Wednesday, July 25, 2007


One of the more nerve wracking things about moving to London was the process of renting out our house in NJ. Becoming landlords and inviting strangers to live in our family home felt a little odd, but it was clearly the logical solution; having tenants in the house would cover our mortgage expenses and keep the property waiting for us when we returned, plus there would be someone keeping an eye out for burst pipes or pests or any of the multitude of other things that can go wrong in a house. We rejoiced when we found a terrific family (British expats, no less!) who were interested in living in our house, and when it rapidly became clear that they were dream tenants, we set out to make them so happy that they would never want to leave.

Unfortunately our plan backfired a bit, as I discovered a few months ago when perusing my hometown paper online (you can pretty much keep up with virtually all of the gossip in a town if you simply read the front page, real estate transaction notices, police beat and advertisements of the local rag on a semi-regular basis). Our tenants loved living in our town, all right. In fact, they loved it so much that they up and bought their own house there. They'd neglected to mention their impending move to us because they still had some renovations to deal with, but when confronted with the black and white evidence of their purchase, they had little choice but to admit that they'd be leaving us with no renters (or rental income) when their lease is up in September.

I've been trying very hard not to freak out about this over the past few months as we've re-listed our house and prayed for the perfect new tenants to magically appear. OK, so we made all of the decisions about where and how to live in London based on the assumption that we'd have monthly rent coming in from our house in the States. OK, so the real estate market has bottomed out in the past year and little is moving in our area for sale or rent. OK, so London is pretty much the worst place on earth that one could live if one suddenly found oneself cash poor. But I'm thousands of miles away from the house and I can't exactly obsessively polish the granite countertops until a rental genie magically pops out of them and offers us a contract, now can I? So I've tried to be all "what, me worry," "out of sight, out of mind" and "que sera sera" about the whole thing. With the exception of a few wide-awake-and-panicked-at-4am episodes, I've been surprisingly successful.

All of my ostrich-like behavior finally paid off this week in the form of new renters, who sound lovely and perfect (and, more importantly, have written us several large checks that pretty much ensure that they're at least good enough). I've breathed a huge sigh of relief that my travel-filled London lifestyle is not suddenly going to come to a screeching halt because of lack of funds and I've all but offered my realtor any future children I might bear in experessing my extreme gratitude for her assistance in getting this albatross off our backs for the next year. And yet...

As relieved as I am to have new tenants lined up, I must also admit a tinge of jealousy as they rejoice in their new rental home. Apparently, they're a young family with 3 kids only a bit younger than my own, and they're thrilled by the fenced in yard, delighted by the swingset and overjoyed about the friendly neighbors who will no doubt welcome them with open arms. "It's the perfect kid house," my realtor enthused. Yeah, tell me about it. I've raised a few there myself, or at least made a good start on the process. The more she went on about how great our house would be for these people, the more I found myself wishing that we had such wonderful living circumstances. Then came the kicker. "They say that those his and hers walk in closets in the master bedroom are going to save their marriage," she laughed. And I looked at the single cupboard which Paul and I share here and thought I might cry.

We said the same thing about those closets when we moved into that house. We were equally enthusiastic about the double sinks in the master bathroom, which I've always maintained are the key to a happy marriage. (A year into the shared-cupboard, shared-sink routine, I think they may be overstating the value of those closets just a tad, but I was most definitely not underestimating the value of that second sink.) We bought that house expecting to live happily ever after in it, and it's a little jarring to suddenly find someone else doing so instead. I'm incredibly grateful to have found renters for our house, of course (and yes, I know that what I'm getting in London is every bit as valuable as a second sink). But now that the problem is solved, I'm beginning to think that I envy our new tenants that house every bit as much as I recently feared that I'd never be able to unload it on someone.

I'm not homesick, really I'm not. But at the moment, I think I might just be a little housesick. (Closetsick? Sinksick? You get the idea.) Sick, aint it?


Blogger Gina said...

When the hell were the current renters planning on lowering the boom that they were moving out?! Holy crap! I'm glad you found new renters rather quickly; but I'm sorry it made you housesick.

7:31 PM  
Blogger Iota said...

"Home" is a complex concept, isn't it?

8:27 PM  
Blogger Gretchen said...

Double sinks . . . oh yeah. Ben and I shared an apartment (and a bathroom sink) for just over two months before buying our house, and we were ALREADY sick of it. Not to mention having him come in to use the toilet while I was in the shower . . . ick.

11:52 PM  
Blogger Steph said...

Wow - I wonder when they were going to tell you! Glad that you found new renters.

Our his and hers closets in our old house is definitely what I miss most about it. At least you know that you will get to return to that great house of yours at the end of your adventures!

1:32 AM  
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