It’s been over a year and a half since I moved into my apartment now. The process of selling my little studio flat and buying this one was one of the most stressful times of my life. But, well worth it in the end. Here are 10 things I learnt along the way:
1. You have WAY more stuff than you ever thought
I never thought I was a hoarder. But, when it came to packing your entire life up in boxes it soon becomes evidently clear how much crap you really own. A lot of this stuff you haven’t seen in years, but you still don’t really want to throw it away just in case. Just in case of what? I don’t think you will ever need these 6 bottles of almost empty deodorants that are probably smell disgusting now anyway. Oh, and that old fan that doesn’t work, but you keep telling yourself you’ll get it fixed instead of buying a new one? You will never get it fixed. Never. Throw. It. Away.
2. Welcome to the world of hidden fees and charges
Well done. You’ve saved enough money for your deposit, to pay your mortgage broker, your solicitor and the movers. Oh? What’s this? A ton of additional fees that the mortgage lender charges you to simply transfer the money into your account? Great. I didn’t want to buy food this week anyway. After going through this with 2 properties already, you would have thought I had gotten used to it by now. Remember, selling one of your kidneys on the black market is probably not the best solution right now. Probably.
3. Lucky number 58…or was it 59…?
You will view so many properties they will start blurring into one. I think I viewed over 50 properties before I found my apartment. As the property market moves so fast in London, I spent almost all of my spare time after work and at the weekends looking at anything and everything there was on the market. There were plenty of times where I wasn’t 100% sure on a place, but felt like I should just put an offer in just in case it got snapped up. I’m really glad I held out for the place I’m in now. Because the whole “you’ll just know” thing is true. Granted, people use this phrase to talk about love…but, it does work with property too! As soon as I walked into the building, I just knew. Keep persevering, it’ll be worth it in the end.
4. Being in a chain, even a short one, sucks
I spent so long trying to organise an exchange date; my buyers were ready, I was ready, but the seller of the new property was being incredibly difficult. The situation transpired from the seller wanting to earn as much rent as possible from the tenant that was currently residing in the property I was purchasing. Their idea situation was that the tenant was move out one day and then we would complete the entire purchase the next. Talk about optimism right?!
However, I could not exchange contracts and pay my deposit while a tenant was in the property, in case we encounter problems of them leaving on time – this would result in a court order for eviction, which could take even longer and I could essentially be homeless in this time! Not a fun situation to be in. We were supposed to exchange when the property was vacant. This ultimately delayed the process for months. And when we were finally ready to exchange, my buyers suddenly had issues, which delayed us further. The seller then got frustrated and threatened to put the property back on the market if we didn’t exchange contracts immediately. I was stuck in the middle, with my life packed up in a million boxes, trying my hardest not to swear down the phone/have a mental breakdown/jump off my balcony/all of the above.
5. You can be as prepared & as organised as you like, doesn’t mean others will be as well
Other people are annoying and they will delay you. Not just the buyers and sellers (see above), but your solicitor, other solicitors, surveyors, mortgage lenders, management companies etc. Everyone that isn’t you basically. Make all the spreadsheets/to-do lists you want, it doesn’t really make any difference. You might be completely up-to-date and have filled in all the right forms, signed the right contracts and sent off everything promptly, but it’ll be other people that will be constantly tripping you up. Be firm, but professional. And screaming into a pillow when you’re alone helps. A little.
6. Estate agents will not stop hassling you both before and after you have bought/sold
Not enough that their fees are a killer – no wonder more people opt to sell their own homes online nowadays! – they take your details and sign you on to every single possible mailing list known to man. Despite desperately unsubscribing to all these spam emails, there are always more that crop up even now, over a year and a half after the whole process! When you’re looking for the right estate agent to sell your home, they are hassling you to try and sign you on and now, they are hassling you to buy somewhere else and/or encouraging you want to sell again. I don’t think I’ll like to go through the buying/selling process again anytime soon thank you very much. I quite like having all my hair.
7. You will get upset seeing your first home completely empty on moving day
Moving day was particularly stressful as my movers were 3 hours late and I was technically trespassing once the sale was completed. It took a long time to get everything out of the flat and all the build up just mounted up. When I saw that little studio devoid of all my furniture and belongings, just an empty shell, it was actually heartbreaking for me. With just the red paint in the kitchen and the floral pattern I had picked out on the feature wall acting as the only evidence of my having lived there for 3.5 years, I found it so hard to say goodbye. It wasn’t all smooth sailing living there for that long, but those walls did contain a lot of happy memories. I remembered how happy I was collecting keys as a first time homeowner and how different I am now as I left them for someone else. I wouldn’t change the time I had there for the world though, and I only hope the new owners are as happy as I was living there.
8. A new property is a fresh start for a new adventure, but you will reflect upon the past
A clean slate. It’s actually incredibly refreshing being able to start from scratch again. Seeing your old things in somewhere new. I always get a little blubbery on moving days, I know it’s exciting to be able to live somewhere new, but I find I can get attached to places I spend a considerable amount of time in, no matter how good or bad the experience was. Prime example was getting sad moving out of Halls at university, despite the fact that I actually couldn’t wait to get out of there, away from the noise and the tiny space and into a proper house. My sadness comes from looking into the past and all the positive outcomes that each place I’ve lived in has been witness to. In the case of Halls, it was where I met many of my good friends, where I learnt to live independently and where I grew as a person. So much happened in that one year in Halls and I knew moving out would be the end of that chapter of my life. However, as one chapter ends, another begins. Each new place is the chance to learn something new, experience something unfamiliar and look out into the future with optimism and hope. A new adventure awaits, start living it.
9. There’s always that one box you never unpack
In my old home, it was kept behind the bed in a gap that was between the bed and the window. You could see it from the outside, but not the inside and I figured as I was on the 8th floor, no one would notice so it would be a great hiding place. In the new place, the box currently resides in my bedroom next to my bed, but on the side that is the furthest away from the door. If I’m 100% honest, I haven’t looked at it since I moved in when I realised I didn’t have enough room elsewhere to unpack the contents. It’s been sad there ever since and at this point, I’m almost afraid to look inside. It is currently hiding under some cuddly toys and cushions…I’ll get round to sorting it one of these days. Or, maybe I’ll just chuck the whole thing away without looking through it. If I haven’t needed anything in there for over a year, surely I don’t need it right? Right? I am not a hoarder. I am not a hoarder.
10. You will lust after other properties and get apartment envy
No matter how great your place is and how much you love it there – and I do, I really do – you will go to friend’s places, or an advert will pop up for a new development – I’m such a sucker for new and modern properties! – and you will get a bit jealous. There’ll be a little quick maths in your head in regards to how much money you’ve made on your current apartment, how much extra you’d have to put towards this new place you like, can you afford to keep your place, rent it out to cover the mortgage and buy that new place. So many questions and scenarios running through your brain. And then you realise you shouldn’t get greedy. You live in such a lovely apartment and a lot of people just don’t have that privilege, especially in London where property prices are extortionately high. Get over your lust for other modern apartments promptly and proceed to plan when you can feasibly host your next BBQ, because there’s no better way to get over your fleeting fantasy than with food that is cooked outside.