Viewing of rental homes – decisions, decisions….

As I stated in a previous post, the rental market in North Norfolk, UK is very slow and sparse. Opposite of the buying market, so we have to jump and look at all we can.  We really learned today that you cannot judge a house surely on the photos on the internet. 

So today we set out to see a couple of the four rental houses we planned on viewing.  House #2 – Beeston Road house was cancelled as the current tenant didn’t get a chance to clean it.  Really, this was the SECOND time she had to cancel as she didn’t have it CLEAN enough.

HOME #1 – Converted Barn in  Upper Sheringham listed at £1,200 plus utilities.
It was nice, but really it was not for us.  It was a converted barn but lacked the character that I wished for in a converted bar at such a high cost.  It was in fish-bowl like environment, where the other tenants in the circular cul-du-sac location would look in your windows.  God forbid I had three guests over, all the parking in the area would be gone and we’d be invading the space of neighbors.  We’d never have an outdoor fire pit with a BBQ with music like we want to have this summer. The kitchen for example was disappointing.  It didn’t have granite but rather laminate counters.  It didn’t have an AGA, but a ceramic stove top, and didn’t have an American-style fridge, but rather a small college dorm type.  No washer or dryer – for £1,200, I think we’d go with Hindringham or Bale homes where you get so much more for your money BUT we’d have to move schools. Yes, two good schools, but we’d be in a different area, farther away from my desired area.   Oh and I almost forgot – the floors!  Who could forget the floors!  They were UNFINISHED and covered with a paper-like layer of green.  I inquired and asked if they were wood underneath and he said, “oh no, you can tailor the house to your desired specs by doing the floors in your choice of materials”.  We could provide you with the names of some great flooring companies in the area. He carried on about the fact that perhaps you didn’t like a purple rug, you could put down wood, laminate or carpet which suits your taste!  Like the previous tenants, and then you take it with you when you leave, as in this case of the previous tenants.  Huh?  Take it with you?  What would I do with three bedrooms, a hallway and a huge dining area worth of carpet later?  Take it with me?  Odd!!  How about simple, beige carpet my friend!!??  
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The guy who showed us around was super nice, but the house was just not for us. 

Upper Sheringham Barn Conversion
HOME #2 – A single family home on Beeston Road for £950.  We are still the FIRST people to view the place, but have not yet been able to see it, as the woman who is the current tenant cancelled TWICE. This go around, she claims she has not yet had time to clean it.  What!  I’m seeing the owner tomorrow at the YESU center and I’ll tell him.   The house seems nice and in my desired town, but it’s pricey and has NO parking.  A major problem in this town in the summer!  We’ll still have a look and see how it is – Friday is the third appointment for viewing.

UPDATE: Friday, January 25 – the owner had not attend the center yesterday so I never had time to talk with him.  We finally got to see this “beautifully updated” house – YEAH right.. the woman who lived there for only 18 months, destroyed the place.  Really it was so dirty, the walls were ruined.  She was in the process of cleaning it out and would have it “painted and skimmed” before the next tenants lived.  Skimmed as in what – The slime removed off?  The kitchen floor was trashed, needed to be sanded and polyuritaned. The light fixtures needed replacing… the photos below are clearly from a tenant a few years back as this made the house look “beautifully updated”  – a state which it is NOT!  I was totally disappointed.  We never state to the Realtor that we were not interested – this time we were very clear, it was NOT for us!! 

HOME # 3 – A holiday barn in North Bannington (a civil parish of Gresham) which the owner, a big local farmer, desires to let out for a “real” home vs. holiday home.  It’s on the rental market for £1000 and INCLUDES ALL utilities and council taxes.  It normally goes for £500 – £750 per week!  He is sick of the hassle with the change over each week, marketing it, listing it, etc and wants to take it off the holiday rental market and let it, but wants to keep it all in his name.  So perfect for us as it’s a Premium rental unit so it has higher end furnishings, a really nice stove, etc.  Plus we didn’t take all our furnishings with us so from a practical stand point – it makes so much sense… even if we do it for 6 months or 12 months, while we see what else is out there.  It gives us a nice, completely furnished option including ALL services.  

