Monday, September 12, 2011

House Hunters International: Part 2

Welcome back for another edition of House Hunters International, starring Dan and me!  When I last left you, I had seen several properties that were not quite right.  There was potential there, but nothing perfectly fit the bill.  And since we still had several weeks of temporary housing allotted to us, we could afford to be picky.

Now it's been more than two weeks since we arrived in Harrogate and I've seen more than ten properties.  The range of houses in terms of size, upkeep, layout, etc., is remarkable.  Harrogate really seems to run the gamut from Edwardian houses full of "character," to modern cookie-cutter boxes.  Here are a few of my favorite--either because they were actually great properties, or they were so bad that they provided lots of entertainment for Dan and me.

House Number 1:  Modern townhouse close to city center

This house was the perfect-on-paper house.  It is four bedrooms, walking distance to town center, close to Dan's work shuttle route, and well within our price range.  Unfortunately, inside it was completely devoid of character.  The rooms were just little boxes with no interesting details.  The kitchen was relatively large, but of course it contained the standard (read: tiny) British fridge and freezer.  Other minor issue?  Our bed actually wouldn't fit in the master bedroom.  It had such a weird layout that I'm not even sure if a British bed would fit in there.

House Number 2:  Edwardian charmer full of character

This house was also very close to town center and on Dan's shuttle route.  On paper, it had the added benefit of being full of charm and character.  It is from the Edwardian period and had great architectural details like thick crown moulding and a fire place in every room, big bay windows, and a large cellar for storage.  In person though, it did not live up to its potential.  The big windows were beautiful, but not double-glazed.  This meant that in the winter we would literally be freezing in our own bedroom.  In fact, the letting agent told us that he had similar windows growing up and would actually wake up to frost on the outside and inside of the bedroom!  Also, there was a sink in the bedroom.  I have no idea why this would be.  It was just a sink.  No toilet, no mirror. 

House Number 3: Huge garden just outside of town

On paper, I wasn't sure about this one.  While it had plenty of space and a modern kitchen, it seemed like it might be too far from town.  But in person, it really checks all of the boxes.  We actually found this house because our sponsor was driving us around town to better familiarize ourselves with Harrogate and its surrounding areas.  So far we had been limiting our house hunt to city center and those houses on the shuttle route.  Our drive with our sponsor showed us neighborhoods that we wouldn't have considered before because we hadn't seen them yet! 

This house has four bedrooms, an office, a conservatory(!), a separate dining room, two sitting areas, a laundry room, and a huge backyard with a koi pond(!).  It's actually bigger than our house in DC.  While it looked kind of far away on the map, in person it's really close to town.  The local bus stops directly in front of the house and it's a less than five minute drive into city center.  There's also a train station just a couple of minutes away.  Dan would have to drive to work, but it would only be around 15-20 minute commute.  And best part is, the house actually comes with a gardener so we wouldn't even have to take care of the yard work ourselves.

So...maybe it's a bit obvious at this point, but can you tell that we found our house?  Today we put a deposit on House Number 3!  Unfortunately for us, it's not available until October 19th which means we'll be staying in our one-bedroom flat for another five weeks.  Ugh!  Guess it's time to start making this place a bit more homey until we can move in to our new house.  Can't wait to share more details as I get them!!

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