Today we went and looked at another house. Not as big as the others, but we liked the look of the photos at the site, and the agent assured us it was in excellent condition and a good price.
Sure enough, it was a very nice house, beautifully kept. There were several air-conditioners, and oil-based central heating. We had thought that the bedrooms might be too small, but they all had fitted wardrobes (the kind known as 'closets' in the USA - ie not intruding into the room) so they were actually quite reasonable sizes. There were a lot of bathrooms too - a regular one, en-suite loo and shower with two of the bedrooms, plus a cloakroom downstairs. Having lived for eight years in a house with just one bathroom, and not even an extra cloakroom or loo, we know for sure we want at least two in our new house.
Downstairs the kitchen was huge, with a separate utility area and loads of work surface. The outside was good too: a lovely well-kept garage that could be turned into a music room/studio - the roof was lined, there were even windows. There was more garden than the website shows, too - a little patio area just outside the kitchen and some grass as well as the bare concrete bit going up to the garage. Not huge, but not too small either.
The living room was a good size, but rather than three rooms as implied on the site (living room, dining room, family room) it was just one with different areas. Big enough for a church house group, or even a party, but not big enough for separate interests. There were lots of walls for hanging photos and pictures, but almost nowhere that we could have put our 2000 or so books.
Even so, we might have seriously considered it if the area had been right. But we're all agreed we want to be no more than a kilometre from the churches and theatre (which are very close to each other) since the boys and I need to be able to walk to them regularly. Perhaps a kilometre and a half at the outside, if we find somewhere really nice at a good price. Of course we're quite capable of walking far more than that, but since we often seem to be in a hurry we don't want to have to spend more than ten minutes in either direction. Nor do we really want to be more than ten or fifteen minutes' walk from the edge of the town.
Unfortunately this house was about three or four kilometres from the church, really too far away to be reasonable. It was also in an area that seemed to have a lot of building going on, so I suspect it would have been quite noisy, and probably lots of new houses or flats will appear in the next few years.
So we chatted a bit with Paul, the agent who's taking us to see these places, and explained that the distance is very important. We also said we don't mind the size so long as there are at least four bedrooms and two bathrooms, and a bit of garden. Nor do we mind the age, so long as it isn't falling down, and we don't mind doing some redecoration, so long as it doesn't need a huge amount of renovation.
I think he understands what we're looking for now, and says he'll keep an eye out for suitable properties. He did explain that the nearer they are to the town, the higher priced they are. Lots of people want land, and plan to knock down whatever house is there to rebuild flats, but in the area we looked at today there's a limit of two storeys allowed, which is why prices are lower. Where we are, three or four storeys can be built, so an older house with a good amount of land will sell for a huge price, irrelevant of the state of the house.
He also explained why people don't put up 'for sale' boards. Most Cypriots live in their homes their entire lives, passing them down to their daughters (or building separate places for them when they get married), and it's only recently that people have started moving at all. So they don't want their neighbours to know until it's actually happened - they're a bit ashamed of it, I suppose.
Ah well. It's interesting to see these different places, and it's not as if we're in a great hurry to find somewhere, so it's good to be able to take our time.