As there was some snow still left on the ground, we were concerned a bit, but ventured down the 1/4 mild drive way cautiously.  Upon arrival at the home, we were met by the Realtor with a sad face. He felt terrible but the keys he had in his hands, were NOT the correct set and we could not see inside.  He said they made a huge mistake and offered to re-show it to us at our desired time, which would be Friday same time – after school.   So we’ll head back there.  These photos below do not do the property justice either. It’s really a nice property. We can envision nights outside in the enclosed courtyard with an open fire pit, music and friends.  In the summer, we can put a plastic swimming pool in the courtyard and the kids can splash safely.  Unlike the last house, noise level is not a concern as we have no neighbors.  While rural, I don’t think we’ll have chickens.

It is truly rural – it’s in the middle of no where yet just 3 short miles from Soren’s school.  So the drive time back and forth is great.  As I stated before, it’s premium furnished, so we don’t have to buy EVERYTHING again (yet) and haven a three beds, two baths, fully furnished house for rent.

The biggest question is really – CAN I THE CITY SLICKER, LIVE IN THIS MUCH OF A RURAL ENVIRONMENT? We are doing it somewhat now in Gunthorpe, but we do have neighbors nearby.  I’d need to be sure that there are sensor lights outside, so that when you drive up, the lights turn on. I’d also probably wish that Nils is not out of town for any given length of time.  Oh here I am psyching myself out …  who knows!  We have to first look inside and see… it looks great so far.

Sheringham is not off our list, but a home in the town center without a parking spot is not an option.

Outside of the barn conversion. 
Entrance to courtyard. 
Open, private courtyard.
Driveway up to the property.
Grass, farmland near the house.
Nice windows, fridge, freezer and really nice stove.  
The shaker style kitchen is fine. 
Table & chairs not my style, but they could be worse. 
If we are really bored, we can hang a swing from the beam and push Maebh (just kidding).
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I could live with this.  The end & coffee tables are NOT me, but the couches are fine. 
I think this is the master (which has an ensuite)
This would be Maebh’s room.  Simple single bed, with trundle (extra twin) below and window to see out.
More rural farming fields – NOTHING around.  

We just got word that we’re going to see the house in West Beckham which a friend told me about.  Not crazy about it, but we’ll see.

UPDATE:  We were able to view the interior of the Hell Hole Barn.  It was lovely, really.  The decor was great, the kitchen was upscale with the washer/dryer combo, dish washer, nice gas stove, under floor heating – three bedrooms with quality beds and great bathrooms, but it was in the middle of no where.  I know it’s hard to explain to someone who likes the quiet of the country but when I say middle of no where, it was that.  The house was 1/4 mile from the road, 1/4 mile from the nearest neighbors.  In the complete middle of no where.   There is a Norfolk Public walking path which is wonderful but 3 feet outside your house.  To me that is NOT what I want.  I don’t want the public walking path to be 3 feet from my windows.  As it’s on old barn, it was fitted with loads of windows, which I’d naturally leave open, you are on display for anyone who walks by the house.  I am struggling with this house…

Can you imagine that Nils is at work (God forbid out of town), Soren at school and Maebh and I are at home?  She’s at the table playing with my phone or playdoh and suddenly some stranger comes walking by? I’d hate it so much!   As much as I really really like the house, it’s really not for me. I think I’m either a city girl or a village girl – with neighbors insight and a sense of community.  I am not in the middle of the fields kind of person.

Last week, a neighbor’s car was stuck in the snow and he came knocking at the door. I didn’t go look to see who it was, I immediately ran upstairs to tells Nils, who was putting the kids in the bath, that someone knocking on the door and that I’d take over the kids now.  Imagine if there was someone knocking and Nils was not home?!  So I can’t see how this can be for me!!

