How hard can it be to find a house for this family? Harder than you think. I didn't think our requirements were that difficult: a big 3 bedroom or preferably a 4 bedroom semi or detached house with a family friendly garden. We are willing to rent as long as it's long term or buy as long as it doesn't cost a fortune. We'd also prefer not to have to do too much work making it liveable.
Our big problem is location. My school run will be hell next autumn. Two of the kids will attend a päiväkoti in the south-east of the city and Mouse got into his international school in the north of the city. And the Chief needs to get into the city centre. We need a place with good transport links for car and public transport that means that neither I or the Chief spend longer than 40ish minutes commuting.
Originally we were looking at the East End where we've been living and also the area around the Weans' nursery. But then I got thinking that Mouse could maybe make his own way to school if it wasn't too far or complicated, so I'm now I've widened our search to areas near his school.
Biggish house in decent nick, good garden, good transport links in a variety of locations. Shouldn't be too hard.
But the rental market for these type of houses is dead. There is one house for rent in our budget in all the places I'm searching. And it's big, but maybe too big and the layout is a bit wacky and they want a lot for the deposit which puts us off. I haven't ruled it out yet, but with renting we're not in a rush. And while there are lots of houses for sale, none of them fit the bill, even though we willing to compromise. They are either too small, grotty or just that wee bit too far to make easy commuting feasible.
We've never bought a house in Finland, so we have no idea really what we're doing. So I'm getting another crash course in buying property. Luckily, yesterday I had a private viewing of a house with a very keen and happy-to-help estate agent who spent a half hour explaining how things work, the differences between buying a rivitalo and a regular house (one you buy shares in, the other you buy the property outright), the taxes we'd have to pay and what it means that the pipes need doing in the next couple of years.
I informed him this morning that the house I viewed is too small, but he's still going to put me in touch with some friends of his that will help us look into mortgages and he wanted my house requirements so he could keep looking for me. I know he's not being altruistic, but I appreciate all the help I can get.
So I spend a chunk of every evening, looking at www.oikotie.fi the all-encompassing real estate website in Finland. I have Google Maps open in another browser planning the school run and checking out the local amenities and www.reittiopas.fi in yet another plotting out public transport. I keep looking at the same houses, trying to remember why I've rejected them, jumping on any new property that comes up in my preferred areas. I'm a little obsessed.
This will be our 4th house in 3 years. I don't want to settle for 'that'll have to do' this time, I want to find something that suits us, that we can be comfortable and happy in over the next 5 years and maybe beyond. That's not too much to ask.