Thursday, May 23, 2013

House Hunters International** with MsCaroline, Part II: Which One Did They Choose?



(MsCaroline's posts are not in any way connected with the awesome HGTV show House Hunters International, but she wishes they were.)

MsCaroline is well aware that, in her last post, she promised to reveal the results of the Asia Vu family's search for a new apartment in Seoul on "Monday or Tuesday."

Astute readers will be aware that it is now Thursday (almost Friday in Seoul.)

Just like the airlines, MsCaroline regrets the delay, but due to circumstances beyond our control, the apartment situation was not finalized until today.

Those of you who know MsC personally know that she does not do well with uncertainty and vagueness, so these last few days have been, shall we say, 'character-building' for her.

The delay was due to a little bit of real estate drama, which - thanks to an oddly-worded e-mail - gave the Asia Vus the impression that their first choice had already been taken.  This meant that MsCaroline spent part of Monday afternoon looking at more villas, including one with a beaten copper sink in what would have been the boys' bathroom, hahahahahaha - I don't think so.

After that viewing, MsCaroline slumped dejectdly back into the realtor's car  and expressed her sadness at having had her first choice slip through her fingers.  The realtor cocked her head, looked quizzically at her, and said, "But didn't you understand my e-mail? I said you can have the villa! Maybe my English is not so good?"

(Well, yes, that was the problem, but since MsCaroline got her first choice, she's going to overlook it.)

As it transpired, the villa was, indeed, being negotiated for by another couple and their realtor at the same time MsC and MrL made their offer.  However (and this was very unclear for quite a while) what the realtor had meant to say was that she had managed to get the landlord to accept their offer first.  So her e-mail, which was supposed to convey the message, "Rejoice! I have narrowly averted a disaster for you!" actually sounded like, "So sorry! The apartment is already under contract!"

 Language.  It is a tricky thing.

Anyway, the long and the short of it is, the Asia Vus finally got their offer in on Monday, and the last few days have been a back-and-forth negotiation between themselves, the landlord, and their realtor, as they dicker about whether a water cooler is included in the rent (it is); whether the water delivery is included in the rent (it is, but only 2 bottles per month, and they use 4;) whether internet is included in the rent (it is,) whether the landlord will replace the nightmarish window treatment in front of the patio window that gets caught in the door when it is opened (he will); whether a full-size Western washer and dryer are included in the rent (no, but this can be arranged for a fee.)

All of this has been discussed exhaustively via text (best way to communicate with anyone in Korea), e-mail, and the occasional phone call.

Oh, and in the middle of it, Son#1 arrived home from the US for his summer break.

But finally, today at noon, MrL sent a text saying that the company had approved and signed the lease, and that the Asia Vu family would soon be on the move.

And so....without further ado (yes, yes, MsCaroline realizes that this has been an entire post just overflowing with ado) .....which one did they choose?

You will recall the choices were:

#1:  Spacious kitchen, gloomy, no outdoors



 
#2:  Smallest property, minimal storage, but with gorgeous outdoor decks:





#3:  Spacious and light, medium kitchen, small (but usable) patios - sort of like Paris.





Interestingly, the majority of commenters on the blog and on Facebook ignored #1, assuming (rightly) that it came down to a decision between #2 and #3.  In all fairness, the kitchen in #1 was enormous, and MsC did feel a twinge of regret when she passed it up, but at the end of the day, she is very satisfied with her choice:


The winner:  #3 - 'Paris'


MsCaroline is impressed with her readers' insight: even those of you who didn't pick Paris had excellent logic behind your choices. Most of you realized that MsCaroline's yearning for the outdoors would outweigh anything else and quickly removed #1 from consideration.  The few who picked #1 did so for that kitchen (oh, that kitchen!) which really was its saving grace.  

Those of you who chose #2 were closer than you would think.  In fact, MrLogical and MsCaroline had decided to make an offer on 'The Deck House' (as they had come to call it) and viewed it no less than 4 times with growing satisfaction.  On the fourth visit, however, they did something they should have done on the first visit:  they brought along a tape measure, which clearly illustrated just how small the rooms were.  While they still could have shoehorned their furniture into it managed it, at the end of the day, the lack of storage would have ended up being overwhelming (not to mention several items of furniture would have had to be gotten rid of.)  In addition, as more than one reader observed, the decks, while they were quite lovely, can only be used for approximately 4 months of the year in Seoul.  The unbearably hot and humid summers, weeks-long rains of monsoon season, and  at least 5 months of bitterly cold winter mean that any outdoor space can only be used a small percentage of the time.

