Finding a house to rent from 12,000 miles away isn’t easy.
Yes I know that there’s all the wonders of Skype and internet photographyand video step-throughs to make it easier, and with all the techy mod cons it is harder to really rent a dud. I remember moving into a house in the Fijian goldfields when I was a child that had to be fumigated the day after, to kill the man-eating pests that had moved in whilst it was empty. Renting from afar is better than that, these days, but none of that flashy tech tells you whether there’s space on the wall for those fave pics of the kids. Or whether the shower is persistent but not berating.
Or how a house smells.
Does it smell like you? Or the real estate agent who ‘styled’ it for best effect?
I had been looking for somewhere to rent for ages from our three beddy terrace in England and was starting to get a bit desperate when I spied a very nice looking house on the NZ website Trademe.
Did it have four bedrooms? Check.
Did it have an ensuite? Check. (When you’ve lived on top of your three teenage kids for four years and shared one loo, you’ll understand!)
Oh, and it has a pool?
The fact that the house accepted furry members of the family, no questions asked, and was willing to accept us, meant I was uber keen.
In honesty, there wasn’t much else. For the same money I was offered a flea-ridden looking property in the ‘right’ area with three beds and one bathroom and the next door neighbour’s garage as ‘the view’.
I chose the house we’re in, sight unseen. Off t’internet.
Oh sure I sent my agent along. Er, that would be my best friend. At first she went to the wrong house and reported it was ‘ok but maybe a bit dark. Lots of palms’. But I decided big enough but maybe a tad dark was better than having nowhere to go, so I told the agent to send through the paperwork. I’m so glad I did. Two days later my agent was at the right house and she texted me at 5am GMT to tell me ‘you have to say you’ll take it right now. It’s amazing’.
And so I did. Deal done.
We headed off to the new house the day after we arrived. Actually it was on three hours sleep, but when you’re moving countries you’re just pounding with adrenalin. The girls and I battled through the cyclonic conditions, showers, wind, tornados and all, to get to the new house to suss it out.
The fact that a tornado, an earthquake and a nationwide internet outage happened within the first 24 hours of my arrival in NZ is (I’m almost certain) completely co-incidental!
Miss Fliss was most impressed. She agreed with me. It was not too small, or too big, it was… just right. The Goldilocks’ House.
Later she was waxing lyrical about the house, as we were recounting the day’s activities in the motel room as we munched on pineapple lumps at three am, courtesy of stubborn jet lag, and she was being very wise and pensive. Yes, it was a good thing that the house had room and lovely views. Oh, and don’t forget all the fun we’ll have in the pool as New Zealand slips further into the long hot summer they’re predicting.
And just as I was lulled into a false sense of security by the girls’ talk about how much they’d learnt in England – all retold as if they were being interviewed for their memoir by CNN – Miss Fliss let slip.
“Oh Mum, ” she said, obviously overwhelmed by the style of the new home. She cocked her head and directed her comments straight at me. She would have lifted my chin, if her fingers hadn’t been preoccupied. But her insistent gaze did it for her. She was the epitome of twelve year old (almost thirteen) seriousness.
“It’s the perfect house Mum.” I nodded but I was interested to hear why she thought so.
Was it the position next to one of the best public co-ed schools in the country? Or the fridge freezer that came with the house? Or the pool in the garden, or even the fact that the kids have their own rooms after four years of sharing?
Way more important than that.
“It’s got a wine rack built in!”
Oh yes, that would be the most important thing of all, for us. The built in wine rack. Obviously this is the just right house, the Goldilocks’ house for us.