[NOTE: this post is out now only because I’m still dithering over my 2022 goals!]
In part 1, I covered the financial aspects of buying my house. In this second part, I’ll try to cover all the other stuff, which isn’t really anything to do with FIRE but it all affects me and my FIRE journey, plus I need to get it off my chest!
Since money is such a big part of a house purchase, I apologise in advance for the few monetary mentions which will inevitably sneak in!
When I first started house-hunting, I was looking for a 3-bed semi, with garden and a private driveway, and so it seemed was every other man and his dog at the time! Preferably in a cul-de-sac, which tend to be quieter and provide more privacy.
What I’ve ended up with is a two-up-two-down semi, with a garden, private driveway, in a cul-de-sac. 3 out of 4 aint too bad!
I am however not too far from a main road, so I can sometimes hear big lorries rumbling past, especially when they hit the potholes in the road, and am also near a railway, although the sounds of trains haven’t bothered me so far.
My house is not new and there are numerous things which need repairing and replacing. Unfortunately, several of these are not cosmetic (those were mostly sorted when I had the whole place redecorated and had new carpets fitted before moving in), and some of these things will cost thousands of pounds to sort out.
There have been essential costs/repairs I’ve had done since moving in which I hadn’t budgeted for (hello, emergency funds!) so it’s felt like I’ve been bleeding money recently, including today, when I had to pay to have 3 tiles replaced on my roof, casualties of the storm we had recently.
Another of my criteria when I was house-hunting was that I didn’t want to move too far away from where I was. I’m a creature of habit and I wanted as little change to my life in that respect as possible.
So it’s just as well that I’ve ended up in a house which is just 2 miles away from where I used to live!
Over the years, I’d driven past it on numerous occasions, never realising that I’d be living there one day.
I have to say that I’m pretty certain that had I not been working from home and been able to view the property at the drop of a hat, I would have missed the opportunity to buy it, so thanks COVID!
Just moving two miles away has had me crossing a border, into another council’s borough, into another city even. Don’t get me started on the different coloured bins now for recycling – I have to keep referring to a post-it note before I throw anything away!
I am now closer to both my sis (only 5 mins drive away) and to my friends. My gym is further away by a couple of miles but I can actually get there quicker as I can hop onto the motorway to reach it now. Manchester city centre is still less than 5 miles away, so still close by for social life and work (when I’m back in the office).
I also have a pub within walking distance from my house! This wasn’t on my wishlist but something I always thought would be nice to have. However, it’s been many years since I’ve been in that particular pub, so I don’t know what the clientele are like now, plus current climate has deterred me from just wandering in for a quick pint and a gander. More on that I’m sure at some point.
Sadly, I’m no longer within walking distance to a tram stop, so public transport will have to be the bus (unless I have time to drive to the tram stop I used to use); buses are not my favourite mode of transport, as I can’t read on them. This might be a time for me to finally embrace podcasts.
Neighbours, Everybody Needs Good Neighbours
“What are the neighbours like?” I had asked, during my second viewing of the property.
“Oh, they’re lovely!” gushed the estate agent.
“She would say that,” commented my sister afterwards. “Who knows, you could end up with nightmare neighbours!” Gee, thanks, sis!
Sadly, it was not just noisy, unfriendly neighbours I had to take into consideration for my house move; although my race and ethnicity has barely been an issue for me in my life and not even something I really think about, in the back of my mind, I couldn’t help but wonder how the people would feel about a non-white person moving into their neighbourhood.
How does one know what one’s new neighbours are like?
By speaking to them of course!
Prior to exchange, I drove over one afternoon to see if the neighbour was in. She was indeed and not only was she friendly, she invited me into her home for a chat!
Box ticked – PHEW! What a huge relief for me, but probably for her too, that she wasn’t going to have a new nightmare neighbour herself!
Two days after I moved in, I invited her round for a cuppa. She’s now no doubt told the neighbourhood about me (she has various friends and family members living on the estate) which is great as it has resulted in a couple of others stopping to say hello and asking me how I’m settling in. I do think it’s worth getting to know neighbours, plus now, I have someone I trust to accept my deliveries when I’m not home!
