Hunting for my happy home has been hard
Express & Star deputy chief reporter Megan Archer on getting onto the housing ladder
This time next year (fingers crossed) I’ll be all settled in my brand new home.
A home I can actually call my own, with three bedrooms, a little garden and my own parking space.
I say fingers crossed because it all still seems like a faraway dream at the moment.
My other half and I, we’ve never had our own home before. Currently renting a fifth-floor flat in the centre of Birmingham, we’ve enjoyed living right in the thick of it all.
For the past two years we have only had to step out our front door to be greeted by busy restaurants, packed bars, and bustling streets at all hours of the day.
As a girl who grew up in a tiny, quiet Cotswolds village, it’s been eye-opening and beyond exciting. Deep down, I think I’ll always be a country-dweller at heart, but I get a bit of kick out of proudly saying I’m ‘from the city’.
But now we’re ready to trade all that in for our dream house in ‘the suburbs’.
No more ‘surprise’ visits from the landlord, or emails insisting light bulbs are changed immediately (maybe I like using the bathroom in the dark?!).
No more of that crack in the glass balcony door we’ve put up with since we moved in, or the ‘no smoking’ sign that makes me feel like I’m in a hotel.
Finally, I’ll be able to paint the bathroom blue, plant a rose bush in the garden, and put down the softest carpet I can find.
I could do this in the flat, sure (with the exception of the rose bush) but while I call it ‘home’ it’s not technically ours, is it?
And the best bit of all? We can finally, after what has felt like an eternity of waiting, adopt two little dogs. It’s been our plan for years.
But hold it.
Taking that first step on the property ladder, I never realised just how difficult it would be.
Savings, stamp duty, mortgage fees, solicitor fees, interest, ISAs, Help to Buy, credit checks, making an offer – there’s so much to do, and to learn.
Could I have even explained what stamp duty was before I started house hunting? Honestly? Probably not.
But you bet your life I can now – for those like me, it’s the tax you have to pay when buying a property.
For the past year, ever since we decided we wanted to take the plunge and buy our own place, I’ve been painstakingly researching every aspect of being a first time buyer.
Sure, no matter how much research we do we’re bound to make some mistakes, but I want us to be as well prepared as we possibly can be.
And on top of all the studying, we’ve been saving as many pennies as we can, while still trying to enjoy a treat now and then so we don’t go crazy.
After the rent, electricity bill, water bill, council tax, and that all-important Netflix bill has been dragged out of your account, it leaves little to transfer over to a specially-made savings account.
But we’re getting there, thanks to my partner more than me I have to admit – he’s a stealthy saver.
I’ve also been keeping a close eye on my credit score, and trying to pay off any sneaky credit cards so we’re in the best possible position when we finally come to apply.
We’re nearly there, and the dream is getting closer, but I don’t want to jinx it just yet by comparing shades of blue paint, or dreaming up names for dogs.
I just need to stay hopeful.