Wednesday 4 November 2015


We are buying our first house (hopefully by the end of this week, it will be bought instead of 'buying'). Wait, let me clarify, we live in London, so you have to be an oil baron to buy an actual house. So, we are buying our first flat. Which is a feat in itself considering property prices in this city are rising faster than a Kardashian’s hemline.

To be honest, it is not something I ever thought we would be able to do. As most of you know that have secured a mortgage in the last few years, you now have to practically promise your first born child, pee in a cup and dance like a monkey in order to get a bank to look at you. Ahhhh gone are the good old days when they gave you a mortgage for simply showing up (I kid; that wasn’t the answer either as it turned out). To make matters worse when you’re self employed you may as well walk into the mortgage advisors office and tell them you’re a prostitute, because that is about as much credibility being self employed gets you. But alas, after several exhaustive months of mountains of paperwork, we were approved for a mortgage – I was getting acupuncture (to CALM down) when my husband called to tell me the news, if that gives you any idea of my current stress levels.

After approval, as you wait for the property to get surveyed, approved, & blessed by a team of anti-damp shamans (I wish) move into the glorious phase of, 'okay, we have this place, now what on earth shall we do with it considering it looks like it's been lived in by a bunch of unruly frat boys.'  I quickly learned that not only do I know very little about actual design, but after a few paint swatches, my eyes cross, and my husband has to wake me up from a colour induced slumber. Let’s put it this way, I definitely know what I like (and more importantly what I don’t like), but the journey through thousands of paint, tile and carpet samples - that just make me sneeze – to figure out that I really just don’t love carpet is pretty damn fatiguing. Then of course you realise the difference between reality and 'laughable never gonna happen-ity' in terms of budgeting any sort of house renovations. There is what you want it to look like, and what you can afford it to look like. Two very different things.

The other thing that an American quickly realizes (obviously I knew this years ago, but as I wasn’t a home owner I simply scoffed at the lunacy of it) is that things over here are done very differently. When you start saying things like Freehold and Leasehold to a foreigner like myself, we look at you like you’ve literally lost your mind. But in nutshell, if you buy a leasehold property in England, you own the flat, but not the land it’s sitting on. Yes you heard me. So in order to do any alterations, additions or anything structural to the flat, you will need permission from the Freeholder. In our case, we are part owners of the freehold as we own a flat in a period building of three flats. This sounds promising doesn’t it? But wait for it, as we’re only part owners of the freehold, we still have to ask the other freeholders if say we want to put down wood floor in our flat, or put in a new bathroom; so essentially, you own the dress, but you have ask the neighbor if you can zip the damn thing up. From where I come from, if I buy a house/apartment and want to put in a strobe light and wood floor down with the Presidents face etched into it, I can (gosh, so many presidents, so little time). 

So needless to say the last few months have meant I’ve slept for about twenty minutes as my husband and I have obsessed over the minutiae of how, what, where and what colour (& let’s be frank, at this point I have my sister on speed dial as my husband and I have deemed her the 'style guru'. Cause, well, she is). Of course the King - in the midst of all this - has now decided he likes black carpet and purple walls.  I just smile, nod and then politely tell him in our relationship I’m the freeholder, and the freeholder says no. 

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