Things I have learned: About Moving

With only 2 days to go, the moving countdown is really on for us. I thought I’d write a few notes down about how the move has been but between me starting this post and coming back to edit it later, we had a major upset and rethink, so this post ended up being a bit of a story too. I’d love to hear if any of the things that happened or feelings you had about moving at any point took you by surprise.

It doesn’t have to be a stressful as people make it out to be. We have had a lucky run of it, by my own admission, (until last week… see later!) We didn’t have to negotiate on the price we accepted for our house, then our first offer was accepted on the house we’re buying, so it was low stress and we have been incredibly lucky with the other people involved in the chain. Everybody has been keen, prompt and understanding, right down to the sale of furniture too!

Packing is sad. The day we started packing I felt so emotionally displaced, the way the house was so out of kilter and my life was being packed up around me. As Mum and I packed the kitchen, Pete started on the DVD’s and things in the lounge. When I came into the room the pictures were gone from the walls, even the cushions from the couch and it felt like all our hard work was being taken apart piece by piece. It’s also inevitable that you start looking through old things like photo albums and finding cards – Pete and I have had many a reminiscent moment over ticket stubs and love letters. 😉

It’s emotional. I expected to be sad when we leave – The 7 years we have been in this house have been pivotal for us. We both chose our career paths in GP, graduated and joined practices. We got engaged and married, and have had lots of parties and gatherings of friends and family around our dining table. Everything we pack though seems to bring that into acute relief, the end of an era and like we are saying goodbye to that phase of our life.

Francesca reading on the kitchen worktops as there was nowhere else to sit!

It’s really hard to know when to pack. We started with some aspects of the kitchen equipment that we use infrequently and were foiled by Francesca wanting to bake. I’m purposefully leaving the bedroom until last so I have a place that feels normal for as long as possible. As soon as the packing started, everything that was neatly hidden in the cupboards is taking up floor space in large boxes.

You shouldn’t sell all your furniture to the people who are buying your house! We have sold a few items from around the house that we didn’t think would fit in the new house (decoratively) or that we would be replacing anyway. Amongst those items are our wardrobes as we didn’t want them for the new house. The downside to that is that we need somewhere/thing to put our clothes on at the other end… hello ebay garment rails.

Organisation is key. Having a system for the boxes helps me feel a lot more organised than we actually are. Having a husband who doesn’t necessarily follow it does not.

You can’t clear out too much. We had already had a few clearing out sessions in anticipation of Francesca moving in, as we had to clear the whole spare room out and other areas to make more room for the things we evacuated. Now I’m determined not to take old paperwork with me so have embarked on a massive filing exercise. More paper has been recycled and shredded than I realised was hidden in there. Whole shelves of filed paperwork have been reduced to single box files. Magazines have been culled, charity donations made. I have at times thought, had I done this earlier, we may not have needed to move!

It’s not over until the fat lady sings (or you exchange contracts…)
We always planned to move on the 27th and exchange contracts (the payment of a ‘deposit’ and contractual agreement that commits you to the move,) a week or two before. We have had a bit of trouble with our solicitor being, shall we say, less efficient than I would expect, so having found out from our vendor that a condition of their onward purchase was them exchanging on the 20th, allowing a week before we completed, we had a rather tense conversation with our solicitor last Monday to ensure everything was in place.

We were assured everything was, with just one hitch – the mortgage paperwork hadn’t come through. We knew it was approved, but he had nothing to prove that. Cue two days of us scrabbling around to get electronic copies for him, only to find on Thursday that we needed to get documents signed and back to him ready for the exchange on Friday. This would have been easier, if not ideal, had Pete been in Manchester, but murphy’s law prevailed and he was actually in the South Lakes on a course. That meant I had to leave work at lunch and drive to to him to get things signed and back into the post that afternoon, before getting back to work – about a 140 mile round trip. I pretty much collapsed into bed that night, thinking how stressful the day had been but at least we had done everything that we could to be ready to exchange the next day. Little did I know.

On Friday morning, I awaited a call from our solicitor to say that he had received the signed paperwork he needed and that we were good to go. I received an email detailing a couple of issues, one of which was that one of the searches had revealed a sewer pipe passing through the back of our property – the vendors couldn’t offer any more info and he trusted we were happy to proceed on that basis. I texted Pete who had patchy service and confirmed he was happy to exchange and he replied ‘go go go!’ I just needed to ask about that sewer.

