My last post didn’t tell the whole story of our anniversary trip. It’s true we’d gone to Lincolnshire so that Robert could show me a bit of England outside of London, and it’s true that we fell in love with the place.
We fell so hard that we looked at real estate, and fell even harder for a Grade II Listed Georgian townhouse overlooking a river in a conservation area. As we left that house, I said to Robert, “I want to be old with you there.”
Back in Denmark, our bleak three room functionalist flat looked more depressing than usual. Prices are skyrocketing, and the neighborhood may have gentrified, but the place looks like what it is… 1930s era housing for the working class. I try every day to see its allure, and I just can’t, so I focus on what a wise investment it’s been.
We just could not forget that stunning Georgian townhouse. With its four levels of living space, custom kitchen, window seats, fireplaces, gated garage, and the formal garden, it’s everything we want and everything we’ve been saving for.
There was only going to be one way to scratch the itch, and our offer was accepted! But buying property in England is hell, even as high earners with a 50% deposit. Of course being a foreigner and an expat moving back to England with foreign salaries and savings doesn’t help matters.
Over the past month and a half, Robert and I have travelled to London to meet with a mortgage broker, been told that said broker can’t help us due to the fact that we’re paid in Danish currency, hired another broker, been hassled by an incompetent estate agent, shelled out for a building survey and electrical report, stashed things at Robert’s parents’ house for our imminent return, and dreamed of moving home.
OK, so England isn’t exactly my home, but I plan to get British citizenship and adopt it. I’ve even planned the party!
Denmark and I have been at an impasse for awhile. I bought one too many rotten cucumbers and tomatoes at the grocery store last week, and I’m more than ready to get the hell out of here! Denmark was never supposed to be more than brief detour of a few years. It was an opportunity to travel, get international experience on my CV, and be back in the States before I turned forty. Then I met this sexy Englishman, and well… you know the story.
In my experience, Denmark is a place where average people can have an average life with an average amount of effort. But Robert and I both have an Anglo Saxon work ethic that’s out of place in Denmark, and yields limited rewards in the world of Jante. We could settle here and upgrade to a marginally bigger and debatably better property, take a few holidays a year, splash out at IKEA, buy some designer lamps, and have a boring but secure life with few worries. But that’s not how we roll.
Last night, building survey in hand after jumping through the flaming hoops of banks who don’t want to loan money to returning expats, our dream died. The current owners of our dream home were shown to have put a beautiful shade of lipstick on a pig, and nearly caught us. Though they’d recently spent over £80,000 on repairs, the roof is a mess, the joists are rotting from moisture and a beetle infestation, the floors are sagging, and our dream home is a money pit of epic proportions.
I won’t be tending that beautiful garden in the spring, reading in those lovely window seats, or playing dress-up with my little niece in those historic rooms. I won’t be shopping in well stocked grocery stores with wide aisles and endless choices, or cooking on that gorgeous range in that huge magazine-worthy kitchen. Robert and I won’t finally get our midwinter handfasting by candlelight in that sprawling second floor lounge. Opie won’t be running up and down those many stairs, my sister won’t be staying in that beautiful guest suite, Robert’s parents won’t be retiring from retirement in the annex below stairs, and we won’t be getting on with our lives.
So that’s why it’s been quiet around here, and it will probably be quiet for a bit longer. We need to make peace with the fact that everything we thought we knew about our future has changed. I need to find a way to live here in Denmark because I’ve been existing for far too long.
And I’m just so very sad that it didn’t work out.