made arrangements for another viewing the next day and decided to buy it. The first significant part of our dream was becoming a reality.
Or so it seemed...

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