Saturday, November 24, 2012

Settling In and Setting Up a Home

After hubby and I made the decision for me to stay in the states I started looking for a house to rent. I knew what I wanted as far as size, style, bedrooms, etc. that I wanted. I looked in the newspapers, online and asked around to friends and family. This part is normal. Another normal part of house hunting is financials. It's only common sense to know that you have to find a home you can afford but, having lived in an Indian family I learned a thing or two about managing finances and how to save money. So I decided to put those lessons to good use.

I searched and searched for houses and there wasn't anything appealing available. Most were too big and I didn't want to spend a fortune each month on heating/cooling expenses and power bills. I also didn't want to spend most of my days cleaning it either. Besides, the more space you have the more you tend to fill it with distractions and such. I familiarized myself with the typical prices of the area and amenities that were common.

I searched for about 3 months before finding a deal I couldn't pass up. I got a house right in the middle of the city and within walking distance of just about everything here. It was the perfect size and met all of my criteria! To make it even better the house has a fabulous history. It is a 1902 WWII cottage style home built for the soldiers to stay in. It still has the original hardwood floors.

This is what the floors look like. Complete with all their original dents, dings and "character."

I was skeptical at first because old houses are notorious energy suckers but this one had been completely renovated inside to include new walls, insulation and energy efficient windows. It gets better. I got it for half the normal rent price for a 2 bedroom house and this one has 3 bedrooms! Of course, some things had to be sacrificed. This house is ugly on the outside but a diamond inside. 

Here's the view that welcomes me from my home into the rest of the world. I have no idea why someone coated the brick steps with grey paint. I'm not in love with it but I don't own the house so it will have to do. (The bushes are a little scraggly since it's fall and the plants are no longer blooming.)

Settling in here I realize just how much I learned from living in India about life, energy conservation, simple living and running a household. It doesn't matter how good you are at something, there's always room for improvement. So I took what I learned and put it to work here. These are some of the things I'm doing now that I didn't do before India.
  1. I set the heat to 68 degrees in my home. Before India it was almost always 75. That may not seem like much but I assure you it's a hard adjustment to make.
  2. I got a house without carpet (for the first time in my life). Not having carpet means I don't need a vacuum and brooms don't use electricity! These floors are so easy to keep clean. I'm loving it. As a bonus, my allergies aren't affected by having carpet in the house.
  3. I've arranged my bedroom differently. This one is hard to explain but before India I put things in the places they fit. So if I had a 32-inch wide dresser and a 33-inch wide space by the door, I centered the dresser in that spot. Now I'm putting things off-centered and in a more functional layout. 
  4. I'm mounting less to the walls. This includes photos, art, wall hangings etc. I put things on the wall in India but here I'm finding more creative ways to display these things. 
  5. Color choices. I think most pardesi's experience this regardless of whether or not they go to India. Our color choices change and so does our decorating ideas.
That's just a few things. I'm sure the longer I live here and the more I settle in the more I will realized has changed.

And one last picture for good measure. This is a shot of half of my front porch (we have a front and a back porch.). It has privacy lattice and makes for a nice sitting area while I watch the world go by. I did warn you the house was ugly on the outside. I don't like the color of the siding but in the grand scheme of things it is insignificant.


  1. Congratulations!!!:)

  2. Congrats!
    And oh hard wood floor! I miss that here! in Switzerland the trend to have wall to wall carpetting pretty much died by the end of the 80's they are too high maintenance and as you said, brooms and dusting mopos don't use electricity and you end up getting a lot mor dust out on a hard floor than on a carpet.
    The central heating through radiators is regulated in appartment building back home, tennants don't have a say as of when the heating will kick in at the start of the cold season and when it will be stopped, they can only regulate the heat to some extent adjusting the knob on their radiators, my parents were big on turning them off at night, and opening the windows so fresh air would replace the stale one as indoor air quality in Winter can be 10 times worse inside a flat than outside if nothing is done about it. When I moved into my old attic studio appartment, the central heatng was on a timer it would totally switch off at 9pm and resume at 5am to save energy, some of my friends complained that it was not nice, but seriously in Winter I would spend my night in bed under a duvet and a quilt, I don't need the rest of the room to be hot for that anyway. And during the day even with the heating I would wear a sweater inside.
    So when I moved to india the whole grap a sweater instead of turning the heat thing was already ingrained in me, good thing since central heating doesn't exist, when we go visit family in the North it can get a bit too cold, but a small space heater right in the room just works fine, and woolen shawls just are the thing in the rest of the home. I'm pretty sure I would keep the heating even lower than I did if I went back home in the winter now :-)

  3. Thank you, I'm enjoying the house. I am having some difficulty dealing with the temperature. It's a big adjustment over the heat of Amritsar. My body just feels so cold, even when I know it's not cold in the house (or outside for that matter). I'm the only one cold lol. Everyone else is hot and telling me to turn the heat down.