I am in the process of selling my house and moving in with my partner (as you may know if you read my blog post about choosing an estate agent!). Since I made that decision I had a buyer within a few weeks of the new year! I have been happy with the agent that I chose, and I am glad I picked the one that I felt the most comfortable with. He did also negotiate a good price for me!
Things have progressed nicely, and quicker than I was expecting! Now we are agreeing on a completion date it is starting to feel very real, and I am processing a lot of mixed feelings.
While this is on the whole a very exciting time, and I have no doubts that it is the right move to make, I still have some anxiety and sadness bubbling up. After all, you can’t move on unless you are leaving something behind.
My Dream Home
Buying my own home was a huge step and achievement for me. It was a dream that I held onto for a long time. Imagining what kind of house it would be, and how I would decorate it was something that got me through some tougher times in my life. When I otherwise felt directionless I had owning my own home one day as my goal.
This was the first time I had full freedom to do whatever I wanted to be space – I could paint it in whatever bright colours I wanted (no more magnolia or grey walls!) and put up as many shelves and pictures as I wanted without worrying about losing my deposit!
It isn’t the perfect house but I’ve got it exactly how I wanted it.
As someone prone to anxiety it was also a big step in my personal development to face the stresses and responsibilities that come with owning my own home… of which there are many and it can be overwhelming when you’re the one with sole responsibility!
I navigated through the buying process and dealt with estate agents, mortgage brokers, surveyors and solicitors myself.. all in 2020 during the pandemic too! All of that seemed terrifying at the start but turned out to not be as difficult, or stressful as I had feared. Even though there were a few moments when I thought I might have a heart attack from last-minute complications (due to poor communication between solicitors!), we all survived and it was done!
My house has taught me a lot of new skills. I am confident using a drill now! It took a lot of badly drilled and wonky holes but I finally worked out the magic of using a pilot hole first for accuracy when you’re drilling into a hard brick wall (also using cold water to cool down a melting drill bit!)!
I am amazing at using filler to patch up holes. My family laughed at the amount of filler I used in the living room, which has its original soft 1930s horsehair plaster full of dents, but it looked great when it was painted!
I also have done extensive research into different types of paint. I know how to lay a laminate floor. I used expanding foam to fill in a gap above a window which turned out to be more fun than I thought! I fixed the weak flush on my toilet. I wired in my Tado smart thermostat to my boiler by myself (though I did nearly have a genuine nervous breakdown down trying for about 3 hours to get a tiny wire into a terminal I couldn’t see properly in a cramped cupboard…!).
I have dealt with various tradespeople to fix leaking the boiler, shower, and guttering. Or for removing a wasps nest, and getting new carpets, taps and locks fitted… Every time having to research someone to come and help me with my problem! This gives me tremendous anxiety every time that it’ll lead to a greater catastrophe than I’m expecting, or they’ll rip me off!
There was the time the guys who were delivering and fitting my new washing machine from AO didn’t arrive until 7pm because they’d already had a day full of nightmare jobs, and were still trying to fit mine at 9pm because it turned out the previous owners of this house had glued the old one to the cupboard… I had to sacrifice a kitchen unit panel for that. I felt so bad for those guys, but what champions for not bailing on me.
It then took another two years to get around to replacing that kitchen panel as I had to find the right shade of cream in the right size, so I just lived with that gap!
I not only survived all this but I now feel actually quite capable. I actually finally feel, at 34 years old, like an adult. But boy, owning your own home is not for the faint of heart!
I have also discovered a love for gardening since living here. I lost many hours working on the garden and find it incredibly soothing for my anxiety or if I’m having a low day!
I adore looking out the window to see lots of brightly coloured flowers, this last summer I finally managed to achieve getting the wooden decking treated in time and was able to get lots of lovely pots planted up with flowers I’d grown from seed. My own little baby plants!
During my first summer here I discovered that the previous owners had left a giant pile of old concrete posts and stones from the wall that used to be across the front of the drive behind the garden shed. Since these would be a major pain to get rid of I decided I could use them to build a rockery in the empty spot where I’d removed a poorly placed little fir tree and out-of-control raspberries (previous owners were not thoughtful gardeners!).
I move all that by myself on a beautiful, but very hot, afternoon in June. It was sweaty, exhausting and so invigorating. I topped it off with the soil from the rotting old raised bed I also wanted to move, again so pleased with myself for just using what I already had! This year my labours are finally paying off as those stones now have some beautiful moss growing on them and the plants are now fully established having survived several attacks by slugs.
I waged a full war on those slugs (both outside and inside the house!). I cannot tell you how many there were in that garden.. hundreds of them! Every night was like a slug orgy on the lawn! Half the garden is made up of wooden decking which is the perfect, dark and damp environment for slugs to hang out. After a combination of many nights going out with my torch (I don’t know what my neighbours thought I was doing!) and physically picking the disgusting little things off my plants and slug pellets I had it under control enough for my plants to have a chance at growing!
As for the inside, I’ve not seen a sign of them in the kitchen this year so I think managed to plug up the hole there were coming in…! (I caught two of them inside and found a lot of trails last year!)
This last summer I also dug out and made a little pond in the hope of attracting a frog to help keep the slug population down. The flock of sparrows that live in my hedge definitely love the pond, but I’ve not seen any sign of frogs! I will definitely be making a little pond somewhere at my partner’s house once we get his garden under control, I love having water and birds to watch.
