Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Is buying a house the third most stressful thing in the world?

About two months ago, Robbie and I decided to buy a house in Winchester.

This may seem like a smart move – buying a home together where we can raise our cats and indulge our desire for arguing over everything. And Winchester has recently been voted one of the best places to live in the whole of the UK. I know – far better than West Norwood where we’re currently trying to keep the cats from mixing with the wrong crowd.

Anyway, it seemed like a pretty straight forward thing: we’d sign up with estate agents, roll into town with all our London lolly and pick up something huge, Victorian and sprawling in which we get lost on a regular basis, before filling the whole thing with organic products and going to listen to a lunchtime recital at the Cathedral.

But, of course, God has a thing about pretentious wankers, and so we have been thwarted in our attempt to achieve middle-class hideousness and have realised that when we decided to buy a house in Winchester, so did half of London. Because, surprise surprise, calling somewhere the best place to live in the UK, makes it somewhat attractive to those, like us, seeking a break from the concrete grey days of London town. Even the fact that Robbie grew up there and his parents live in one of the nicest areas holds very little sway when a 3-bed Victorian terrace is going for £400k.

So we have searched and searched – 19 houses so far. And Oh! what joys we’ve seen – a house with barely a bedroom on at £360k, a terrace with an overgrown quarry face an inch from the back windows and a bedroom only accessible by going out the front door, down some stairs and then in again for £325k, a house that may as well have been in the middle of the A3 in terms of car noise for £399k, and one that came with the sense that something very bad happened in the back bedroom for £340k. We have wasted so much money and time careering over Hampshire only to find the delightful period cottage is actually a campervan on blocks. For £400k.

And Rob and I have nearly killed each other and ourselves – although, that’s usually me trying to hurl myself from the moving car mid-row as some kind of dramatic statement .

BUT – today we put an offer in on a nice little place on Stockbridge Road in Winchester. It’s not perfect – parking and a busy road may be an issue – but it will give Rob the opportunity to wield his hammer, or at least show someone where to wield theirs, it’s right by the station so we can get to London very easily and our London friends can get to us without complaining too much, and it ticks the big box marked: IN WINCHESTER. And it’s pretty. Or at least it could be. Our offer’s been accepted and so it could very soonly be ours ...

But there’s another BUT – Rob’s mum went to see a little 2 bed terrace on Canon Street which is in the old quarter and right by the cathedral this morning. She loved it and really wants us to see it before we make any final decisions - location is apparently perfect - so we’re going to go and see that one on Saturday, as well as a second viewing on Stockbridge Road.

I’m guessing the tale is not yet finished.

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