Monday, May 5, 2014

We chose House #...

Final tally of votes:
House #1 (modern apartment): 0

House #2 (large garden house): 18
House #3 (pre-war character house): 8

We chose House #3! 
Congrats to our lucky guessers: Wes Moyer, Emily Wright, Christy Woodey, Matt Linn, Michael Sullivan, Mikhail Kim, Hal Eden, and Sharon Stoehr!
We officially have a signed 3 year lease beginning May 15!

After viewing 12 or so properties all in one day, Joe and I discussed which properties would have been the 3 they would have put on House Hunters International. We chose 3 ends of the spectrum with the modern city apartment, an old pre-war house and the most "American" feeling home we saw. 

Most people knew we wouldn't chose House #1. With a dog and a new baby it really wasn't the best location for us. Three times a day Jackie would need to gather the baby & leash the dog to go downstairs to the street to find a piece of green space for Chance to go potty. It would get old really quick, especially Iin the cold and dark. It also was rather small at only 968 square feet. There were only 2 bedrooms so all you coming to visit would need to sleep on the living room on an air mattress.

It's interesting that so many chose House #2. The photos of the upstairs bedrooms didn't due the dated status justice. The navy carpet is easily over 10 years old. It was horrendous. The garage wasn't really wide enough for a normal car to drive in park and the driver be able to get out. It was also really open to the rest of the house which makes me worry about carbon monoxide fumes. The garage was mainly a storage area. The car would still be parked outside in the driveway in the cold. The yard was great obviously, but it wasn't enough to overlook the house condition and the distance from the city center. We are moving to Europe and want to live as close to a Dutch lifestyle as we can. Besides there is a yard across our dead end residential street from a nice park and playground for our little one to run around in. During the nice week we were there, there were always kids playing after school and younger ones in the mornings with their parents or grandparents. Here's hoping Jackie can make friends with some similar momma's in the area! The area House #2 was in is mostly large detached homes like you would find in the US. 

I love the huge tub in the new bath in House #3. Most sinks are really small in the Netherlands so a tub is crucial with a little one on the way. 

There is a fireplace in the living room in House #3 which will come in handy in the cold winter months. The windows are double pane which should help keeping heat in the house. Even the original stain glass windows have had a double glass window pane installed on the inside. 
There are heaters in every room and should be real efficient since our rooms are smaller unlike large American houses. Most Dutch say you really only need to turn the downstairs ones on and with heat rising, you never really need the upper ones on.

Joe and I were really hoping for an old pre-war house with modern updates before we went. We love the history and that the home has so much character. I'm in love with the original leaded glass sliding pocket doors between the living and dining room. They even lock so I can trap Daddy inside the living room with the baby and see how he fends for himself... just kidding...sort of... But it will come in handy to keep nosy Chance away from visitors or during diaper changes.

The more challenging concern in House #3 is teaching Chance how to pee in the small raised planted area in the corner of the back patio. We may end up needing to pull up a few pavers for her learn "her spot" but at least we have the nice summer weather to get her acquainted with the new yard digs. 
There is a small green garden in front of the house that has a low wall with a 3 foot opening at the sidewalk entry that she can be put on a leash and taken out for the serious business.

There are trails from our neighborhood to a stretch of green park a few blocks long that will be great for walks and runs with her. 

My other Chance concern is the steep stairs in House #3. She will be perfectly fine climbing them, but she is probably going to be a little skittish going down, especially on the first set on painted wood ones. 
As she gets older she may need to become a downstairs dog only and not follow us everywhere. Here's hoping she doesn't try to run up and down the stairs while next to you at the same time. It's bad enough now that she almost trips us up running on the stairs but when we are carrying things like our first born, she is going to be severely punished for such an act. 

Parking isn't as big of a concern at House #3 as I made it seem in the blog post. We scouted out the situation on 4 different occasions and always found parking at least 2 blocks away when Joe happens to come home late after most people. On soccer game days and other big events, we'll have to plan out car strategies to keep it parked close to the house. The worst part of parking will be in the dead of winter when Joe needs to scrape ice off the windshield. We know this will be a hassle, but if you want to live near the city center, this is a fact of life we have to learn to deal with. 

We are selling Joe's Nissan Xterra (to some awesome friends with 2 teenage drivers who could use a third family car) and Joe's company is getting us a car in Europe. We'll have a rental for the first month or so while they are building whichever BMW or Audi wagon or hatchback we end up getting. Here's hoping we get a small enough car that is easy to parallel park (thank goodness for backup cameras) and yet big enough to fit luggage for weekend excursions with baby and dog in tow! 

Joe will use the car 50% of the time when he needs to go to the Cummins Helmond office. On days when he needs to go into DAF in Eindhoven, it is just as fast to bike there! 
Biking really is the desired mode of travel. It's a good thing we already have bikes and equipped to carry gear to pick up groceries, etc and one day next year ride with our little one behind. They plow the bike lanes before they plow the roads in the Netherlands! That should give you an indication on the importance or bikes over cars. Another is that bikes have the right of way. They are always right. When driving, if you hit someone, you are at fault! It makes it difficult driving here because bikes are coming from all over and you have to look everywhere before making a turn. 

Everything we need on a day-to-day basis is really walking distance from House #3. There's a grocery store 2 blocks away, pet store 3 blocks, restaurants 3 blocks, Asian grocery store 6 blocks away, soccer stadium 8 blocks. The city center is a mere 8 blocks away. It's a 20 minute walk to the train station or 7 minute bike ride. Mommy and baby will be out in the stroller most days to run our errands. 

Friday May 9th is a big day. We have our big ultrasound to find out how the baby is doing. Hopefully everything is normal & we have a healthy growing baby. 
But will it be a boy or a girl....???? Time to vote again????
Friday May 9th is also a big day because it is Jackie's last day at GGLO. She's really going to miss working there. It really is the people that make her enjoy her job so much. She is real sad to say goodbye again to a great group of co-workers. She has grown a great deal as an architect in her 3 year tenure there from her first wood-framed apartment project in Issaquah Highlands to Tacoma Housing Authority's 70 unit housing and community center development nearing construction completion this summer. 

We will be no longer have our current cell phone numbers soon. If you want to get our new US-based numbers to still call and text us without the international charges, email us or text our current numbers to get our new ones. 

Monday May 12th the movers arrive at the house to begin boxing up all our stuff. Most of our furniture should fit in the home and be able to come with us. We will be putting some things in storage here in Washington, such as electrical items that won't work in Europe (ie washer, dryer, vacuum, Christmas lights, etc). This shipment will be coming via ship and will take a month or so to arrive in the Netherlands. We can ship as cargo 750 lbs worth of stuff via airplane so it arrives quicker. This will most likely be kitchen items and necessary living things. We will check 2 bags a piece plus carry-on's so here's hoping we are planning out everything well right now to have to right stuff arrive at the right time. 

Tuesday May 13th the movers load the truck, etc for 3 destinations: NL ship, NL cargo flight, and WA storage. Our rental house in Mill Creek will be officially empty. 

Wednesday May 14th we fly to our new home in the Netherlands! I can't believe how fast this all is happening! Please continue to keep us in your prayers for the next 2 weeks as I'm sure this will be a very stressful time. Thank you!
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