Tuesday, May 21, 2013

House Hunting In London

I'm back from a two day international house hunting trip. I laughed, I cried, I pulled an all-nighter and most importantly, I found our new home. I've been planning on presenting my final three options like the House Hunters International show and let you all weigh in on which one I should have chosen. 

Funny thing is, my relocation consultant (person who organized and showed me all the listings) was on the show a year ago. She was helping a NY couple find a place in London.  
Kate my home finder

In the tone of House Hunters International here is the latest episode:

The LoRusso family lives outside of Washington, DC.  Matt's company is relocating him to central London for at least two years. His wife, Julie is a housewife and self proclaimed home body, so the search for a place that will feel like home is very important to her.  They have a son who will be going to school in London, and they will need to be located close to school since they won't have a car. 

There are not a lot of properties that have the features Julie is looking for and are also within their budget.  Julie wants something that is close to her son's new school, has some character or charm, has a least 2 bedrooms, good storage, two bathrooms, some type of outdoor space (like a terrace, balcony, patio), and nothing that feels like a hotel-she prefers not to have to use an elevator to get to her front door. The search is focussed on the Regent's Park area of London

The first property is a flat in the St. John's Wood neighborhood.  It's across the street from the Lord's Cricket Grounds and has plenty of character and closet space. This area is known for having a heavy population of Americans, so she'd be among fellow American expats. It has stairs and an elevator, but is on the sixth floor.

The walk to school would be about 20 minutes. It has three bedrooms. This unit is just under budget.

And chandeliers a-plenty!

Welcoming entryway

Open space with chandelier could be used as a dining area. 
Beautiful hardwood floors throughout.

Updated kitchen with room for a table.

(There is a typical european combination washer/dryer unit in the kitchen, which is very common in London. They are notorious for being quite small and not effective as dryers. That's why the current resident is air drying his clothes on the furniture in the living room.)

Third bedroom could be used as an office and guest room.

High ceilings, great closets, good sized rooms.

The second property is a mews house, about a 10 minute walk to school and is just one block from the neighborhood high street.  What it lacks in charm it makes up for with storage. It has a garage! But it has gray wall to wall carpeting and very small bedrooms with small closets. The kitchen is on the ground floor and the living room is on the second floor.

Dining room 

kitchen on the ground floor.

utility room with washer AND dryer

Large living room on the second floor

 The bedrooms are small

Master bedroom

The second property is over budget, but "negotiable".

The third property is a sleek mews house that is about a 10 minute walk from the school. It has the kitchen, living room, washer AND dryer on the main floor. It has three bedrooms with nice closet space and has been updated with windows everywhere to maximize natural light inside. The second floor even has a partial glass floor to bring light into the main floor. 

Kitchen includes top of the line appliances, and island, skylight and wood floors.

First floor stairs. 
(Notice the glass floor that bring light into the kitchen below)

The bedrooms are nice sizes and all have good closets.

Every bedroom has it's own bathroom

The top floor has a big skylight that's automated!

The third property is significantly over budget.

So, which property will the LoRussos choose? Will it be the charming flat with chandeliers, high ceilings, wood floors and nice closets? Or will it be the Mews house with a ground floor kitchen, two bedrooms and a garage? Or, will they splurge and take the sleek mews house with one floor living, great light and a bathroom for every bedroom?


Mary Ann Pickett said...

WOW...this is so much fun!!! We lived in Paris for two years so I know what you are going through. Good luck.

pve design said...


Linda {Calling it Home} said...

The kitchen's you are showing is also "huge" by London standards. The first on is too far from school. Negotiate the second and try to come within budget. You will be traveling a lot and want the extra income for that.

Unknown said...

I'm torn. Completely smitten with the charm and budget of the first place but also love the light and practicality of the third place. What will she do?

Bonnie said...

I like one and three. Love the hardwoods (1) and all the light (3). I can't wait to see what you decided.

hong kong property said...

i really like the third one.=)

Lakesprite said...

I agree with Linda! Not that I don't like the other two (better) but my advice is live within your budget, save your money for making that grey space yours! It is much more of a blank slate, and you will do wonders with it!

onnery said...

The decision is yours!! That being said, ditto on one and three.

Run Mommy Run said...

I like them all. My guess is #2!

Carmen Monrovia said...

Choose one that is nearer to your son's school, is cheap, and has enough room for everyone. The second property would be the most suitable place since the price is still negotiable. Always consider the budget over the interior design because that's more practical than living in a beautiful house that is over the budget range of the family.
Carmen Monrovia @ Churchill Mortgage

Unknown said...

I really like the third property and I could understand why it was way over budget. From having bathrooms in every bedroom to that automated skylight -- while convenient, it does add a lot to the price. But if I could afford it, the skylight alone is enough to make me want to move in ASAP. -Scarlet @ Roof Works

Unknown said...

What's great about having a lot of choices is you get to compare the houses' characteristics. Only, if you find them all perfect, you'll have a hard time choosing. Haha! No matter, it is not always the exterior that we need to focus on when house hunting. We need to check necessary areas like the pipelines and the electrical works; see if they are all functioning properly or if they need fixing.

Lenny Higgins