If you have been following my recent posts you may have noticed that I keep mentioning that I have just bought a new home and just moved recently. This isn’t our first home but the first one we have bought and we are now homeowners (eeek!). We rented for 4 years and it was only when we worked out that we had paid roughly £30,000 in rent for those past 4 years and we were getting nothing back in return that we looked in to the whole buying option. We weren’t working towards anything just keep paying rent. That money didn’t pay off a house that would be ours, it just went to someone else, and we just never properly felt at home. We have moved house 5 times in 4 years which as you can imagine is unbearable and difficult to go through. Having to pack up an entire house every time, buying furniture when moving from a furnished house to an unfurnished one. Getting used to a new location again and again, paying well over £1500 up front on rent and bonds/deposits every single time. It has been tough and at times very very unpleasant and the realisation that we had spent £30,000 of our money on renting to be that unhappy was actually rather upsetting, it just felt like a huge waste.
So thanks to the help of parents, some saved up money and a little from a credit card, we managed to pull together a deposit and go down the home-owner route. Renting meant it was hard for us to save up a deposit and it just seemed more and more impossible. But I am so happy that we found a way out and I can’t honestly explain how lucky we are to have such supportive parents (I think they were sick of helping us move home!). I have actually found that owning our own home has made things so much better financially and it has been so much easier to catch up and get to a really good place, probably because we weren’t paying moving costs and deposits etc. every so many months! Yes the whole mortgage and buying a house process is super expensive but afterwards it really is so much better, or well at least it was for us.
I had obviously never gone down this route before and wasn’t really sure what to expect. I didn’t realise just how difficult this process would be and how stressful. I would say the stress of this was definitely close to the stress in the first couple of weeks of being a new parent. It felt like pulling teeth trying to get dates for moving and find out updates. Calling and calling Solicitors and not getting anywhere (make sure you get a good recommended Solicitor!). The first stressful process you have to experience is applying for a Mortgage. This is the first stage you come to (after a quick credit check) and I thought this was the biggest hurdle but no, no it wasn’t. That all came back great and I thought, brilliant we definitely have our new home. But no, being approved for a Mortgage in principle does not mean you will definitely be able to buy your home. The amount of things that can actually go wrong when going through the home buying process is an endless list. I don’t know why they don’t teach you about this stuff in schools as it would have been so useful for me to actually understand it all. I think trying to learn as I go is what I found made it rather stressful for me.
Of course one of the biggest problems or the most difficult tasks can be actually choosing a home. This is the house you will own for years and years, unlike renting, you can’t just easily hop from house to house if you aren’t happy with something. So you need to make sure that what you choose is going to be right for you. One thing I will say is, unless you have a ridiculously huge budget you will usually always find something in a property you would want to change or do differently. It’s very rare you move in to a home and it is your perfect dream home the way it is. So the most important thing to do is to have a clear idea in your head of what is important and what you could cope with. Maybe you need to have a minimum of 2 bathrooms, maybe you need more space downstairs than upstairs, so you could cope if the bedrooms were a little smaller than you would like. Just have a clear understanding of what you must have when choosing your home. Another thing to look at is, if there is potential to make changes, build extensions etc. If you know you would have liked an extra room downstairs and you have the potential to build in to the garden or a good sized garage you could convert, then that is something to think about. If you outgrow your home, there is the chance to make it bigger and it will last you a lot longer. So don’t rule out a home that you really love because it didn’t have that extra room downstairs if there is a possibility of extending.
We weren’t 100% sure on location and where we wanted to be. With myself being from Durham and my partner being from Newcastle (about 40 minutes away from me) we had no idea where we wanted to buy. We had been living in Newcastle for years and then recently moved to Durham because it was cheaper and my partner started working this way so it just made sense. We decided to look around at prices and see what we could get in each area. We found Durham to be the best price wise and we would get a lot more for our money. I know some people have specific locations in mind due to work and family however I would say allow a little freedom for looking at different areas as you really could get better if you looked a bit further a field. I spent a lot of time on the internet and driving around looking at new build sites as we knew from the beginning that we wanted a brand new house. I picked up a million brochures and scheduled lots of viewing appointments to try and find our home as quickly as possible.
The home we bought was a Taylor Wimpey home and I definitely couldn’t have found better with my budget. It was exactly what I wanted, really spacious downstairs with still a good amount of space upstairs. A big garden, a big drive and it exceeded my requirements by a lot! The added bonuses were that we were right in a cul-de-sac, so it was in a nice quiet street for our little man to play in. It had a forest out the back of the garden so it’s not overlooked. It had a good sized garage which was perfect for converting in to a play room. It also had 3 bathrooms with one being an en-suite in our main bedroom, it had a lovely big hall way and was beautiful from the outside. The other main bonus which we were (and still are) very excited about is the whole development of the area. Not only is this development seeing lots of beautiful new houses like ours but it is about to be developed with a big shopping area, restaurants, leisure club and more. There will also be lots of great outdoor areas in our estate like communal bbq areas (we will have one in our cul-de-sac), play area, orchards and more. It was more than perfect for what I was looking for, it almost seemed too perfect. I had got so excited about this property that I honestly thought it was too good to be true.
When I first came across the property I was actually coming to look at a smaller one and went in to the sales office to speak to the woman. She told me all about the other house and then mentioned that they had a house of the week that had just become available and it had £10,000 off the price. She said that the people buying the house had just dropped out and therefore they have put it on offer as it is all built ready and needs to be sold quickly. This obviously intrigued me and that is when she showed me a photo of my gorgeous home. I instantly fell in love with it, but it was still a little bit over my budget. When she found out that I was a first time buyer her eyes lit up and she told me how they may be able to offer more discount as I would be able to move very quickly with not having a house to sell currently. First time buyers usually get better discounts and deals so mke sure to mention this if you are buying your first house. We did have to stand our ground and be pretty tough with the sales agent to get the best deal. Due to this we got fitted wardrobes put in our bedroom, a large fence built (instead of a small one in the garden) and a good discount off the price. There were lots of issues and complications but we persevered and got a great deal in the end.
Soon after moving in to our home we worked hard to get it all sorted and set up. I just couldn’t live out of boxes for ages as I just knew I would still have boxes a year later that I just hadn’t bothered with. So we really cracked on and sorted everything out. It was a tiring few days of putting furniture together and sorting through things but we made it liveable and organised. With it being a new build everything was just white and the carpets were cream. It was all very light and although we loved our new home, it didn’t have our own stamp on it yet. We were excited to start doing things ourselves and the first decoraating we did was paint the hallway. We painted it in Dulux Dusted Fondant which was a kind of lilac colour. It looked nice but we had purple accessories in the lounge and my partner felt it was all a bit too much, so we ended up painting it another colour. We slowly decorated bits and pieces and we still are. The biggest change we made was converting the garage in to a playroom for our little guy. We just needed another space for him to play and to keep his millions of toys out the way.
We have been in our new home for almost 5 months now and I honestly couldn’t be more happy with it. There is still a lot to do and still things I would probably change and may do in the future but it certainly is the most perfect first home to own for us. For the first time since my partner and I have lived together I actually properly feel at home. I just can’t explain the feeling. I always treated my rented properties as my home but I never felt 100% at home. I was always dreaming of the next place I would move and what I would want. Whereas with this house we are here to stay and I love it so much. I am looking forward to the many memories and good times we will share as a family in our home and who knows, maybe in the future we may have to make room for another little one! But not quite yet..