Thursday, July 26, 2012

International Househunters, Iwakuni style…

It can take months of living in temporary lodging (TLF) before a family is offered a home on base. You can only live in TLF for 60 days before you have to go out in town to find a Japanese home, so a waiting list that is more than two months long presents a stressful challenge. Luckily, this does not appear to be a challenge we will have to face.

Today, less than 24 hours since we arrived on base, we were offered not only one place to look at, but three – we had a choice! This may sound like a small thing, but in the military, when it comes to housing, choice is not usually a word used in related conversation. So here is our international househunting experience, which took all of 30 minutes this afternoon.

First, all three choices were mid-rise apartment homes. Mid-rises are 5 to 6 stories high and house about 36 families each, six to a floor. They have three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a full kitchen, living area and some sort of storage outside the apartment in the center of the building floor. There are elevators, assigned parking spaces, and the base is pretty small, so nothing is too far away from what I like to call “the shopping district.” Plus there is a bus that circles around base every half hour and cars here are cheap – most families have two they have paid for with cash.

The shopping district includes a “mall” which includes a food court, a Navy Federal credit union, a Bank of America branch, a cell phone store, a beauty shop and a dry cleaner. The other two buildings are the Exchange (think department store like Sears or Dillards) and the commissary (grocery store). The schools, restaurants and post office are in this general area, as well.

The apartments were all roughly similar with a few subtle differences, which I’ll describe. If you feel like playing an International Househunters-esque game, answer this question:

Which one do you think we picked?

Apartment #1: The first stop was the one that had been renovated recently, but was the furthest from the shopping district, about a mile away. It is located on the second floor, the first apartment when you get off the elevators.

The building on the outside.

Boys in the master bedroom with balcony overlooking the flight line.

Kitchen - with Marine boots. We had to take our shoes off since the carpets had been cleaned.

Dining/living room with a view of a warehouse. The bedrooms and bathrooms are located through the door.

Locked storage cage in the center of our building on our floor. This storage area was the largest of the three.

Apartment #2: This apartment is scheduled to be renovated in 2014. That means that the government would pay to move us to a newly renovated building (one that is scheduled to be completed in 2013) in the Fall of 2014 so the work could be done. It is located about 2 blocks from the schools and shopping district. The apartment we have been offered is on the third floor.

The outside of the building.

The kitchen - new carpet had just been installed.

Living space with a view of the parking lot. Central A/C was added after this building was built (vented box on the ceiling).

Storage cage.

Master bedroom - all of the bedrooms in all of the apartments had lots of storage that looked like this.

Master bathroom - all of the bathrooms were very much like this one, although the "guest" bathrooms usually had tubs, as well.
Apartment #3: Located across the street from the schools and just down a block from the shopping district, this apartment was closest to all the amenities on base. It looks just like Apartment #2 on the outside. This apartment is scheduled to be renovated in 2013. That means that the government would pay to move us to a newly renovated building (one that is scheduled to be completed this year) in the Fall of 2013 so the work could be done.

Master bedroom - all of the rooms in this unit has central A/C added later, so the vents were there large boxes that took up wall and floor space.

Master bedroom with a view of the Monzen River.

Living space and kitchen  - also with a view of the Monzen River.

The view

The kitchen - this apartment has the washer and dryer in the kitchen. The other two units has a separate laundry room across the entry hallway from the kitchen.

So which one of these do you think the Guthrie's picked? After weighing the pros and cons of each option, we selected Apartment 1. The plus sides of this apartment are the fact that we (hopefully!) won't have to move out of it during our time here, the separate laundry room, the large storage cage, no boxy A/C vents and the fact that all four Guthries liked it best. We'll learn to live with the distance from the shopping district and warehouse view. We move in August 6!


Pamela Hatt said...

So glad you were able to find a place so quickly! Love the blogs! Pam Hatt

Jenn Christman said...

Happy that you will be having your own space again really soon. My sister hates when they are stuck in temp housing. : ) Miss you so much. Glad that you are blogging again because it doesn't seem like you are that faraway!

Katie said...

My vote was #3........I thought you'd go for the nice view of the river! :-)

Anonymous said...

Hi Guys. Glad you got your new home coming soon. It looks better than I thought they might look. We would have taken #3 just for the view. But I am like you, I wouldn't want to move later on. We got 2/10 of rain yesterday evening. It was nice and then there was a double rainbow and it was really bright. Marbel is doing good. I really think she like here freedom. All is said here today because we laid Toby to rest. We miss him already. Kind-of glad Marble is here. Have fun settleing into your new home. Keep us up and when you get your skype address let us know. Have fun on your new adventure and love to all,Uncle Earl and Aunt Vicky

Anonymous said...

Good to here the housing is done so quickly. Hope the trip went well. I think #3 would have been great for the view,but wouldn' thave liked the move either.Love you all.Aunt Sam

Anonymous said...

I also liked the view on #3, but don't blame you for not wanting to move. Glad you guys made it safely. Mary Reel

Kelli Van Surksum said...

Hey Girl! Glad you've started a blog! Glad you found a Home so quickly too! It was a toss up, I Loved the view of three, but liked the fact no big box a/c, and that you wouldn't have to move again, of one!