The purpose of a house hunting trip is to secure a home in which the family will be content for the duration of the posting. Because this posting is outside of Canada (OUTCAN) the house we chose had to meet certain criteria. It could not be more than 2200 square feet of living space* and the monthly rent had to be less than $3200 per month. Swimming pools are only permitted if there are no other suitable choices.
We got a taxi from home to Heathrow airport at 8:00. We endured a very long flight (more than 9 hours) from London to Dallas. Once arriving in the U.S. we had to stand in line at border control, then collect our baggage and pass through Customs and Immigration. We had to re-check our baggage and then pass through security AGAIN to get to the domestic flight from Dallas to San Antonio. We missed the flight because there were only 2 security attendants and about 500 people waiting in line.
We managed to get the next flight to San Antonio and pick up our rental car at the airport and then drive to the hotel. Thank goodness the rental car had a GPS system built in.
When we arrived at the hotel our credit cards did not work. I had not phoned our bank to let them know we were travelling so they assumed our credit cards were stolen and locked them down. We managed to use another credit card from a different bank to check in to the hotel. Once we arrived in our room, I phoned the credit card company (via Skype) and had them release our credit cards.
It was 3 am UK time by the time we crawled into bed – almost 19 hours of travelling!
We met with the realtor (rental search agent) right after breakfast. We found out that we would have to start paying rent for any home by 1 June because houses rent very quickly and no owners would hold a house without rent for 1 July. Houses for rent for 1 July or 1 August were not yet on the market.
We viewed 5 houses.
Home #1 – This house was within size and price range, had a 2-car garage (storage) but had a swimming pool.
Home #2 – This condo with a nice floor plan but only had a carport with no outdoor storage for securing bicycles or tools.
Home #3 – The house was within price range, had a 2-car garage but well over size limitation (5 bedrooms, 3.5 bathrooms)
Home #4 – We didn’t even bother to go inside this house because when realtor was unlocking the door, a large jet airplane flew very low overhead. The house was inline with landing strip to San Antonio airport.
Home #5 – This was an apartment within a secure complex. It was clean. Maintenance was available on site. There was a pool but it was for the whole complex and maintained by the property manager. It was within the size limitation and secure storage for bicycles was available in multi-level parking garage.
After viewing these five options, our realtor gave us a quick (driving) tour of the military base where my husband will be working. We also visited the military shops (also knows as the PX).
First thing in the morning we toured the high school that our daughter will be attending. We then meet with realtor to discuss our housing preferences. We returned to Home #5 and submitted an application. The application fee (credit history verification) cost $350USD.
We visited Home #6. It was an executive condo with a 2-car garage. It was clean with a good design. It was within the size limitations and price range. However, it was a higher monthly rent than Home #5 but didn’t have any of the amenities.
We returned to Home #5 and found out that our application had been accepted so we began the process of leasing the unit.
Finally it was Sunday and we got to rest! We viewed some of sights around town, visited shopping malls and other services in area around new home.
When on an OUTCAN posting, the military support unit must review the unsigned lease prior to the military member signing the lease. We waited around most of the morning and finally heard back from the support unit that the lease was acceptable.
We returned to Home #5 to sign the lease. We discovered we received a signing bonus of 4 weeks of rent-free living! We don’t have to pay June’s rent after all!
My husband stopped at the shopping centre to get SIM card so he could have a U.S. cell phone number.
We returned to the Home #5 and measured rooms and windows. We got a copy of the floor plan and that will be very helpful during the move-in process. We will be able to tell the moving crew exactly where to put our furniture.
We got a copy of the signed lease and visited the Public Utilities Commission to set up utilities for our new home starting 1 June.
Day 7 and Day 8
My husband had to work both of these days. He had an orientation and got to meet the people he will be working with for the next three years.
While he was working, I set up house (tenant) insurance and provided a “proof of insurance” document to the manager at our new apartment complex. I also started organizing and scanning all of the paperwork to claim expenses for the house-hunting trip.
This was another long day. We dropped of the rental car and went to the airport early in hopes of catching an earlier flight from San Antonio to Dallas. This would give us a little more time to make our connection in Dallas easier. We DID get booked on an earlier flight but then the flight kept getting delayed. We finally boarded the flight but when we landed in Dallas we literally had to RUN from one terminal to the other in order to catch the flight to Heathrow.
We arrived home after an all night flight.
The Next Six Weeks