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
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 Townhome, Funkalicious, 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.