I can still remember it so vividly. Frog was about 6 months old. I’d been at home with her all day, stewing. Something in our house had broken and it wasn’t the first time. We couldn’t fix it, because the cottage was rented. It was another reminder that we didn’t own our own home. We couldn’t paint the walls or fix a leaking tap without asking permission first.
Fast forward a few months and we had the conversation. “We need to accept we’ll never be able to buy our own place,” said the (self-proclaimed) Northern Love Machine. I reluctantly agreed. With a small baby, a teacher’s salary, a fledgling freelance career, living in one of the most expensive parts of the UK, I had to accept he was right.
We didn’t have super rich parents. We didn’t have any inheritance. We only had what we earned, which covered our rent, petrol, living and childcare costs. We were lucky if we could scrape a spare fifty quid at the end of the month to chuck into savings. A 25% deposit on a house in our village stood before us like a mountain, impossible to scale.
But yet, we wanted it so badly. The thought of paying rent as a pensioner was scary. More than that though, we wanted to put down firm roots. We wanted to know the place we were raising our little girl was going to be where she would grow up. We wanted to plant vegetables in the garden and watch them grow. Make plans to paint the walls. Maybe buy a pet. Overall, I wanted to feel settled.
Then, a couple of years ago, I got a new job. My contract meant I was earning more, alongside my other freelance work. We could finally save properly, substantially. But still not substantially enough to afford a 25% deposit on a house in the region of £350,000.
So we saved. And saved. And saved some more. I worked. And worked. And worked some more. Some weeks I was pulling 80 hours alongside looking after a toddler who needed regular hospital and physio appointments. We went without posh holidays. I turned my face away from handbags and shoes that winked at me from shop windows. Gradually, the money in the bank started to grow. We wondered if, perhaps, the idea of owning our own home may be a possibility one day.
And now, here we are. The NLM got a job in Devon, relocating us from Berkshire to the South West this summer. Prices here are far, far cheaper. The cost of living is far, far cheaper. It’s pretty, relaxed and affordable. It wasn’t until August that we had a mortgage in agreement granted. We threw ourselves into house hunting with enthusiasm, putting up with the tiny rental we had secured safe in the knowledge it was only temporary.
Eventually, we found her. The dream house. A terraced cottage in a little village on the edge of Dartmoor. It has a meadow and a river at the front and a garden with a vegetable patch at the back. There is a park, a village primary school, two pubs and a shop. There are high ceilings, a log burner, an open fireplace and three sizeable bedrooms. The bathroom is bigger than our current bedroom. And, downstairs, we have a living room, opening onto a dining room, a kitchen and a sun room we will use as an office.
After months of false starts, other buyers trying to gazzump us, promises of exchange and huge disappointments, we finally have her. We exchanged today. Completion is in a week.
In one week we will be sitting in our own home. Our very own home that we have worked so bloody hard for. With space and walls that are all ours to paint.
Our very own home. I can’t quite believe it.