Where to buy a house?

9 Jul 2017

Musings on where to buy our first house

Part of mine and G’s vague five-year plan involves buying a house. Whilst we’re not planning on moving right now, we have recently started to think about it a bit more because, quite frankly, it’s a bloody big decision.

The first step of the whole big, complicated process is deciding where we want to live. It goes without saying that we can’t afford to buy a house where we are now, as much as we would love to. Good old St Albans is one of the most expensive places to live in the country, with house prices being approx. 8.7 times higher than the average salary…yay. At a push, we might be able to afford a one bedroom flat in a less-than-desirable area but we want a house. Heck, I want a bloody garden.

We knew this when we moved here. We knew our time here was limited even before we’d arrived. The whole point was that we (okay, me) wanted to live in the place we’d (okay, I) always wanted to live, even if it was just for a couple of years. Just for the experience, to know that’d I’d done it. Because life is short and all that. Problem is, when you’re already living in your perfect location (because G now loves it too), how do you decide where to move to next?

So, quick history of where I’ve lived so far: I was born in Sheffield where I lived until I was 9. Then my parents divorced and my mum and step-dad moved down south where I spent the rest of my childhood in a village in Bedfordshire, with regular weekend visits back to Sheffield. I lived in Bath for three years doing the student thing. Then I moved back to the village for two and a half years, although I spent a lot of that in London, before moving to St Albans with G in April 2016.

G’s history: he was born and grew up in Kent, moved to Newcastle for university where he stayed for several years before moving to London for a few more years where he met yours truly. Which was obvs the highlight of his life.

Boom. I’m sure that was thrilling for ya.

The point is, both G and I have lived and had lives in more than one place, meaning our friends and family are a bit dotted about; we don’t really have ‘oh I’ll just pop by tonight’ culture going on with our favourite people because we don’t live that close (I’ve spoken about this before here). We both work in London at the moment and, whilst we’re both definitely open to the idea to not doing so one day, the commute has to be factored in.

FYI, commuting costs will make you do a little sick of horror down yourself. They’re utterly obscene.

We’ve previously considered the option of moving up north because have you seen the difference in house prices?! We’ve not completely ruled this idea out; if a job opportunity arose, I’m sure we’d still consider it. But this option would create the most disruption to our lives. We would both have to find new jobs which is nerve wracking in itself but would also involve a lot of back and forth, and we’d have to do all of that before we could even rent a new place, let alone get a mortgage. And, whilst my Dad and some family live up north, it would mean moving away from nearly all our friends and other family who are all mostly in the south. It would be a completely new life, and it feels a lot to sacrifice just for cheaper houses. As marvellous as a better house for less money would be.

So, at the moment, we’re considering various commutable-into-London areas in the south.

You know what? It’s expensive. Even with savings and a help-to-buy ISA and two full time wages. We’re in an extremely lucky position (believe me, I truly appreciate this) and are still priced out of so many areas. Eff you housing crisis.

We recently did a little Hertfordshire road trip (I know, I know, it’s right at the top of your travel bucket list) and went to Letchworth Garden City, Hitchin, St Neots, Biggleswade and Sandy. Nope, I’d never heard of half of those places either. Some stayed on the ‘potential’ list, some were ruled out the moment we arrived.

Still on our list of places to check out is more of Hertfordshire, places further north (nearer the midlands) as well as bits of Kent.

If you have any suggestions, please shout. In the meantime, I’m gonna gaze out my window at St Albans and pretend I can stay here forever. Kay, bye.

P.S. This is an alarmingly adult post so I just thought I'd rectify that by telling you that I cried 3 times yesterday and made G buy me twirl bites and pink lemonade cos hormones.