Thursday, June 28, 2012

Back to the Drawing Board

The good news - we didn't have to wait until next week to hear about the house we were trying to rent.

The bad news - the property owner decided he didn't want to rent (yes, it was listed for rent, we didn't just randomly pick this house).

So Friday, I return to Illescas for the next chapter of the story.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

IHH - #6 - Not a Done Deal

Just an update - we began negotiations this week with the land lord of our first choice home, however, there are a couple "big" things in the contract that he presented that we cannot accept, so we are in waiting mode.  We won't know anything until sometime next week.  So we wait and rest in the fact that we know God has the perfect place planned for us.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

IHH - Once More - #5

Hopefully, this may be my last report of house hunting - we do believe we may have made a decision (how is that for decision?).  We will now work through logistics and see where it all ends.  Thank goodness our supervisor will handle that part - cause of course it is all in Spanish!

We returned for trip #5 today - I think my car can drive itself to Illescas!  We took our new teammate with us, which always adds to the excitement (and Spanish is his first language so that helps too!)

#1 - If we had liked this one, things would have been a bit complicated due to the way it is listed and what our immobiliaria can ethically do in this situation and etc (more than my spanish brain can understand!)  It was in a great location and had a really long, narrow patio.  Something really interesting, is that it also had kind of a cellar - a small door in the floor of the garage led to a storage area under the house.  First time we have seen that here.  It was cute, but didn't quite meet our needs.

#2 - Had a really big patio area in the front and to the side, but in the back it was tiny.  It was fence so we could have used the front for bar-b-q if we had wanted, but my American filter struggled with that.  There were bars over the door in the living room that led to the back patio, again - probably not a bad thing for Spain, but for this NC gal, I just struggled.  Add to it that the house had definitely been occupied previously by a smoker and we decided it wasn't for us.

#3 - We visited the outside of #1 from IHH#4 (the owner wasn't available to allow us back inside).  Our teammate liked the area as well as the outside.  We learned it is about 700 meters from the school where we would try to enroll Alex (that is a whole different post - you are not guaranteed a place in your neighborhood school) and about 1 km from the large city park.  This continues to be our favorite.

#4 - This was another new chalet that had not been occupied before.  They were beautiful with both an attic and a garage (basement) that would be put to great use.  However, they were directly across from the train track and we had to stop talking to wait on a train to pass.  And at the end, we learned they were not just for rent, they were rent with the option to buy.  We do not want to buy a house here (you think the housing market is difficult in the states - you ought to see it here!).

Now we pray and think and allow our supervisor to work through logistics.  Hopefully in the next couple of days the post will read "New House Rented!"

Friday, June 22, 2012

IHH - 104

Yep, last night was one more round of International House Hunting (without a translator and our immobiliaria only speaks Spanish), but at least at the end of the evening we felt like we had hope.  We met with our immobiliaria (the one from IHH - 103).  She had three potential homes lined up for us to see.

#1 - Less than 5 years old and has never been lived in - new appliances (yes, it has an oven), lots of space, and a garage that will work for great hospitality opportunities!  It is a little further away from the center of town than we imagined, but it is doable.

#2 - Right smack in the middle of town, on a corner, with a secondary school in the front and the grocery store on the side.  It had a great patio (really big, great bar-b-q's could happen there), a common natural area, however, the inside wasn't quite what we were looking for.

#3 - Never made it inside, because across the street is a chalet (townhouse) where someone has sprayed on the garage door "tus perros nos molestan" (your dogs bother us), and running in the tiny front yard, barking loudly, are 3 large dogs.

We then drove around to see a couple other potential areas and headed home to think.

Tomorrow we go back to potentially see two more and revisit #1 from our fourth trip.  If these two new ones do not "knock our socks off" we will choose #1.  Keep praying!  It would be nice to be finished with this step of the process.  Pictures will follow if we say "yes."

Thursday, June 21, 2012

IHH - 103

Never a dull moment when it comes to house hunting in Spain!
(Click on the links f you missed Part 1 or Part 2)

Grateful that on day 3 of this journey a friend and her daughter accompanied me (with the promise of finding the chocolateria), we met our first appointment (slightly late) and quickly jumped into her car.  She knew we had worked the previous night with a different immobilaria so she began asking about what we had already seen and liked or disliked.  She then drove us to one property that she thought matched our needs, but that the listing was shared by other companies.  Sure enough, we had seen that one the night before.

