Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Home Sweet Home

When we decided to come to America and ‘give it a go’, like we were trying a new flavoured ice cream, there were many things that caused me pain in the transition. The first one, ‘for economic reasons’ (i.e. we couldn’t afford it if I didn’t work in America) was selling our house in the UK and getting something smaller – Hubby said it would rent easier (still read as – we need to cut the mortgage down!). I loved the house we had been in for ten years, it was the children’s home and I still couldn’t believe it was mine. With a central staircase, double galleried landing and a sun lounge, the girl from the council estate done good. I was proud, but pride comes before a fall and it wasn’t really mine. Most of it was the bank’s so I agreed to sell.
Hubby left for the US and a month later, swapping solid oak floors for laminate, we moved into our new, more compact ‘des res’! I would have found the move very difficult had I not been fortunate to be hospitalised with swine flu just days before. I was like one of the unclean during an outbreak of the Black Death. Everyone wore masks and they put yellow tape across the hospital door.  As soon as they confirmed it was swine flu (with the risk of pneumonia and death) they sent me home immediately! As it was, on the day of the move I didn’t care as long as I could lie down somewhere. I lay in the bed ‘til the removal men (stoic and brave to cross the threshold) took our bed. I lay on the sofa until a charity came and collected it (we were moving to a smaller house remember!) I then got transported to the new house by which time my son’s bed had been unloaded. I crawled into that. I don’t recommend swine flu at all!
Two days after the move we were told by hubby’s company that we couldn’t use the housing allowance they were paying us to buy a house in America. They like to keep you flexible and their options open. They don’t want you stuck somewhere financially. We were gutted. We nearly pulled out of the whole deal. We didn’t want to rent and I had been persuaded to sell my house in the UK on a promise of bigger and better things in America!  It wasn’t until I actually got to America that I realised I had been persuaded by a bit of fool’s gold!
We lived in the new UK house for six months – me, the two kids and the two cats. It wasn’t fun because I didn’t want to be there. I didn’t want to be in America either. I wanted my home back. We went on a visit to NC in spring to find a house to rent.  We found something twice the size of my beloved house in England… all with a shared community swimming pool. I was placated.
It wasn’t till we moved in that I realised the houses here are spoof! They look spectacular. For $400,000 you get 4000 square feet! Almost twice the house, half the price.  We could do with that sofa back! …but they aint built to last. Many of the houses are stone cladded – think Jack and Vera, or vinyl covered wood. Some, like ours have brick fronts – but the bricks are just cladding too. They have lovely touches – like huge bathrooms and his and her sinks (that’ll stop whiskers in soap after shaving – HIS whiskers not mine!!!). We have the biggest kitchen I have ever seen. I’m not sure what to put in all the cupboards. I keep one empty to put my children into if needed.. Well, that’s what I tell the neighbours children. They believe me because Harry Potter lived in a cupboard under the stairs. It is all spoof though. They do not last at all. They don’t seem like a good investment to me!
Renting is weird. On the one hand it is liberating because you don’t have to do anything. On the other it is hard to make it homely. It is a bit like borrowing someone else’s welly boots – you don’t really care how muddy they get or what they look like as long as you don’t damage them. You don’t bother washing them 'til you need to give them back. (Weird analogy I know, especially as I don’t recall borrowing any wellies and now no one is likely to lend me theirs if I needed them!) I’m not saying I don’t do any housework (although I don’t, really) but I don’t do any home improvement either. I got some curtains to put up at the back door so that burglars (reported on i-neighbors) couldn’t look in at night. I got the cheapest I could find. I would never have done that in my own home. It isn’t my home and as long as we give it back clean and unbroken that’s OK.
As it is, I am sooooooooo glad they stopped us from buying. Not only is the process very expensive here (houses are cheap, realtors are not – think I’ll save that for another day) it would seem his company are right – house prices are still not stable and ending up with negative equity would be bad.  Like Hubby’s company, I want to keep my options open and be flexible too. It is very hard to know where you want to live until you have lived somewhere, and while I don’t mind trying on these wellies for a short time and slopping around in the mud, I certainly don’t want to get stuck in the mire!

1 comment:

  1. I'm sure i could fill those empty cupboards!!!!I don't mean one to put me in when i come to visit.So glad you did'nt buy. As you say not bad for a council estate girl.