A Part of Me
So you can see that this house and I have been through a lot together, even in the short time of just two and a half years.
I always have felt very attached to my environment. I’ve decorated my rooms wherever I have lived. I need my stuff around me to feel settled. If my walls are bare I don’t feel quite myself, I believe that your home should be an expression of who you are.
Leaving behind my rooms is going to feel like leaving behind a part of myself.
I won’t again be the person who chose those colours, the pictures, the furniture and the arrangement of those things. I was a single person then making decisions only for me. I am moving on to be a part of a couple building a home that we share and that won’t be a reflection of just myself, it’ll a part of both of us. That’s beautiful, and I am excited to do that.. but it doesn’t mean I don’t feel sad to say goodbye to 2020-2023 Alice and her home.
She is the one that spent over two years, mostly alone, in these spaces having a multitude of thoughts, feelings and experiences. Learning all kinds of things; reading, listening, watching, creating. Laughing, crying and everything in between. I have just clear memories of painting all the colours of this house – the podcasts or music I was listening to, either alone or with the people who were helping me.
I of course did not experience all of this alone. I had the physical help and emotional support of my family and my partner. My mother helped me do so much of the decorating; my brother coming over to cut the hedges for me; my sister, mother and father helped me dig up that small tree on my 33rd birthday because that’s what I wanted to do… (guys, even digging up a 4ft tree is very difficult!).
My partner has also been a huge part of helping me make this house my home. We met in June and I put the offer on this house in July 2020, so in many ways, our relationship has been a part of my journey as a homeowner and his help and support have been why I have so many great memories.
I always joke that it was actually quite annoying that he was the one that finally stuck after 5 years of being single. It would be the one just as I finally bought my own place! But I am very grateful that I had this time as a solo homeowner to have the independence and space to grow.
A piece of our relationship
He helped me move, he helped me paint some of the rooms, lay the laminate floor in my office, and jet wash and reoil the decking (twice!). He went with me to IKEA, B&Q, Wickes and Screwfix countless times. He put up curtain rods and shelves for me. He helped me break into my own garden shed after I lost the keys to it for 2 months!
In fact, putting a very tricky bay window curtain track was something we did very early in our relationship. That showed me what an amazingly patient person he is, and even though it was a nightmare to do, we got through it together with no arguments or ugly tension! (Also thanks to some advice from his equally laid-back Dad over the phone!). His ability to keep calm, and an apparently high threshold for frustration during difficult tasks, are some of the things I love about him.
We have many amazing memories in this house together as a couple too, and all the walks we have taken together down the canal or around the park that are 10 minutes from my door. That was where we had many of the conversations that began and deepened our relationship.
I will have to get rid of my sofa, where we have watched so many episodes of Star Trek, Taskmaster, and Grand Designs (the infamous Devon Lighthouse episode!) and we can cuddle in a way just we just can’t recreate on the sofas at his house. It just won’t be quite the same!
We’ll be saying goodbye to the kitchen where we got obsessed with Magic Puzzle Company puzzles. Or, the valentines day we spent making rude clay sculptures together. Where I made him his first-ever stir-fry! (Now a favourite meal).
Even he said to me the other day that he has been thinking about he’ll also miss my house. Although not the decking, I don’t think either of us is keen to be maintaining wooden decking again!
An Exciting Next Chapter
I worry that my mixed-up feelings over saying goodbye to my house are reading to my partner that I’m not excited to live with him. That is not at all the case! There is so much to look forward to, and we already ready have just as many amazing memories in his house, and will make more every day.
I’ll have a whole new place to decorate and make my own, though it will be an adjustment to make sure we compromise to meet both of our tastes. We have already been working on what will be my new home office space and craft room. I’ve never had the space for a dedicated craft desk and I am very excited about that! Plus we’re going to put up proper bookshelves so I can start to collect physical books again (I stopped after moving 3 times in 5 years!).
We have many exciting plans to redo the bedroom, and we’ll eventually get a new kitchen and a bathroom, and it’ll be so fun to make all those decisions together. It’ll take a bit of time but eventually, that house will come to feel like it has a piece of me in it too.
I’ll also have a whole new garden to work on. My partner has no interest in gardening so that’ll be my space. It’s going to be a lot of work I’m excited to be able to transform it over the next few years.
We’ll both get to share the responsibilities and stresses of home ownership, as well as splitting all the chores and expenses which should make us both so much better off financially. For most of my adult life, since leaving my parents at 25, I have been a single, independent person and I can’t wait to finally have a partner in life to share all of this with.
This means we’ll get both more time together and more time for ourselves. I am hoping I’ll have more time and energy to put into writing this blog, my embroidery projects (which I do want to share about at some point!), and figuring out what I want to do with my career (I need to make a change there!).
For now though, while we wait on the sales process to complete I’m stuck here in limbo between the life I’ll be leaving behind and the one I’m looking forward to beginning. I already feel more at peace with my coming transition after sharing my thoughts. If you made it this far thank you for reading!
If you made it through this blog thank you for reading! It’s new for me to share something more personal, and writing this all out has really helped me process my thoughts and feelings!
Have you experience something similar? Please share below in the comments, I would love to hear from you.