Tuesday, 10 June 2008
The search for the house
I had been visiting the Czech Republic for some time when I decided to buy here. I am often asked what led me to make that decision. I often joke that it was my mid-life crisis - and as is so often the case with a joke there is some truth at the heart of it. I needed somewhere I could relax and allow the poet in me come to the fore, work was increasingly pressured and I was finding it hard to stop doing "stuff" even at my Cotswold home. So I decided I needed a Czech chata - a hut in the woods, somewhere beautiful to go and be amongst nature.
Looking back I recognise now that it was more complex than that. I rather suspect I wanted more even then, but did not admit it. I am pretty sure I was looking for a way out of my frantic lifestyle. There were certainly other more obvious motives, the most important of which was simply one of friendship.
And so it was that, after convincing my husband that I was serious and gaining his agreement to the purchase of a chata for a modest and affordable sum, I asked my friend to advise me how to go about buying such a thing. She sent me a link to a website which brings together properties from a variety of estate agents, less for me to find the property but more to get a feel about what was out there and at what cost. What it did tell me was that it was impossible to tell anything much from a website. This was partly because everything was in Czech, and partly because Czech estate agents have no idea how to photograph properties they are selling - it was amazingly common to find a property advertised by a rather bad photo of a badly decorated bathroom.
In the summer of 2005 I arrived in Cesky Krumlov, armed with some properties I was interested in and proceeded to look. My friend advised me rightly that often a good-looking property would be spoilt by the context in which it was sited - so many Czech villages and towns have their communist eyesore blocks of flats or factory farms which really spoil the feeling of the place. It helps therefore to have someone who knows the area and who can prevent a wasted journey. She also advised me that some of the best houses would never make it onto the estate agents' and would come via someone who knew the owner. How right she was!
If you are looking for a house or cottage to buy in the Czech Republic, may I suggest you visit Czech Property Search