Saturday, May 11, 2013

House Hunting, International-Style


MsCaroline's toes in front of the private plunge pool in her bungalow in Ubud,  which she will totally tell you about later when she is sane again.

MsCaroline is totally aware that this post was supposed to be the final installment in her series of posts about Spring Break in Bali, but something has come up.

House hunting.  Or rather, apartment hunting.  In Seoul.  As foreigners.
Like so many other things, watching this show is about a million times more fun than doing it in real life.

Good times.

Those of you who have been reading since the inception of this blog (Hi, Mum!) may recall that the Asia Vu family initially signed on for a 2-year stint in Seoul, with the possibility of renewing our contract.

Believe it or not, the 2-year mark is fast approaching.

The last few months have been fraught with uncertainty and a certain amount of stress as MsCaroline and MrLogical have grappled with the many variables involved in the decision-making process:  finances (always a major player,) Son#2's education (he's halfway through high school,) distance from family and friends (heart-wrenching,) custody and care of the Yellow Dog,  renters for the house in the US,  MrL's job location (changed from a 15-minute commute to a 2-hour one each way,) MsCaroline's job location.  The point is, it has been a nightmare, just a nightmare has been challenging.

In keeping with their disparate personality types, MrL and MsC have handled this stress in their own unique ways.  MrL, by gathering information and acting on it in a rational and logical manner, and MsC by swinging wildly between euphoria and despair and eating a lot of carbohydrates.

It has been, to say the least, an interesting time and one that MrL is deeply grateful is almost over.

At this point, most of the variables have been settled in the general direction of a 2-year extension in Seoul, allowing Son#2 to graduate from his present school and MrL to continue working on an (in his field) iconic project - with the exception of one significant x-factor:  the question of housing.

Since their arrival, the Asia Vus have lived in very typical dwelling in Korea:  The high-rise apartment building. They have spent the last 2 years learning how to live a 1200-sq.-ft.(111.48 meters) lifestyle; a no-yardwork lifestyle with a lovely view of the Seoul Tower.  They have embraced elevators, parking garages, garbage chutes, anonymous neighbors, and underbed storage with zest and enthusiasm, and thoroughly enjoyed the novelty of a hermetically-sealed 14th-floor view of Seoul.

But now, that time must come to an end.  Partly because 1200 feet with minimal storage- while compact and charming - is getting old.  Partly because most of the AsiaVu's friends live in a different part of the city and they are tired of being the ones who are always desperately fighting for a cab at 1am.  Partly because the rent in their apartment will soon be higher than they wish to pay.  And most of all, because MrL and MsC have missed, more than anything, having an Outside.  Not an actual yard, of course:  let's be realists here - MrL, is, after all, not the CEO of a Fortune 500 Company (yet.)  But a Space Outdoors.  A patio, perhaps, or (on a ground floor) a small deck with a scrap of a garden and maybe even a shrub or two.

MrL and MsC have even been fantasizing about grilling.

So, they are leaving behind the glittering splendor of the high-rise, and heading out to a section of town where the international community congregates in low-rise (6 stories or fewer) apartment buildings referred to as 'villas.'  The primary advantage of villas is that one gets more space for less money, and - almost without exception - can expect some sort of an Outside:  a patio, a balcony, a deck, a micro-garden. And all of this for only about 4 to 5 times the price of the mortgage on their Texas-sized suburban tract home back in the US.  Plus utilities, of course.

Naturally, as with every other real estate transaction in the history of the world, overshadowing this entire exercise is the painful process of aligning one's fantasies expectations with one's budget.

So, what it comes down to is this:  if a place they can tolerate suitable dwelling can be found in the next 30 days, the Asia Vus will stay in Korea for two more years.  If it can't, well, they'll be heading home, richer for the experience.  MrL has every confidence that a suitable place will be found, but MsC (with her typical pessimism) is less certain, not to mention the fact that not knowing where she'll be living in 30 days makes.her.absolutely.insane.

They've begun the hunt (which in Korea is a different kettle of fish altogether,) which MsC will share with her readers once things are settled one way or another and she regains some perspective and her sense of humor.

In the meantime, she is baking.


 



15 comments:

Holly said...

Sending mojo, juju, and groovy vibes your way, My Dear Friend!

Traci Hoeting said...

I love your outlook!! Keep up that humor sweet girl! It'll all work out.

Or at least, you will get some great blog posts out of it!

Wilma said...

Wow! 1200 square feet?! You live in a mansion. We're three people in 625 with one bedroom. We do, however, have a balcony which has just been upgraded with two plants. And if we want to grill there is a community grill right outside our house--no grills allowed on the balconies. Best of luck to you on your hunt. I hope you find a suitable place. I'm sure you will. :)

MsCaroline said...

Wilma - I suppose a lot of it is whatever you get used to- our house in TX is approximately 3 times the size of this apartment,but (pleasant to discover)it was never a problem adjusting - probably because we brought so little 'stuff' with us. We've been very happy and very comfortable in 1200 sqft, but we're not willing to pay the equivalent of $2000/month *more* for it - especially when we know there are other apartments out there for less money - WITH patios/balconies/decks and the option to grill! We are actually fine with the present size we have, but the same money usually gets you something bigger when it's not in a high-rise. What we're most interested in, though, is the 'outside.' No open-air balconies in high-rises. : (

MsCaroline said...

Traci - Thank you! I am sure it will, just having a lot of trouble remaining patient throughout the process - where have you heard that before? ; )

Holly: I knew you were without you even telling me - but it was so nice to see it written down! Thank you!

Nance said...

This is one of Those Things I would turn over completely to the Mr., who would compile a gaggle of say, five possibilities. I would then get Absolute Veto over any or all of them. Period.

Otherwise, for me, too stressful.

Good Luck, dearie. So much going on!

Joshua Austin, DDS said...

Best of luck! You're life is such an adventure!!!!

MsCaroline said...

Nance - Your suggestion sounds far more stress-free than the way we're doing it, but since MrL has to go to work every day and I don't, the majority of the work falls to me. I'm operating under the assumption that what doesn't kill me will make me stronger. It remains to be seen whether I will be dead or just stronger come June....

MsCaroline said...

DrA - Thanks! The word 'adventure' is not always the first one that comes to mind when things are happening, but afterwards I always appreciate having had the experience!

Trish Burgess said...

I was wondering what you'd been up to. Stressful times. I hope you get your little piece of outdoors and get to have a bit of grilling!

MsCaroline said...

Trish - at this point, I have given up on finding an Outdoors and am just trying to find an Indoors that doesn't make me want to jump into a pool of disinfectant after I leave it. Starting to wonder if 'hermetically sealed' may end up being our fate for the full 4 years...

Stacy said...

Woo hoo! Whatcha baking?

BavarianSojourn said...

I am sorry to have missed this (I have been gallavanting!), but how exciting (if not a little stressful - passes more cake...!). Great that you have some "stability" as I think of it. I hate those inbetween days when you have no idea of what you are doing! Good luck with the search! :)

MsCaroline said...

Stacy - I am ashamed to say that I have not been baking anything interesting or exciting (I bet, when you move, some incredible stuff gets produced!) So far, what has come out of my kitchen has been 3 loaves of pumpkin bread (those cans of pumpkin needed to be used up - less to move) and quite a few sugar cookies. I don't have enough focus right now to make anything more than basic comfort food! I've been thinking about beignets, though - if they didn't require quite so much work, I'd probably have made some by now. ; )

MsCaroline said...

Emma- well, I am pretty sure we'll find something - if nothing else, we'll stay in this place (as much as MrL will grumble about the price) but we are all ready for things to be settled one way or another!