As a long time lover of House Hunters International, I have a new respect for the challenging decisions faced by the show's participants.
During our own house hunt, I felt so blind. I don't know the area, or how we will spend our days. I could have used weeks to look at towns - let alone houses. But it is hard not to feel rushed when living in a small hotel room as a family of five.
We broke the decision down like this. First, there are several towns we could call home. Rota and Puerto de Santa Maria are the two closest to the Naval Station. Rota has more of an urban feel with smaller homes and often tile courtyards instead of grass yards. Puerto is more family friendly, with larger homes and yards (and often pools). There are a few other towns further down the road that can offer even more space or a more traditional Spanish feel. There is also the on base option, which is obviously convenient and comes with American-style homes and yards.
We limited our geographical search to Rota. After seeing the house on base available to us, and being impressed, we decided if we wanted to go that route (i.e. Yard), we would stay on base. Ultimately what Dennis and I wanted was to be able to walk for coffee or tapas. So to Rota we went, and we saw eight great homes. Probably all larger than the government housing, walking distance to stuff, and some pretty tile work. One had a gorgeous garden and a lemon tree from which the landlord plucked two fresh fruit for Charlotte and Henry. We were almost sold on a beautiful five bedroom townhouse with a Virgin Mary tile by the front door. But, then we realized just how hard it would be to maneuver our van in and out of that street multiple times a day.
Reality hit us. The van is probably not ideal in Europe, but with three car seats in tow, it makes our life possible. One of the runners who showed us the properties laughed as he told us we qualify for a "large family discount," which is a real thing in Spain. It makes us special, but harder to fit.
Our kids are active, which we love. I can picture myself in a small courtyard, but not them day in and day out. They need room to run and yell, and I don't want to be anxious about it. I want to just open the door.
I had a perfect childhood, and a lot of my best memories are of playing outside with the kids on the street. Our military lifestyle will prevent my kids from sharing some of those benefits - their streets will change every couple of years. But as much as possible, I want to offer them a sense of normalcy and stability (along with cool perks like living in Spain).
So, if you haven't guessed yet, we picked the base house. In this case, the large family benefit was qualifying for a four bedroom home and a ocean view. It was just fully renovated with all new appliances added. We will have central air and heating, unlike our friends in town. And there are plenty of large cars in the driveways.
Nothing will stop us from making the most of this experience. If anything, I think with this decision, we might make it easier.
Dennis and I have, at times, been so disappointed in the safe or boring decisions made on House Hunters. We probably would be screaming at ourselves on air. So, we reserve the right to move into town, should we find a better match. For now, we are happy to have found a comfortable and functional house for our wild bunch. Can't wait to fill you in on the details once we have the keys.