Wednesday, June 01, 2011

House Hunting in Iquique, Part Four

Did you know that looking at houses can double for a romantic date? At least, that's what Pedro and I thought last week when we hired a babysitter and headed out to see two homes with a realtor around 7:30 p.m. (Afterwards we had a lovely dinner and decided this was a great way to spend a night out!)

The first home was large and just two or three blocks away from our church. It was a two-story with a very small living/dining room (a dual purpose room which they typically call a living-comedor here in Chile) and interestingly, a completely separate and solid outer building with a very small bedroom and bathroom for a nana (maid.) Upstairs were several bedrooms and one bathroom, none of which were huge but there was definitely what we like to call "possibilities."

The location was great, the cost for the location was high for us but average for that part of town (around $186,000 USD), but even at that price the house would need some work done to make it more appealing and it was obvious to us from the outset that it was not the house for us.

So we moved on to the next house, also not far from the church at about 8-10 blocks away (which incidentally makes it close to our kids' school as well.) Situated on a wide and somewhat busy street, the house was solidly built and obviously had been added to with both love and care by the family who owns it. They planned for lots of children (a big plus for us!) and the house technically has six bedrooms. The arrangement of these is just a tad unusual but definitely workable, especially if we were to open up a couple of them to create some bigger spaces.

A high metal gate opens into the two-car driveway which is nicely tiled. This front parking/patio is covered with metal roofing for security. The front door leads to the living-comedor which is of average size, probably about what we currently have but slightly more square. There is a full bathroom on the first floor and a small bedroom, both off the kitchen. The kitchen is not large (smaller than our current one) but not as tiny as others we've seen. From the kitchen a door leads to a tiled back patio with a sturdy, slatted wood roof over it. Off that patio is a long room which would make a great office/tv room and has plumbing installed for a little half-bath. Also there is a small laundry room, without windows or doors but "roughed in" for these.

Perhaps the most unusual element of this back patio is a steep wooden ladder which leads to a second-floor addition with two tiny adjoining bedrooms and one bathroom. It is the only access to those rooms at this time, but it would be quite feasible to build a second-floor walkway to connect those rooms with the rest of the second-floor bedrooms. (Also because the rooms are so small, it would make sense to remove the wall between them and make it one average-sized room.)

The stairway to the second floor is somewhat steep, very tight and circular (which would make getting furniture upstairs quite tricky.) It leads to a narrow hallway and four bedrooms, one bathroom. Two of the four bedrooms are fairly spacious and both connect to the same small balcony (which overlooks the back patio and is where the connection to the addition would need to be built.) The bedroom at the front of the house, which is considered the master bedroom, is long and narrow. Next to it is another small bedroom. Ideally, the wall between these two could be removed to create a larger master bedroom.

This house has come down in price to $161,000. It is the first house we've seen that wouldn't require a major addition at some point. We like the fact that it has so many bedrooms, but we're not sure it provides adequate space for using our home for hospitality. Right now we often average almost a dozen people coming through the house on a weekly basis for the ladies' parenting class, individual discipleship, and Sunday dinners. During the warm months (more than half the year in Iquique) we use our current outdoor patio a lot for entertaining, and we would lose that option with this other house.

We actually returned to see this house again during the daytime, with our colleague Pastor Hugo to give us a second opinion. Again, we all agreed it was the best possibility we had seen so far. Of course, that was one day before we finally saw the "perfect" house!

But that is a story for another post ...

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