Tuesday, November 03, 2015

House hunt

Or as I like to call it, wild goose chase.

The die was cast. The move was on. All my administrative prowess and planning neurons were firing on overtime. I like nothing more than the challenge of a move; cranking all those cogs into alignment to make sure our puzzle remained intact over the change of table.

V's company began to arrange for the removals company, scheduling a potential househunting trip, settling final move dates and the like. After a long conversation amongst ourselves we decided that the Mid-levels would be the most appropriate setting for our first Hong Kong home - the commute for Kid seemed just a tad longer than his Singapore one and V could practically leg it to work or jump in a taxi for the short ride. The Mid Levels sit in the mountain slope just above Central and the numerous parallel roads are joined by thin lanes of steps and a long escalator system. 

And so we landed in Hong Kong on a house hunting mission. Day 1: Monday. The relocation agents provided the estate agent and while V went to work that first day this lovely lady lined up 14 properties to view in the Mid Levels. It turns out that space is an expensive and rare commodity. For double our Singapore budget we were being shown places half the size, with rooms entirely disproportionate to each other. Kid was a trooper (and I carried small Lego toys, pad of paper for him to draw the house plans and snacks). I had prepped him thoroughly on the plan, making it sound like an adventure (mainly so I didn't have to hear any whining) and asked that he give me his input at every flat. He took this job very seriously by walking into the Master bedroom of every flat and declaring that it would be the perfect room for him! Day 1 ended in exhaustion, hot baths, room service and an early night for Kid and me. Nothing we had seen seemed even remotely right. 

Day 2: Tuesday. Sadly was more of the same. Small flats, uninspiring buildings and ridiculous commute times. By flat 8 of the day we had seen only one apartment that could potentially work and when V was asked to come round and do a second viewing with us he vetoed it bringing us back to square one. The biggest problem was the condition of the buildings (poor), followed closely by the school bus timings (a look at last years schedule showed us that in fact the commute was much longer than last year and would need Kid up and out at a ridiculous hour). 

Our spacious apartment in a beautifully maintained Singapore condo had clearly spoilt us - I could hear myself say no time after time and by lunch time I knew this was now a goose chase. And no golden egg laying goose was to be found in the Mid Levels. 

After lunch we came back to the hotel and decided to call it a day. We bid farewell to our estate agent and agreed we needed a day off to recuperate and think about what the next steps should be. So while tired child curled up on the bed and watched a DVD I called a HK friend and had a mini vent. She recommended seeing another Estate agent. And perhaps looking at a different area. I got in touch with her recommended agent immediately, who then said she would confirm that evening if and what she could show us in one day. 

Day 3: Wednesday. Luck was on our side as Estate agent II was the opposite of the previous lady. With fewer years under her belt this young thing was enthused about the HK property market and talked continuously, trying to gauge our interest and sell us an area we hadn't even considered. It would bring Kids' commute down to silly close and make V's commute longer. Certainly worth considering in view of the previous choices. 

V joined us for the day. Having not really ventured out of the bustling Centre of Hong Kong, the new area she recommended was an unexpected twist: coastal, bathed in sunshine and greenery, like a countryside venture being sold to us. We saw a number of apartments, all with amazing views - not quite the bustling harbour views of Central and Mid Levels - instead the leisurely gait of kayaks and sail boats and dragon boats cruising along the south sea. But one does have to look beyond amazing views for it is with and not in a view that one must cook and lay down ones head. Everything I liked was beyond our budget - a wonderful trick Estate Agents use to force the hand of compromise. 

And then right in the middle of the afternoon she showed us a building where we ticked off nearly everything on our list. Our budget would have to grow but the rooms were well proportioned, the building and grounds beautifully maintained, a huge pool and marvellous facilities on site. The size of the apartments were larger than anything we had seen in Mid Levels (see how quickly we learnt to compromise!) and as luck would have it we had 3 units to choose from. 

And so we (Kid and I) spent the next day (what would have been Day 4 of house hunting) just goofing off - or rather looking at a few serviced apartments, eating nice meals, taking tram rides and checking out the bookshops and toy shops around the hotel - before heading back to Singapore on Friday to stew over our decision. 

The goose chase was nearly over. 

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