Househunters International** With MsCaroline
|This is nothing like the properties MsCaroline has been looking at.|
(Note: This is the 3rd of what will probably be an annoying number of whiny, anxious posts about MsCaroline's search for a new apartment in Seoul.
The last few days have been interesting, to say the least.
MsCaroline has had the entire week off, which, at another point in her life, would have meant hopping on a plane and going somewhere interesting. However, the fact that Son#2 (who attends a different school than the one where MsC teaches) is in the middle of sitting the iGCSEs (a series of exams,) as well as the fact that the AsiaVus may soon be homeless, have kept her right here in Seoul, cleaning out closets, meeting with realtors, and trying to understand how she acquired so much household detritus in less than 2 years.
The good news is that things are looking up and MsCaroline has finally seen some apartments that she could imagine her family living in.
It looks like MsCaroline and her family will not be living in cardboard boxes in Seoul Station after all.
But the house hunt is not over yet.
If you have ever watched the show, House Hunters International (which MsCaroline used to enjoy oh-so-much before she actually started hunting for a house internationally,) you will be familiar with the basic premise, wherein a Western couple (usually American or Canadian) is seeking a dwelling/vacation home in some interesting and exotic location and allows the viewers to come along for the search. The show typically includes a brief overview of the couple; (Glenda and Arthur are busy taxidermists who have vacationed for years in the South of France) the type of property they're looking for: (Now they're ready to invest in a rural farmhouse in the country where they can spend time expanding their collection of lifelike stuffed weasels) and a tantalizing cliffhanger (But will they be able to find their dream home in the competitive housing market of St-Guilham-le-desert? Stay tuned to find out on this episode of Househunters International!)
Viewers then watch the couple and their realtor make the rounds of 3 properties (which, MsCaroline now realizes, have been previously narrowed down via a maddening process that has certainly given Glenda a peptic ulcer.) The cameras follow Glenda, Arthur, and their realtor through each property, recording their observations (This house is gorgeous, but it's near a busy highway; It's smaller than we wanted, but the view is breathtaking; Charmingly rustic, but we'd hoped for something with plumbing.) After touring the properties, Glenda and Arthur then mull over the pros and cons of each property, but coyly refuse to reveal which one they're leaning towards, and the viewer is challenged to guess which one they opted for after a brief visual recap: Will it be: #1) The perfect property near the highway; #2) Smaller place with amazing view; or #3)Least expensive property that needs fixing up? Stay tuned to find out!
All this has been going through MsCaroline's mind this week as she's trudged from one place to the next (they are, by the way, getting better) opening closets, standing on patios, measuring walls, estimating distance to the train station and mentally calculating how many bicycle parts can fit in a given closet space. On Wednesday, she saw at least 10 properties, all of which (finally) met all of her criteria and her budget. It was the first time she'd gone looking that she came home hopeful instead of depressed.
Today, she, MrL, and Son#2 made the rounds of some 5 properties, debated their merits, narrowed their choices down to a final 3, and then made a unanimous decision to make an offer on one of them.
The offer is on the table (a stated in an earlier post, the apartment-hunting process in Seoul includes a certain amount of negotiation) and it will be Monday before anything is known one way or another. In the meantime, MsCaroline has decided to entertain herself by writing her own personal version of Househunters International, and is inviting you, Gentle Reader, to play along.
MsCaroline has already (regretfully) ruled out many properties with fabulous views, high ceilings, and closets the size of Westminster Abbey, due to picky things like no elevator (apartment on the 4th floor); distance from train station for MrL, who already spends more than an hour on the train each way anyway; no indoor parking (significant in Seoul, where winter means months of snow,) no closets in her children's bedrooms, and no storage for MrL's bicycles. As is almost always the case, she fell in love with many of them before going through the stages of grief and ending up at Acceptance, where she is now. She and MrL have narrowed it down to 3 final candidates, all within 10 minutes' walk of the train station, and will be making an offer shortly. See if you can guess which one they have gone with.
MsCaroline and MrLogical are a middle-aged expatriate couple seeking a villa (low-rise apartment house) in the popular expatriate neighborhood of H**** in Seoul. They want a 3-bedroom, 2-bath flat with ample storage for MrLogical's sports gear that is located near the subway station. After 2 years in a high-rise building, they would like to find a place with a patio or a small garden. But in the space-hungry Seoul real estate market, is their dream of a little bit of Outdoors even a possibility?
|As a person who's worked for 2 years in a small galley kitchen, MsCaroline was enchanted by this huge space.|
A spacious, but gloomy, 2nd-floor, 4br/2ba villa. Large bay windows in dining area and living room provide an excellent view of the interplay of light and shadow on the walls of the blank, gray building directly opposite. No balcony, patio, or deck. Huge kitchen with 2 refrigerators (1 for food, 1 for kimchi,) separate dining area, two indoor parking spots (like gold in Seoul, and includes some extra storage space,) a study/fourth bedroom/storage room to hold bicycles and workout equipment for MrL. Fireplace. Bonus extra gas cooktop(who knows why?) located in the
meth lab laundry room. Medium Master Closet, tired and dated Master Bath. Children's bedroom windows face walls but have large closets. Quite dark except in the front rooms. Upper end of price range.
Property # 2
|Look! An outside!|
|Wrought iron balcony. Looks like Paris, right?|
Spacious villa on the 4th floor.. Older and rather tired, although newly wallpapered and updated. Two indoor parking spaces and basement storage closet. Huge rooms, all with big windows and lots of light. Patios off almost all rooms, although very narrow - but feature charming, Europeanish balconies (or so MsCaroline tried to tell herself.) 4th floor means a little bit of a view, but mostly features the facades of other buildings, some of which also have wrought-iron balconies. MsCaroline (who has been trying to put a positive spin on things) was cruelly mocked by MrL and #2 for comparing this apartment's view to one in Paris(well, it could be, if you squint your eyes a little and imagine it in the dark
after a few glasses of wine.) Kitchen is larger than MsCaroline has now, with more storage, but oven is typical miniscule Korean version. Dining room. Fireplace. Big closets in every room, and extra 4th bedroom for holding MrL's assorted gear.
|Paris. MsCaroline can totally see a resemblance. Sort of. A little. Right?|
So...which one did we choose?
Property #2: Small, but with outdoor space
Property #3: Big villa, with small patios. Just like Paris.
Tune in on Monday (or Tuesday) to find out!
MsCaroline and MrL have contacted their realtor and are will probably hear back from her on Monday. They hope they are not jinxing their offer by writing this and would appreciate all forms of good mojo, juju, and general positive vibes being thrown their way.