So, you’re going to go for it. You’ve basically spent the past three (OK, that’s a lie,
13, probably) months on Rightmove, indulging in regular so-called property porn.
You’ve done a few sums, you’ve smiled smugly at the possible amount you can put your flat or house up for sale at.
It’s time to go viewing. But, well, where?
Are you going ‘full country’, so far out of London or the city you live in that you would have to drive to a train station to get the hourly train to ‘town’?
So remote you rely on Ocado (other delivery services are available), and need to consider replacing the hatchback with a Land Rover so you can go for a pint of milk when it snows?
Or are you more like I was – able to live without Deliveroo and Uber, but certain you wanted to walk to a) a pub b) a small shop c) a supermarket? You may be laughing now – where does Uber and Deliveroo or Just Eat not happen? In the country, that’s where.
I was a bit unsure at first, too – and this is a head vs heart moment. Do you think you can live without takeaway delivery on tap?
Of course you can – but it takes some getting used to. Try not to romanticise these things you have now.
I often remind myself that the final curry delivery we had went ‘missing’ and had to be re-sent, taking a total of two hours to get to us. Now, the local curry house knows us when we call.
Before we decided to go ‘full country’, we dabbled with staying in London. ‘Full country’ was for a few more years down the line, in our grand plan. But an offer on a flat around the corner from ours fell through after a year of waiting for an offer on ours, too, and we realised that we should consider ‘the big leap’ sooner.
But, to where? Despite the browsing, the looking at houses with acres and acres of land, the scrolling past cute cottages on commuter lines, we didn’t have a reason to go anywhere in particular. (Well, family, but as ours are all in different locations, we felt like going somewhere that was ‘ours’).First up, there was Hertfordshire – Tring, Hemel Hempstead, then we decided, just for fun, to head to the Cotswolds and see some properties around Chipping Norton.
This is where I begin my first warning of head vs heart.
Head says: ‘Oh, we’re just looking, we’re having a weekend in the country, and we’re just looking…’
Heart says: ‘Wow, this is niiice…Imagine our dogs, imagine our house, imagine the local produce, country fairs, seasonal fun…’
And it amplifies when you find houses you like. Suddenly, they’re not just bricks and mortar, they’re your potential future home.
Walking around a house that could be your ‘big move’ will inevitably bring up feelings of excitement, joy, all your hopes and dreams and plans wrapped up in the excitement of replacing someone else’s wallpaper.
Here’s my advice for anyone thinking of making the move:
1. Make notes, don’t talk aloud
If the agent hears you, they’ll be super on your case. Having a list of ‘head not heart’ questions can help – when was the boiler put in? How’s the wi-fi? Is there traffic noise (we moved from a busy road in North London, sirens, bikes, you name it. Now the traffic is early-morning farm machinery, which gets noisy at harvest time – I’d never thought about it!).
2. Every time you feel romantic about it, remind yourself of a practical side
E.g.: ‘Ooh, look at those gorgeous beams, imagine dried flowers from the garden hanging on them’ should go alongside, ‘Hmm, beams, let’s ask about woodworm. And how will I dust them?’
3. Try to meet the owner
Ask what they like – let them chat. Get a feel for anything they say that’s not ideal.
4. See if things work
Look inside the oven, ask to turn on a tap (hot water? Nice one, the boiler works).
5. Do the maths
This is not my strong point, so thankfully Geoff is much better with a spreadsheet, but make sure your offer, if you decide to make one, is head not heart and based on some serious sums such as bills, commuting and redecorating.