My view last Sunday – my last Sunday lie in and one of my favourite things to do in the house

Once I spoke to our solicitor it became apparent he didn’t have a lot of information about the pipe, other than it’s location right across the back of the house. As I asked him more questions about what kind of pipe it was etc, I eventually asked, ‘what does this mean to us?’ and he said, ‘nothing, unless you wanted to build over it.’

At that moment, my heart sank. You know that feeling when you realise you have made a terrible mistake and feel cold and sick. That’s how I felt, because Pete and I had been planning to extend the back of the house to create a large kitchen diner. It was 1 o’clock on exchange day and I knew I needed to find out more and said I would call him back and for him to hold off exchanging for now. I hoped with a few phone calls I could get some information and clear up what must be a misunderstanding. Surely there was some way around this?

What followed was 3 hours of fraught phonecalls, whilst the clock ticked and Pete being unavailable to discuss it with. I called a local builder, a surveyor, the planning office, buildings regulations office, United Utilites, an architect… everyone I could think of. Pete asked friends of friends, as did my mum and everyone came back with different advice. Eventually the planning office were able to tell me the pipe was huge. 1m wide, 4m underground and still in service. Only United Utilities could tell me if we could build on it. The only problem was that the department that dealt with such enquiries operated on an email applications only basis – there was no phone number. In desperation I rang their usual number and begged to speak to someone. It transpired there was no way we could build on it, or in fact within 6 metres either side of it. Due to the location of the pipe and shape of our houses footprint, it completely ruled out any kind of extension.

To put this into context, I realise it might have sounded silly, to be so fixated on something that doesn’t yet exist, we had decided to buy the house as it was after all? The thing is, I can’t remember when we first decided that we wanted to extend, but it was before we even put an offer in. In the weeks since I had already met an architect. I had spent hours imagining what it would look like and our life in it and now I couldn’t see past the lack of it. All of sudden the money we were spending, the mortgage, the pressure and enormity of the choice I was making was in sharp focus and I panicked. Unable to make a decision it was only my solicitor backing me up that made me feel I could postpone the exchange, to buy some thinking time.

That night Pete and I were devastated. The proposed extension was such an integral part of our plans for the new house that we could only see the whole thing falling through. I felt trapped. Trapped by the thought of letting down the other people in our chain who I knew were as excited about their respective moves as we were, and trapped at the thought of going through with the purchase and realising we had really needed that extra space. I knew I loved the house, but I wanted a big space for us to have a family area where we could cook, eat, keep an eye on any kids we were lucky enough to have and the existing layout didn’t allow for that. We decide we would have to go back again and see if we could make it work as it is.

After a sleepless night,  we did go back and we spent 2 and a half hours by ourselves and with the architect, looking at the space available and what we could do to improve it. After brainstorming with my Mum, Pete and Jess, we had decided there were options. I’ll tell you all about them when I take you around the house but for now, I’ll just say, we decided to go ahead and we think we can make it work for us. It felt like a huge weight lifted and we exchanged on Monday without any worries or doubts.

The new house!

So that’s it. we’re really moving, on Friday in fact and I can’t wait. I’m over packing, living in a tip and waiting. I’m ready. So lets go!


Moving On…

Readers, I have big, exciting news! We’re moving!

Remember when I wrote this post, saying that something big was happening? And this post about my dream house? Well now I can finally share with you what’s been going on behind the scenes! Those of you who follow me on Instagram may have noticed this picture that I posted last night and heard the news a bit sooner than everyone else. We’re actually already at the packing stage with less than 2 weeks to go before we move (eeek!) but I wanted to wait to tell you all until we were more sure it would all go ahead. We sold 8 weeks ago now so I thought I’d take you right back to the beginning and share the background to our move and the ridiculously crazy sale/purchase story.

Celebrating with friends in Glasgow the night we sold the house…

For a long time now, Pete and I have thought about moving. First it wasn’t financially an option, then just as we started to feel we could afford a bigger mortgage, I qualified and started locum work, making me self employed. We couldn’t afford a bigger mortgage on Pete’s salary alone and planned to wait for me to have 2 years of accounts to show the mortgage companies, then we found out that Pete was also going to become self employed, just 4 months before I would have had 2 years of accounts and the magic date got pushed back again. Out of the blue a few months ago, our financial advisor found a company that would give us a mortgage and gave us the green light to start looking.

