On the move!

Déjà vu!  All those boxes stacked around the room, cupboards half empty, boxes half full – yes, we are on the move again!  A bit less stressful this time for various reasons – the sun is shining and it is warm if a little windy, it is wind time down at school rather than full on preparation for Mock exams, half the boxes are still packed from last year and waiting in the garage, and we can take a few days over moving things across the city in a van rather than getting everything into a container to go half way round the world on a tight deadline!

The house we were going for a second look at lived up to expectations and we decided to take the plunge and go for it.  We agreed a price that was a little over what we wanted to pay but compromised on an early settlement date so 4 weeks from agreeing a price we move in!  The process is quite strange and very different form our experiences in the UK.  We ended up using an agent which cost us nothing – vendors pay all the costs here.   So we started off at 8pm on a Wednesday evening just 10 days ago filling in the contract and coming up with our offer price and a proposed settlement date of 12th December.  The agent then went off to the agent acting for the vendors and came back about 30 minutes later with an amended contract which rejected our offer and the settlement date!  No surprise there! Several phone calls later and much negotiation and at 11pm we agreed a price and a date for settlement!  No long drawn out negotiation period writing letters and going through agents at their convenience during office hours, all done in one evening!  Once they accepted our offer we had to meet the conditions which we had set out in the contract; namely that the sale was subject to a builder’s report, finance, the LIM report (a bit like the local authority searches in the UK) and solicitor’s approval.  We had 2 weeks to meet those conditions and at that point we go “unconditional” (that is when we pay a 10% deposit and the deal is done – if we back out we lose our deposit and things get complicated!) We have actually met all those conditions already so we have effectively gone “unconditional” though will not pay the deposit until the original “unconditional” date.  This is good for us as the money stays in our bank a little longer, but the vendors are happy because they want to sign on a rental property as soon as possible.  We get the keys at midday on  the 12th December so packing has started with a vengeance and we are all very excited!

So – what is the house like?, I hear you shout! Well, it is a three bedroomed bungalow (nearly all houses here are bungalows) with an office, a large open plan living, dining, kitchen area, one en-suite bathroom and a family bathroom, laundry, and double garage (which is generously equipped with cupboards).  Outside there is good sized decking on two sides of the living room and plenty of space all around the house.  We would have liked a bigger garden but there is enough space to eat out and grow some veg as well as space for the boys to kick a ball around.

Hamilton is great as there are parks and green spaces all over the place, and just down the road from  us there are two parks that the boys can get to safely as well as Hamilton gardens, which requires a little more effort but is still within walking/cycling distance.  Lachlan is happy as a few of his friends live nearby and he will be able to cycle to school and meet up with his mates on the way.  It is in an “up and coming” trendy area close to the river and a bustling shopping and “cafe society”! The house has a lovely light, airy feel about it and although it is behind quite a forbidding high fence, you don’t feel hemmed in  at all as the level of the inside of the house is higher than the ground level outside, so when you look out you can see over the fence.  As soon as we move in we will post some photos

We had promised ourselves a new bed once we had a house organised so have spent the last few days looking so that we can get it delivered as we move in.  We are looking at “Tempur” beds – if anyone has one and has any comments – good or bad – please let us know asap, it would be interesting to hear what your thoughts are.  We have read lots of reviews and laid on the mattresses in the shops (never very satisfactory in full view of every other shoppers and salespeople on the premises!) and think that is the way we may go but there are so  many other options too that our heads are swimming with beds!!

Apart from all that we are getting ready for Christmas!  How strange!  Summer and Christmas don’t go together in my head and although it is the end of term, it is also the end of the school year, public exams are happening and the sun is shining (okay, that’s where the similarities with the UK end!) so it doesn’t feel like Christmas is just round the corner! Yet, the shops are full of Christmassy things, the streets have Christmas decorations, there are signs advertising Christmas trees for sale, and tv adverts are constantly pushing Christmas sales especially for children.  Blair is coming out from Scotland the weekend we move and travelling with us to Wellington for Christmas with the “aunties”, and then we have no real plans but will definitely get some beach and surf time in! Looking forward to our first kiwi Christmas but will miss friends and family back in the UK too.  But we have lots to do until then so time for some beauty sleep!  Speak soon. Ciao!

We have sold the house!!!!

A belated post to let you all know – whether you wanted to or not – that we have finally completed on Mount Pleasant!  Relief tinged with some sadness, as we enjoyed our 7 years there, and it was our bricks and mortar contact with the UK.  I suppose it represented a bolthole if all went pear-shaped here, but nearly a year in and all is going well.   We sat up until just after midnight here waiting for the e-mail from the solicitor to say that contracts had been exchanged and completion achieved.  Every silver lining has a cloud though, and it seems that on that very same evening, there was some aberration in the financial world and the exchange rate – which had been moving nicely in our favour over the last three months ($2.65 to the £ in May creeping up to $2.89 to the £ late in October) – plummeted to lows not seen for ever (£2.45 to the £) !  Sod and his Law spring to mind or maybe just that lesser known Scottish Robertson curse! Fortunately the pound rallied again to $2.66 and so we shifted our money as soon as the cheque cleared in the bank!  I am sure there will be many of you who say that we should have hung on to wait for it to improve but, to be honest, we just want our money here where we have some control over it (aka spend it!!).

As a result of selling Mount Pleasant we have started house hunting with a vengeance.  As you know the house we are living in is up for auction in a couple of weeks time so we really would like to find something before Christmas.  The agent who is selling this house phoned up today to check whether he could do an Open Home on Friday and he asked how our house hunting was going and which areas were we looking in.  I replied that we were mainly looking in Hillcrest but had been starting to look a bit further afield just to see what was about. He then said that he possibly had just the property we were looking for in Fairfield Downs.  On further questioning he sheepishly admitted that it was the house our Landlords live in which they are also selling!

We have spent the last couple of weekends trawling the papers and the internet, have even been to a couple of auctions though haven’t bidded, and visited countless Open Homes.  We have also spent far too much time cleaning this house to make it spick and span for the Open Homes here every Sunday!  Yesterday, one of the agents picked us up and drove us round a heap of houses, some of them open homes, some private viewings he had arranged from a list of house we had given him.  It is really difficult to juggle/balance out all our criteria – we have seen some beautiful homes that are in the wrong place, some dreadful houses in the perfect place, some wonderful gardens with awful houses and some great houses with pitiful gardens!  Where do we compromise? Do we go for a great house with a pool and spa (Aonghas’ main criteria!) and reasonable garden which means we have to commute to work through traffic (admittedly nothing like Ingleton to Bradford) or a great house with a small garden within cycling distance of school (Lachlan’s criteria) and work?  Difficult choices to be made, and we would have preferred to have made them without the pressure of our present rental being sold under our feet.  But, hey ho! that’s the way the cookie crumbles!  There are worse choices to be made in the world!  We have seen one that we have arranged to look at again tomorrow which is a pretty strong contender, though we may walk in tomorrow and wonder why we wanted a second viewing!  It is fairly close to school and work, a light airy feel to it, a reasonable size garden, though the house is in the middle of the section rather than in one corner or at an end, which means there is no big expanse of garden. It is beautifully decorated and modernised and is a good size so it “ticks” lots of boxes.  It has a comfortable feel about it so we wll see…!  I’ll let you know next time.  Goodnight!