Hopes of home

In the past several months, I have hinted at Big Things that are afoot – and I even came close to saying outright said that I have plans to buy a new (old) house this year. And I am finally starting to put things in motion to make the hope of a home happen!

Oh, yes, I am now in full-on house-hunting mode! I had hoped to start the process last summer, but I needed to get my Indefinite Leave to Remain sorted first so that I could secure a better mortgage deal. And then I delayed a bit more as I was spending the Christmas holidays home in America. But once the New Year came around, I began my hunt in earnest.

That process started by working with a mortgage broker to secure the best mortgage offer I could manage. Thankfully, I have excellent credit (really excellent) and a healthy savings account for a decent down payment. I also have a permanent contract and a respectable income, which makes it all possible in the first instance.

I started looking at houses a few months ago, at which point I had my sights set on a specific style of house that I call a “Brady House” (even though it doesn’t really look like the Brady House). My list of criteria was a “simple and modest” detached (or semi-detached) house with 3+ bedrooms and a garage or decent outdoor shed/storage, private gardens to the front and back, and with at least a WC downstairs and a full bathroom (with tub) on the bedroom level. Add to that, my criteria included a nice size kitchen with ample space for dining or (better still) a separate dining room. I wanted an entryway of sorts and a modest-sized lounge. And if the property also had a summer house or a conservatory, even better!

However, it seems that those houses are £50-£70K above my comfortable price range, given I am a solo human without an inheritance to use towards a house or a second income from a partner. I also have a general standard of living to think about that means I wanted to keep my mortgage below a certain threshold to allow for travel and indulgences. That all means that my buying power is limited.

And so, my list of “wants and needs” began to shrink, and shirk, and shrink some more.

Now, I am looking for a 2+ bedroom house (likely semi-detached or terraced) with private gardens, a bathroom on the bedroom level (but ideally both levels), a kitchen with “enough” space, and living space that allows for at least some level of distinction between a lounge and the dining area. A shed or a garage would be nice, but if there are 3 bedrooms, I can overlook a lack of outdoor storage.

And that’s all before I start thinking about my desired neighbourhood vs the neighbourhood I can afford a house in. (No, I shan’t be moving to Morningside or The Grange. Oh well…)

I am sad that I can’t afford a house that fits my “ideal” because houses that fit with my ideal are only affordable for people with inherited money or a second income – or for those who have been on the property ladder for quite some time with a nice bit of equity built up. However, I’ve decided to look at this as an opportunity for imagination, creativity, and social responsibility.

Which basically means that I am looking at this as an opportunity to turning a less-than-ideal house into a dream home through creative decorating, refreshing rooms and furniture using as much reclaimed and refurbished materials as possible, and filling the space with love, laughter, and hope. Lots and lots of hope.

And as luck would have it, that idea fits well within my 2024 ambitions to “give new life to old things”. (I do acknowledge that the motivation for that goal was anchored in this realisation about the kind of house I could afford on my own.)

The whole thing is a little frightening because of the memories that the process is bringing up. The last time I purchased a house was with my late husband. Whilst it was a good and happy process, he died less than 12 months after we moved into our home, and with him died all the hopes we had for our future together.

Now, each step I take in this new process brings back those memories. And whilst that means many happy memories, those often lead to the sad memories that followed – including saying goodbye to that house that was once a home and (ultimately) giving up on my last chance at motherhood (we were getting ready to adopt).

Whereas my last home purchase was filled with hopes of a happy future, a family, and a lifetime of love, this time I am simply looking for a house that I can live comfortably in for the foreseeable future. Oh, sure: I am hopeful that I will have a happy life there and that there might be friends visiting from time to time and I expect that there will be laughter. But I also know that it is likely that I will be on my own in this new place; this will be a place of isolation and loneliness – much like my current home is.

So yeah, it’s a stressful journey I’m on just now. Even more so because of those grief memories.

Life is beautiful, never give up hope!

But ultimately, this is a happy thing. I am happy about the potential for a bright future, and I am really looking forward to owning a house again. I am hopeful that I can turn my new house into a little place of peace for myself; an oasis where I feel safe and secure; a place where I can be myself and exist in a place of contentment.

It is hard to know when I’ll have keys to a new home. However, I am actively searching for the right place a place I can afford, and I hope to be making offers on potential homes in the coming weeks or months. And I am especially keen to keep this process moving forward because a friend and her daughter want to visit me this summer and I want need to have a place for them to stay. Indeed, I expect them to be my first (overnight) guests if all goes well.

Anyhow, here’s hoping I can share that I’ve found a home very soon!

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