When Phil and I bought our first house together, we thought it would be our forever home. A lovely 200 year old cottage in a fantastic village with great schools nearby and a wonderful, huge garden. With Toby’s arrival a year after we moved in, we realised just how different a home becomes once a child is brought into it.
Suddenly, our one and only reception room was a living room, dining room, playroom, office, storage room. It felt cramped and cluttered where once it had been perfectly comfortable. We only had one bathroom and it was downstairs, so suddenly my brain was fast forwarding to Toby toilet training and needing to use the loo in the night. With our quite dangerously steep stairs I didn’t fancy him having to navigate his way down whilst half asleep in the middle of the night. I fell down those stairs at 5 months pregnant and it was frankly terrifying.
Our beautiful, huge garden, surrounded by a little stream and inhabited by loads of ducks went from quaint to worrying as Toby crawled around amongst the duck poo and towards to open water. We’re firm believers in children getting outside, being mucky, not over-sterilised, but some stuff is a bit too much and when a goose who thinks he’s a duck (true story) bit Toby on the leg when he was running over to see the ducklings, I cried as much as he did.
We considered various home improvement options and we (Phil) even built a huge log cabin summerhouse in the garden that we could use as a dining and entertaining area. It was a lovely place and we had a wonderful family Christmas in there when I was pregnant with Martha, but it wasn’t enough. The living room was rammed with baby and toddler *stuff*. How do they have so much flipping stuff?! We no longer had the dining table in there so family meals were practically non-existent and I could pretty much go for days barely leaving that room because it also housed the computer on which I worked. A right of passage across the front of the house put paid to any plans for extension because there was barely a metre of space to the side and back of the house.
Upstairs, we thought about making a little toilet room by essentially putting a toilet into the alcove that was used as Phil’s wardrobe, with a door to it from the landing. Again, the scope for expansion in any way was so limited and the cost of doing anything versus the gain either to our lives or in resale value, was little if any.
We decided to move house and were thrilled to sell our house immediately, to a lovely couple. With an offer accepted on another 200 year old cottage but with loads more downstairs space and an upstairs bathroom, we were set. The actual buying and selling experience was, however, utterly horrific and I genuinely never want to move house ever again! I’ve bought 5 houses in my time and I have never known anything like what we went through: Phil having an incorrect default on his credit report that rendered him unable to get a mortgage, our first house being undervalued by our buyers’ bank and thus the selling price dropping by, well, lots. The credit issue dragged on for weeks and weeks with false promises for it to be removed and at one point, us considering the idea of continuing with the sale then simply taking our money and leaving the country. I was heavily pregnant, Phil was working full time, we had an 18 month old Toby in tow and it was just hell. Then our buyers’ buyer pulled out of their sale. Then we had to change mortgage companies even after the default was finally removed. Then the budget happened and affordability calculations meant we were penalised for Phil getting childcare vouchers from work and had to ‘find’ more ‘lots’ of money to add to our deposit.
Finally, with a 23 month old and a 6 week old, we moved into our home on a rainy, miserable June day. Well, we tried to at least. The money wasn’t being transferred between all of the solicitors in the chain and as the banking system closes on a Friday we had until 15:40 for it to go through otherwise we wouldn’t be moving anywhere. Only our buyers had their stuff at our old house and we were stood outside out new house with the first lorry full of our belongings. At 15:39 it went through, woo!
But wait, there’s more! The estate agents had lost our new keys! I swear I don’t have the imagination to make this stuff up! Our lovely new neighbour sheltered me in her house when she realised I was sat in the car breastfeeding Martha. We had to pay the removals guys several hours’ more money and it was 5pm before finally, a locksmith arrived and we were in.
This image sums up moving day for us. After being told at 10:30am that it was all systems go, it got to 3pm and the money still hadn't reached our solicitors. We were told that if it didn't reach ours, then our seller's solicitors by 3:40pm then it wouldn't be happening. This as our packed removals van sat outside the new house and our buyers' furniture was piled up in our old house. At the last minute, all seemed to go through and Phil was being given the keys. Only the estate agents have lost the keys. So now, with baby puke all over my only accessible top, I'm awaiting the arrival of a locksmith, whilst our (admittedly very friendly) removals people will be rubbing their hands together in glee as the £40p/h additional charges add up.
So we’re in absolutely no rush to move any time soon. Or ever. The mere thought makes me shudder.
Our house is amazing and the only down side to it really is that Martha’s room is so small you can’t get a standard single bed in it. I can’t see that being a problem for a good few years yet and Phil’s a dab hand at DIY so he’ll build her a fantastic bed, but when she does want more space then we will be improving instead of moving. A loft conversion is top of our list and possibly an extension to the back of the house, creating a lovely orangery room looking out over the garden. We lost a lot of money with all the issues when we moved, so we may have to consider a home improvement loan when the time comes, but whatever we do it will definitely be within the realms of what we can comfortably afford.
**This is a collaborative post, all words are my own.**