With just one last inquiry outstanding – plus my incredibly long to do list, which keeps being added to by the day – the imminent purchase of my dream house is finally, actually, really, truly within reach.
I moved to Bermondsey five years ago. Born in London, I’d been living in Leamington Spa, but a relationship split and a change of jobs meant that a year before I’d found myself back home again. I adore my parents and we are incredibly close, but the novelty of food on tap and clothes magically being washed without lifting a finger strangely does actually wear off, strange as that might sound. My friends were renters, many who’d moved here abroad from the States and so we were scattered about London. My parent’s house – a beautiful semi-detached classical Victorian home – was in Camden, too expensive for my means at the time and if I’m honest an area I’d fallen out of love with.
I’d always been drawn to the river and Borough Market was a recent discovery (very belatedly, I know, been an actual Londoner, born and bred) so one Saturday morning my mum and jumped in the car and went South. If you’re not from London, well this is a big deal. Cabbies are always amazed, and delighted, that I’m a North London girl moved south, and I’m always amazed how many seemed to grow up near what became my first owned home. What we always agree on is how much the area has changed.
I’d actually never heard of Bermondsey (again, I know, but I was a North London girl) but tracing one stop south on the Jubilee line took us there and we stumbled across this whole new field of new builds. I was trying to stretch for a two bed but everything was still just a bit out of our reach. Right Move within 0.5 mile radius from the tube was set up and the waiting began. And then one Thursday afternoon, bored at work, I decided to procrastinate with some property porn. Extending the search to 1 miles I found my flat. 0.7 miles away, newly listed, right price, two beds, two bath, balcony; perfect. Called the Estate Agents (Acorn, who are based right on Bermondsey Street and I have to say were just brilliant), booked a visit for Saturday, saw the plot and a show flat as the building wasn’t a building yet, and made an offer that Monday. Then there was the usual drama of a competing offer, lengthy, lengthy mortgage approval etc, and the perhaps not so usual drama of arriving on exchange day to find that they’d not actually fitted any flooring. And then it was a year of living on a building site as more blocks went up around me, getting super familiar with all the local buses because it seemed the Jubilee line was closed for engineering every single weekend, but it was my home.
I won’t recount all my stories of living there as this blog is about my journey in my new home, but just to say that while I really have loved it, I’ve always known that it was a stepping stone to get my own little house. Thankfully London property prices, and the explosion of foodie culture in Bermondsey has done me well.
And it turned out that Bermondsey is full of little houses. After walking down streets, gazing wistfully at these two up, two down Victorian terraced workman’s cottages, imaging making my home there, just me and my cat (who sadly passed away just over a year ago), November 2013 I started my search. Registered with local estate agents, configured my Right Move alerts again, and waited. For a long time. I visited a few, but nothing was quite right. I’d had my heart set on one particular road, Grange Walk, which takes you closer to London Bridge and Bermondsey Street though still nothing has come up there.
And then I found it. I’d begun looking at the roads around there, slightly further down from my flat and about a c.12 min walk to Bermondsey Tube Station. Lots had been modernised which I was adamant I didn’t want. I wanted traditional character, fireplaces and wooden stairs, something to work with. I visited once, and if I’m honest thought it wasn’t for me. I’ve always had a dislike for pebble dashing and I know its a nightmare to remove. But over the following week, I kept thinking back to it. And re-looking at the pictures online. Over and over again. My mind would wander and begin imagining how I would decorate it, what changes I’d like to make. How much I loved the exposed brick fireplaces. As I mentioned my beloved cat of over 18 years had passed away and I’d not felt ready to get another. The current owners have two gorgeous cats and I kept thinking about how good they looked in the house and how good my cats (I’m planning on two) could look there. And so I went back. And I loved it. I knew immediately on that second trip this was my home. Perhaps the two cats were a sign.
This was November. Again, went through the usual home buying and selling stuff, including actually needed to find a buyer for my home. But now its the 11 January. My mortgage is approved, my flat has a new nearly-owner, and I am one inquiry away from my two cats and my little house.