(side note - yes, when you list your house with an immobiliaria you can list it with as many companies as you want - remember, no MLS system - very different than the states)

Since we had told her we only wanted to see things in the north she had nothing else lined up to show us.  She drove us around the central and south and explained a few things to us...

.... the majority of the properties in the north are owned outright, so the financial crisis is not creating a need for many of these to become available for rent -

....  what we find in the north for rent will probably be much more expensive and smaller

....  if we live in the north we will be in a "driving" community - meaning, we would no longer be able to just walk to the market or the park, but if we live in the south - it is a walking community (much closer to what we presently live in)

Now the question became, what next?  As we discussed schools and Alex and timing and more she realized that what was driving us was the school registration timeline (Alex really needs to be registered in school before July 2) and she felt instead of looking for more houses we should solve the school situation first

So, she offers to go with us to Toledo (Toe-Lay-Dough, not pronounced like the Toe-Lee-Dough in Ohio), where the main education office for this province is located and see what we can find out (it was about a 30 minute drive each way).  Off we go and we find out that Alex really has little chance of getting into the north school, because as of right now there was only one opening, but more than 10 in the south.

Now what?  Back to Illescas and the agent takes us to the school in the south, helps us get in to see the school and tells us more about the community where the school is located.

By now, we have had to cancel our 2nd and 3rd appointment, are exhausted, and as we finish the time with this agent we have decided we really need to look in the south and central parts of Illescas.  We set an appointment for Thursday to look some more, drop her off, and head out for the "important" parts of the day - lunch (chocolate and churros got totally missed today) and shopping!

We ate lunch at a restaurant we had visited before and it was all homemade- including the chocolate mouse!  I think I may have found my favorite dessert in town.

When I called Scott to give him the overview of the day he asks "so, how many chalets did you look at today?"  My answer, "none."  It was a productive day, but not so productive in the way we expected.

Day #4 on Thursday.  

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

IHH - 102

Day 2 of International House Hunting (IHH) was Monday.
(If you missed part 1 you can read it here.

The day began with more emails being sent and finally hearing responses from a few of the immobiliarias (remember, real estate agents).  When they respond via e-mail, it isn't so bad - I have time to think of my response and use the help of a translator (if needed).  Thank goodness, I had a team meeting all morning, so when they responded via calls, either a teammate or her daughter helped (I still hate to talk in Spanish on the phone!).

The majority of the people who called only had properties in the south and we were only looking in the north.  Since we already had to return to Illescas Monday evening, I was trying to make additional appointments for the same trip (if you read yesterday, you'll remember that Illescas is about an hour from our home).  One agent called and had a property that was available on the north, but she wasn't available to show it until Tuesday morning.  (Thankfully a dear friend, and teammate, volunteered to go back with me on Tuesday).

Monday night we headed to Illescas for two appointments.  Oh, the fun you can have looking at chalets in a foreign country!

A fun review of 5 chalets....

#1 - Positive - had a lot of character, semi-furnished, several terraces, and friendly landlords.  Interesting - there was an area inside, yes, I said inside, that was filled with mulch.  Negative - when you look out the front door you face an industrial looking building - which we learn houses two clubs (in Spain, that usually refers to prostitute area) and several topless bars.  Nope - that one is off the list.

#2 - Positive - it had the biggest kitchen that I have seen in Spain, even having room for an industrial size refrigerator!  Interesting - the kitchen was red and the living room was purple - and yes, you could see both rooms at one time!  Negative - the owner of the property intended to turn one corner of the basement/garage into a storage room where he would store all of his furniture and etc behind a locked door while he moved out of the country.  Uh, who knows what would be behind that door?  Nope - one more down.

#3 - Positive - it had a beautiful view over an open field and was below our housing budget.  Interesting - it had a single car garage that had no access to the interior of the house and the only "green" area was in the front yard.  Negative - there were only windows on the front side of the chalet.  Remember, we don't have air condition so the cross breezes are essential to cooling the house on a 100+ degree day.  Nope to #3.

