House Hunters International, part two

9 Oct

Okay, not really House Hunters International.  Because, do you remember that couple from Utah who was on the show a while ago, and they found a house in Oxford?  She actually has a blog.  And she’s friends with another expat blogger, who takes amazing photos of her life in Oxford.  So apparently Oxford is some kind of expat, blogging, photo-taking, beautiful family heaven kind of place full of reality television characters, and you all should not bother reading this and go follow them.  Or, you can still visit here with me and choose my house.*

You may be under the impression that, living in England, we’d be looking at houses like this

Or this

or this

Or this

You would not be correct. I know, I was shocked as well.  Apparently people in England live normal lives in normal houses, just like everyone else.  So after turning the dial on my reality meter, we set our criteria: close to husband’s work (but doesn’t have to be so close he can walk); close the kids’ school (again, doesn’t have to be walking distance but close enough we won’t be in the car all day); four bedrooms — can’t be less, that’s a deal-breaker; garage or reserved parking; decent kitchen; quiet neighborhood; kid-friendly; takes cats; some hope of finding space for all our books; must have an outdoor space.

On House Hunters you have a mere three homes to choose from, but because I am way more generous than that (and can’t decide on anything) you will see four.  Four!  It’s a bargain because it’s free!  Meet TownhomeFunkalicious, Cul-de-sac, and Meadow.

I’m not including photos from the inside of the houses, because there’s probably a law against it or it is horribly rude or something … but let’s break down each option in relation to the criteria:

A very large four-story home on a busy street near the center of town.  About equidistant from work and school.  Four (or five, depending) bedrooms and includes a basement living space with its own living area and kitchenette. (No entry to the basement area from within the houses; requires a walk outside and re-entry.)  Small yard in the back, very quiet, overlooked by neighbors.  Lots of great features like fireplaces in each room, high ceilings, and cool ceiling moldings.  Kitchen is updated but narrow and dark, carpeting throughout looks a bit ragged.  Parking is on the street with a placard — there should be a space somewhere, but I’d need to fight for it each day.  Biggest pro: huge amounts of living space.  Biggest cons: strange arrangement with living spaces, busy street, questionable parking, not quiet.

You like this house, don’t you?  You see the photo and wonder what we’re waiting on.  Deceptive photography by real estate agents is a whole other post.  A five bedroom house outside of town, requiring a bus or a longer drive to work and school.  Very good size yard including a hedge maze (a hedge maze!), crazy water features (water features!), a family of badgers (badgers!), and a tenant who has right of walk to walk through the yard (quirky!).  Double garage and driveway parking.  Kitchen is crazy-makingly split between two rooms separated by a long hallway.  The fifth bedroom is ideal for guests as it includes its own bathroom and is in a quiet corner.  Fixtures in the house are strange and funky — straddling the line between ‘retro’ and ‘tasteless’.  Biggest pro: cool outdoor space.  Biggest con: kitchen makes me want to shoot myself in the head.

A quiet house equidistant from work and school, off a private drive and a cul-de-sac.  Outdoor space includes a small yard between house and double garage as well as a fenced space encircling the house on three sides.  Downstairs living spaces are large, kitchen includes American sized appliances and even a new gas top stove, real clothes dryer, extra freezer, and double ovens (sorry, I get chills when I write all that down).  Four small bedrooms upstairs which may present a challenge to our furniture.  Double garage and room to park three or more cars on the driveway (or ride bikes and scooters).  Biggest pro: location and downstairs space.  Biggest con: small bedrooms and kind of boring looking.

Again, we’ll talk about deceptive real estate photos another time.  This is a beautifully decorated home — truly amazing — nicest finishes we saw by far.  At the end of a shared driveway in a development of identical-looking homes, the furthest house out of town we saw.  It is next to meadowland and a great view of the hills on one side, and cookie-cutter houses on the other sides.  Four bedrooms — large master and rest probably considered average but look small to me.  Up to date, eat-in-kitchen. with very pretty marble counter-tops.  Small outside space, with gravel (boo) and  raised beds (yay) for easy gardening.  A small detached garage, accessed through a gate outside the house.  I was a little worried when the owner mentioned that this was a very quiet area of the development, with older couples and no kids.  I do not think we’d fit in with our three active and loud kids (or be very welcome).  Biggest pro: gorgeous finishes.  Biggest con: interior is small upstairs and down, and far from town.

So, what do you think?  Pick – My – House!  (*)

 *I will actually choose my house.  But I want to know what you think. Because I like you.


