One question I never thought I would be troubled by is ‘how big is too big’? But over the last 2 weeks, this has been a keen topic of debate.
We’re in the midst of selecting a Canadian house to live in for when we move to Edmonton from the UK – or more to the point, when myself and the kids are able to join said husband who has been holding the fort over there for the last few weeks. Whilst his job is in full swing (I’d like to say ‘just ramping up’ but I think he’s missed the ‘ramping up’ part and just gone into full overdrive), he’s currently residing in a selection of hotels – depending on availability – and clearly the novelty has well and truly worn off. As much as I’d like to join, there’s a small matter of work permits and residency visas to resolve – hence the current position of transatlantic communication.
Ever tried selecting a house when there’s 4000 physical miles in the way? Such has been the position. But, the wonders of modern technology has reaped benefits and we’ve been able to target properties which my husband has then viewed.
In the initial stages, it was interesting to note the difference in specification requirements we were looking for. Whilst I was keen on bedrooms for the kids, decent sized kitchen, ideally not overlooked, lots of windows with a light and airy feel, and close to schools. For the male contingents amongst you, you can imagine this was not necessarily the same list for my husband. On his requirements was ‘enough room for his 7 mountain bikes’ (I kid you not – I’m told all have a specific use …..), place to chill out (I think he’s secretly hankering after a man cave), wet room for changing after coming in from outside, access to recreation areas. That’s not to say these aren’t important – all have to be carefully balanced and negotiated like the peace talks at the UN.
A common issue we both have is age (for many reasons), but in this case I’m referring to the age of a property. This is where there are massive differences between the UK and Canada. Our house in the UK is one of 3 buildings built originally as a farmhouse and outbuildings. They were built in 1750 (it’s not a typing error), and whilst next door there’s the farmhouse and another outbuilding which was originally the cow shed – our house was built as the hay barn. One end of our house is where the tractors used to come in from the fields and store the hay for the animals, whilst the other end was the piggery. In fact, when the kids are at their best being noisy and squealing, it could be mistaken for still being one!! It has lots of character and for the UK, lots of space.
Compare this to Canada. Most of the properties are from 1980 onwards – there are some from 1960 but these are few and far between. Whichever way you look at it, the pool of properties which are older than even 100 years old is extremely small. What they may lack of in age they certainly make up for in space. They are huge. What seems to be an average size residential house is largely from 2000 sqft and up. My husband who has viewed a range of Canadian properties over the past week has been staggered at the sheer space available. He’s remarked that he’s been ‘put off’ by certain properties as there were rooms he just wouldn’t know what to do with – or what to put in them – they were spacious to the excess. Now I never thought space would be much of an issue! I’m looking forward to the challenge of filling them (!!!!) but as I’ve not stepped foot inside one so far, I’m very much in my ‘other half’s’ hands in selecting us a good one to meet all our needs. Even the kids are considering the possibility of being able to have a double bed in their bedroom – it’s unheard of!
One property had a summer room extension to the main house where the sole article in it was a hot tub, ideally placed for looking at the garden whilst relaxing in the tub inside. Another had a fully furnished cinema in the basement complete with wet bar. It’s scale and a different way of living I’ve not got my head around yet!
The next week will be key. If the permits and visas come through we can quickly put an offer in on a property and then we’re in the lap of the gods for the timescale and how quickly things will move. It’s exciting. I’m thrilled with the idea that the next time the kids and I walk into a property in Canada will be (fingers crossed and with a fair wind behind us), our own home. It’ll be the first time we’ll see it with our own eyes and whilst that’s quite daunting, I can imagine my poor husband weighing up the consequences should we fail to be anything short of delighted.
It’s all part of life’s great experience and these things you just have to give it a go and try 🙂