What is your definition of home? Where you family is? Where you grew up? Or where you live now? Having spent my childhood and teenage years in one place, and almost my entire adult life in another, I’m never really been sure. When I’m heading back to Leeds I tell people that I’m going home, but when I’m up there I say the same thing about returning to Jersey.
Since I left my Parents house when I was 19 I’ve lived in a series of staff accommodation, house shares and rented flats. None of these have allowed me to really put my own stamp on them in terms of furnishing and decor, and whilst some have been (a lot) better than others when it comes to location, space, facilities, room mates and landlords, none have ever been 100% perfect, because none have ever really been HOME.
That’s all (hopefully) about to change, as I’m preparing myself to take the giant leap onto the lowest rung of the property ladder. With the average property price in Jersey over double the average property price in the UK, this seemed like an impossible dream for many years, even when I was married with two incomes coming in, but due to a series of circumstances and the generosity of my family it’s now become a strange new reality.
It’s taken me a while to decide whether to invest in bricks and mortar here on the rock or back in the UK, with each offering strong pros and considerable cons, but with my life only just settling down after a turbulent couple of years, the thought of upping sticks and diving into the relative unknown feels like too big a gamble to take, so Jersey it is.
I’ve known that this was on the horizon for almost a year, but until now I’ve largely held back on looking at what’s available, as I didn’t want to find the perfect place and then miss out through not being ready. But now I’m literally hours away from having everything in place, it’s time to start viewing.
The market moves even quicker here than I had thought; I’ve booked two viewings so far, and both have had offers made and accepted before I’ve made it as far as the front door. Maybe that’s just bad luck on my part, but it’s done nothing to relieve my nerves about the process!
My biggest worry at the moment, although I’m sure there’ll be more to come, is how to know what I’m looking for. Of course I’ve got a wish list; a parking space ideally, a little bit of outside space would be a dream, I’d like a bath rather than a shower, room for a washing machine and some storage. That’s all simple enough, it’s all the other stuff that concerns me. Potential maintenance issues, running costs, heating systems, plumbing, wiring, TV aerials, phone lines, broadband, service charges, surveys. I’ve got no idea about any of that, and I don’t really know where to start.
Luckily my budget is a little bit bigger than I anticipated, and contrary to every other piece of financial advice I’ve ever been given, several sensible people have suggested that I’ll never regret maxing out what’s available. When it comes to property apparently the more you spend, the more you’ll make. Not true of anything else I’ve ever bought.
Until I actually make it to a viewing I think this will all continue to feel a bit dreamy, but today I added a bit of realism by letting my lovely Landlords know my plans. After 5 years of living next door they have become friends, and it would have felt strange to hide it from them and then suddenly drop a bombshell. I’ll miss them tremendously, not something often said about Landlords, but as it turns out my moving will work out well for all us, as they’d been toying with the idea of remodelling the flat at some stage; easier done if it’s vacant.
So from now on my spare time will be split between poring over estate agent websites, and adding to my ‘dream home’ inspiration board on Pinterest. I absolutely can’t wait to have a space to call mine, and the fact that it’s JUST mine makes it even more exciting. No bickering over colour schemes or how big the TV needs to be; every square inch of the place will be my decision. Just the idea of that is already making me feel more settled, physically and emotionally. It will be another fresh chapter for me, and finally I think I’ll know exactly where my HOME really is.
I’m sure there will be ups and downs on this journey to home ownership, and I’ll keep you updated on the best (and worst) bits. In the meantime I’d love to hear any tips or advice you can offer on buying property; or what you wish you’d known the first time. I’ve got zero knowledge right now so anything I can learn is a bonus! 🙂