We've been thinking about buying a house here for over a year now. In pondering, praying, thinking, talking, we've come up with several important needs and wants. Knowing there was no great hurry, we thought we could be choosy, perhaps broadening our criteria if time became more urgent.
1. The price had to be what we could afford. Rather obvious, perhaps, but we don't want a mortgage. We thought our UK house would fetch about £240,000 (sterling) - and by the time we had paid various fees, both there and here, we thought we'd have a maximum of £180,000 (Cyprus pounds) for a house here. Less, if it needed significant repairs or other work.
2. The timing had to be right. After the sale of our UK house, but not too long afterwards so we don't have to continue paying too much rent here, when we're no longer receiving any there.
3. We needed it reasonably close to where we are now. Richard would like to be able to continue to walk to work, and Tim wants to continue to walk to the church three or four times a week for various activities, and the music school where he learns singing and music theory. We looked a maps, and discussed various locations, and drew ourselves a circle about a kilometre and a half away from the site of the church. Preferably no more than 1km away, we felt.
4. We wanted two bathrooms. Or at least one bathroom and a 'cloakroom' (toilet and hand-basin). The single biggest disadvantage of the house we've been renting is that there is only one bathroom. We're quite used to asking each other, 'Anyone want the loo before I have my shower?'- but when there are visitors, it can be quite awkward queueing up...
5. Ideally we wanted four bedrooms, but realised that in practice three would be acceptable, since Dan's away for the next two years, and we no longer have as many visitors as we used to. On the other hand, we did really want a downstairs room that could be used as a music studio, and to store Richard's PA equipment. Oh, and I do love having a study, even though it becomes a guest room when we have visitors.
6. We wanted a little outside space - not a huge garden, like we have here, but enough to plant a few fruit trees. We wanted a fairly 'green' and quiet street, for the sake of the cats as well as ourselves. And somewhere off the street to park the car, but not necessarily a garage. We have a garage here, but it's full of boxes and other people's long-term storage stuff. We just park in the driveway.
Those were the main 'needs', and what we told the estate agents we've talked to. Since nobody puts up 'for sale' signs here we couldn't simply wander around possible areas and see what was for sale. We had to go through the official channels.
We didn't properly start looking until last Autumn. And although we've read lots of estate agents' magazines, and browsed hundreds of online descriptions, we've only actually looked at six. And it's the third one we saw on Tuesday this week which we think may be the right one... later today we're going back to have a more thorough look, to talk with the owner and agent a bit more, to make some measurements, and to take some photos.
No, it didn't leap out and grab us immediately. No, it's not a particularly attractive house on the outside, although it's very nice inside. But:
We had an offer on our Birmingham house last week, and although it was for less than we hoped we went ahead and accepted it. We thought that might make it more difficult to find a house here... yet this house is priced at only £140,000. Well within our limits.
It has a downstairs bathroom, a middle-floor cloakroom, and an upstairs bathroom. It has three bedrooms upstairs, two downstairs, and an extra room that's been used as a hairdresser's. It has a little outside space including two car-ports, and it's in a lovely quiet area.
When I measured on the map this morning, it's exactly one kilometre from the church. A little more when taking into account the twists and turns of the streets, but well within walking distance of the church, even in summer. What's more, it's closer to Tim's music school, closer to Richard's favourite computer shop, closer to the Thrift Store, and my favourite gardening shop, and about the same distance from our PO box.
In addition, we were wondering what to do with the extra two beds we brought out from the UK, and the extra set of crockery, and all the other bits and pieces that are still sitting in boxes, in the garage or on top of our wardrobes. Having two living rooms, two kitchens and five bedrooms, they would all be needed...
All in all, it seems as if this house is a total answer to prayer. Not just meeting our minimum needs, but just about everything we could possibly have wanted in a house. So unless any huge disadvantage crops up this afternoon, we'll probably go ahead and put down a deposit of £1000, which apparently is the first step towards buying in Cyprus.