Readers might also have noted that #2 was described as not having very much light and being on the ground floor.  MsCaroline did some thinking about how difficult the last 2 winters had been even in her flooded-with-light high rise apartment full of floor-to-ceiling windows, and she realized that signing on to live in an apartment that was already somewhat dark in the Spring- and undoubtedly even more tomblike in the winter- would be the final nail in the coffin of her Seasonal Affective Disorder.   MsCaroline had a few dark hours grieving the loss of the Western-sized oven, but at the end of her night of grief, she had made her peace with 2 more years of cooking in what amounts to an Easy-Bake Oven,  (and determined to buy herself the biggest damn toaster oven procurable for money when she was in the US in July - now that she has a place to store it, she might as well, right?)

#3, while offering very little in the way of a view, seemed to provide the best compromise:  it was bigger and lighter than #2, full of storage, and provided a little bit of that 'outdoors' that MsCaroline and MrLogical had been craving.  It had a dining room (the Asia Vu family has spent the last 2 years eating on a table wedged between the kitchen island and the back of the living room couch, flanked by a refrigerator,) an actual foyer, and a laundry room in which one could turn around. The closet space in the master bedroom was twice what they'd had in the 'luxury high-rise," and MrLogical's bicycle gear would no longer block the view out of the bedroom window.   And the best part? The patio - while not quite a Texas-sized deck, was large enough to hold a few chairs, a small table, and a grill. Which is really all MsCaroline had been hoping for.  Besides, as soon as she realized that they would probably end up in #3, she immediately began combing every Pinterest design board that featured balcony decor.

After a few days of intensive searching, she knows exactly what she's going to be doing with that plain 'Paris' balcony:






Just give her a little time.


20 comments:

Holly said...

GASP!! I'm SO relieved!! I have diligently prayed for your family to find a new place, and even included "room for some flowers for My C". I am heap big happy for my dearest, longest friend!!

santamonicachick said...

I love it!!

MsCaroline said...

Bridget - Thanks! Have thought of you during this process more times than I could count - bet you'd love to see how the process differs between here and the US!


Holly - Clearly, Someone has been listening to those prayers - right down to the flowers! Thanks...love you!

Lori Cobb said...

Very nice!! I hope the move goes smoothly but if not, I know it will at least provide more inspiration for future blogs ;)

Barbara said...

Congratulations! So glad you have worked everything out.Your good luck must be wafting over oceans and continents because this morning, I bought a town home here in Tucson, after looking at many options over many weeks! Congratulations to me, too. It's easier here, isn't it?

BavarianSojourn said...

Phew! I know that Paris balcony is going to look amazing in a few months! Congrats! Happy Moving! :)

MsCaroline said...

Lori - you know, that is the very best thing about my kind of blogging: when things go wrong, it's actually to my advantage! I'm sure that, just like every move, there will be more than a few hiccups along the way - and that I'll be sure to share them!

MsCaroline said...

Barbara - Congratulations to you, too! I'm so glad that both the selling (that was a real nightmare) and the buying are behind you, and now you just get to do the fun parts: 1) fixing up your new place to your own specifications; and 2) enjoying Tucson (well, you've been doing that all along, but it's probably even better as a homeowner, right?) ; )

MsCaroline said...

Emma - I really hope so! Second-guessed myself for putting that photo out - now I'll be forced to follow through and show people what I came up with! ; )

outboundmom.com said...

Warning! Possible spoiler alert (to the show in general, not MsCaroline's choice :) I know a couple that was on the show. They never even bought a house in the country that they were house hunting in, but the show made it look like they had. This might not always be the case, but one way you can tell if someone really bought/rented the house is if the show ends with an inside tour of the home and talks about the decorating changes that were made. The couple that I know were just shown on the beach saying, "We love living here and our new lifestyle!" None the less, I still love the show!

I'm dying to see which one you chose! I never get it right on the show, so I am guessing that it was NOT #2!

Nance said...

