For the first time since February I have gone more than a week without posting and am feeling a little guilty! It has been a hectic couple of weeks: final frantic preparations before students go on study leave, lots of my friends ending relationships all at once and I bought my first house with my boyfriend!!
If you had told me in December that I was going to buy a house in April I might have believed it, but I would have also felt a sense of dread…buying a house is supposed to be one of the most stressful things you can do. I have written a lot about how I am on a journey to overcome stress and anxiety (see my category CBT for more posts on this) and this last week has been surefire proof that I am handling things better. Decisions are a huge problem for me as I worry inordinately: I worry while making decisions, I fret for ages afterwards (even if it is too late to change), I even worry if I know I have a decision to make at some point in the future!
So far, however, the process of buying our first house has gone fairly smoothly. This is partly due to sensible decisions we have made and partly due to my increasing ability to accept and be at peace with my decisions.
How to buy a house and not get stressed about it!
When we first started looking I had a whole list of criteria for my perfect house: a big open living room, light, bright rooms, three bedrooms, an upstairs bathroom, a large south facing garden. Luckily we live in an area where house prices are reasonable so all of those were an option within our price range. I came to realise, however, that it was rare to find all these things in one house and when we did the house was expensive. We were faced with the decision to buy at the top end of our price range or compromise and buy at the lower end. We compromised.
We live in a world were we are constantly encouraged to earn and consume more: to seek more and more for ourselves. In reality I can cope without a third bedroom: we will be clever with space and make it work. The bathroom is downstairs but so what – I’ll just get a good workout on my regular visits to the toilet during the night! The garden may not be south facing but it is open and bright. As a result of going for a cheaper house our mortgage will be negligible leaving us free to travel, meet up for dinner with friends and not worry about paying the bills each month. If I want to go part time at some point it is now an option. Most importantly we are not putting a huge strain on our relationship. I hear too many people struggling financially because they have crippling mortgages, two cars to pay off and credit card debt. I don’t want to be in that position.
Find a place that feels right
When we first walked into the house I had a good feeling: it is beautiful and quirky and you can tell the previous owners love living in it. There are wood burners in each living room, a kitchen handcrafted by a carpenter who used to live there and the owners clearly have the same love of books and arts as I do. The garden is cared for and the owners have grown vegetables and nurtured the soil and plants: something which is very important to me. It felt right.
Try and meet the owners
G met the owners and got on really well with them. He discussed how they had lived in the house and how we would like to live in the house and it was clear that we shared similar values. We liked them and the house so put in a reasonable offer – we could have gone lower but that would have felt insulting. I suspect, as a result, they accepted our offer despite a lot of interest in the property because they wanted us to live in their home.
If you find somewhere that feels right don’t hesitate and dwell on the negatives (unless of course it is major structural problems!). The house market is moving quickly and if you hesitate you will lose it and regret it. Perhaps if we had waited we would have found that third bedroom or a bigger garden, but I would have stressed and worried and wondered if we should have pushed harder for that house. At the end of the day I am incredibly lucky to be in a position to buy my own home. It is far larger than anything many of my contemporaries could afford, and I will be unburdened by the mortgage payments. There are so many people, who live in insecurity with families and cannot even begin to think about buying their own home and I have nothing to worry about: I am incredibly fortunate.