UPDATE: January 25, 2013

We were able to view another house located in West Becket.  This home is only 4 minutes from Soren’s school.  It’s unfurnished and listed for £1,150.  I was actually told about it about a month and half ago, when a friend told me it was coming on the market, as the current occupants were going through a divorce.  At the time, I was a bit put off by it as its uses heat in addition to the cost of the house. It is also unfurnished so all these put me off…
But Nils requested to see it anyway, so we did today.  We made the appointment for 9:10 am, which unfortunately coincided with the school’s Friday Assembly.  I’m so bummed as I didn’t realize that this was when they were doing it as I’d never elect to miss it.  Soren was one of the children who were going to be given a cupcake, candle and sung to at the front of the room.
When we arrived, we were really shocked by the house itself.  It’s 4 minutes from the school, next door to a girl in his class and was really spacious!  It has two car garage, large garden and deck area (covered).   Sure the kitchen and the master bathroom was a little dated (early 90’s I’d say), but all in all it was clean, open and was very sunny.  It was a sunny day today and you could see how the house was basking in the sun and south facing helped too so you get sun all day.   From outside, it is simply a brick house and you’d never give it a second glace.  Inside you have a pretty large kitchen (with only a stove – you have to supply fridge), utility room, huge living room with fireplace, playroom right off the kitchen, conservatory, office, then upstairs you have a huge master bedroom, two bathrooms then 3 additional smaller bedrooms.  Again, it is unfurnished so that is a challenge as we’d have to start over from scratch which is very pricey to start.  All in all, the house was surprising great.  If we were to move forward with this house, I’d really get the feeling that we were settling in roots in North Norfolk.    We are seeing a few more homes, so we’ll give this one some consideration.
Here are the photos listed on the internet – again they don’t do justice!!  But you’ll see gold fixtures, teal rugs and pink backslash in the bathroom so you’ll see the dated features, but again, all in all it’s a great house that would work well for us.
View of the house from the yard. 
Driveway up to house.
Large kitchen
Extra large family room.
Dining room leading out to conservatory.
So after seeing four very different houses, we agree that the only house we’d consider pursuing is the West Beckham house and even that we are not 100% sure.

We’ll probably just stay put and wait and see what comes on the market in the near future.

UPDATE: January 29, 2013

We are going to see another property today, this time in Hindringham. It is a four bed, three bath, unfurnished modern home on the rental market for £1,200.  It is a newer build, so it doesn’t have much character, but it is large and modern.  You can walk to the primary school and a local community run pub, but that is it.  The town does not offer a store, post office, etc.   It would also mean a change of schools for Soren – instead of Gresham, it would be Hindringham Primary – a Church of England school.   It is a good school with outstanding features, much like his current school.  The only school in the area which has outstanding marks all around is Langham and we have not seen any rentals in that catchment area yet!

Just back from viewing this house – it’s very lovely, but just not me.  Same fish bowl living situation with three or four houses in a circle.  The house is so sterile, not a single bit of character, just so brand new… and the yard is a topiary garden, so the kids would not enjoy that at all.   Not an option!

Author: Stars Stripes and Mayonnaise

I am an American currently living in the Netherlands. I enjoy snapping photos and blogging along the way about our family’s journey as we moved from USA to the UK for a couple years then onto Ireland for three & half years and now in our next adventure in the Netherlands where the kids and are are learning Dutch. As you can probably tell by the name of the blog “Stars, Stripes & Mayonnaise” our family is half American & half Dutch and if you know one thing about the Dutch is that they LOVE their mayonnaise! I seen ’em do it man, they fuckin‘ drown ’em in it. When I started this blog way when it was to capturing memories of our family – essentially a journal of our family adventures, their love of mayonnaise, my love of photography, D.I.Y., crafting, sea glass hunting and exploring with our two amazing kids.

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