This is What I Own – our weekly property series where we talk to homeowners about their buying experience.
We are chatting to Helen this week, who got on the property ladder at the age of 29.
More recently, she bought a village home in 2020 with a £90,000 deposit – and now pays £1,700 per month on her mortgage and bills.
Helen shares what she’s learnt along the way – here’s what she has to say…
Tell us about yourself, Helen.
I’m 42, a spiritual coach and hypnotherapist and based near Doncaster.
Where is your property? What do you think of the area?
My house is right on the borders of Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire in a small village called Misterton. It’s a lovely rural area, the village has a farming heritage, and there are lots of beautiful old farm houses. The Chesterfield Canal runs through the village and there are some beautiful places to walk and connect to nature.
When did you move in?
December 2020, just before the second lockdown lifted – which made it challenging to have a removal company in and out of the house.
How much does your property cost?
How much was your deposit?
What is the monthly cost of living here now; both mortgage and bills?
In total it’s about £1,700 per month.
How did you save up for your deposit?
Pretty much as soon as we bought our last house, we started to focus on saving the deposit for our next house. We had a five-year plan to move up the housing ladder so we knew what our saving goal was, and kept focused on it. Also during 2020, we weren’t paying travel expenses to work, and holidays and eating out didn’t happen because of lockdown, so we saved a significant sum that year.
What was the process of getting a mortgage like for you? Did you find any parts challenging?
In all honesty we were very lucky, it couldn’t have been any easier. We have a friend who is a mortgage advisor so we went straight to him, and he took care of everything. I used to be a solicitor, so I understand the house buying process very well.
Where did you live before this – were you renting or living with family?
We owned our previous home, too.
What made you want to buy rather than renting?
My parents and grandparents both bought their properties and I realised the security that it created. My grandmother always regretted buying her house. They had previously rented it from the colliery my grandfather worked for, who were very good at maintaining and decorating the property when it was leased. She didn’t quite understand that most landlords wouldn’t paint your house from top to bottom every year.
From leaving university, buying a house was a big life goal, but something I was worried I’d never be able to afford to do. I lived in a lot of house shares, and for one reason or another ended up moving quite regularly which was frustrating.
It took until I was 29 to get on the property ladder, and even then I only managed it thanks to the bank of mum and dad to help me get the deposit, but when I did, the mortgage payments were actually cheaper than rent would have been for a similar property, so it just made a lot of sense to me.
How did you find this property? What made you choose it?
I found this house via an online property portal. It was a bit of a ‘mystery house’ – it didn’t fully match our wish list. We were looking for something more remote, and this is in a village, but when we came to view it we fell in love. The sellers were very good at staging the house to sell it, and I was aware of that, but it felt so homely.
For a year before we started seriously looking I had been writing in my journal about my dream house: a character cottage, with roses by the door, and a big kitchen island – and this house perfectly matches that description. It was definitely manifested. We wanted a period property with some quirky features, and this house has plenty of that.
How have you made the property feel like home?
The house was so beautifully decorated that we could pretty much just move in and, as it was lockdown, we were here all the time. It felt like home right from the start.
The one thing that I bought to make the house more aesthetically-pleasing was a Georgian dining table off of eBay because my old Ikea one really didn’t go with a period house – I’m still on the hunt for the right chairs to go with it.
What’s the inspiration for your interior decor style?
I’m not sure that I have a style, but I like things to be comfortable and cosy. I’m trying to be braver with interior design, and be more eclectic mixing old and new.
Our last house was painted white throughout, simply because we didn’t really know what else to do. I would never have picked some of the bold colour schemes in this house – but I mostly love them and now I wouldn’t dream of going back to neutral colours. I spend time looking for ideas on Pinterest, but I am absolutely terrible at decorating, so it’s not something I am in a hurry to do.
What’s your favourite room and why?
Probably the lounge. It has three windows and faces south, so it’s a very light bright room. As the house is at a 90-degree angle to the road, you can sit on the sofa, without seeing another property. The view is of a very old brick wall, and a line of tall trees, so despite being in a village, it feels very private.
Do you feel like you have enough space?
Yes, that was part of the reason for moving to this house, we needed space for two home offices, which we have now. When we first moved in it felt massive, but I think I’ve got used to it, as it doesn’t any more. I do think the more space you have, the more you fill, so I’m also trying to be mindful about decluttering and recycling things we no longer need.
Do you have plans to change the property?
We are about to put a log burner into the lounge as it’s not the warmest room in the house because it has an open chimney, and the conservatory off of it. The wood burner will make it more cosy, and we are exploring the possibility of adding a shower somewhere – as we only have baths.
We don’t have any plans to do any major changes though. We fully renovated our last house, and found it hard work so I’ve no desire to do it again in a hurry.
Are there any problems with the property that you have to deal with?
Old houses always have issues! When we moved in we discovered that the chimney was leaking in the spare bedroom so we had the chimney stack rebuilt. Unfortunately it’s not 100% resolved, so we are currently trying to find a roofer to take a look. Last year, we had a wasp nest in the loft, which to be honest I was relieved when I found out, as I was worried it was mice.
What do you want people to know about buying a home?
Houses are an investment, but they also need investment. Maintaining a property is really important – especially old ones. Even a brand new property will need maintenance to keep its value. That said, I think it’s really important for a house to be a home, and not just a financial investment.
What are your plans for the future, in terms of housing? Do you plan to stay here long term?
For now we don’t have any plans to move. It’s a beautiful house in a lovely location and I’m very happy here.
Do you want to feature in What I Own?
What I Own is a Metro.co.uk series that takes you inside people’s properties, to take an honest look at what it’s like to buy a home in the UK. If you own your home and would be up for sharing your story, please email [email protected].
You’ll also need to be okay with sharing how much you’ve paid to live there and how you afforded the deposit, as that’s pretty important.
Shall we take a look around?
Do you have a story to share?
Get in touch by emailing [email protected].
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