I have been lax at posting I know and my only excuse is that we have been super busy with work in addition to beginning the process of looking for a house to buy. In one way there’s no big rush – we like where we’re renting and we think the landlord will extend the lease when it runs out in April. On the other hand, it’s an expensive rental and we could save money each month if we bought. Plus, we’re not 100% sure we can stay and won’t know until next year.
So, we started searching. At first I found houses on Rightmove.com and then we just drove there and looked at them from the outside. That was a helpful exercise as we started to get to know different areas. It also helped us narrow our criteria – oddly enough, it became clear that Phil really wants to live in the countryside, which is something I wouldn’t have guessed when we first started looking.
Also, I came to realize that not being on a busy road was important to me. Where we are now is a quiet road most of the time, but every morning, lunchtime and evening it gets really noisy because it’s a shortcut to Harrogate. Having cars, buses and lorries rumble by our window is not something we’re used to, and not something we want to repeat.
And then there’s the type of house – neither of us like modern properties and neither of us want to live on a housing estate of any kind. Luckily we do tend to agree and be drawn to the same kind of houses.
So having spent a few weeks driving up to houses and looking at them from the outside, we took the plunge and started to look inside. We’ve visited three so far. Because we vet them so carefully before calling the agents (analyzing all the online pictures, reading every detail looking for disqualifying factors, and driving up to look at them from the outside), we are well-prepared by the time we go inside and haven’t really had any surprises.
We’ve liked all three in different ways. There was the 3 bedroom house in a tiny village near Ripon that faced out onto this street and had outbuildings with potential to convert into offices for our business. The house and area are lovely, but it is quite a way from our families and friends – further away than we are now, and further away than we want to be.
Then there was the converted barn up in the hills near Skipton which I just loved when we first visited. Imagine living here!
We visited again and still liked it – gorgeous interior, beautiful location, closer to all our friends and our families … but a slightly weird situation that I won’t bore you with, but that would involve Phil and I co-managing the barn complex with 4 other home owners and having regular meetings. The other downside of this house is that, despite being amidst beautiful scenery, you really can’t see any of it from the windows. Not a huge big deal, but something to think about.
You soon realize when you’re house-hunting that unless you have an unlimited budget, you will have to make compromises. If you want a beautifully finished home in a great spot, it’s not going to have amazing views and be 2 miles from a big town because if it did, it would be out of your price range. On the other hand, if you find a house with brilliant views, no weird ownership situation and just 2 miles from a big town, it’s going to have some other issues.
That brings us to the house we’re currently considering, which I call the Ugly Duckling house. It couldn’t have a more beautiful setting – up on a hill overlooking the valley with a private garden, total seclusion, and 360-degree views from every single room in the house. It’s also in a great location for friends and family. So what’s the catch? Well, inside it needs a lot of work – not structural work as far as we can tell – but lots and lots of redecorating, new carpets and floors, new bathrooms, a new kitchen … taking it on would be a major project. At first I felt very daunted by it, but that initial sense of fear is now being replaced by a bubbling sense of all the possibilities. After all, if your garden has views like this, how can you go wrong?
Right now we’re weighing up what we want to do. Phil has a theory that if you need to think something through, you DON’T think about it. You just get on with your life and your brain will do the thinking quietly in the background until you have the answer. It all sounds great but my brain has a habit of tapping me on the shoulder and saying ‘hey, we’re supposed to be thinking about things here. C’mon, get involved!’
Still, in the end, although Phil and I approach these things in different ways, we do usually seem to come to the same conclusion, so we’ll see what happens…