So back here in the UK, we’re squatting, somewhat ridiculously, in my Mum’s house. All our stuff’s in storage (even the beloved KitchenAid), even then it’s a bit of a squeeze and the Ninja Cat of Death is living an uncomfortable truce with Ellie the labrador and fending off amorous advances from Harry the ‘ginger t*sser’ (I know it’s mean, but it’s his name – he accepts it, and so should you).
We spent a while looking for rental houses, but it’s hard going – they seem to be gone almost as soon as they’re advertised – well, the ones that don’t smell of wee and have kitchens out of the 1940s are, anyway…
A friend of mine was recently looking for a rental house round here, was registered with all the local estate agents and heard of a house to rent. When she asked the agent why she hadn’t been told about the property despite being registered, she was told ‘oh it was gone by 8.30am’… WHAT?!
Now admittedly it’s commuterville – 30 minutes straight into Euston on the train – but queues for viewings? Seriously? And don’t get me started with the prices: £1500 a month for a very small semi-detached house (admittedly, they probably watch us shamble in, me with sticky out Russell Brand hair, the teens with their mahoosive feet and jeans around their arses and English Dad looking seriously pissed off with the whole process – and quickly add on an extra few quid) and they’re always 2 double bedrooms and one single – you try asking two teenaged boys which one wants the single room… One of these days I’m going to suggest a fight to the death (joking).
So we decided we’d buy a house. English Towers Part Deux, if you will. I know, I know… the FTSE is down 12.5%… oh wait, it’s up again… But it’s a very, very small house, with one reception room (I know it’s facile, but all I could think about was where the hell would the Christmas tree go?) on a new estate that was offering good financial incentives for people like us (for ‘people like us’, read poor people). We very nearly bought it too: mortgage offer in place… contracts ready to sign… and then the extras happened.
Heard about ‘the extras‘? Everyone that buys a new house will be nodding their head wisely at this point. Turns out that the extras are charges for practically everything that’s not cemented in.
‘You want carpets in your new house?’
‘Would be nice…’
‘No problem sir, that’ll be three grand. A kitchen you say? One with built-in appliances and a double oven? A snip at £3250…’
‘Okay, well there’s a small teenager surcharge of £1000 per child…’
And so it goes on. I might have made the last one up, but our very modest extras – tiled bathrooms, pretty normal kitchen… came to £8,000. And I think we would have stomached it – killed ourselves but stomached it – until the husband read one of the extras was to install Sky: £800. I think it tipped him over the edge and we had a really, really good think about what we were doing. Could we afford all these extras and the deposit? Probably not. Should we stick the money on our credit cards? Probably not.
But the final nail in the new house’s coffin came from my brother, the Cocktail King, Sensible Uncle Ian. He made up our minds in two seconds and with one sentence:
Sensible: ‘Do you love it?’
Sensible: ‘Then don’t buy it. Why would you make one of the biggest purchases of your life and not completely love it? No amount of builders’ incentives should persuade you to buy a house you don’t love’.
So we’re back on the rental market.
Aaaanyway, we’ve found a house. Not exactly where we’d like to live but, unbelievably, very close to the house we nearly bought. I’m looking forward to rescuing my Kitchen Aid from storage! It’s got room for us all, and a decent kitchen. And I think I’ve even seen a spot where the Christmas tree can go..
What about you? Rent or buy?