Wednesday, March 31, 2010

House hunting in Italy

There must be something wrong with me.  I haven't taken a single picture since we've been here!  Normally I would have taken at least a 2GB card full by now, but it's been raining and cloudy and we don't have a car so we're stuck on base most of the time and our little camera broke.  But I bought a new one today so it should be here in about 2 weeks.  In the meantime I'll start trying to use the DSLR more.  It's just a pain to lug around sometimes, and keep dry in the rain.

Yesterday we started our house hunting.  Per the military, we're required to look at 2 houses the first week we're here and 5 houses during the next week.  We have to document it all if we don't find a house we like and put the reason we didn't want the house.  But that's kind of a huge pain because you can't technically put most valid reasons you'd have for not liking a house - too small, too expensive, doesn't allow pets, etc.  They don't accept those reasons because they're your opinion.  You basically have to find (or make up) something relating to safety for them to count it as a valid reason to not live there.  You have to do all this in order to keep getting the allowance to stay on base.  They want to make sure you're actually looking for a house instead of just mooching off the government by staying in the base hotel indefinitely.  However, since we think we found the house we like, I don't think we'll have to worry about any of this.  Thank God.

So the first house we looked at was a nightmare.  Typical OLD Italian house.  Started off bad when we pulled up and it was behind this abandoned building with a fence around the lot.  Literally that building was pretty much in the front yard of the house.  And it only got worse from there.  The house smelled TERRIBLE.  Italy smells different in general, laundry soap, even the American stuff, smells different when you use it here, but even the brand new house we looked at smelled odd to me.  Anyway, so it stunk, really bad.  The kitchen was literally smaller than our master bedroom closet in Phoenix.  The basement was like a dungeon, and the entire place was old, dark and dreary.  Yuck.

So the second place we looked at was the complete opposite.  It was brand new and they weren't done with it.  But it was pretty small.  The kitchen/dining/living room was all one room and it wasn't even as big as our kitchen/dining room in Phoenix.  But it had walk out doors on the living room side that were neat.  And then it had this weird room that was half full with the solar heating system and off of that was a full bath - shower and all on the main floor.  Why you'd put a shower on a floor without bedrooms is beyond me.  The upstairs had 3 small rooms and a bathroom, but the house didn't have a bathtub at all, which was a big turn off for me.  Abbie needs a tub.  Anyway, that one rose to the top of our short list after we saw it, but anything would have beat the first place.

The third place we saw was currently being lived in by people who are leaving the squadron.  They'll be out of the house on the 16th.  The house is about 6 years old and it's a duplex.  Almost all (new) houses in Italy are duplex's or more.  The 2nd one was I think 4-5 houses all connected.  Anyway, it's right up against a hill so the backyard is pretty steep and small, but the yard on the side is decent.  You pull up to the garage and then you have to walk up stairs to the first level.  There's a good sized front porch on the house that has a beautiful view.  It overlooks this quaint little town with the Dolomite mountains in the background.  It's breathtaking and I should have taken pictures, but I didn't.  I will next time though.  So you walk in the front door, and the living room is on the right and the kitchen is on the left, but it's actually one big room.  (Most older Italian houses have a main hallway with rooms with doors going off of it, including the kitchens and dining rooms.  Not open concept at all.)  If you go almost straight into the house from the front door, you'll go up three steps and down a hallway.  At the end of the hallway is a bathroom and to the right and left are bedrooms.  A little before the bedrooms on the right is a staircase going up to the 2nd floor which has a bedroom and bathroom.  If you go thru the living room there's a doorway going downstairs to another large room (which probably could be a living room - it has a fireplace and it's huge, but we'll most likely use it as a guest room), the garage, another full bathroom and 2 storage rooms.  The storage rooms alone were enough to sell me on this house.  That's almost unheard of with older Italian homes unless you count their dungeon basements.  Yuck.

So anyway, Mark and I really liked that house.  We went back and looked at it again today and told the landlord we wanted it and asked if he'd fence in the yard for us.  Hopefully we'll sign the contract this week.  We looked at one other house today and it was exactly like the first house, except it had been renovated.  But it still had that funky smell to it.  Next time we go back, I'll take a picture or 2 of the outside of the house and the views.

We also looked at cars today and found a little '95 BMW 318i.  It's a decent little car.  We'll use the Passat as our main car, but this car will be Mark's work car.  We can't drive here until we get our license's, and hopefully we'll be able to get those tomorrow.  You have to take a class and a test.  We've been pretty much stranded on base, which isn't horrible, but we want to get out and explore and we just can't because we have no way of getting around yet.  Hopefully that'll change soon.

Anyway, we're taking a class tomorrow from 8am-11:30am and a lady from the squadron (whom I've never met) is coming to our hotel to watch Abbie.  It's a good thing she's older because I would have had an absolute fit leaving her with someone I'd never met when she was younger.  Then another friend (who I've met a few times) is watching her while we get our licenses at 2pm.  Ollie bit her in the face yesterday so I'm more worried about what he'll do than anything else.  He's such a turd sometimes.

That's all for now.  It's 11:30pm here and I have to be up around 6:30am, so I'd better get to sleep, even though I'm not all that tired.  My schedule is still all out of whack.  More soon!  Until then, Ciao!  (goodbye)

1 comment:

J.A.Scherff said...

Wow! What an adventure so far. But it sounds pretty possitive overall. Can't wait to see pictures of your new place. We start hunting for temp. housing today... sigh! :)