As 2015 comes to an end, it’s also the end of our first full year as homeowners. Earlier in the year, I wrote about how we got on the property ladder and how we chose the area we moved to. Now I thought I’d share how our first year on the property ladder has been, as part of Santander’s #HistoryOfMyHome series.
We bought a beautiful 2-bed new-build apartment that faces Slough train station so Tyler can see trains all day – you all know what a train enthusiast he is. It was bought as an investment, with Crossrail coming in 2019 and the town being regenerated. The building is built on the site of the old Atari Head Office (remember Atari!) – so no ghosts here. That’s a big thing for me, as I am terrified of ghost stories I have heard from people who have moved into old houses!
Now at the end of a full year, it is actually feeling like a proper home – the rooms are properly furnished now, we see the same faces around the neighbourhood, and we’ve got to know the area through my blog series ‘Slough – it’s not that bad‘.
Prior to buying our apartment, we were renting in South London. So apart from having a year off rent and bills by living with my mother-in-law, we were used to budgeting each month. The only extra has been budgeting for bills, as when we were renting, we were lucky enough to have a bills-inclusive deal.
Our mortgage is with Santander, and we got a good deal with a 5 year fixed-rate. As I paid a bigger part of the deposit, we decided that my husband would pay the mortgage and electricity bills, while I would pay for the rest of the bills. My husband said it’s been good, he knows exactly what is coming out of his account each month, so there’s been no nasty surprises.
For me, I’ve been paying the service charge, council tax, wastewater, hot water, TV licence, Sky, BT line rental and broadband. I’ve had to get the hang of budgeting, because as I now work part-time, my salary has halved since my renting days. I’ve definitely had to become more careful with my shopping days, and although we have a giant Tesco Extra, we do our monthly grocery shop at Lidl which saves us loads of money. And I quite like the food in there!
It’s all totally worth it, for years we’d been dreaming of owning our own place, and sometimes I still feel like I’m dreaming. The fact that it’s such a large new build and everything is brand new makes me feel like I’m living in a luxury hotel.
As we had been renting, we had no furniture (only our TV and Tyler’s cot). We literally had to start from scratch – that’s why it’s taken so long to do the rooms. When we first moved in, we bought the essentials – sofa, table, chairs, double bed, bookcases, TV stand and shoe rack. This year we furnished both bedrooms and Tyler finally got a proper bed and toy storage.
And my favourite room now is our bedroom, as I love to relax in bed and watch TV. Although Tyler is in our bed a lot watching the Minions movie!
It’s brilliant having our own space and being outside of London. We are so close to the countryside in Berkshire, it’s great to go out for walks in the country. Of course I do miss my friends and cousins who we don’t see as much since we moved out of London, that is the one downside. But we simply cannot afford to buy anywhere closer. I see my own family a lot, as they live quite close, and my sister is often round which Tyler loves. We had a big get-together for Tyler’s 3rd birthday that was lovely.
I probably should have arranged a Christmas get-together, but I feel so guilty about the long journeys for everyone and that fact that there’s no free parking around our building as we’re right by the train station. Still, maybe I should make a new year’s resolution to make more effort to get people round.
Furnishing wise, all that’s left to do is to get curtains or blinds for our living room, and putting photos up on the walls. I’ve taken so many beautiful photos this year, it’s time to get them printed.Of course there’s big changes coming for 2016, with a sibling for Tyler due in June. So we’ll have to get all the baby stuff out, cot, baby changer, space for sterilisers and bottle etc – very exciting! Watch this space 🙂
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