Moving House

We spent much of this year looking at houses for rent. We had not intended to stay longer than a year in the first cottage we rented, but we ended up staying a year and a half because we could not find something that we liked better.

I came to England with a North American sensibility towards housing. It did not matter that I had stayed in many vacation rentals on many vacations. I did not understand housing here – how people live, what you can expect in a house and a location, the types of places available. It took me six months of looking at rental houses to figure it out.

We found a good rental and moved in October. We are in a new village (Painswick), a new valley (Painswick Valley) and a very different type of house (in a converted mill complex beside the river). All this change and we are only 10 miles north of where we lived before. The views are not as good, but the walking trails are better. We are further from Bath, but closer to Cheltenham.

Painswick in the Cotswolds
View of Painswick from our favorite walking trail

Renting a house in the Cotswolds is all about compromise. Okay, I barely fit into the shower and I have to walk up two flights of stairs from the front door to the bedroom, but I have a parking space! I live with the constant noise of a waterfall that 100 years ago drove the machinery in the mill, but I am a mile from the nearest busy road (not that I could hear the traffic anyway, over that waterfall). My neighbors are an inch away on both sides, but I have a lovely garden that gets the sun!

We moved from a furnished rental to an unfurnished house. This explains why I have not been writing any blog posts – I have been shopping. We have a household of furniture now, but it is a bit sparse, which is nice and makes it easier to clean. We went for a combination of Ikea (cheap), John Lewis (expensive), antiques (well priced compared to the US), used furniture (good value) and charity shop things (cheap). Our walls are decorated with paintings and interesting framed things loaned by a friend. On these dreary winter days we sit in a living room with thick stone walls, windows on three sides and a gas fireplace. Very comfortable. When the weather clears, we put on our boots and walk out through the fields and woods.

I have a lot more to say about what I learned during this search and will be posting more in the new year.

But for now – Happy New Year!! – can you believe it will be 2012?

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Pauline Kenny

Pauline Kenny and Steve Cohen are US expats living in Dorset. We moved to the UK in 2010. Read about our move. If you would like to talk about travel, please join us on the Slow Europe Travel Forums.

5 thoughts on “Moving House”

  1. Ciao, Pauline! Isn’t it interesting how we Americans learn to adjust our personal comfort zones when we move to a foreign country. Some things take a bigger adjustment than others! I look forward to reading more on this subject about your move. I wonder how people from other countries feel about housing when they move to the States…. I’m sure there are many things they miss.
    Hope you and Steve can make it to Tuscany this year! Would love to see you.

  2. I didn’t know you were living in the Queen of the Cotswolds! How wonderful to know there is such a thing. I live in the “Heart of Silicon Valley,” if you believe the San Jose PR machine. 😉

    I’m happy you and Steve are settled into what looks and sounds like a lovely spot.

  3. Hello, Happy New Year! So, sounds like you are staying in England for a while. I was in Colorado (Steamboat) for Christmas. Hardly any snow so far this year. New Mexico got the big storm in December!! Today was their first big storm. It was cold though. Enjoy your new abode.

  4. Greetings! A mutual friend gave me the link to your Slowtravel site and I found my way to your blog, interested especially to read that you are currently living
    in “my part of the world”, the beautiful Cotswolds! I am from Cheltenham, but most recently lived in Iowa for 16 years before returning to the UK 3 years ago with my family. I totally related to your experience of “housing expectations”. It can be pretty challenging here when you start looking around! (fixtures and fittings!) Well,I hope you are enjoying yourselves , and when I next come to Chelt to see my dear Mum, would you care to meet for tea?! It sounds like we may have a number of things in common! Warm wishes, Marie

  5. I hadn’t kept up on the details of your move. Wonderful to hear more about your new(ish) place in the Cotswolds. I love your list of the compromises, and of course the big advantage of a place there is the region itself! I still have fond memories of my one-week visit to the Cotswolds decades ago. Look forward to seeing you in Boulder soon.

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