International House Hunting — Szczecin, Poland

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Tomorrow marks the one year anniversary of the start of our house hunting adventures in Poland. Going into the process we had a few goals:

  • Find a stand alone house with a garage.
  • Refrain from commenting about American sized rooms and refrigerators.
  • Develop cheesy nicknames for each location.

Basically we wanted to create our personal version of House Hunters International without being one of the obnoxious families that complains about things being “different”. Here is my recap of the process, some of which was posted at the time on Facebook for live interaction. Tomorrow I’ll post additional photos of the house we selected. And on Friday I’ll post the updated pictures, including the move-in process.

Before flying to Poland, we were given the names of five agencies. Sadly, none of those that I contacted, reached back to me. So I started doing research on my own. From that research I learned that: homes are listed by the number of rooms, not bedrooms, garages are not common, houses may come with a washing machine but will likely not have a dryer, and air conditioning is basically nonexistent. With that in mind we decided to look for a house with: at least four rooms (three bedrooms), two full bathrooms, a garage, a fenced in yard, rouladens, and near public transportation. We knew it would be a hard match, so we tried to stay open-minded.

DAY ONE

The first day of looking was a dud. Chris’ work has prearranged a realtor to pick us up from our hotel, but after learning that we only wanted homes, not apartments, she canceled.

DAY TWO

The next day, we waited outside our hotel for her to pick us up. Shortly after going outside, two women drove up in a Mercedes and immediately approached us. We probably hopped into their car a bit too fast because it soon dawned on us that we were supposed to meet one woman and neither of these people had the same name. (There was some nervous debating in the back — had we gone with the wrong people, had we been kidnapped..?) Luckily everything worked out, our original person was not available and our new realtor came with a translator. Whew. Our first international crisis was averted.

House #1 – New Neighborhood House

A beautiful home in a cookie-cutter type of neighborhood. Seemingly brand new — modern fixtures, spa bathroom, heated floors, high-end appliances. One car garage, attached but not connected. Small fenced back yard. Three bedrooms. One and a half baths. Fireplace. Spacious, but limited storage. Rouladens throughout. A bus stop is a ten minute walk away.

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House #2 – Circular Stairs House

Older home. Townhouse style with one shared wall and a large, but very overgrown fenced back yard. Circular stairs going up two flights to three bedrooms and two full baths. Updated kitchen and living room, but the appliances were filthy/greasy. Fireplace. Attached garage. A bus stop is at the corner.

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House #3 – Photos Lie House

I was trying desperately to not be the bad American, but this house was just weird. In fact, our realtor started apologizing as soon as we entered. It’s one house divided into two sections. Not a duplex, but more like an in-law suite with a sliding glass door to the main house. It’s down a long dirt road. Had a huge 80s style leather sectional the could not be removed – I suppose they built the house around it? There is one bedroom (at the top of the scary, creaky spiral stairs) that has a wall in the middle of the room – I suspect that a daybed might fit. The laundry room is so massive that it could have been a master bedroom. Finally, even though it smelled like dog, there was no fenced yard. I made the House Hunters “X” sound as we were leaving.

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House #4 – Huge Yard House

Two bedrooms, two full bathrooms, and a Man-cave complete with a bar. Tons of storage, and an attached garage. Lawn and garden will require lots of attention. Located on a remote road with abandoned construction across the street. Roladens throughout. Fireplace. Entire property was gated/fenced.

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House #5 – The Bachelor Pad

Penthouse apartment near the city center. One bedroom, one and a half bath. The owner made a big deal of the Italian Leather Sofa. I, of course, could not stop singing the Cake song of the same name. Closest to work. No parking or elevator. No dog park.

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After discussing our options at dinner we also eliminated The Bachelor Pad and contacted our realtor. We asked to see homes that were closer to the city centre but she said there were none in our price range and desired neighborhoods. She wasn’t pleased when I pulled up three houses from other realtor sites. Finally she agreed to arrange the showings.

DAY THREE

One of the three houses that I requested, was under contract. And the second house was likely to go under contract that morning. That left…

House #6 – The Sauna House

Townhouse with one shared wall, from the 80s. Three and a half bathrooms, three balconies, two of the four bedrooms have a loft, the other two bedrooms have locks on the outside of the doors, a man-cave with a built-in bar, a gated entrance, and of course a sauna. Located in a prestigious neighborhood, near tram lines and within walking distance of many shops.

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After viewing The Sauna House we asked our realtor to drive to Chris’ work. We arrived six minutes later. Then we asked her to drive us to the first house. It took 25 minutes to get there.

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We finished our “House Hunters International” episode with dinner at Trattoria Tuscana.

Dinner that night was in true House Hunters style — we eliminated houses while I drank wine. With the Photos Lie House and the Bachelor Pad already eliminated, the Circular Stairs house was next to go. I knew it’s days were numbered when I started calling it The Dirty House. With three houses left we went back to our wish list. While we loved the style of New Neighborhood House, it was just too far away from civilization and we were intimidated by the maintenance of Huge Yard House. So, we chose The Sauna House!

One year later, we couldn’t be happier with our decision. Check back during  the next few days to see more photos.

Which house would you have picked?

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