Last week, I had an offer accepted on a house on the council estate in North London where I bought my last house. I sold the latter when Mr Grumpy had his strokes in 2007. He had only just finished doing it up for me. He had spent months putting in a downstairs loo, adding a conservatory, decking the steeply sloping garden in tiers and improving the kitchen and bathroom. I sold it in order to be with him while he recovered.
Another house came up on the estate, which is now about 70% privately owned. It was in a better spot, quietly tucked around a corner and the houses on either side were owned by elderly people, so I reckoned it would be nice and peaceful for my writing. BUT... it was unmodernised. It needed rewiring, re-carpeting, a new kitchen and bathroom and goodness knows what else, but I reckoned I could just about manage it if I did it up bit by it, without Mr G of course, as he is no longer able to do that sort of thing as his right hand doesn't work too well.
I put in the offer and then, lo and behold, my old house came onto the market, beautifully modernised of course, at only £10,000 more and, if someone could move quickly, it would only be £5000 more. Suddenly, my purchase of the other house didn't make sense, so I pulled out, intending to buy my old house back.
Then my god-daughter rang from Vancouver. She had lived in the house for two months while she and her husband waited to move into the house they were having done-up and she reminded me about all the things I would hate if I moved in. The nosy neighbour who popped out the moment she spotted you in the garden and wouldn't take the hint and shut up and go away; the noisy kids who played out on the communal green opposite the house - a no-no for writing as both bedrooms had windows on the front so there was no escape; the old, redundant TV aerial that creaked and banged against the chimney and kept you awake every time it was windy (I had rung loads of people to try and get someone to remove it, to no avail). And then the were the rabbits, who came in from the school fields at the back and ate every single thing you'd planted.
So I am not buying back my old house, BUT... I have another plan. The house next door to Mr G, which is empty because our lovely 98-year-old neighbour has gone into a home, is being sold. It needs tons of work, far beyond my financial capabilities, but our other lovely neighbour desperately wants to buy it and turn it into his dream home as it sits on a third of an acre plot and has a HUGE garden, half of which has degenerated into a spinney full of foxes' dens and lots of bird life. So I have put in an offer. I will write there all summer and at the end of the year, when our other neighbour gets his accident compensation through, I shall sell it on to him for a small profit, by which time I will, I hope, have sorted out my tons of boxes that are costing me £238 per month in a storage unit, and will have downsized enough to move back to North London at last.
Friends disagree with this sideways move. However, another has come up with a cunning plan involving getting planning permission for two houses and selling to a developer. That would upset our neighbour. I need to do some thinking. More anon...
1 week ago