Our Little London House
There’s nothing quite like a deadline you can’t move for getting your butt into gear. It was always a plan (read: dream) of ours to try and buy our own little slice of London this year. We had spent a few weekends starting to canvas our options, exploring new little pockets of the city beyond Zone 1 and 2. We saw a couple of flats here and there, but nothing that fit the bill. And as we trundled back from these outings to our rented flat near Hyde Park, we knew it would be hard to draw ourselves away from our lives in the middle of the city.
That all changed when we found out about our little bubba, due in October. After the initial few days of excitement addled with a slight dose of incredulity, it quickly dawned on us that we would need to move - and fast. Our little 300 square foot home of over three years just physically could not fit a baby.
So we came up with a plan. We did a few sums, and decided we still really wanted to try and buy a little place to call home. It was early March, and with Baby Howell due in autumn, we knew we only had a small window of time to make it all happen. First, we needed to find a place. Then we needed to successfully make an offer. Then, we would need the whole laborious legal process to happen. The keys would follow, and then any sort of work the place needed would have to be carried out. And we owned zero furniture. And we had a baby on the way. It all felt rather overwhelming, and I had never missed a glass of wine more.
We zig-zagged all over London in March and April, visiting suburbs we had never heard of. We developed something of a mental list to help us quickly assess each one. Was it within an hour to work? Would I feel safe walking home at night by myself? Were there any parks (for bubba?) Was there decent coffee on the high street (for soon-to-be sleep deprived parents?) And lastly, was it - by London’s standards - affordable in any way?
It took a while, but we finally settled on two suburbs - Earlsfield, and Kensal Rise. We saw a handful of potential places in both. Our budget just about stretched to cover a two-bed place, although most of the second bedrooms were really only suitable for a baby. Great for us for now, but potentially limiting when it came to selling. We very nearly made an offer on an old top-floor flat. There was potential to build into the empty attic, but that would be pretty far down the line for us.
And then we found it, at the end of April. A 900 square foot, three bedroom, three floor (!) flat in Earlsfield. It needed a lot of work, but it was an amazing find. How it was within our budget, we still don’t know. The following months definitely involved a few legal headaches, and the unexpected Brexit outcome had us rationalising until the early hours over whether we were making the right decision for us. We reasoned that we needed a place for our little family, that it was still a great price and that our pounds were going to be pretty useless outside of the UK for a while and pressed on. And in July, we were handed the keys.
Since then, it’s been weekends filled with scraping, sanding, scrubbing, planting, furniture shopping and returning to work on Monday splattered in paint. We have been incredibly lucky that my wonderfully skilled parents in law have helped us out in such a big way with all the work. For that, we will be eternally grateful. We’re still in the midst of creating a home out of our new place, madly dashing about with our due date looming on the horizon. And we cannot wait to show you! For now, a few pictures of our old place in Gloucester Tce, and a couple of the new...
With Love, Kate