Tuesday, November 03, 2009

The dream returns to haunt me...

After a long period of having mislaid my phone number, my well-meaning but mostly incompetent tame letting agent has suddenly got back in touch with me.... and has shown me a nicely modernised siheyuan property in my neighbourhood that is - sort of, almost - within my price range.  As chance would have it, it's right next door to the Froogly dream house that was so tormenting my hopes back in June; so I had a look at that again as well.
I find I'm getting over my infatuation with that very big house (the L-shaped courtyard is massive, but the rooms - perhaps chiefly through unfavourable comparison with the yard outside - seem a bit dark and poky; and the dipshit landlord has still done nothing about tidying up or redecorating the place - the emptiness/tattiness factor is taking a good 25% off its rental value, as far as I'm concerned).  The smaller one in the adjacent hutong is very appealing (apart from some damp problems in the wall of the main bedroom), but, given the current torpid state of my employment, it would be a huge gamble for me to take on the extra rent.
Then again, perhaps I'm just being a wimp, and hunting for excuses not to move into a siheyuan just as winter descends on us (even with the new electric storage heaters recently installed in almost all the hutongs to replace the former coal-brick stoves, these places get extremely damp and chilly: and you almost invariably have to walk outside to move between certain of your rooms).
I have, however, found a rather enticing alternative to either of these 'fantasy homes': an apartment rather like my current one - a fair bit smaller (though I never use half of the space in my present pad anyway), but quite a bit airier (large, unobstructed windows in both the bedroom and the study), in a rather more interesting neighbourhood (inside the 2nd Ringroad rather than outside), very slightly cheaper (a major consideration in my times of penury), and - best of all - with a very pleasant landlord (a professional erhu player).
I am pretty thoroughly fed up with the place I am now.  I will probably be making the big decision within the next two or three days.  Fancy siheyuan beyond my means, or frugal but sunshiney regular apartment??  It's a tough one.  Wish me luck.


The Weeble said...

Speaking as someone who's done the courtyard thing, I'd advise you to be really sure on a number of points:

- Heating: Electric heating is potentially good, but you want to be absolutely clear on this one. Electric heaters may not cut the chill, especially if (as is usually the case) insulation is poor and windows are single-glazed. Also, remember that electric heating gets expensive fast.

- Wiring: Not a problem in all courtyards, but in my old one I had to wear slippers when using the computer to keep myself from getting electrical shocks when typing. There was a massive transformer in the kitchen that buzzed like an angry cicada on meth and looked like it could go spectacularly haywire at any moment.

- Plumbing: Check your water pressure. No more details unless you want them.

- Flooring: Stone floors suck, period, even if you're in the habit of wearing slippers, which I'm not.

- Sunlight: Courtyards generally don't get a lot of sunlight, unless they're far from any tall buildings and facing the right way. It's only going to get dimmer and more depressing for the next few months; you want all the sunlight you can.

I'd opt for the apartment if I were you. Courtyards are lovely in theory, but in practice, at least in my experience, the honeymoon wears off pretty quickly.

Froog said...

Oooh, my first porno spam! No, not that kind of dream, Anonymous.

Froog said...

Thanks for your concern and good advice, Weebs, but this is a 8.5k courtyard we're talking about here rather than a 2.5k one. It has been well modernised, and has tiled floors throughout. Apparently, a fairly upscale American couple have been living there for the past two years, and they directed the original renovation - so, I'm moderately confident it won't have any of the shortcomings you warn of.

I'm a bit wary of those electric heaters too, but I am assured that they are night-storage heaters that operate on a super-low off-peak tariff. I don't suppose anyone really knows how much they'll cost, since this is the first year anyone's had them.

I'm usually pretty hardy about the chill, but this unseasonably early cold snap has caught me off guard rather, and I'm not feeling very enthused about the idea of having to go outdoors to move between my living room and the kitchen for the next 3 months.