Last week Michael and I played International House Hunters (nope, not on that TLC show, I’m way too camera shy for that funny business), searching for the perfect (or at the very least) acceptable house for our 3 year Belgian adventure. I went into the search with very few requirements or expectations, I just wanted it to “feel” right.
Yup, I’m an Interior Designer waiting for a feeling, and I would basically hate me, if I was my own client.
Our only requirements were 4 bedrooms (girls share, boys share, parents share, and a guest room/playroom), a yard bigger than the one we have now (which is currently the size of a postage stamp), and an open-ish “modern” kitchen.
Day 1 we saw around 9 houses. Approximately 8 were unacceptable, only 1 I could possibly, maybe, see our family living in. I went to bed that night with an “oh what the hell did I just get myself into” feeling about moving internationally, glad dinner included a few stiff Belgian beers to curb the anxiety. The gravity of just how different life was about to become for all of us hit me like an ugly ton of bricks.
Day 2 I woke up feeling physically sick, not from the last evening’s dinner beer and steak tartar, but from the whole “this isn’t going to end well” feeling. We saw another 3 houses, two non-options and one which was really nice but on the wrong side of the tracks (or specifically, “ring road”) when it comes to traffic. The home’s location would put the kids and I at a 30-45 minute one-way school commute everyday morning and afternoon, and it wouldn’t do Michael’s commute any favors either.
But it was the very last house (it always is), on the very last day, that we nailed it. A home with a view at the end of a subdivision, within walking distance of the kids school. Big yard and lovely stone terrace, four (very small) bedrooms and a playroom, a modern-ish kitchen with an overall peaceful “Belgian countryside” vibe. The house is 100% different from what we’re living in here in Indiana, and I mean that in the very best way possible.
The house was listed at 200 euros over our housing allowance, so while we were touring it I knew my budget conscious husband would probably put the big NOPE on the deal. I did my best to prep my heart to be letdown, which resulted in very few photos and not a single room dimension taken.
After the tour we got back in the car and our relocator asked us if the house was a contender. The house was far and away the best thing we had seen in almost 15 houses, and I wanted to scream SOLD!, but instead tried my best poker face, waiting for Michael to chime in with a “well wouldn’t that be a nice house if it was in our budget” sort of response. Instead, he responded with a classic “let’s contact the owner and see if that price is negotiable”. Always a deal maker, that one.
Long story short, the owner came down 100 euros – the house will be ours come August 1st, and we’re very excited. Since the house is smaller than what we have now, I’m now busy evaluating each and every piece of furniture, deciding if it will physically fit in the new place, or if we will be parting with it for good. It’s like I’m finally putting to good use my college degree, and remembering why I hung that profession up a few years back.
Quirky things worth mentioning about the house:
Each bedroom comes with it’s own personal shower and sink. No toilet, just shower and sink. This will not end well in the kids bedrooms, trust me.
The entire house has tile floor – absolutely no carpet or hardwood floors. Also, we will be spending a small fortune on area rugs.
There is a city-wide “quiet” ordinance on Sunday reguarding doing loud things like mowing the lawn and whatnot to “keep the peace”. I’m totally on board with this.
Our refrigerator is comically small, and our freezer can store approximately one frozen pizza and a pack of peas.
And while we live just steps away from our school and in a housing community, we have this uninterrupted view from the kitchen:
The feeling I felt when I saw this view will stick with me a lifetime.
I’d love to show you more photos of the interior, and while a have just a few, the images are filled with another family’s belongings. When we get a chance to make the place our own, I promise I’ll give you a quick little tour. Quirky shower stalls and all.