18 Responses to “House Hunters International, part two”

  1. Sarah Scott October 9, 2011 at 9:20 am #

    I vote for the cul-de-sac home—sounds like it has the most pros–but I really wanted to vote for Funkalicious! Too bad about the crappy kitchen layout and the commute–both of those things are huge cons in my book. I also vote for posting inside photos! But I am a photo nutcase and post far too many on my own blog. haha! Good luck with the house hunting!

    • Monique October 9, 2011 at 9:24 am #

      I know, right? Funkalicious has that quirky crazy something that appeals, but I think I’d end up sticking my head in the oven if I tried cooking in that kitchen — and cooking/baking is, ahem, just a little important to me. (I love the photos on your blog. Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous.)

  2. Sarah October 9, 2011 at 9:59 am #

    I also vote for cul-de-sac. I liked the photo best on first glance, and having a good kitchen and place for kids to ride bikes – that would sell it for me. Having lived in a townhouse with a crappy kitchen for the last six years on a somewhat busy circle road that I was afraid to let my kids ride bikes on, I can say I am truly grateful for even a small garage and car park that affords my two boys ample space to ride and scoot (if I move my car to the driveway), and a decent kitchen. Also, from my experience, you will NOT regret the appliances, including the clothes dryer!! Not many Brits use them, but I find myself asking every time I use mine how they go without! I hang lots of clothes on the line now, but really – it’s one of those American conveniences I can’t imagine losing. And how much time do you really spend in the bedrooms?

    Good luck deciding!

    Couldn’t you have imbedded links from RightMove? 😉

    • Monique October 9, 2011 at 8:12 pm #

      Did you use rightmove to find your house? I find the photos are so hard to trust. I like the way you think — kitchen and kids priority. =)

  3. Jeanne October 9, 2011 at 12:04 pm #

    I vote for cul-de-sac too (decided that before I saw the other comments). Boring is good in a rental house. How nice to have so many choices!

  4. Amber October 9, 2011 at 1:17 pm #

    If be in that townhouse in a fast minute!!!!

  5. Carla Emmons October 9, 2011 at 3:15 pm #

    I vote for the cul-de-sac too! 🙂
    Double ovens are full of awesome, even just for making dinner for 2.
    Do you and your kids spend tons of time in your bedrooms? Is the furniture that might not fit pricey, heirloom-quality stuff or would you be willing to swap it out to storage? How do you feel about IKEA? 😉
    I have this uncanny sense that the kitchen space will make all the difference in your happiness.

    • Monique October 9, 2011 at 8:08 pm #

      I have this uncanny sense that your uncanny sense is very canny. And, uh, card-carrying IKEA lady here, one of the first questions I asked on arrival was “where is the nearest IKEA?”

      • Sarah October 10, 2011 at 6:33 am #

        The letters in “small bedrooms” can be rearranged to spell “loft beds”! Oh, can’t they? I love IKEA!!

        To answer your question from above: our house was a gift, so to speak – I’ll explain some other time. Our house was waiting for us, so no, we didn’t use RightMove.

  6. Anita October 9, 2011 at 4:08 pm #

    Cul-de-sac. With your love of baking, it’s the only house that will do!

  7. Andrea October 9, 2011 at 7:24 pm #

    Seems like you already have a consensus :). We saw Funkalicious too and although the yard was awesome (and includes a gardener, did you know), I think that was it’s only pro. My kids wanted the maze so much, but the interior, agh! Who decorated that kitchen!

    • Monique October 9, 2011 at 8:07 pm #

      I heard the owner has been showing that house for the past 6 months?! I would love to have a squillion dollars, buy it and reno the whole place, but as-is would be rough.

  8. Monique October 9, 2011 at 8:03 pm #

    Cul-de-sac def has the advantage here! But interesting to me that Meadow received some votes on FB. See, there are houses for everyone — y’all move on out here! =)

  9. Annita October 9, 2011 at 11:59 pm #

    Cul de sac does seem interesting although all have neat features. funcalicious of course caught my attention with guest area, ahem.

  10. Ayris October 10, 2011 at 5:14 pm #

    It seems like there’s only one choice to me . .. cul de sac. But then, of course, you could one of the other ones and it would make for some really good blogging I’d imagine 😉

  11. Barbara W. Sterling October 10, 2011 at 9:58 pm #

    Cul-de-sac— for your cooking. I enjoy your baking vicariously through facebook.

  12. Heather October 12, 2011 at 2:11 pm #

    Cul-de-sac!! It has your name all over that kitchen lady! 😉


  1. Smells like home « Crumpets in Camelot - October 31, 2011

    […] Thanks go to everyone who shared thoughts about the houses we viewed — we are in ‘Cul-de-sac‘ and I couldn’t be more pleased.  My very first task, on our very first morning, after […]

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