The boys and I have been talking what will our new house look like. We are about to find out. Literally, we finally arrive to our new post in 36 hours, and will finally know what those pictures we received of the house are actually depicting. Unlike actual house shopping, where one gets 360 view images (or in-person tours), we are at the mercy of a group of people who assign houses to incoming embassy families. Both a good and a bad thing. On one hand, we are amongst the lucky few expats who are assigned a house already existing in a pool of houses. Not only do these same arrangements include the house itself, and furnishings, but also a staff of people who work to keep the houses in good shape, and come to fix problems (e.g. Plumbing issues, or bug infestations, etc). On the other, the house may or may not be a house that fits our needs (as we see it, not as required by family size and level of seniority). It may or may not have funky rooms, or odd kitchens. It may have oddly cavernous rooms or no storage space. It may have overly-large bathrooms, or no yard space. It may have no counter space in the kitchen, or lack drawers in the bathroom. Or, it may be perfect. You just never know what you're going to get.
Shouldn't complain - and really try not to - but ... many do. I remember, right before arriving to our very first house overseas, my hubby and I agreed we will never complain. I'm not a complainer, so it's not as though this is hard for me, but it is nice to remind ourselves that this house we are about to see will be our home, and we are fortunate enough to not have to pay rent and to not have to pay utlities for this home. In addition, we do not have to go through hassles with the landlord, and we do not have to worry about repairs. All of these headaches are born by one of the sections of the embassy. In addition, we get to have use of furniture for the duration of our stay at post. Okay, it might not be the furniture of our dreams, but it is fine, and works well. And, most importantly, it is not something we have to go out and shop for, enduring the tedious hours of furniture store after furniture store filled with pushy salespeople. It just is there, in our living rooms waiting for us to enjoy it.
The funny thing about these houses we get assigned is actually the pictures we are sent of the houses prior to arrival. Some people get hung up on what color their curtains should be, or how many bathrooms they'll have and can they please match their towels to the wall color. Me, I just have to laugh at the pictures. Clearly, they are not taken by female Americans. How do I know? There are a disproportionate number focusing on bathrooms most usually of just the toilet, and each room is obviously captured from the doorway. Proportions are not at all evident. Once the photos are assembled, it is not clear a time all how the rooms relate to one another if they do at all, and it is also often not clear how all sides of each room might look. For example, our current house apparently has a stove in the middle of the kitchen. On some sort of an island. I do not know where the sink might be, as there are no pictures included of a sink, not in the bathrooms, not in the kitchen, not even in what might be a laundry room. Additionally, I have no idea how the kitchen might be connected to the rest of the house. I know there is a long hallway, but not sure what is at either end. Also, there is no clear place for a front door or entry way. All of these things we will discover tomorrow. And hopefully, we'll find at least one sink.
I remember looking at the file of pics they sent us about our house at our last post. Even after two years of living in the house, I had trouble identifying the rooms in the pictures. It was kind of nice, though, seeing the trees in the yard as they might have looked a decade prior. Literally, they were all little tiny baby trees! When we were there, these trees were stories high and a boy's tree-climbing dream. There were I can't even remember how many pictures of bathrooms and toilets. No clear idea where the washing machine might be. What on errant that octagon-shaped room might be, no idea... it was going to be one hell of a house... or the biggest mistake ever. But we would not be moving (remember, no house complaints; the house we were assigned was where we would live, unless it was crumbling down on top of us).
We arrived. We've been in the house now for 2 days. I can see how this will probably grow on us. I can also see how my initial idea to hire the gardener here previously would not be a good plan (the garden is not/not impressive). This house? It will likely grow on us. There any many areas where we can't figure out what in the world they could possibly have been thinking, but ... many more that are going to be really great. Lots of closet space - which is generally not a thing one finds in a FS house - and a climate so favorable that we don't even have A/Cs. So ... now we just need our stuff to finish making it 'home'. Really, for 'home' we just need the five of us, but sometimes it's nice to have a few accoutrements, too, so ... that'll come when it comes. Until then, we'll get some color on these GSO-white walls, and figure out what rooms will be used a short what.
And that stove on an island? Yeah, it's in the middle of the kitchen. It's not as bad as I imagined but ... I think I probably could have laid the kitchen out better. And I probably would not have put the sink in the shower. But the yard is pretty amazing, as is the pool. This is not our 'forever' house. And this is not going to be our last house, either. But this is a nice place to be for now, and we'll definitely put our stamp on it. And the things we don't especially enjoy? We'll note those and remember them so when it does come time to buy (or build) our forever house we'll know not to include those features. Trust me, there will not be an oven-island in that house.