Now when I say start looking, we had both been looking, with Rightmove sending us daily updates for over a year. We had lots of big ideas and fantasised about several different properties that had been out of our reach. We decided we wanted to, but weren’t desperate to move, so we would start looking and hope the right thing came along. My wish list was long and there aren’t many houses where we live that fit the bill so we cast the net a bit wider and looked in neighbouring Didsbury. One of the things we wanted was a house we could make our own. (Our current home had been bought by a developer and so whilst we have decorated and made small adjustments, we have also been stuck with the new and perfectly fine, but ‘not to my taste’ kitchen and bathroom, so I didn’t want that to happen again.)

Over the next month or so we looked at a few wrecks and a few lovely houses but didn’t love any of them. As we knew it would be much harder to find what we wanted than to sell our own house, we decided to put ours on the market only when we had found something we wanted. I remember sitting with Jess, telling her about another unsuccessful viewing and recounting that my horoscope for that month had been all about proporty, foretelling that I could have anything I wanted and everything was aligned to make moving a reality, scoffing as I told it. Eventually, sitting in a bar after another viewing, we decided that in actual fact, we didn’t want to leave Chorlton and resigned ourselves to a long wait for the right property to come on the market. 2 days later it did.

It was a Friday and Pete was going away on a Stag that weekend so by the time I texted him, he was already on the road and out of contact. That weekend I arranged valuations for our own house and a viewing for the new house, then told him I had found it when he got back on Sunday afternoon. I held my breath while he looked at the brochure then as I had expected, confirmed it was perfect. We were go!

That week Pete primped the house, resealing the bathroom and touching up paintwork, and we had a valuer on Tuesday and 2 more on Thursday, then went to see the new house on Thursday evening. We stepped into the hall and I could see how much Pete loved it straight away. I tried to keep a lid on it but when I went into the downstairs toilet(!) with built in cupboards for coats, I had to take a moment to rearrange my face before coming out, so as not to seem too keen. We left after our viewing and walked straight around to our chosen estate agent and told them we wanted to sell, and quickly.

The next afternoon our house went up on the agents website and we woke on Saturday morning to find our own house in our daily Rightmove email. It was surreal but we didn’t have long to dwell on it as we had arranged a second viewing on the new house. Doubts had crept in while we were busily planning and I went in with a critical eye. Were the rooms big enough? Was it light enough? Was I sure? Happily, everything was better than I remembered and as we left I felt a lump in my throat – I really wanted this house.

That day we were rushing up to Scotland to meet some friends who were over from Canada, and we got straight on the road after viewing the house. We had left our keys with the agents to show people our house. We left at 10.40 and talked non-stop about the new house in the car. In the hope that we had an offer in hand on our property by then, we decided to wait until Monday and went round in circles trying to decide what we should offer. By twelve thirty our agent called to say there had been an offer on our house – we were stunned. After more discussions and speaking to my mum, we decided to make our offer too… why wait until Monday? We put our offer in at 1.45, just before we arrived in Glasgow, stomachs churning and nerves on edge, even though we fully expected it to be Monday before we heard. While Pete was parking and I was alone in the hotel room we had a call from the agent. Congratulations, she said, they accepted!

This was taken the evening that we had sold our house and bought the new house – we were still in shock!

In the space of just a few hours it felt like everything had changed, we had sold and bought a house and it took me about a week to calm down. Since then it has been rather more stressful as we applied for our mortgage and read the 51 page survey report. Despite it’s age (the new house was built in 1898!) fortunately nothing major came up and we’re all set for moving at the end of this month! Even though I can’t wait to get into the new house I am really sad to be leaving ours. When we started packing yesterday it felt really unsettling to have our lovely home in such disarray and with many of the homely touches packed already (Pete blitzed the living room yesterday while my Mum and I started on the kitchen,) it’s more like a shell than a home already.

I’ve got so much more to tell you all about it and our plans, but for now I’ll leave it there. Is anybody else moving? This will be the first time we get movers in so I’d love to hear any advice you’ve got for making the process as smooth as possible.


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