#4 - (changed to our 2nd appointment - who somehow missed the fact that we only wanted to see things in the north and scheduled all our appointments for the south, but maybe we should look there anyhow) - Positive - it was really big and the basement had lots of potential (and was in our housing budget)!  Interesting - hmm, the clothes line was out the kitchen window and was at a lower level than the window - not sure I could imagine myself hanging down the window.  Negative - there was no oven in the kitchen, which is not all that unusual (many rental properties come with no furnishings in the kitchen - appliances/cabinets), however, this one didn't even have the area or wiring to add an oven.  Uh, nope to that one too!

#5 - Across the street and down a little ways is finally a little hope - Positive - it is big, has lots of potential for future activities, is in our budget, and the basement is finished into two large rooms - plus, there is a separate single car garage!  Interesting - the dining room had this huge, and I mean huge, black chandelier with crystals and all (most rental properties have no light fixtures).  Negative - it is in the south and on Monday we are still thinking we want to be in the north.

The 2nd immobiliaria then told us they had one more property in the south we could see, but it didn't have any lights and it was already nearing sunset so would be difficult to see anything, and one in the north that was a lot older.  So, since I was already coming back for IHH 103 on Tuesday, I added them to the schedule.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

International House Hunting 101

Just about the time I think I am beginning to understand the culture and ways are done in our new homeland, I realize I really have no clue!  This week, as we began our search for a new home, I entered the "no clue" zone again.  So, I thought I would bring ya'll along.  Perhaps between all of you and me (and some great teammates and immobilarias), we might successfully find us a new home!

A little background information - we are moving to a town that is about an hour away from our present home.  We are moving from what is referred to as a city (approx 200,000 people) to a pueblo (approx 22,000 people).  We are presently living in the Madrid province and moving to the Toledo province (we presently live north of Madrid and are heading to the south of Madrid).  We presently live in an apartment and we are looking for a chalet (translated to town home).

Real Estate companies are called Immobilarias.  There is no such thing as the MLS in Spain.  Some houses (both for sale and rent) are listed with only one immobilaria, while others are listed with several.  Sometimes things are listed by owner as well, or perhaps only by owner.  Many of the immobilarias list their properties online at real estate search sites, but they don't give addresses of the properties.  Some immobilarias respond to your request for more information almost immediately, while others never respond. 

And of course - there is the whole language thing - they all speak Spanish.

Do you have a feel for the task ahead?

So, let's rewind to last Friday - International House Hunting (IHH) Day 1.  Hannah and I met our new teammate and toured the school on the side of the town where we "thought" we wanted to live.  Afterwards, we headed to our first immobilaria (of course, there was a stop for 2nd breakfast in there).  We explained to the worker at the immobilaria what we were looking for, the area we wanted to live in (the north), and that both families desired to find a chalet.  She shared a little information and then told us that she could not show any properties that afternoon (so we made an appointment for Monday - watch for IHH 102).  We then visited 2 more immobilarias who each told us they had no properties to match our needs.

Hannah and I then spent the next hour and half driving up and down streets writing down phone numbers and addresses of potential rental properties.  Friday was followed by a weekend of Internet searching, emailing, and praying for direction. 

End of Day 1 - no new home.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Illescas - In Pictures

The original Puerta (Gate) to Illescas - still standing

Calle Real - Connected the two gates of Illescas -
the road from Madrid and the road to Toledo (the original capital of Spain)

One of the two major Catholic Churches in Illescas
The 2nd Catholic Church
All good towns have a bull ring - Illescas, an older town,
has one of the more modern ones with a retractable roof
And of course, every town has a Plaza Mayor

The Youth Center - Located on the side of town we are hoping to live -
they offer free and low cost activities for youth and families -
 great relationship opportunities
Community Pool
One of 2 Community Sport Areas -
 of course they have soccer fields at both
Illescas has several parks - one is on the north side -
the area where we are looking to live

One park has walking/bike paths that lead around the side of town

A taste of "old town"
Illescas has a larger industrial area - much is related to carbon fibers -
the area of textiles that Scott worked with - another "door" for relationships
Airbus has a factory where they make the horizontal tail pieces - again, related to
carbon fiber technology