So 2019 was full of ups and downs. I fell in love, I started dating (a woman), I told my family (who were totally chill and very supportive), we broke up (family still chill and supportive), I ate some ice cream, I made a couple of books.
And while all that was going on, in the background I went and managed to pull off a bit of a life long dream. I bought my first home.
When I began the process, I was still with (let’s call her G). I was picturing her driving down to visit me and taking our dogs for walks along the seafront. Of cuddling on the sofa and watching movies. G and I would talk about who would cook and then in the end I would treat us to Pizza. This would happen forever, or until one of us got fed up with the after work journey to stay with each other and we agreed to move in together.
As our relationship changed, buying my first home became something I could focus my energy on. It became the thing I could work hard at that would be a sanctuary for my wounded heart. Through the process of finding the flat, negotiating the purchase and the confusing world of conveyancing, there were many times where I felt like the hope of having my own space was the only thing that kept me going. It was a fragile treasure for my spirit, and at time I was worried that if I breathed on it it would all crumble away.
But despite my late night worries, I have indeed acquired a house. And in my nesting process, I wanted to share some of the key things I learned as I went. I also wanted to share my experience with you all as moving has enabled me to create more art to share over the coming year.
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions, even if they seem stupid. – Everything about buying your first home is confusing. What to look for, the money bit, what the hell is a land registry; everything will be new to you. Now is not the time for pride or trying to seem like you have all the answers. Ask even the most basic of questions.
- Know what you need from your space and then make a list. – There are lots of options out there for first time buyers but if you are clear about what you need then you will be able to easily create a shortlist that will make you happy.
- Start with the big DIY bits before you move your stuff in. – If you have the luxury of a little time before you need to move yourself and your stuff in start by painting any wall that you want to paint and sorting out flooring etc. I knew I wanted to paint cupboards and all the walls so I made sure that I could do that before the furniture arrived because if you do it afterwards then you have to cover up everything and you end up under dustsheets for weeks (maybe even months). This turned out to be especially important for me as I haven’t moved into a large flat. There wouldn’t have been a lot of spare room had I had to work around my sofa.
- Ask for help. – I knew I wanted to be n relatively quickly and painting an entire flat by yourself can be a huge undertaking. I am very lucky that I had the help of some brilliant friends along the way. I am incredibly grateful for all their help, and what is lovely is that when I look around and am happy with my space, I know it’s because I have a little bit of their love and time built into my home.
- Keep furniture conversational – I have made the bold decision to live without a television. I very rarely watch programmed television and I have a PC where I can watch catch up if I fancy it, but this felt like a bold move. Having made it though I am really pleased. I’d much rather look at the people who have come to spend time with me than us all be pointed at a screen.
- Plan your storage, work out how you want your space to function – The majority of my furniture has some sort of hidden storage built into it. In small spaces this has been key because otherwise I wouldn’t be able to have a clean, clear space. My coffee table? Has all my pens in it. The sofa? lift it up and there is spare bedding. The bench in my bedroom… too much makeup. Eventually I will use what I have and hopefully I will replace it with less, which will mean my storage over time will increase.
- Know when to say goodbye (to your stuff) – I wish I had been a bit braver about throwing things out before I moved. You may think you have cleared through your stuff and that you only have the essentials, but trust me when I say go back and look again. For me this was particularly apparent with books. I have four bookcases which are full of all the books I have ever owned. I am unlikely to re-read half of them and I wish they had gone to charity.
- Take time in your space before buying big things. – If you need a new sofa or bed, spend a little time in the space before buying it and think about what is it you need. If I could go back, I would probably have gone for a washer/dryer combo because drying clothes in a small flat creates some problematic condensation.
- When you are planning your time frame, add two months. – This is true of many big projects. Whenever my solicitor and the estate agent gave me a end/moving date, I tacked on two months in my head and it was pretty spot on. And that was with a relatively smooth journey.
- (If you are in the UK) Get yourself on freecycle, your dream space doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. – I got so much of my furniture and stuff for free. I also was able to get rid of furniture that not even the charity shop wanted. And it is so much better then it going to land fill. The caveat here is that most people who are giving away stuff want you to go and collect it. I don’t have a car so it meant some careful planning and a few family favours.
With that said and done, I am still very much settled in now and enjoying once again living on my own. In 2020 I will be 30, and as I enter a new decade in more ways then one I am in a good place to embrace myself and show up for whatever happens. Talking to a poet friend of mine he said that the 30’s have been kind to him. In his 30’s he had all the fun of his 20’s but with an added layer of self-acceptance. As I look around my little white living room at my little white companion (the chihuahua) I find myself looking forward to what will happen this year. Change is always a little frightening but with it comes a refreshing breeze for the soul.