Oh, how I love and appreciate you, large, well-laid out apartment. I didn't appreciate what a rare treasure you were until I started looking elsewhere. Why, oh why, do we have to leave you? I wish we could stay. It would take 6 months before they could throw us out on the street, but that would only be prolonging the inevitable and probably cause our real estate agent to REALLY hate us.
So, our last search took us to two houses, both really far away from the base. One was a new house designed by an architecht with a mountain view. It was beautiful and despite the mini-oven (yes, even smaller than our current oven), bathrooms where the showers just spray all over the floor, and steep hill to reach it, it was hard to pass up. The house had a two car garage that would have been fairly easy to get into, little gardens, clean air. The downstairs consisted of a master suite (too small for us, but would have been a good guest bedroom or workout room), another full bath (with shower, no tub), another small bedroom, kitchen, laundry room, and livingroom. The second floor had another living area, full bath (with shower, no tub) and several other small bedrooms. The 2nd floor living area opened out onto a small deck with little garden. We would have put our bed in the living area and put Ian into one of the bedrooms right next to us. Did I say that it would have been awesome? I am almost convincing myself to take it. There was also a third floor attic space that was unfinished, but it was new and so not gross. It could have been used for storage or perhaps we could have negotiated that they finish the attic area. Though, the layout/design wasn't perfect from a foreigner perspective (could have used more countertop space in the kitchen and I would have done the bathrooms differently), you could tell it was designed by an architect because there was flow.
So what was the fatal flaw: distance from the Post. It is really far and there is nothing much in the way of restaurants or neighborhood around within walking distance. I think public transportation would be very difficult. We have a hard enough time explaining where our current place is, let alone being so far out. I am planning to take a Yoga teacher training course in Yeouido starting in August and I do not want to be that far, especially if Curt is out of town and I need a babysitter.
The other place we saw was in Sungbokdong, but not close to the action. It was up a very steep hill. It was very large, but had older kitchen and bathrooms and though we liked it, we didn't love it enough to deal with the distance from Post. Curt works long days as it is, so the distance is important to consider.
The third place we saw was a large apartment in a new complex right by the metro with lots of shopping and things around. The layout was workable. Flaws include: smallish dining area off the kitchen with the light fixture in the wrong place for a western dining table (wasn't designed for Western so it is only a flaw for us), inefficient closet design, but there was a good amount of closet space, one of the master suites was designed in a way that you couldn't get a large bed in there because of the balcony, door to the bathroom, closets and door to the outside, blue wall paper (it was light blue, but neutral is better for a rental), long vanities in the bathroom with only a single sink instead of two sinks and higher than I really prefer to be. Despite all that, there was room for our furniture and through Ian's crib couldn't fit in the other master suite where our bed would go, there was a room right across the hall so it would be a good transition for him. There was room for our American refrigerator, washer and dryer. I don't know if we can have our AFN satellite, but at this point, that is a sacrifice I am willing to make. The things I liked best about this place were: size, decent layout, location (close to Post and public transportation).
So what is the problem with that place you ask?
Well, the landlord has decided to completely renovate it (put in marble and rip up the newly installed wood floors) so it will not be ready until September. Also, he wants more money than the government will allow so he kept going back and forth on whether to rent to us or not. Our agent is going to call other owners. There are also some slightly smaller units that could work depending on the layout.
Curt also saw a very fancy apartment that had lots of pyeong, but the way it was laid out made it so that there was a lot of wasted space. There was a circular center hall and all the rooms were wedges off it.
As of today, we do have a back-up plan if we can't get into the new complex. There is a unit in the complex next to our current one that is available. A friend is translating with the agent and landlord for us. It is large, well plaid-out, has double sinks in the kitchen, room for our fridge, washer and dryer and room for our furniture. We still have a river view, though it isn't as good as our current view. There is only one unit per floor so we wouldn't bother anyone. Not sure if the building has any amenities like sauna or pool, but we hardly ever use those anyway. The main problem with this place is that our current location is up a very steep hill from the metro. It is not bad for driving, but bad for walking. There is a bus, but it is just barrier and adds time for people to get to us or for us to go anywhere on public transportation. We don't want to keep moving so we want to make a good choice this time.
So, as it stands, our first choice is trying to get into the new complex and our back-up is the place next door. I wish that guy had been able to work out a parking place for us for the Hannam house we saw earlier, but so far he hasn't been able to. Though, I suppose if he did, he could rent it for more money to someone else.
The beautiful house in the mountains got us thinking that we might want to do a more targeted house search, but I think it is just as well. Real estate is all about priorities and not panicking. Hope we have a resolution update soon!