Home Sweet Home

We recently moved into our new house and the last few weeks have been spent repainting, unpacking, exploring the local area and making sure our cat Mara is settling in.

(Surprise snowdrops in the garden, and Mara making herself at home)

My husband and I rented together for three and a half years but longed for a house and garden of our own. For many people in the U.K., home ownership represents security and an escape from the competitive rental market. We’ve been lucky that our landlords were decent, we’ve never had our rents increased or tenancy terminated at short notice like some of our friends, but we’ve had our fair share of maintenance issues from damp in the bathroom to mice in the kitchen and a broken boiler that left us without heating or hot water in the middle of winter.

We started looking for a house in winter because the housing market seems to slow down around Christmas, and we thought it might be harder to hide leaks, damp and drafts in the colder months of the year. We spent hours scrolling through estate agent sites, comparing floor plans, analyzing street maps and studying what often turned out to be misleading photos before we even started arranging viewings.

Eventually we chose the house we could imagine ourselves living in, which happened to be the first house we viewed and the yardstick against which we measured the others. It was a cold, rainy Saturday in November when we first visited it, yet this particular house still seemed light and cosy to us.

We worried about outgrowing the house before we owned enough furniture to fill one room. We were anxious about the stress moving would cause our house-cat. We brooded over repossession and negative equity. We worried until we ran out of things to worry about, yet both my husband and I are decisive by nature, and twenty four hours after visiting the house, we made an offer.

We had a few restless nights waiting to find out if the owners would accept our offer, then waiting for the building society to approve our mortgage, and the conveyancing caused everyone involved considerable stress as the solicitors wrangled over reports, fees and deadlines. Fortunately, it all proceeded smoothly and was finalised on the 21st of December, making our new house seem like an early Christmas present.

(The keys to our new home, and a little gift from the previous owners)

We’re relieved by how quickly Mara has settled into our new home; she can be very timid, but we tried to make the move as smooth as possible for her by making sure there were lots of familiar furniture, rugs and blankets, as well as all of her own toys and things.

I was sad to say goodbye to the home we rented for three years and seven months, but I’m so grateful for the shelter it provided, all the memories made and lessons learned there. My sadness is softened by excitement about our new house though, it is ready to live in but will be a bit of a project to make our own as the previous owners favoured dark colour schemes and added some odd features. Yet even with boxes to unpack, walls to repaint and mismatched furniture, it already feels like home sweet home. Have a lovely week.

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