The neighbours on the other (non-adjoining) side? It’s a rental property and although I’ve been told it’s a couple of beauticians/nail technicians who live there, I haven’t seen or heard a peek from them yet. Their garden (front and back) is a right mess though.
And the old neighbours?
The day before I moved out, both sets of my old neighbours had me round at theirs for a cuppa to say goodbye and in a lovely gesture, both gave me leaving cards and gifts – we had gotten to know each other more during lockdown and I will miss them.
Moving and Settling In
The day of the move (an Auspicious Day no less, something important to my family which I was happy to go along with), all went smoothly and as the removal van didn’t have very far to go, the whole process from loading up everything to emptying it all into my house took just under two hours! I was fully packed and ready the night before so there was no waiting time at all for them and they were really quick about their business.
As I wasn’t in a chain, I only moved bulky items, furniture and essential stuff – enough to fill the removal van but not to the brim! Since then, I’ve been back at the old house to pick up bits and pieces, things I want to keep but I wasn’t sure if I would have the space.
I’ve effectively downsized from a 4-bed house to a 2-bed (dropping three Council Tax bands in the process!) so wasn’t sure until I moved in and unpacked whether I could take all of the nice-to-have stuff left behind, or if they were destined for charity or the recycling tip.
In the old house, I used to make use of two of the spare rooms (for laundry and extended wardrobe purposes, ahem!), a study (for WFH), a shed, a utility room and garage.
Now, my spare room is the spare bedroom-cum-study-cum-laundry room and my shed will also have to store the things that I have in the garage, which has yet to be emptied – me and sis are putting this off til the last minute, probably will start panicking as the sale of the old house progresses!
Most things at the new place were set up easily, apart from my broadband, which inexplicably took a month to connect (fortunately I had use of a wifi mini hub so work wasn’t disrupted) and over 10 hours on the phone to sort out with BT, although they have given me a £20 credit because of my complaints…
I’m still trying to get used to buying my groceries from a different supermarket and actually miss my old Tesco’s, where the layout made sense (to me) so I could be in and out really quickly.
Morrissons on the other hand seems to be laid out to trap unsuspecting shoppers down random aisles, inviting and tempting me to make purchases I shouldn’t make, but I have to say that I do like their fresh meat and fish counters.
I’ve lived here for less than a month so have no idea if this will be the case. I have however already planted some shrubs (shrubs I’ve dug up from the old place which won’t be missed!) which won’t mature for many years so that might be me thinking long term!
It still doesn’t quite feel like home yet; I can’t yet get used to how different it sounds from the old house, the different creaks and rattles. That said, my only restless night was the night I moved in, as I was sleeping in a ‘strange house’ – I’ve slept very well since.
A few friends (and colleagues) have asked for photos but I’ve declined – it’s my private dwelling and if I invite them round, they’ll see what it looks like. Only my family have seen photos of it (they obviously recognise all the furniture from the old place!), plus I did a little video tour to show them the size of the place – it was a very short video, haha!
After years of being used to living in a big cold house, I’m finding this cosy one a little on the warm side as it heats up really quickly when the heating comes on (my thermostat is set at 19 degrees). I’m sure I’ll get used to this and at least this means lower bills, a good thing with energy costs going up. The first thing I did when I moved in was get a water meter fitted as I saw that the previous owner’s water bill was more than double what I paid at the old house (including when sis and nephew were living with me!)
And that’s it really on my ‘home sweet home’.
I do hope that as time goes by and I settle in some more, I will stop possessing this ‘critical eye’ as I can’t help but see things which need doing up around the place.
How long until I will stop this ‘seeing’ and just start being content to just live with these imperfections, so I can maintain my focus on FIRE?
I guess it’s just as well that I’m not one of those types who strives to maintain a beautiful home with all the mod cons, fit to grace the front cover of ‘Ideal Home’ magazine, otherwise my FIRE plans would be well and truly stuffed!
I have a couple of friends who do have such wonderful and beautiful homes, but they’re also the ones who mysteriously claim that ‘their house is their pension’, whatever that means.
In any case, I’ve banned myself from going to B&Q for the rest of the month and I think I need to do the same for the Amazon website!