Monday, 25 May 2009

Househunting, Littleboys style

I thought I would really enjoy looking for a house to live in. I've always enjoyed nosing round houses, eyeing up other people's stuff, trying to imagine what it would be like to live there and picturing it with my own belongings in situ.

But househunting with the Littleboys was another experience. Somewhere, in between stopping them playing with other children's toys, jumping on other people's sofas, barking at other people's dogs, and escaping out of gardens onto the street, it was just about possible to take a quick look at the property. And when they weren't fighting with each other, tripping over,whinging because they're tired and hot or demanding food and drink, you might just be able to work out how many bedrooms and bathrooms there were.

Add into the equation seeing 10 houses in one day, with the pressure to sort it out as soon as possible as you have nowhere else to live, and you have one very full-on househunting experience.

We turn up late for the estate agent, sorry, realtor, because we're at the bank sorting out a US bank account. Then Littleboy 1 needs a pee, which involves a ten minute trip to the basement of the bank; then Littleboy 2 dirties his nappy, and we're out of wipes, but there's no time to buy any, so we turn up with a smelly two year old at the first house to find a very stressed realtor telling us we were "running behind schedule". We stomp round the first house as quickly as possible, don't like it, and move onto the next without saying a word.

The next few hours are a whirlwind of houses, interspersed with tantrums as we unstrap and re-strap the boys into their carseats between each viewing. Most are on quiet suburban streets, looking typically American (I even saw an Elm Street, and was quite glad that this would not be the address - we don't need any more Nightmares). I am struck by the prettiness of their lawns, shady trees and shrubs. All the houses are quite different, but as usual when viewing properties, most have a fatal flaw. One place would be nearly perfect but for the fact its garden backs onto a four lane highway. "It's fenced off," points out the realtor. Er fine, but what about the noise and fumes? Another place is right by the ocean, with a beautiful view of Long Island Sound, and has lovely spacious rooms, but no backyard for the Littleboys. The places where the agent tells us "this is SUCH a wonderful neighbourhood" are generally small and too expensive.

But houses 9 and 10 are more promising. House 9 is a colonial style wooden house on a pretty wooded street, just one block of the Main Street of the small harbourside town we most want to live in, and a five minute walk from the Long Island Railroad which could take The Doctor to work and whisk us into Manhattan in 45 minutes. It has a good-sized garden, an old-style verandah which reminds us of Virginia (where we spent a very happy holiday some 15 years ago) and some nice rooms, although it's a little eccentrically decorated and a bit smaller than we would ideally like.

House 10 is big and spacious, also with a decent garden, but it's on a kind of housing estate, well away from any playgrounds or shops, and would involve driving everywhere. It's also not available until July, which is a big problem.

At the day's end, we are shattered, confused and can't remember anything about anywhere. But we return the next day to see 9 and 10 again (keeping Littleboys firmly outside). We plump for 9. When we return, the landlady is there, and we discover that some of the furniture is hers (most places are unfurnished) including some built-in bunk beds perfect for the Littleboys. It's also, we discover, very near a playground and a preschool. This clinches the deal.

So now we are in a period of limbo, as we can't move in for a few weeks. Our plans as I write are up in the air, as we can't stay where we are until then, so we're thinking of taking off on holiday for a time before The Doctor starts work. Watch this space....

21 comments:

Nicola said...

Your review of the househunting process is hilarious - the fact you survived the day is truly commendable. I remember the same process with my two boys 3 years ago and it was an unmitigated disaster. Best of luck with it all - and hope you get to enjoy a fab holiday in the process!

Wife in Hong Kong said...

I'm suffering from rental envy! House 9 sounds wonderful - you lucky people. We still have nothing but have just been outbid on the one place I thought was really good. Bugger!

MelRox said...

that was really nice! This is one of the best blogs I've ever seen

Nota Bene said...

House No9...sounds like a good name for your stateside blog! Glad you're having such fun already....erm

Mumof4 said...

Good luck with the house hunt. I am really very envious of your big adventure and I would definitely plump for the holiday option. Explore while you can, you will soon be mired in the day to day stuff, so enjoy your freedom before it starts and you won't make the effort to look at anything outside a 10 mile radius of your home.

Iota said...

Any house within 5 minutes of a railroad must be the dream house for the Littleboys, surely?

When our oldest was 3, if I didn't know what to do, I'd take him to the station and we'd watch the trains, and wave at the drivers who always waved back, and sometimes beeped the horn too (but it was a very busy junction station, so lots of slow and fast trains psasing through - perhaps a sleepy suburban line won't be quite so exciting).

You sound so full of energy and excitement, in spite of all the hard work of looking after the two littles while trying to get things sorted.

Mud in the City said...

House 9 sounds perfect - once the lease is signed that must be a huge weight off your mind. And justly deserving of a holiday....

Expat mum said...

You could always make the present owner an offer for the bunk beds??? Everything has a price over here!

Brit in Bosnia / Fraught Mummy said...

Holiday! Can't believe that is only a question. pleased the house thing is getting sorted though - it is the most stressful thing about moving, especially with Little Boys in tow.

That Girl said...

Wow... take the holiday option! Sounds like you need it after that stress! Glad you got there with no. 9 and look forward to hearing your updates. Good Luck NV x

Paradise Lost In Translation said...

I can so relate to thisw, exhausting, stressful & usually very unsataisfactory. Well done for finding somewhere so quickly!

A Confused Take That Fan said...

House no.9 sounds ideal. Good luck with everything in this topsy turvy time. Enjoy the adventure and deffo take a holiday while you have the chance! All sounds a bit hairy but terribly exciting! You're missing nothing here - Britain's Got (NO) Talent on the box everynight and corrupt MPs x

nappy valley girl said...

Thank you all - we signed contracts on House 9 on Thursday, then left Brooklyn rather rapidly due to rather weird circumstances I can't really go into on the blog for family reasons.

We are now in deepest Virginia, staying with The Doctor's cousins who live here. A very welcome holiday. Back to Long Island again next week and will update when I can....

A Modern Mother said...

Hi sounds like you are getting on well in your host country.

Reluctant Memsahib said...

oh well done. and good luck ...

Thoroughly Modern Mummy said...

Hey, I love your blog and it is so exciting that you have found a new home. Def take the holiday option and enjoy it before you really settle into your new place. 45 mins from manhattan... I am v v envious!

mothership said...

I am so sorry I was out of the loop while you did your big move! I had to laugh (SORRY!) at your description of the house hunting. I remember it well although it was me that was puking and pregnant, and I had no idea yet of the difficulties of corralling two small children. You are a hero in my book.
Number 9 sounds perfect.
YES, take off on holiday, forget all the anxiety and just go and have some fun.
When we were evacuated a few weeks ago it was amazing how easily we forgot our home-related anxieties once we were near a pool and some prettiness. The schools aren't quite out yet so you should find some nice places to go to. The whole of the Eastern Seaboard beckons..

rosiescribble said...

Oh how exciting and yet stressful at the same time. Hope you're able to enjoy a holiday before life gets even more hectic!

Home Office Mum said...

I am so jealous. Not of the overtired children with filled nappies, but the fact that you're looking at American houses. I LOVE America and it just makes me want to move back there. I will be watching your blog very closely. If you write lots of things about how lovely it is, I might just have to move too.

Nunhead Mum of One said...

Oh my, i've missed LOADS! I need to sit down with all of my blogs and have a proper proper catchup!

dulwichmum said...

OHMYGOD! Where have I been. I can't believe this. Like NMoO, I need to sit down here and have a good read with some tissues (sob).