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Moving house in the winter of our lives – were we crazy?

03 Apr 2024 | Written by By Jenn Millard
The Joy Club member Jenn Millard shares the ups and downs of moving house…

After 24 years in our English home and the nth round of stripping wallpaper, painting, or re-carpeting, I decided enough was enough!
The adult children had all flown the nest long ago and have their own families. Our spare room now housed empty beds (in case anyone overnighted) and the grandchildren’s collection of My Little Ponies, dolls and their castle.

The study sprouted books bulging in the bookshelves, random interesting articles saved over the years (in case they were needed again?) and guide books dusty with age. Craft boxes, photograph albums and an assortment of electrical connections were jumbled into a cupboard. The desk, computer terminal and screen had been replaced by laptops. A day bed sat gloomily in the corner with the modern collapsible desk. Wouldn’t a clear out and a nice new house be a better idea?

Then an algorithm found me and a dear little new-build house popped onto my screen one day. Oh, the pristine white walls and the modern fittings beckoned. The husband was very resistant.

“So why do we need an extra bathroom?” and “I like this old house” decided it. The idea was shelved.

When an illness and a long hospital stay changed the dynamics of our life, he grudgingly agreed to see the new development and the properties for sale.

The house we viewed offered an extra piece of garden on a quiet part of the development. Pointing out that he could have his own man cave/bar (summerhouse) finally swayed the decision.

Our house went on the market. Endless rounds of tidying up and viewers arriving, or not, combined with last minute appointments by estate agents wore us down over six weeks and I began to wonder whether the house would sell, or was this all worth it?

Suddenly just before Christmas, an offer for the price we wanted and only three of us in the chain gave us cause to celebrate and see in the New Year with moving plans. Our household would need to be divided up – some of our “stuff” going into storage (pre- summerhouse) and the balance to the new house. A major clear out ensued, eliciting both laughter and arguments as we began to divest ourselves of the useless “stuff”.

When buying a new build, the process is handed over to a team who liaise between the seller and buyers, solicitors and developers. We had bought and sold numerous properties back in South Africa so this process sounded easy. Not easy, dear reader, not easy at all! The young lady dealing with us had to be chased constantly. All our paperwork was prepared and returned to our solicitor, buyer’s questions answered and we were good to go in January. The proposed move date of February came and went. A few weeks later we discovered that there were issues with our buyer’s mortgage and that the first time buyer at the bottom of our chain had an extremely pedantic solicitor who was asking questions for the sake of asking. By now very frustrated, I contacted the estate agent directly (one would assume they wanted their commission?!!) and they began to move the situation along.

Fast forward to the present day …….. Provided all boxes are ticked and the solicitor’s finally come to the party, we are due to move after Easter. As I sit in my house surrounded by the packed boxes, acres of bubble-wrap and lists of things to do, I can’t help feeling that the process of buying and selling a house in England is more stressful than meeting your potential in-laws or planning a wedding!

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