Owning a home is one of those “American Dream” kind of things. Like medium-rare BBQ steak, winning the lottery, or having a functioning government that’s not full of demagogues who… wait, wait, breathe… Sorry. A year later and it I still get asthmatic about the situations in the US, UK, Spain, and who knows where else but this isn’t about that, it’s about buying a home.
About a month ago, Editor in Chief and I finally were able to do what 63% of Americans do and a rather shocking 78% of Spaniards do which is to own a home. Naturally, we don’t own it outright but have a “lighthearted agreement” with the bank for a few years which results in co-owning while we get to live in the place.
The move was in and of itself spiritually draining as these things go. I think I’ve changed places of residence either five or six times while living in Spain and asking around, this seems to be the magic number where after you finally buy something. It’s probably due to move two or three still being exciting because you’re going somewhere new but by number five, you simply say, “I can’t fucking ever do this again.” If there have been stairs (and the Old Country abounds in stairs) in one or more of the moves, then you’ve probably shaved 10 years off your life. And yet, you do it again with the idea it will be the “final move”.
Nothing is of course final other than death (lovely thought) but there is some permanence to this move into a place you own that kicks you in the ass to do it right. Every purchase you think, “This towel rack is nice, but is it our final towel rack? Oh, nice lamp for the dining table, but it doesn’t have much finality to it.” While descending into Elaine’s “sponge worthiness” at some point you realize that this is Spain and the paletas or handymen here can knock the biggest hole in something to then cover it back up completely like it never happened. It’s much like the politicians who in place of concrete and tile, ply their craft in black money.
Upon finally signing the papers and coming with what ends up being 20% down plus about 13% in taxes and fees, we were told by Editor in Chief’s mother, “Congratulations, you are now the proud owners of problems.” I knew this was going to be the case in exchange for having equity in something. While renting, if the hot water heater blows, you call the owner to fix it. Now, when it comes time for someone else to fix these problems, you are the someone else.
The surprises have been to put it mildly, very random. We already knew that there was no access to the garage in the back due to some very villager-y disagreement and that will be something to figure out in due course. But I think the fact there was no telephone line into the house to install internet came as a bit of a shock. During construction some rocket scientist had apparently torn into the various utility lines that pass in front of the house with a backhoe so the phone company had to run a new conduit that required me paying a guy to tear up the sidewalk and run a tube out to it in order to connect the phone wires. The “biggest hole” link above gives a sense of what was required although it all looks perfect now.
A dead bird in the vent for the stove exhaust fan was a new one and I can now say that if anyone needs to dismount such a device, I’m your expert. The oven not working has been quite frustrating as I’ve gotten very much into baking my own bread. Apparently the element is shot due to what was a brand new house having sat unoccupied for years. These things happen but it still doesn’t lessen the annoyance, although for most Spaniards these days a non-functioning oven is far less severe than a non-functioning microwave.
The wiring of the first and second floor thermostats being reversed made so little sense that I wondered if it were done intentionally. But no, the guy who originally installed it used the same colors of wires and thus, flipped them. I can only assume that on weekends him and the rocket scientist who destroyed the phone line, put pans on their heads and take a run at each other. Thankfully, a local electrician fixed it for free to which I happily gave a bottle of wine in trade.
Of course, other weirdness abounds as the house was originally built by a couple that split just when it was finished and thus many little details were left unfinished such as stairs into the backyard. Mr. Bruc finds this aspect displeasing as there are neighborhood cats that need to be taught some boundaries but this will hopefully be rectified in the next week or two. Trees need to be pruned as well.
But that’s the thing as once each problem is notched off and all our collective crap is put in its place, then this finality (not the death one) starts feel stronger. That long-lingering feeling of the fact that everything is just temporary disappears and it allows you to get on with your life. That and dual-pane windows with central heating makes things damned comfortable as well.