Tuesday, March 23, 2010

EFM: Evaluating Future Mansion

We got our Hermosillo Housing Questionnaire today!

At this point, this whole moving thing should start feeling more real, but I guess I'm just too blasé about, well, everything for this to get me excited.

Most everything on the form is the nuts and bolts about who we are, what we have (dog, car) and when we'll be there.

Then we have two open-ended sections. The biggie, I assume, is this one:

I. Please identify your weighted housing priorities. For example, if “largest living space” is more important than “playground for children,” you may choose 80% “largest living space” and 20% “playground for children.” The total should be 100%.

Those are the only two examples of phrases, so at this point, we're faced with the challenge of not knowing what we don't know.

So, yes, I'd like to enlist some help from the foreign service veterans for a little guidance. What little surprises did you get when you arrived at your new home? Have any buyer's remorse wishing you had listed something in that section you wanted, only to find it wasn't there because you just assumed it would be in your home?

One example I've heard is a dish washer, though that one isn't too important to me. And at this point, it is probably too late to list "not in Mexico 100%." (Sorry, that was a cheap shot, but I just can't help myself at times.)

I'd love to hear any one's thoughts, horror stories or love stories.


  1. Can't help you with housing requests per se, but I'd ask what is in the welcome kit and how long you can keep it - till UAB arrives, till HHE arrives, etc. I find that helpful to know for purposes of packing out.

  2. We bought a roll-around dishwasher from a departing family. It's worth emailing the departing family to see if they have anything they're not bringing with them and want to sell. I'm not sure about houses in Hermosillo, but we found ours in Matamoros to be a lot larger than we expected.

  3. I agree with Hannah about the welcome kit!!

    When we got to Monterrey, we were surprised by how far away we were from the rest of the families who had kids. Now we really don't mind it at all and kind of enjoy it, but it makes playdates harder. And we really would've liked a backyard for the kids to play in, but didn't specify. We got a patio...

    We said we wanted to be close to parks so the kids could go play and they gave that to us!

    You might want to mention covered parking...it gets hot here!!

    Good Luck!!

  4. I haven't gone to my first post yet, but we got our housing assignment, fell in love with it, and were later told we can't have it. So, my advice is to not get too attached to your assignment until you actually move into it.

    We requested a yard for the kids to play in, close proximity to a garden so we can grow our own food, contemporary house, extra bedroom for guests, newer appliances, and much more. We'll see how it all turns out.

  5. Oh, wow, David - how interesting!

    We have yet to go overseas, so it's really neat to read about this.

    (Not in Mexico - 100% - ROTFL!)

    I have nothing substantive to add... just wanted you to know that I love this topic and I can't WAIT to see how this continues to unfold for you guys and what you guys ultimately get!

  6. Features you might think about prioritizing might include:
    - home size/# bedrooms
    - apt vs house
    - having a garden or yard
    - stairs vs. no stairs
    - kitchen size
    - parking for one vs. two vehicles
    - proximity to work
    - proximity to downtown, gym, etc. (whatever makes sense for your post)
    - shared vs. private yard (such as if you have a dog)

    In my limited experience, the "newness" of the appliances doesn't vary that much between residences at a post. And in any case, you will not be responsible if they break down due to age, so I wouldn't worry too much about that.

    Your wife might look at the intranet site for the post (especially GSO and CLO sections) to see if there are photos or other other details about the housing pool which might give you both more ideas about the major issues to consider for your post.

    Good luck!

  7. A bathtub. As crazy as it sounds, we didn't find out until we moved to Iceland (and lived in temporary housing for 6 weeks) that our permanent housing had no tub. For small children, this can be a disaster. The GSO at the time gave us a misguided story about how no one in Iceland had tubs, they all just hung out at the hot pots.

    Yes, they did, but almost every house had a soaking tub or whirlpool due to the abundance of clean, fresh water. We tried everything from a kiddie pool to toying with buying a portable tub. In the end, we were able to get one installed (hurried up by my daughter breaking her arm) and enjoyed our last year with a never-ending supply of boiling hot, fresh, and lightly sulfur- scented (you can learn to love it) baths...heaven, and I still miss it!

    Oh, you might want to ask about closets/storage, too...sometimes noticeably absent...and an Ikea closet is not the same as a built-in...oh, and heated driveways, especially in countries with harsh winters...nice, too, if you don't want to back down into traffic on a solid sheet of ice at a 45 degree angle (studded tires only go so far)...

  8. Some of these things won't matter to you, and I don't know that much about Hermasillo. But they're all things to think about.
    Full-size washer and dryer
    Swimming pool/hot tub
    Extra freezer (or space for one)
    Outdoor space (yard, garden, patio)
    Proximity to other consulate employees
    Proximity to school (no, not an issue if you don't have kids, but people you're likely to be friends with might live near it)
    Proximity to consulate (commutes can be a nightmare, even compared to D.C.)
    Easy walk to stores/restaurants (if walking is allowed)


  9. We asked to be in the heart of the city, near the business or shopping district. We wanted to have an urban experience. We are one of the only ones in Embassy Manila that's in our area, so we're glad that we did that. We knew we wanted condo living over a house so that we'd get a varied experience now before kids...

  10. Just wanted to drop a note thanking everyone for all of this info; lots to chew on here. Great work, great compiliation of thoughts and advice. Thanks again! (And feel free to keep adding)