Why I Won’t Write About Saving for A House

Its now been almost 8 months since Matthew and I got the keys to our first home, and truthfully I thought I would have written a lot more about the process by now, but between everything else going on in my life and my minor falling out with blogging last year, I just haven’t got round to it.

I have, however, been thinking a lot about the sort of posts that I wanted to write about this, and while at first I thought a ‘Tips on Saving for Your First House’ post would be a great idea, the more I thought about it, the more annoyed I was getting with the concept of that post. Here me out.

Its no secret that our generation, ‘millennials’, are renting for longer, if not indefinitely, and the percentage of homeowners under 30 has dropped more than significantly in the last 10-20 years. I count myself as a minority for becoming a homeowner at the age of 23 and I’m very aware that while I could write about how Matthew and I saved up for our house, there are a whole tonne of circumstantial reasons why this wouldn’t be relevant to a lot of other people.

House prices differ MASSIVELY throughout the country

As a born and bred southerner, I have lived my whole life with a notion of what I thought was the price of a house was based on what house prices were like around where I lived. I started saving as young as I could because I knew that I wanted to buy my own place at some point in my life, and I knew that wasn’t going to be cheap.

But Matthew is a northern boy, and when we did start looking at houses seriously, we knew it would be up north. I was left dumbfounded when I discovered that we could buy a detached house for less than what a 1 or 2 bedroom flat would cost in Bournemouth. Suddenly, the deposit money I had been saving all these years was more than enough for a house, despite being nowhere need what it would need to be in my hometown. The fact is, most people aren’t prepared to move across the country just to own a home, and we were lucky (if that is even the word) to be relocating for Matthew’s job, because the chances of us being able to buy somewhere down south without significant help were slim.

Not everyone can make the ‘sacrifices’ we were able to

I never moved out of my parents’, and Matthew moved in with us 9 months before we bought our house. We both worked at the same place, so it was pretty easy for us to share my car. It would be pretty easy for me to write a post saying that to help save for a house you should move in with your parents, share/sell a car etc, but I know that those options aren’t always an option for everyone.

We all have different histories

I started working at 16, and I didn’t go to university after sixth form, so I had the luxury of no student loans. I always knew that I wanted to buy a place, so I started saving super early, even before Matthew was in the picture, AND Matthew and I were able to buy together, when not everyone can split a mortgage.

We also have totally different histories to previous generations. My parents were married by my age, not fighting for jobs in overcrowded industries like so many people are today AND the housing market was a totally different place to how it is today. We just can’t compare ourselves.

Home-buying incentives and schemes

Because we bought a new-build, we were eligible for the government Help To Buy loan for up to 20% of the value of our house which is interest free for the first 5 years. If you’re not buying a new-build, you can’t apply for this, and to be honest, without this we wouldn’t have been able to afford the house we fell in love with. There are also other options, like shared ownership and Help to Buy ISAs, but again, these aren’t always options for everyone.

Now none of this is to say that people under the age of 30 can’t save enough to buy houses, I mean we’re living proof that it is possible, but I’m just a little fed up of all these clickbait articles saying that its because we love avocados (which we don’t all love just FYI) or some other ridiculously false reason, when in fact its because we’re stuck at the bottom rung of the property ladder with baby boomers stomping on our hands and so many real factors are actually affecting our generation.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this, so drop me a comment!

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Smells Like Magic* – Maple and Whisky Candle Review

I can’t believe that exactly one year ago Matthew and I were having the most magical time in Walt Disney World! I mean, I know we’ve had the craziest and most incredible year since then, but it still sucks.

In the crazy last year we’ve had though, we did buy our first house, and we’ve spent a lot of time turning it into the home that we love, with a big part of that being adding magical touches throughout to remind ourselves of our favourite places.

Maple and Whisky produce the most incredible scented candles inspired by your favourite Disney memories, including park foods like Mickey Waffles, rides like Soarin’ and resorts like The Grand. Quite frankly, if there’s a smell in a Disney park that you love, chances are, they’ve got it!

