I do try to not get on my soap box here, but today I want to get a little ranty about postcode snobbery and why we chose to buy a house (or rather two houses) in a perceived rough area. I could make this a very quick post, as to be honest we bought both our houses because they were all we could afford with our budget. I just want to write about how glad I am that we made a Kirstie and Phil style ‘compromise’ on location rather than carrying on renting.
My beef is that I have lost count of the number of people who say to Rob and I about our house “its a nice house” and then finish their statement by adding “but I would never live in this area”.
Sometimes when we meet people for the first time and they ask the inevitable question of “so, where do you live then?” When we give our answer, we are met with a sympathetic look and a pitying oh dear type of sound!
Friends of ours who are long term renters think that we are mad for buying a house in our area. They would rather carry on renting and hand over the majority of their pay-packets to line their landlords pockets each month than live in an less desirable area.
Needless to say, I live in a large council estate. And before that we lived in Chatham, Kent. A town with a bad reputation that I would not recommend anyone to visit!
Our area where we live is an area that people love to hate. People in my hometown slag off the people from our area (thats people who they do not know or interact with), think they are all illiterate wasters and will not venture into the estate if they can help it. Even my own Mother mouths off the area and voices her concerns to my sister (who rents a house around the corner from me) and I about us both living here.*
So what exactly is the big problem with living here? – The answer to that question is absolutely nothing. We talk to our neighbours and know them by name, and because I work in one of the local shops, I know many more people in the community who always say hello to me when passing. Its a friendly area with lots of green open spaces, a good bus service and amenities.
Ok, so a lot of the locals prefer to wear tracksuit bottoms, swear a lot, don’t mow their lawns and have broken down cars rusting on their driveways (and thats just Rob and I for starters!) Plus there is a little too much dressing on some windows for my liking. The real only downside to living where we live is that the schools in the area are below average. But that is not something we have to worry about.
Because we moved to a cheaper area we were able to buy a three bedroom house with a driveway. If we had moved to a more desirable postcode in our town, we would be lucky to afford a one or two bedroom terrace with no parking, a higher council tax rate and less internal space than our last property in Chatham.
When we were looking to move, I would have been happy to buy one of these houses as I love period properties. I grew up in Edwardian terraced houses and they are my favourite type of property (along with mid century Modernist homes), but I made the compromise of a more modern suburban house for Rob as he really wanted our next house to have a driveway for his VW fleet.
Our house might not be perfect and it still needs a lot of work, but thanks to coming out of a fixed rate mortgage and the current low interest rates we pay significantly less each month for our house than we would do if we rented a two bedroom town centre flat which currently go for £750 – £950 per month.
I read a lot of blog posts in defence of renting and I agree there are a lot of pros for it – like flexibility, not worrying about maintenance and boilers breaking etc. But personally, I would have rather spent my last 9 years living in my own homes in areas that my peers would never step foot in, rather than still be a renter. Its great being able to decorate as I wish, keep pets, hang pictures and shelves and not have to worry about our land lord deciding to sell our home and giving us a months notice to move out etc.
Even though we have paid out for two new boilers and spent a small fortune in Homebase and B&Q, hopefully it will be money well spent. Its an investment and adds value to our property (although who knows with property values these days). If not, then at least we have had
fun stress hell fun decorating and can hope to break even with the money we have spent. I know that if we were to sell up right now, we would walk away with a nice chuck of money. We would be homeless mind, but at least we would have a nice chunk of money!
After all, with renting you are lucky to get your full deposit back and you will never see any of the rent you pay each month again.
As a side note I want to add this link from The House of Humble blog. You know how it is, you decide to write a post about something and while that post is lurking in your drafts folder, another blogger publishes a beautifully written post that says what you want to say much better than you ever could!!!
*Although she does appreciate that Rob and I are lucky to be on the property ladder and she wishes my sister was in a position to buy her place.