House hunting on Crete – part 1

When we decided to move to Crete, we found a real estate agent on the northwest end of the island (our preferred area) and arranged a year long lease on a house.  Our agent met us the morning we arrived, and after going over some paperwork, took us up into the mountains to Meskla.  The house was very pretty and appeared to have everything we needed so we moved right in that day.  It was nice to have a place that we could settle in to so quickly.

Our plan was to spend our first year scouting out the island to see where we might like to settle on a permanent basis.

Our experience with the landlords and our real estate agent have been nothing but positive.  After living in the house for a few months, though, we have some pretty interesting differences in our priorities.

Driveway/Parking issues

 To our dismay, our little rental car could not make it up the very steep driveway at our house.  We rectified this when we purchased a 4x4, but it was still a challenge every time we had to go somewhere.  Steep and short, with a precipitous drop on one side, the driveway was not fun to navigate on a regular basis.  And parking anywhere other than our driveway was also a challenge due to the narrow, dead-end lane we lived on.

Heating

 Wow, was I surprised by this one!  We moved from Florida, where I think we only used the heat for a few days over the course of 5 years.  We figured that the winter season in Crete is fairly short, so a few extra layers and heavy blankets would probably suffice.  It turns out that having wet season in the winter (opposite of Florida) is extremely uncomfortable without heat.  Everything was damp and wet, and our fireplace didn’t do a thing to alleviate the discomfort.  We purchased space heaters, but the house was a fairly decent size, and those only helped if you sat directly in front of them.  Our clothes and bedding felt wet, and our kitchen cabinets actually got mold on the inside!

Location

  We have both lived in mountainous areas before, and generally love the countryside.  What did we figure out after our first cold spell in the mountains?  That we are ocean people, without a doubt.  There is something to be said for the relaxation we feel when around the ocean.  Also, conveniences… in our little mountain village everything is a drive away.  The gas station, supermarket, bank, pet store for the puppies — all meant hopping in the car and spending the day getting everything done.  We had to evaluate how much time we were willing to spend on the basics of just living vs. the enjoyment we got from solitude in the country.

House size

 Did we really need 3 bedrooms as in our mountain house?  We moved from a fairly large house in Florida, and were afraid of downsizing our space too much when we moved.  As it turns out, we are comfortable in a far smaller space than we thought we could be.  What convinced us was taking a holiday break in a gorgeous little one bedroom apartment.  We stayed for more than a week, and we were perfectly comfortable.
With these new priorities in mind, we began to consider where we should look to settle.  

We’ve traveled to a great many areas on the island now, and found several places that look like they might be a good fit. More to come…