Monday, October 10, 2011

House Hunting. In Italy. With Taylor Merritt.

Last week was a whirl wind of house hunting fun. Actually it has been a little crazy. We basically have two options. We can rent a house on the economy that the housing office has approved and is in their data base OR we can go through a private realtor. The only difference is that the realtor of course charges a fee. In order to see a house on the housing data base you have to look through this website, decided what you would like to see and then they will drive you there to see it. You can only "hold" 2 properties at a time and they remain on hold for 24 hours. At the end of the 24 hours you either take the house, or it goes back into the pool of houses in the data base. It is a pain in the arse because one of us has to physically go to the housing office (which is about a 15 minute walk) to hold a property, then we have to figure out a time to go see the house that works for their drivers and Taylor's schedule. Sometimes there are no drivers available and sometimes they can't get in touch with the home owner. I walked/ran to the housing office 3 times a day for 3 days straight last week! We found a few decent apartments through the data base, but they all had a little something missing…as far as we were concerned anyway. We have also been talking to two private realtors. Realtors work quite different here. I think that normally in the U.S. you have one agent and they help you find a house. It is expected that you have more than one agent here. We have two…Gabriele and Franca. They have taken us to see several apartments down town.

Homes in Italy are quite different. Many do not have air conditioning because electricity is so expensive. It is not common to have a laundry room. Usually they put a washer in the bathroom and dry their clothes outside on the line. There are no screens on the windows. The ovens here are a bit smaller than what we are used to in the U.S. None of my large cookie sheets would fit or my favorite Pampered Chef dish. :( There are no closets in the rooms and sometimes no kitchen. For those of you that have been to Ikea…you know how you can buy an entire kitchen? Oven, stove, cabinets and all. Or you can buy a closet? Well that is basically what people do here. When they move into a house they bring their kitchen with them…nothing is really built in.

Our list of "requirements" went a little something like this….we wanted something down town, at least one parking spot, 2-3 bedrooms, if not a 3rd bedroom some place to store our extra stuff, 1-2 bathrooms, and a master bedroom big enough for our king sized bed and an air conditioner.

So, it has been awhile since I have been house hunting with Taylor. At Fort Benning we looked at the house on post once, knew that we wanted it, and took it that day. At Fort Hood we spent one long day driving around and at the end of the day finally found the one we ended up renting. We went to look at houses before we were married so I was still probably in the "giddy stage of looking for our first house together" that I didn't notice Taylor's house hunting skills/strategy. This is how it goes down.

One. Taylor walks through the door and goes through the first open door that he sees.

Two. He then takes about 3 seconds to look around and then flies out to the next room and so on and so on. Oh and by the way, the realtor has to open the windows in each room in order for us to see anything because they have these metal roll down window shutters that block all light. Taylor has practically been through the entire house in the dark by the time the guy has a chance to open 3 windows!

Three. After racing through the house, he immediately comes to me and says, "So, what do you think?" I then reply, "Well, the entry way looks nice, but I haven't got much farther than that!"

This is how it goes down when I go into an apartment.

One. I slowly walk through each bedroom.

Two. I look at all of the walls and behind the door.

Three. I stand there for awhile and imagine where our furniture would go in the room and if it will all fit.

Four. I go through the apartment at least twice memorizing what it looks like.

Five. I have a list of things I ask about like AC, screens for the windows, Internet and cable connection, if I can hang things on the walls, parking, etc.

After seeing several I started to forget what they looked like or which one had which kind of rooms, etc. So, we made little notes on our phone after we went through the house so later we would remember what we saw. When we got home we would talk about it. I decided that I was going to make a pro/con list to help me remember why or why not I liked/disliked the apartment. This seemed like a simple and easy way to do it. See below.

After suggesting this to Taylor he decides that he wants to create a system where certain characteristics are weighted and then rate each apt. accordingly. The scale was 1-3 with 3 being the best. So for example, if an apartment had no parking it would get a 1, if it had one parking spot... a 2, and if it had two spots then it would get a 3. See below...

Now, does that make any sense to you?? Even after ignoring the fact that you can't really read his handwriting? It is complicated just explaining it to you now!!! But, he just haaddd to do it. Plus, in the end all he had was a total number and nothing to help him remember what the house looked like! I guess that was what I was for.

All this to say, we have finally narrowed it down to two. They are both down town. The first one has 2 large bedrooms, 1 bath room, a laundry room, tons of cabinets and shelves (which is not normal) a garage, a really old cellar that we can store our stuff in, a balcony, and an amazing kitchen! I am in love with the kitchen. The kitchen kind of opens to the living room. The kitchen is one big room and has a fire place, a decent sized fridge, a normal sized oven, a gas stove, and it just really cool looking. The down side to this apt. is that it only has 1 bathroom which is fine, but it would be convenient to have 2 for guests. There is an extra sink in the laundry room though. Taylor really likes the garage on this one because he say it makes him feel like he is in a James Bond movie. I have no idea what he means by this, but the garage is more like a huge wooden gate that opens up right off the street of down town. There is really no room for negotiating for another parking spot or screens on the windows because it is renting for the maximum amount that we receive for housing.

The second one has 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, and 1parking spot in a gated lot. The kitchen is kind of skanky/old, but they agreed to put in a brand new kitchen which will be nice. This one does not cost as much as the other so we were able to negotiate the new kitchen and screens for the windows. We are also trying to negotiate a 2nd parking spot, but we haven't heard back on this yet. There are really no cons to this apartment other than I am drawn much more to the 2 bedroom because of the kitchen and personality it has. Hopefully we will come to a conclusion in a day or so, so we can get the paper work done. This has been way more stressful than I thought it would be. I am probably being too picky, but we will be living here for 3 years!

I will keep y'all updated on what is happening.


  1. I was laughing out loud! I got a visual on Taylor and house hunting. He was on a mission and clearing rooms....hahaha. I love the idea of the kitchen with a fireplace! I hope they will come back and negotiate for the screens, at least.

  2. Haha. Lindsey, that is funny! Taylor is one of a kind. Oh's just like all the other men out there! That's why they're from Mars. Mars is really dark and there's no need to open any windows to see a room.