Having managed to find Alan a job and get pre-approval for a mortgage we went hunting. On a relatively low income and limited cash for the required 25% deposit we decided to try looking outside of the city to start with. We (wrongly) assumed that properties might be cheaper.
The thing is, outside of the city anyone can throw up a house, with little or no regard for building regulations, minimum standards etc. We saw some amazing sights. One house looked just perfect until we went down to the basement, the whole of the north basement wall had fallen in and that end of the house was being held up by a couple of two by fours and a fridge... I am not kidding. Another home had a huge garage, large enough for four cars, yet it was built out of acoustic fibreboard with no weather proofing. Acoustic fibreboard is very expensive... it makes no sense to use this, we reckon it fell off the back of a lorry and that seemed a good a place as any to use it. Then we went to see a 'fixer-upper', folks the only thing that would fix this baby up would be several sticks of dynamite.
So, we sat back and reconsidered out options. We were getting very discouraged but were desperate to get out of the palace we are living in. So we started looking at cheaper homes inside the city. This too was frustrating and at times downright scary. But I have to thank our Realtor, Doug Towes, whom I found through the Internet way before we left Iowa. He was honest and caring. He told us when he thought a house was reasonably priced and when not. He pointed out flaws and problems and gave a realistic assessment of resale values. In the end he found us a really nice little house in a very good area, just blocks from a school for Elliot, not far from a small river and park and within walking distance of shops and a public swimming pool. When Alan and I first met we lived in London and hated it, we wanted to move to the country and never intended to live in a city again. Yet there we were, buying a home just two miles or so from the very centre of Winnipeg.
So fellow applicants and immigrants... we must all be flexible...but then by our very nature we must all be that, right? Inflexible people do not emigrate :-)
We did learn that real estate descriptions the world over all deserve to win prizes for fiction and creativity. To give you a guide we have complied a list of translations from real-estate-speak to English:-
Rustic = A wooden shack in a field.
Quaint = A small, old, wooden shack in a field.
Picturesque = A small, old, wooden shack in a field with a tree in the front yard.
For the fisherman! = It is an island every spring when the river rises.
For the outdoors type. = The roof leaks.
A waterloverīs paradise. = The basement is flooded.
Needs a little TLC. = Needs a lot of CPR.
Third bedroom suitable for a child or office. = A closet.
Patio garden. = The back yard is 100 square feet of cracked concrete.
Off street parking. = The back yard is 100 square feet of cracked concrete but you can park on it if you like.
Ideal for the handyman. = Itīs a pile of two by fours and a bag of nails in a field.
Cosmetic touches needed. = Major surgery needed.
Ready for your finishing touches. = The previous owner thought he was a builder....he wasnīt.
Drop out of the rat race.... = Up a dirt track, no water, power or drains.
Minty! = I have no clue what this means but the realtors in Winnipeg just love the term. I have been very tempted to lick the side of the house to see if it really is minty. But while most of you know that I am possibly less than sane I donīt think I should draw that much attention locally!
So there you have it folks. The dangerous thought was that Alan was going to drive a U-Haul again...I wonder if I should have alerted the traffic police......
Go to Chapter Twelve