When you've owned houses, it's very hard to go back to living in a flat again. Unfortunately, I made some bad decisions in the past, selling places at the wrong time and failing to buy again before prices went soaring up. And forget about depressed property prices. In London, prices have actually risen.
I decided to look for a flat that was as much like a house as possible. Own front door, own garden and preferably on two floors. I found one in Bounds Green, North London (very north, teetering on the edge of the A-Z) and set off eagerly to see it today. It was a short walk from the tube, on a very main road but set well back with grass and trees between the houses and the road.
It had its own front door, but once you'd opened it, you had to climb some steps then open another door at a sharp angle to the left. Getting large furniture in would be most difficult. Once inside, the lounge was lovely, large and light (19 ft x 15 ft). There was a very small bathroom - no shower and no room for one over the bath as the ceiling sloped. The kitchen was very poky. The dining room/second bedroom was fine with a view over gardens. Upstairs was an attic room but as they hadn't built a dormer, you could only stand up in the very centre, yet the Velux windows were set too high for me to open and close them. I'd have had to stand on a chair. The couple told me proudly how everything was fire-proofed and all the floors sound-proofed. It must have cost them a lot of money to convert the loft but honestly, what a waste of space and cash when they could have done a proper job and made a decent, usable room out of it. I banged my head twice and I'm only 5 ft 4 ins!
On the way back to the station, I passed a crazy woman ranting and raving at her companion (carer?) and an old, toothless man sitting on a wall begging for everyone who passed by to spare him a £1. Blimey, it used to be 'spare change'; talk about inflation! The whole area seemed depressed and down-at-heel yet a 3-bed tiny cottage there costs almost £400,000!!!
As it was a two-hour trip each way (I couldn't get to see the cottage I was supposed to see at 1.3o because the owner had gone out and the agent didn't have a key - honestly, how do agents like that survive? Imagine if I'd travelled for two hours to see that one property and been told that when I arrived? I'd have joined the crazy lady and shrieked and raved!), by the time I got home a whole day had been wasted. Well, perhaps not quite... At least I now know that I do NOT want to live in Bounds Green.