I’ve been a lover of Maple and Whisky for a few years now – I’ve got a constant stock of their wax melts on hand! – and they were super kind recently to send me three candles of my choosing to review, which meant I could fill the new house with some magical smells, although the hardest part was choosing just three! I took the opportunity to try two scents I’ve never had before, and to also get a new jar of my favourite M+W scent, Campfire Singalong.

Campfire Singalong smells truly of just that. Imagine toasting marshmallows and melting chocolate on an open fire at a Disney resort, and that’s what this is in a jar – its heavenly! For me, this is the ultimate autumn/winter candle as it fills the room with a wonderful warm scent and glow, but be warned, may cause chocolate cravings!

The second scent I chose was Beach Club, inspired by its eponymous Walt Disney World resort, and I chose it because our of all the resorts in WDW, this is my dream resort which I would absolutely LOVE to stay in one day! The smell is fresh and clean and it really does make me feel like I’ve just stepped into the air-conditioned lobby while taking a walk around the Boardwalk resort loop.

Finally, I picked Spirit of Aloha, which is inspired by the smell of the lobby at Disney’s Polynesian Resort. This time last year when we were in WDW was when Matthew and I joined Disney Vacation Club, and Polynesian is our home resort, so I wanted a candle to remind us of our second ‘home’! Not being the biggest fan of pineapple (and not having a super clear memory in my head of what the resort smelt like), I was slightly worried that I wouldn’t like this one, but actually its lovely! The pineapple is there, but its not at all in your face and is nicely balanced with hints of coconut.

Maple and Whisky offer candles in two sizes, 8oz and 12oz, as well as wax melts, room sprays and reed diffusers. The candles I received were the 8oz size, and they last a good long while! They’ve recently changed the design of their labels, so these aren’t exactly what they look like now but the new labels are even better!

What I absolutely love about these over other scented candles is that not only do they smell amazing up close, but they actually fill the whole room with their glorious scents, and that happens almost instantly, whereas even some big brand candles only smell when you stick your nose into the jar! I would absolutely recommend these candles, and as well as these scents some of my favourites are Adventure is Out There (grape soda scented), Butterbeer (for the Potterheads), Rice Krispie Treats and Sugar Rush! Head on over to their Etsy store to see more!

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*I was sent these candles for the purpose of review, but all words and views are my own.

The Reality of Relocating

Moving house can be a stressful time for anyone, whether it’s your first or hundredth time. Ok, so maybe you’ll have it nailed by your hundredth time, but you know what I mean.

You are, quite literally, packing up a life, and all of the moments and memories that go with it, into boxes and bags, and taking that life somewhere else. For a lot of people, that somewhere else probably isn’t all that far from where it was before, but when you’re relocating, that life of yours in boxes has got a hell of a way to go.Choosing to relocate wasn’t actually a difficult decision for me because I always knew it was coming, I just didn’t necessarily know exactly where it would be to, but quite honestly, the relocation side of things got a little bit lost in the excitement of buying the house, so it’s only been since actually moving in that the reality of relocating has actually dawned on me.I have to use a satnav to drive EVERYWHERE. The only place I can get to without it is the supermarket and even then I’m lucky because I only have to drive down two roads to get there. I don’t actually know where my nearest A&E department is, so here’s praying I don’t need it any time soon, and I also need to find a GP surgery, dentist and opticians nearby because I can’t really drive the 4 hours back to my current ones..I also have an endless list of things I need to update, from my driving licence to my bank accounts, credit cars, car insurance plus delivery addresses on all of my regular online stores. I’m quite lucky that my previous address is my parents house, so if any posts ends up there it’s not the end of the world, but it’s such an important thing to sort out if not.Criminally, I now have no idea what the good takeaway places are. So far I know we have a Dominos, and we’ve had a decent fish and chips, but there’s been one awful Chinese and that makes me quite sad. I do feel a little isolated. It’s the first time I’ve lived away from my family ever, and as even Matthew’s been working away over the last few weeks I have been somewhat on my own. I mean, I’m pretty good with my own company, but it’s a little bit hard not knowing where I am too well and also not having anyone to explore with, but these things will come with time.Now none of this is to say that this has been a bad experience for me at all, in fact I’ve relished the challenge of it, but it is a completely new life that I’m having to make now, and I think until that life is built properly I probably will feel a little displaced, but you know that they say, all good things to those who wait..

