When did you last move house? Did you have a house hunting criteria?
Moving house is something I have experienced many times in my life. I moved countless times as a child, then as an adult from one uni house to another before upgrading to several rented flats and a house before finally buying my first home. I now live in my second ‘owned’ home and after 5 years we decided to put it on the market.
There are parts of moving house that I have always loved – looking at Rightmove to see which properties are available, visiting houses to look in more detail, getting excited about different layouts, new areas to discover, furniture to buy, decorating schemes to create etc. This time, however, things are different… this time I am mummy.
Being mummy changes everything with regards to moving house. The fanciful dreaming is replaced by level headed practical mummy, which if you know me is quite simply about as far from the real me as I can be. I am permanently floating in idealistic land, I hate routines and most of my decision making is done based on emotional factors. This time I have my practical house hunting criteria head on – layout is key. The layout MUST be practical for our family lifestyle (which our house does not offer); the new property MUST be in a good school catchment (and by GOOD I am not referring to Ofsted’s limited judgement criteria but rather my own list); it MUST be within our budget (I appreciate this seems like a sensible and rather obvious point but where we live it is rather tricky to get what we want in budget without it being a project and then the project has to be affordable) which brings me onto my final point… it MUST be livable for a toddler and a puppy from day one.
Hmmmm… if we were in a booming property market I may still have enjoyed the looking at Rightmove aspect but since it is not I am only frustrated that there are no houses in my budget that I like in an area I want to live in. I know I am very lucky to be in this position, but I am still frustrated by it!
I have found myself using Rightmove in a new way to try to find a property to match my house hunting criteria. The first thing I look at is the location. When we have moved in the past we have been happily open to a wide area. Now, we are much more restricted by school catchment areas. Then I look at the floorplan. You can change the interior decor, you do not buy their furniture, you can even buy a new kitchen or bathroom (eventually in our case) but you can not change the shape or size of the house. So if you are selling please include a floorplan!
My House Hunting Criteria
Initially, we wanted open plan living with kitchen, diner and living space all in one, but apparently that is not very popular at our budget or in our location, so we may have to give up on this one. We haven’t seen one house that offers this option. The reason we were so keen on open plan living is because J is very attached and prefers to be within touching distance at all times – to be seen but out of arms reach is a compromise, 2 rooms away is not acceptable mummy! I had thought this might improve over time, but since nothing has changed in the last 3 years being able to watch him playing whilst I cook would avoid some of the issues we have now.
Third bedroom size is key for us too. When some bright spark designed many of the houses in our area single beds were obviously much smaller and children didn’t regularly live with parents into their mid twenties. Therefore, third bedrooms are teeny and a single bed would take up their length. This is not at all suited to our situation. Although we only have 1 child, we both work from home. We need a third bedroom big enough to fit two desks and a large bookcase at least. Ideally, it will also fit a sofa bed in for the rare occasion we have a visitor stay or we may find ourselves with nowhere for guests.
Finally, I would love to have a lounge that opens up into the garden (yes this is a preference, but a practical one). This would allow us to use our outdoor space much more fluidly and with a super active almost 3 year old definitely makes my top 3 new house wish list.
We are lucky to have good schools in the area, however, we have very few mixed gender secondary schools in our area and this is a huge preference for me. (Of course J may not like this when he gets older so it may all change, but based on my own school experience I am not keen on single gender secondary schools.) Therefore, trying to find a house in a good primary catchment and a good mixed secondary catchment within our budget and size needs (because let’s face it many families are thinking the same as us so house prices rocket in response) is not easy.
Project or Finished Home?
Personally, I love a project. Our first house needed minimal work, our current home needed a lot of work in the garden and decorative rehaul inside and now I feel ready to start knocking some walls around and start designing from scratch, but is this really practical with a toddler?
Before we put our home on the market we considered extending it. Actually, this was our preference to moving. We planned a 2 storey side extension, a back extension and a couple of walls knocked about downstairs. It would have meant a brand new kitchen, bathroom, flooring, doors etc. We were both so excited about it but it would have cost double the value it would have added to our home so we decided that selling was the better option.
I think that the desire to create a proper home of my own from scratch though has resided and I keep finding myself drawn to the project homes. Unfortunately, they are all top of our budget leaving us no pennies to spend on renovations. So now we are looking for a more finished home.
Have you moved recently? Do you have any tips on finding the right house?
Are you cramped in your home? Will you extend or move to give yourself more space?
I, meanwhile, will continue the house hunting… wish me luck!