Aha! The Handy Dandy Tape Measure. That irrefutable logician, that bottom-liner, that decider. Thank goodness for it. It's made my life easier more times than I can count in my little house.

Good news all around, then. So glad!

Stacy said...

Oh, yay! I was rooting for "Paris" even though I didn't say anything. You probably thought I would go for the big kitchen, but when a house is dark, I get depressed. (Like winter time in the real Paris for three years where we had a lovely house with front and back gardens but we hardly saw sun.) Now I know I was a candidate for light therapy. I know you will be very happy there.

I just read your response to my last comment and I am surprised! At the two last international schools my girls attended, students were not allowed to live on their own to finish out their senior year. They had to live with another family (close friends usually) or at least a guardian had to be staying with them. The risks of a teenager living alone unsupervised was deemed detrimental to the student and his/her studies. The last school made the rule when they had a health concern and tried to call home to find out that the student was on his own.

MsCaroline said...

Outbound - Yes, I'd heard that it was all staged - but I think I really just enjoy looking at the houses and the locations anyway, so I'm not too disappointed! ; ) I think you might have actually read my first post but commented on the second one, so I'll put you out of your misery - you were right: we went with #3 ('Paris') (which, as you guessed, was not #2!)

MsCaroline said...

Nance - yes, that actually was really helpful; if we hadn't actually had that cold hard logic, I would probably still be wringing my hands and convincing myself that it would be just as easy for the boys to keep their desks in the living room. I knew that the 3rd one made more sense, but the lure of those decks overrode the logical part of my brain until I saw some hard numbers. I'm just glad a decision hss been made.

MsCaroline said...

Stacy - I'm sure I knew that you lived in Paris - didn't I? You probably got a good laugh at my comparison, but, like I said, if you squint your eyes...and it's dark...;)
Winters in Germany were the same - maybe it's a central Europe thing? I had a rough time with dark gloomy winters when we lived in the midwest as well (you pay for all that beautiful Bluegrass in the spring by doing hard time in the winter with all that rain.) I dreaded winters for years, and was absolutely delighted when we moved to Arizona and I discovered what a nice person I could be from January-April. That's probably been the worst part of living in Seoul - getting used to winter again after so long in the sunny Southwest.
Re: School situation: Oh, yes - I was pretty surprised, too - especially since it is a Christian school! I'm not sure exactly how they arrange it, though - maybe on a case-by-case basis? I know that the one girl whose parents live down south sees her parents every weekend - and she is a junior - so maybe that was the mitigating circumstance. No idea how they managed to get approval for the boy who'll be a senior. I know his mother is Korean, so it's possible he has grandparents or other relatives close by who check on him. Honestly -most of these kids are so incredibly achievement-oriented and so driven that there's no danger of them doing anything that will ruin their chances of getting into an Ivy League school anyway. ; ) Still - almost impossible for me to wrap my mind around!!

nappy valley girl said...

Glad to hear you made a decision, and yes, you can do wonders with balconies. That was all I ever had growing up in HK. Seoul sounds a lot like HK in that sense.

MsCaroline said...

NVG- Yes, I thought the same thing when we were there at Chinese New Year. In fact, we felt extremely comfortable there, since there are so many similarities. I would have enjoyed a garden, but after 2 years with nothing, a balcony seems fantastic!

Stacy said...

The boy that prompted the new ruling a few years back was actually an excellent student, either salutatorian or valedictorian of his class, so they weren't really worried about him getting into trouble or not doing his work. The concern was what if he got sick or was in a car accident or was injured on the playing field? Someone has to be responsible for a minor! The school decided that if parents could not be trusted to make those best decisions, they would force the issue by making them name a guardian and sign guardianship forms. We had been required to sign guardianship forms for years when we traveled and left the children with friends even for a quick weekend away. After that incident, they created long term and short term guardianship forms. In most cases, I am sure the students will be fine. But the school shouldn't have to be making treatment decisions in an emergency case. They are setting themselves up for trouble and liability.

As for "Paris," I definitely see the resemblance! And I am not even squinting in the dark. :)

Trish Burgess said...

Congrats! Looking forward to more posts about impending move, balcony etc. This going to be fun!

MsCaroline said...

Trish - In the middle of trying to get cost estimates from moving companies - this part is probably the least fun! We're all very excited to be moved in, though!