I bought my current house ten years ago this month.
Back then I was a newly single parent working as a freelance journalist. I’d had to sell our house in Brighton as part of the divorce settlement, so I was broke (to put it mildly).
Moving 300 miles North and buying a fixer-upper in a nice part of town, close to my family, seemed like the best plan.
And it definitely was.
Over the past ten years we’ve gradually fixed up the house. We started by fixing the damp, the roof and the walls. Then a new kitchen and boiler. Demolishing the garage.
While that was happening, Flea grew up in this house.
This is the house where we learned to be a slightly imperfect single parent family.
This is the house where I once had to ask my next door neighbour to help me rescue Flea when she got her leg stuck in the bars of her cot. Where we had to knock down a wall because we accidentally plastered a smoke alarm behind it.
It’s where Flea went off for her first day of pre-school, primary school and senior school.
It’s where she sat on the stairs and cried on the phone to her Grandma because I wouldn’t let her wear her shorts for Beaver Scouts.
She learned to ride a bike on the street outside. She drew chalk pictures in the back yard, and bounced on her trampoline while singing made-up songs about monkeys and bananas. Played pirates and monsters and video games.
There are so many memories here. So many moments I want to remember, and keep close, especially as Flea grows up.
But I think it’s time for a fresh start. The charm of owning Victorian properties has worn thin.
This is my third period property and it’s a never-ending battle against decaying windows, wonky walls and ageing roof tiles. At this point in my life I’d like a house that doesn’t need endless maintenance that I don’t have the time or interest to invest in.
I’m also increasingly conscious of my age. While naturally readers might assume my youthful looks put me in my mid-20s *cough* I’ve not long turned 40. If I want to extend my mortgage and get a fresh, 25-year loan, I need to do that before I’m 45.
Once Flea goes off to university or whatever she chooses to do after school, I might want to live somewhere else. It makes sense for me to invest in a property now that will give me more choices then.
If I get a bigger house now, I might be able to sell up in another six or seven years to buy something smaller down South. Maybe I’ll do something completely unexpected that I haven’t even thought of yet. I just want to make sure I’m giving myself options.
That said, my house isn’t completely fixed up.
Although I’ve done pretty well taking care of the big jobs, over the past ten years I’ve definitely prioritised experiences over property. While we were in Canada, those dodgy skirting boards weren’t being repaired. We went to Florence instead of repairing that blown double glazing unit. Went to concerts and took weekend breaks and had days out.
You get the idea.
But I want my house to sell as quickly as possible, so Project Fix It starts here.
This summer, I have booked a series of people to come in and fix up the house. The handyman is here for the next week or two, fixing little jobs. You know the sort of things you never get around to – that leaking tap, the door handle that’s stuck, the exterior light in need of a new bulb.
We have joiners booked to replace the damaged skirting boards. A glazing company to replace two windows. A tiler to freshen up the bathroom. Then a team of decorators to repaint the house, outside and in. And finally, a flooring company to replace the worn carpet on the staircase.
The hope is that the house will be ready to go on the market as soon as Flea gets back to school in September. I’ve had a couple of meetings with a mortgage advisor, and am starting to look around at new properties, just to get a feel for what I could afford.
Before then, Flea and I are gradually decluttering. For me that means getting rid of 500 pairs of Converse (feels like). For Flea, it means taking down about 500 K-Pop posters from her bedroom (feels like).
There’s a part of me that feels sad that we’re going to be leaving our little house behind. It holds so many lovely memories. But it’s time.
Besides, what’s not to love about FINALLY having my own bathroom and a dressing room?