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.
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?