The Life Update #1: Project Nest

Tuesday 13 May 2014

Hi Dolls!

I hope you are all well?

Today’s post is really going to be something quite personal. 

It’s a post about my life, my dreams, my problems and what I’m going to do to break the negative cycle I’ve been stuck in lately. So if you don’t like these types of posts, stop now and I promise I’ll be back to beauty shortly!

So, a little bit of background first. I’ve been trying to move house for over a year now, with loads of setbacks and not much success. They say moving is one of three most stressful things that can happen in your life, and although I haven’t moved yet, I already know that’s proving true for me.

Coming up to six years ago now, Seb and I were lucky enough to be able to buy our first place together. It’s a small-ish two-up-two-down kind of affair, but its in a really nice neighbourhood and we’ve been very happy there. 

Last year, our fixed-term mortgage came to an end and we started thinking about the future. We decided to try and move to a bigger place with more space for a family, and started saving up every penny to cover all the various costs that moving entails.

It basically just went downhill from there. We found a place we fell in love with, that we could afford as well. We thought it was the one. But we didn’t have a buyer for our house. We’d listed with an online-only estate agent in an effort to keep costs down. A friend had recommended them personally as they’d sold her place, and as we live in a popular town, we were under the very naïve impression that selling the place would be really easy.

The online agents certainly managed to get people through the door, but we weren’t getting any sensible offers. We even re-listed the house with the agents who were selling the one we so desperately wanted to buy in the hope it would help somehow.

The couple we wanted to buy from were getting divorced, and they wanted to move quickly. They ended up taking a lower offer than ours from a couple in rented accommodation who could move straightaway – only it eventually turned out they couldn’t really. Turned out the buyers demanded a lot of work before the purchase could proceed and then they couldn’t get the mortgage amount needed anyway! I was fuming, because they’d essentially lied to get it – they would have known from the agreement in principle.

But as much as I hoped it would fall through (horrid, I know) it didn’t and we lost out. It was heartbreaking. And I know it’s a privileged problem to have when so many people struggle with housing, but it was definitely devastating for us.

Since then, the problem has worsened. We finally sold our house in January. We’ve put forward offers on all sorts of properties, from places with all mod-cons to places without a bathroom or double glazing, and no success. 

The papers have begun shouting about a buoyant economy, prices are creeping up and we’re marooned on a stamp duty barrier that we can’t cross. To pay a penny over our budget would cost us at least £9,000 in extra tax that we don’t have and also skew our loan to value rate on the mortgage, meaning we wouldn’t get the best deal and would have to pay a lot more each month. Then we wouldn’t be able to have a life, as most of our cash would be going on the mortgage.

There’s just no way we can afford to up our budget – which I thought was fairly generous but apparently now won’t stretch to a 3 bed semi in the area we live.

Since then, life has been on hold. Our hopes of a family, pets, even summer holidays we’d like to take have been in limbo as we were uncertain what was happening. The spare room has been slowly filling up with bags of stuff and furniture ‘for the new house’ with nowhere to go. Life has felt very frustrating.

In that time, we’ve explored every avenue. We’ve looked at moving out of the area, but we’re so happy here and really don’t want that – plus it means factoring in a commute and other costs like that. We’ve looked at extending our current house but have always dismissed it as it would leave us with a really small garden. We’ve tried to cut down on the list of requirements but we can’t cut it down anymore without losing the reason for moving in the first place. And still no joy. 

In the last five weeks, we’ve offered on five houses, all with no acceptance – although some of them remain unsold.

Our new life remains out of reach. Family avoid asking about the move, friends are sick of hearing us moan about it. The issue is causing a strain in our relationship. We feel held back and we argue because we’re both so frustrated. We seem to be trapped in this negative cycle, and because I’m usually a really proactive person, this has felt like torture to me. I can’t express how miserable the situation has been making us both.

But today I woke up with a new feeling. A new resolve. Today I resolved that my new approach is going to be – making Plan B beautiful

We were talking with my sister in law a couple of weeks ago about wanting to go to Cuba this year, but not being able to book it because we didn’t know if we’d have the time or the money for a big holiday if we were moving.

She said that we shouldn’t be putting everything on hold, pinning all our hopes on a ‘maybe’. Perhaps we were blocking the energy flow, creating a negative cycle by focusing so hard on one thing that’s not really under our control. Perhaps if we started to live our lives again, the rest would just happen anyway – sort of like ‘Sod’s Law’.

Since then her comments have been playing on my mind. And I think she’s right.

It’s sort of like someone desperately searching for the love of their life, never finding them, trying everything and not sure why its not working – until they give up. And then love comes knocking! All the advice you hear in those situations is to stop trying too damn hard - and perhaps it’s the same with the house. 

We’re like a hamster in one of those exercise balls, running into a corner. Desperately trying to push forward and not comprehending why it’s not working. Perhaps if we just change direction, things will start to happen. What things, we can’t be sure. But at least we won’t be stuck in this stagnant situation that’s really affecting our wellbeing.

So, I’ve decided to go with Plan B. Book the holiday. Unwrap the new stuff. Cost out doing an extension on our house. It would be great if Plan A does end up happening anyway, but we have to make Plan B an attractive option too, because its looking likely that’s what will happen.

I also want to stop seeing the negative and try really hard to focus on the positives in the situation, of which there are many. Not moving means no more scrimping and saving, no upheaval, no redirecting the mail! In a way, our home now has many of the attributes we were looking for with a new house – it’s light and the rooms are spacious, its in a great location, lovely neighbours etc. There are only really a few negatives – there’s not enough space, which we’ll address by extending the kitchen to create a dining space and converting the loft into a third bedroom. 

The garden will be small – but we live near a park. And how much time do we really spend in the garden anyway – I counted about 5 sunny days last year where we were outside all day. It won’t be a lot of space for kids to play, but then we’ll move eventually.

We just have to learn to love it again, after a period of almost mentally divorcing from it when it got sold. And to do that we’ll extend and redecorate – make the house into something we can love again, something that will work for us now and for the next five years or so. Let’s call this ‘Project Nest’.

When that time is up, hopefully we’ll have more resources and be able to move into an even better place. I just have to focus on the positives and get excited about the current house, instead of being trapped in this negative cycle that we can’t escape and that’s just dragging us down.

So, its time for me to focus on making Project Nest happen! Creating some positive movement in what has been a very bad and draining situation. I’ll be updating periodically on Project Nest as we go along and hopefully you’ll enjoy the odd post that’s not just about beauty - although there will still be plenty of that, I promise!

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