Everyday Adventuring

Browsing Houses

I am a big fan of home improvement and property shows. It started back in the 90s with Changing Rooms – when I was at uni I even went to Laurence Llewellyn-Bowen’s book signing. Now, I watch more North American ones… particularly Chip & Joanna Gaines and their Fixer Upper series, the Property Brothers with Drew and Jonathon Scott and Love It or List It Vancouver with Jillian Harris. More recently I’ve been back in the UK, watching a BBC show called Your Home, Made Perfect where they show homeowners planned improvements using VR headsets and green screens, then they have to pick between two designers’ plans to improve the space they have.

It’s so fun to watch these shows and dream up a house combining all the things you love. (Side note – this is also why I loved The Sims, I just built and decorated the houses more than actually play the game.) The houses on all the North American shows tend to be massive and include lots of open plan living, large utility rooms, kitchen islands and usually a wrap-around porch. The UK ones are always more modest because house sizes and ages are just very different here. This kind of makes it hard when you’re trying to dream up an actual prospective home because in the forefront of your mind are all these ranch-style mini-mansions about six times the size of the house we could afford!

Knowing location is a priority when we move, it limits the types of houses available. We want to be within walking distance of shops and decent coffee – this was a big thing we loved about where we lived in Vancouver, that there were enough local businesses that it had a real neighbourhood vibe. We’ve found a really nice neighbourhood in Liverpool and all the houses within a 10 minute walk of the shops are your typical terraced houses with small yards and very similar floor plans. If you go a little further out, a 15 minute walk from the shops, you find a few houses with garages and gardens.

So now it’s choosing what the must-haves for our home are. I would love to have a kitchen-diner, so that when we’re making food, there’s space for Maisie to play within view, it would also mean having people over for food becomes more sociable. We want three bedrooms so that Tom can have a separate room as his office. Although a big part of me wants to embark on our own Fixer Upper and buy something lower cost and do the work on it to make it our “dream home”, the reality of trying to do that with a toddler does not fill me with joy, so we’re looking for something that is move-in ready or close to it. That’s not to say it needs to be high-spec, but we’d want to be able to live in it as-is for the next few years. There’s a range of readiness in the houses where we’re looking – some are turn-key gorgeous properties, some need just a lick of paint, some need a lot more than TLC.

It’s been a lot of fun checking Rightmove for new houses and what’s available in budget in our desired location. We’ve figured out the typical layouts in the different roads, and also started to suss out where parking could become a problem. We’ve imagined which would be our room, Maisie’s and Tom’s office, and what furniture we’d put where downstairs. We’ve looked at some houses where the decor doesn’t really need touching, and others where we’d have to spend a good few hours covering up a very bold colour choice of the previous tenant.

When we stumbled upon houses within our budget and very close to the desired location that had gardens and off-road parking, it kind of stopped us in our tracks, and made us think. We hadn’t really considered having a garden was a possibility in our budget, but imagining Maisie getting to have her own play area in our own garden, and be able to run around on her own patch of grass kind of changed priorities in our mind a little! We’d still be close to the shops and cafes as desired, but further from parks – but does that matter when you have your very own green space? So those properties have jumped up on our favourites list now.

Another consideration is church. Ultimately, we’d love to go to a church in our neighbourhood, maybe even walking distance of home. We hadn’t given it much thought in terms of prioritising our move around the location of church, because we figured we’ll move and then look for what’s nearby. But then, earlier this year I saw Nicky Gumbel post on Instagram that he’d been to an HTB church plant – Penny Lane Church. Penny Lane is in the centre of the area we’re looking to move to, so I figured this church must be in the neighbourhood. We looked at it online and were encouraged by the amount of information for families on the website, and also by a job position they were advertising for – a Community Engagement Lead. It seemed like a family-friendly, community-centred church, so we went to visit. It seems like a great church community, and we’ve been back a few times now. It really feels like the kind of place we could belong, and we’re excited to include it within our home-searching parameters now!

We’re getting impatient now as we’re not actually in the position to move right away. We need to sort out a mortgage, get our flat up to scratch and valued, and then on the market with a local agent, and then we can actually seriously start looking. It’s annoying because since we’ve started to properly talk about moving, things have started breaking here and we don’t really want to spend money fixing them when we’re going to be leaving, but also some of the things will help it to sell, and some things just can’t not be fixed. There’s two properties for sale in our building, but they’re both top floor, so we’re hopeful that ours will be in higher demand being ground floor, and will therefore sell reasonably quickly. A lot of the properties we’ve been looking at don’t have a chain, so hopefully when we are ready to pull the trigger things will all happen quite fast… hopefully!!

But for now, I’ll just continue browsing houses!

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