September 02, 2012

The House Possibilities

On Thursday we found a house we liked well enough to put a hold on...and began daydreaming about where to put the furniture.  We went back on Saturday to take a closer look, make notes, etc., and talked with the agent about when to set up the meeting with the landlord.  Here are some of the pros and cons of this one:

  • Very spacious home with large rooms
  • A completely separate basement (can only enter through the outside, not through the house) that includes 2 bedrooms, a bathroom, a little kitchen, and a sitting area--perfect for a guest suite!  (And scrapbooking retreats!)
  • The largest kitchen we've seen yet with lots of cabinets and quite a bit of counter space.
  • Two gorgeous sun rooms on the 3rd level, one of which had another kitchenette!
  • Magnificent views--the Mediterranean to one side and fruit trees/farm land to the other.
  • A lemon tree (this was quite popular with the children!)
  • Some furniture pieces that we could keep for our own use or else have removed--this included all the furniture in the guest suite plus a perfect table in the kitchen that would fit our family!
  • The yard was enclosed with a fence that had NO privacy at all--it almost felt like being in a fishbowl.  (Admittedly, I may have only felt that way because we would have been the only Americans on the street...)
  • Security was iffy, though the landlord did agree to install a perimeter alarm.  Still...
  • There was actually very little "yard" area; mostly it was concrete.  It IS a good-sized lot, though; plenty of room for the kids to play basketball or ride scooters, etc.  But there is that fishbowl thing...
  • Outside the sun rooms on the top floor is a nice big balcony...with a rather low wall.  EEEEEK to having little climbers getting anywhere near that!  The wall is below the minimum required height for American standards; we would have had to sign a waiver to be allowed to stay there without any modifications.  
  • While the house was functional, it wasn't necessarily "pretty" on the inside.  Not that it was ugly, but the floors and walls were plain, and the stairways connecting the levels seemed less than homey--more like walking between the floors of an apartment building.
After viewing this house with the agent who had showed it to us, we met up with the other agent we've worked with (Luisa).  Ted wanted me to see one of the houses he had seen with the girls last Monday evening.  He had been impressed with it, but the pics he had taken on his (broken) camera from Afghanistan were less than stellar.  So he thought it would be good for me to see it in person.

Honestly, I left the house we had on hold thinking that it was the one; but Luisa had another home to show us in addition to the "doctor's house," as she called the one Ted had already seen.  (A French doctor rented it last.)  So off we went.


The driveway into the parco where "the doctor's house" is located got me excited!  Flowers everywhere--it was so beautiful!  The house is behind a total of 3 gates, much more secure than the other house we were interested in.  Also, the courtyard is surrounded by big walls, allowing for much more privacy.  A crew was hard at work clearing out the garden...apparently the French doctor was not interested in maintaining the landscaping, which is really a shame, as it is GORGEOUS!  What a place for the kids' imaginations to run wild!  Little paths running in various directions, all kinds of trees, a sand box, a decorative wishing well, an outdoor covered patio area with brick pizza oven and grill...

The inside of the house is simply beautiful.  They had put fresh, white paint on since Ted had last seen it; he had originally described the coloring to me as reminiscent of the 70s. :-)  The tile patterns on the main floor are really beautiful, and there is some unique, decorative brickwork around the kitchen/main level/ground floor.  The kitchen is pretty decent, although we definitely need to arrange to be able to put the range from the housing warehouse somewhere.  They think they can do that by splitting the gas line and running one to the utility room just to the side of the kitchen.  (There is a stove top already in place, plus a little tiny oven to the side of the counter space, but neither is big enough for our cooking needs!)

There are three levels.  The ground floor has the kitchen, which is large enough for our dining room table, plus a large, L-shaped room with a fireplace in one corner.  The stairway is beautiful--actually part of the house instead of outside doors (which, admittedly, are helpful for climate control and energy efficiency).  The second level has the master suite (very large, with a pretty bathroom and good-sized closet area) plus two other bedrooms and another bathroom.  There is also a little nook between the staircases that has room for a cozy reading corner. :-)  The top level has a ginormous bedroom plus a smaller bedroom and closet nook, with the hook-ups for washer and dryer.  There is also a huge loft area that would be a perfect play place.

  • Much, much better security.
  • Lovely and large courtyard--plenty of play area for the kids.
  • In a parco, which means there is a built-in community.
  • Very spacious, beautiful home with large rooms.
  • Master bedroom has attached bath--the other house it was separate.
  • LARGE laundry area.  (Woohoo!  Is it sad that I can get excited about that?)
  • Large play area upstairs--there wasn't really a good place for a common play area in the other house.
  • No specific, separate area for a "guest suite," though the house is certainly large enough to accommodate visitors!  We'd just be shuffling our own kiddos around. :-)
  • Kitchen has less cabinet and counter space than the other one; however, we can get hutches from the housing warehouse which will help with that.
This is now our current home of choice!  We are just waiting to hear from the landlord about a few things he needs to go in order for the housing office to approve the property.  (Since regulations are so different here, there is a checklist that landlords must complete before being able to rent to Americans--they are motivated to rent to us because our housing allowance is a lot more than they can get otherwise.)

We have an appointment to view one more house in the morning, which we plan to go ahead and see.  But we will cancel the hold we have on the other house and place a hold on this one...assuming the house we see tomorrow isn't better than this one.  It's hard not to get too excited...anything can happen!  But the place we saw yesterday just "felt" much better.  I prayed specifically for peace, and when I was standing in the courtyard of the house we had a hold on, I did not feel at peace.  But I felt peaceful and at home in the one Luisa showed us.  

Time will tell!


Heather F said...

I'm curious about the need for security. Is it that dangerous?

Beverly said...

Heather, answering that might take another blog post! But the short version of the answer is...unemployment here is close to 30%. Chances of us getting harmed bodily are quite low; chances of us being robbed because we're Americans with insurance are much higher.