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October 10, 2012

The British are coming! The British are coming!

And they’re renting my house for two years.

My father and stepmother came for a visit last Thursday, on their way to a wedding. When they arrived, they couldn’t believe the house–how great it looked, how clean it was, how de-cluttered, how level-of-floor-and-ceiling, how sun-dappled, how sweet-smelling, how freshly-painted. They said as much, and I burst into tears.

My poor father looked shocked. Later he told me he didn’t think he’d seen me actually cry since I was about nine years old, “and even then, you’d skinned your knee,” he said. (My father, by the way, is the nicest man in the world. “I’ll buy the house! Don’t cry!” he said, while I gulped and apologized and tried to get a grip on myself.) When I could talk, I told them I was at wit’s end. I’d lowered the price. I was about to lower it again. I’d met with the realtor that morning and everything looked even more hopeless than before. The house was never going to sell by winter, I was sure of it. A bunch of “comps”, as they say in real estate, were suddenly selling for less than I was asking for my house, which promised to fuck up not only property values, but also my house’s appraisal (if you have no idea what I’m talking about, consider yourself lucky. The American housing market is a godforsaken mess right now.) It had just turned chilly, and the kids and I (having spent all summer on the porch) were mooning around our stripped-down abode like restless ghosts. A house primed for showing is not a cozy house. The thought of spending another winter here made me desperate.

My stepmother patted my back.  My father fidgeted, looking miserable. “There is one other possibility,” I said, wiping my face on my sleeve. “There’s a couple that wants to rent it. They saw it in August, and I had no idea they were still interested, but the realtor mentioned it today. It’s not as good as selling, but at least I’d get out.”

My father, at first, was opposed. My ex-husband, when I called him, was in favor. The couple, when the realtor got in touch, were eager. The rent, once we figured out what they could pay (their deep-pocketed employer is paying relocation costs, which made it easier to ask for more money) was sufficient to justify the compromise. Which, actually, isn’t a compromise per se. Given the choice between having the responsibility/expense of the house and living in it, and having the responsibility/expense of the house and NOT living in it, I choose the latter.

Besides, they’re English! They won’t care if the house is chilly. They’ll probably think it’s warm! If the pipes freeze and the roof blows off or something, and they manage to overcome their natural stoicism and actually call me to complain, I’ll just suggest a nice cup of tea, sipped through a stiff upper lip. And a good book. Possibly a scone. “You are the Brit-whisperer,” Emma said, when I tried my new American landlady techniques on her. “You’ve lulled me into a state of near hypnosis.” And the recent comment from the exceedingly pregnant Reluctant Launderer (a comment meant to warn me off renting) thoroughly convinced me that renting to meek, non-head-banging Brits (instead of to litigious, demanding Americans) is the only way to go.

Rumor has it the family consists of a husband, a wife, two small children, and possibly a nanny. A nanny! I swoon. I imagine they’ll arrive in a double-decker bus. Their lease begins November 1st.

12 Comments leave one →
  1. Celeste permalink
    October 10, 2012 4:14 pm

    Well done you! I think this is wonderful, simply because two years’ time can only help your real estate prospects. I think this election isn’t helping matters, either, so please don’t take the market personally. I can’t wait to hear what is next for you, and can I just say that I’m thrilled that your ex agreed to it? This feels meant to be.

  2. October 10, 2012 4:20 pm

    Sounds like a great compromise! Buys you some time for the market to improve, a family gets to enjoy the beautiful house, and you get to MOVE! Can’t wait to see where you go.

  3. October 10, 2012 4:27 pm

    Great that you have found a compromise and that you will be able to move on from the house.

  4. October 10, 2012 4:31 pm

    Wonderful news! You see? You see! Everything comes good eventually. You sound like you have a new lease (hohoho) of life. I’m so happy for you. Hurrah! (as the Brits would say)

  5. irretrievablybroken permalink*
    October 10, 2012 4:32 pm

    I fully expect the new tenants to grow roses. And solve mysteries.

  6. Waffle permalink
    October 10, 2012 4:50 pm

    I think perhaps the most soothing part was when you offered to leave me a mini pony in your will. Perhaps if all else fails and the roof falls in and they will not be mollified with a scone, you could bring out the big (small) equine guns?

    • irretrievablybroken permalink*
      October 10, 2012 4:54 pm

      You liked it when I mentioned tweed, too.

  7. October 10, 2012 6:18 pm

    Awesome news all around! I’m so happy for you that you can move out now. Can’t wait to hear about the new adventures! Won’t it be grand if your renters do solve mysteries for a living?!

    • irretrievablybroken permalink*
      October 10, 2012 6:57 pm

      I just can’t wait to have people around who know what “sticky wicket” and “knock him for six” mean. Maybe they’ll have me over for crumpets!

  8. October 10, 2012 8:19 pm

    Woo hoo!

  9. penny permalink
    October 11, 2012 12:22 pm

    I am so happy for you!!!

  10. Sam permalink
    October 13, 2012 4:13 am

    I am so pleased and relieved I cannot even begin to imagine how happy YOU are right now.

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