Our Finished Guest Bedroom

Without a doubt, moving into our first house has been the greatest adventure of my life so far. Its also been a lot of work. Sure, we had the bonus of moving into a new build, so in terms of actual work needing to be done to the house, its been practically minimal, but we knew we instantly wanted to get stuck into turning our empty white-walled canvas of our house into the beautiful home that we’ve been dreaming of since we started looking for places.

Two months later, we have made our mark on pretty much every room in the house, but nothing yet has actually been completely finished. Its things like ‘we need pictures on the wall here’ or ‘we need to finish painting in here’; little things that annoyingly still make the rooms seem incomplete.

We do, however, have one (practically) finished room, and ironically, that’s actually our guest bedroom. I say ‘practically’ because we just haven’t got round to putting the curtains up yet, but we do have them! So here it is, our guest bedroom:

This is the room where we created our geometric feature wall, which you may have already seen in previous house update posts. We actually painted this wall the very first weekend we got the keys to our house – cos let’s face it, it would have been a pain to do once the furniture was in! – and I am still obsessed with it to this day. It absolutely makes this room, and it was the jumping off point for the rest of the room’s decor.

The bed and bedside tables were ones that we already had, which are from the IKEA Hemnes collection, and then we added to what we already to had with the matching chest of drawers and mirror from the same collection. Although the space was big enough, we decided there was no point to having a wardrobe in there, and adding the mirror above the drawers makes the room seem bigger and also makes it brighter, plus the top of the drawers gave us space for some pretty little decorative features! The wall mounted plant pots were from Amazon, and the other nick-nacks are all Home Bargains.

Our big cushions on the bed are actually from Sainsbury’s, which we got on sale, the bedding is actually Home Bargains, and the pinky bedding was on sale in Dunelm.

One of my other favourite features of the room that we DIY’ed (or Matthew did, if I’m being totally honest) is the bedside lights. The wooden brackets are just cheapy shelf supports from IKEA, which Matthew drilled holes into for the cables to go through, and both the rose gold cage and the actual light fittings we from Amazon, although sold separately. Psst, the bin is actually an IKEA plant pot!

Having a stunning feature wall, we didn’t want to do too much to any of the other walls, but I wanted some artwork up and figured the colour scheme made this the perfect place to put up my Disney watercolour skyline prints. I’ve had these for years – they were up on my bedroom wall at my parents – so we just got new frames for them (also IKEA, shock) and they work perfectly in the space we had. Like them, they’re from here!

As I said, the only thing that is lacking are the curtains, simply because we haven’t put the pole up yet. I’m actually taking the curtains that I had in my bedroom at home because they’re a gorgeous light cream that would work perfectly in the room, and curtains are hella expensive so if I can reuse a pair I’ve already got and love, then job done.

So before and after, what do we think?

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Moving In Update #3 – I’m In!

Well gang, after all this time I have officially been living in our new house for almost two weeks now, yay! I had my last day at work on July 6th, and moved up on the 9th, so here I am, official northerner now.

Since then, however, I haven’t had much of a chance to stop and breathe. The first week was a blur of multiple Ikea and B&Q trips, drilling holes and going through so many packs of wall plugs and command strips I lost count, but all that work means that we are now pretty much finished with every room in the house!

There’s still a few bugs to work out; we still have no internet which is part of the reason I’ve not been blogging in all this time, because I’m having to tether my laptop to the 4G on my phone which has DRAINED my data allowance – its crazy to think about how reliant we are on wifi now! We’re also still lacking a dining table and chairs, so we’re still eating on the sofa or off the coffee table, but in reality that’s just because we keep forgetting to order them, and we have yet to get a washing machine, so laundry involves either going to Matthew’s mum’s, or as I’ve been going back to Bournemouth on weekends for hospital appointments, taking a basket of washing to do at my parents!

Apart from these little things, our to-do list is getting considerably smaller, and is mainly small things like shelves needing to be put up, actually unpacking the boxes that are building up in our garage and getting more decorative items up and around, but this has really become our space now.

