My ideal house is double fronted, with lovely high ceilings. The big front door leads into a large hallway with the stairs in front of you. To your left and your right and are two reception rooms. One is a library, with floor to ceiling books on every wall. A huge desk and a lovely sofa. The other is a family room, with comfy seats, a TV and toys. Past these rooms at the back of the house is a massive kitchen and dining and family area. Separate utility room and a little snug with a day bed, my computer, TV, books and a cat (I’m not ever leaving this room). The big kitchen would open on to a big garden. Upstairs there’d be a few bedrooms and bathrooms etc but my main request is that my bedroom is just for sleeping. Separate dressing room required. I think the ultimate luxury is a room that is 100% for sleeping. Preferably with a view.
Obviously the type of house I talk about is firmly in my dreams. We’ll never live anywhere like that. But, I find it fascinating when people decide what they want from a home. Since living together Chris and I have lived in 4 houses. Soon to be 5. I always thought I wanted to live in a Victorian house like the one we’re in now, but somehow it’s never been right for us.
Whilst the bedrooms are big we’ve found the downstairs rooms to be too small. Two smaller reception rooms doesn’t seem to suit us. If we owned this house I’d knock them through to make one larger room, or extend the kitchen. I think we’d like it a lot more then. It doesn’t really work for us as a family at the moment.
The thing is we’re stuck. Where we live – which is where our family are, where I have set up a charity, on the right train line to London for Chris’s job (which is the type of job that only exists in London or Manchester), where all of our support network is – is an expensive place to rent. Family homes at their cheapest are £1000 per month. So, how do we save for a deposit for a house? 3 bedroom homes here are, at their cheapest, £215k. So we’d need a hefty deposit. But the level of rent we pay leaves us with very little to save. We’d be making sacrifices too big by relocating. Schools for the children and family and friends come before home ownership.
So, we’re moving to a house that is very similar to the house I grew up in for the first five years of my life. A small, 3 bedroom, 70s terrace. It is extended a little on the back and is open plan downstairs – I think it’ll work much better for the children to run around and, crucially, the garden is enclosed and can be seen from the kitchen/dining room. So they can play and I cook (drink wine) in the kitchen.
I’m really hoping this house works better f us as a family – as my gut instinct is not to go for a house that is so ugly to look at from the outside. But, I feel peaceful about it – hoping it’ll make family life work a bit better.
Renting with a family is hard work. Given Shelter’s recent report that says that it takes average families 14 years to save for a house we’re likely to be in this situation for a long time coming. In fact, in our area the report states that it would take us 20 years to save for a house. So those people who thought we should wait to buy until we had children? Well, we wouldn’t have achieved both. I’m glad we chose the children.
I constantly feel on edge – will our landlord want to sell? Will the rent go up to a price we can’t afford? Will we find another house in the same school catchment and close enough to the station for Chris?
Moving house is stressful and costly as well. By the time you’ve paid the robbing blind (admin) fee, hired a van, had this house professionally cleaned (as we have to in our contract) roped in help etc we won’t get change from £1000. Then there’s the logistics of moving with a 2-year old and a baby: stress.
I’d love to just go and live somewhere which costs less but the reality is that we can’t.
So, perhaps as Shelter suggests we may be able to buy a house in another 15 or so years. By which point we would have spent around £215k on rent …. Arghhhh!
Now look. I know that we live in a nice town. We are very fortunate to have family and friends around us and so close. We are lucky that Chris has a well paid enough job that I’ve been able to set up First Days. Our children are clothed and we went on holiday this year. I know how much we’ve got. I just wish there was a way we could have more secure housing.
I don’t think we’re alone in feeling like this either?