I’ve still not really had much of a chance to stop and relax, but I’m hoping this next week might be the week I can actually start working through the list of things I wanted to get done once I moved in. I’ve got so much house content planned, including full before and after posts on some of our rooms, how we got some of the amazing bargains that we did and so much more, so I really hope you’re not getting too bored of this stuff yet because it has only really started!

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Things You Will Need On Moving Day

Ok, so you won’t need all this

Although I’m technically still in the process of flying the nest, Matthew and I have already had our first moving day into our new house, and for me, it was my first ever moving day.

Having never moved out from my parents until now, I had absolutely no idea what to expect, and as our moving process has been a slow one and we didn’t have to do it all in one weekend, I wasn’t even very sure about what we’d necessarily need to bring to the house with us straight away. Luckily, we had my mum and dad to help out with some of the basics, but there were also a number of things that no one thought about, so whether you’re moving for the first time or the hundredth time, here are the things I’ve learned that you will need in your new place from day one.

Toilet paper

If it wasn’t for my dad, we would have all been caught short in our house when we arrived. Even if its just a couple of rolls to cover you until you can take a trip to the shops, its a necessity.

Hand soap

As well as for obvious reasons, moving house can be messy business. Dusty boxes, moving furniture, you name it, your hands will be covered it it.

Towels

This was something that we didn’t have on our first weekend, with the exception of the one towel I brought in my weekend bag for showering, and while I’d never thought towels to be a real necessity, every time I washed my hands I was stuck. If nothing else, chuck a couple of hand towels in the moving van.

Scissors

There will be more things that will need cutting than you could ever imagine, bring as many pairs as you own.

Bin bags

This seems obvious, but we managed to forget them. You can never have too many bin bags.

Basic tools

You probably don’t need the whole of B&Q at the ready, but your basics like screwdrivers, maybe a drill and a level will make your life a lot easier. The last thing you’re gonna want to do is have to run out to the shops when you want to put up a shelf there and then but don’t have the tools for the job.

Folding chairs/beanbags/cushions

If, like us, you’re moving for the first time and don’t have all your furniture yet, you’re going to need something to sit on, even if its just temporary. We didn’t have a sofa, or any dining chairs, but we did have a giant bean bag, and my dad also packed a couple of fold up camping chairs which meant we didn’t have to all sit on the floor while we ate out traditional moving day take out food.

I think moving day is probably a different experience for everyone, but hopefully these little tips will help with a couple of the little things that make moving so much less stressful!

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Moving In Update #2

Its been just over two weeks since we got the keys and spent the first weekend in our house, and although Matthew went up the following week while I stayed down south, this weekend we spent our second weekend in the house together.

Being totally honest, I’ve found it really difficult being away from the house, and having another 4 weeks until I finish work and we can move up properly means that the few weekends we can go up between now and then are packed with us doing as much as we can to make it ready so we don’t have to do too much once we’re in for real.

Our main focus this weekend was our bedroom, as Matthew spent the previous weekend painting the wall behind our bed, which meant we could set to work in building the furniture, and by that I mean the wardrobe. The wardrobe was a real test of our relationship and our patience, not so much with the building but trying to put up the sliding doors on it.. But we did it, and it looks good now and we’ll never have to do it again.

The bed went up (even though we don’t have any bedding for it), my dressing table went into place and we hung the mirror and put the lights on the wall, and although there’s still quite a finishing touches to put in the room, its actually a proper bedroom now.

In the last week our sofa also arrived, so we finally have something other than a beanbag to sit on, yay! The living room still needs to be painted, and we’re waiting for a rug to arrive, but we did buy some really nice little plant pots from Ikea to go across the sideboard once we’ve put the TV on the wall. Unfortunately, however, in the last week half the grass in the garden has started to die, so we did the adult thing of buying a hosepipe and a sprinkler and spent Sunday trying to revive it!

The offices haven’t seen much action, although my little pink armchair arrived which I’m super happy about! The ratio of stuff in the garage seems to be tipping more towards having more cardboard and rubbish than boxes of our stuff, which means we might actually be making some progress, and definitely means that a tip trip is in order, but we’ll save that for another weekend.

I won’t be in the house for the next two weekends now at least which makes me sad, but I’m so happy with how its looking already!

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