It went a little like this: we live in North Cork in the countryside, it's nice, we like it here. We know people in the area, we know where to go shopping and where to go for a nice coffee with a friend. We want to stay around here, it's handy for the Big Guy's work, and we need space for the dog and the two cats. Let's buy a house in the country. We can get chickens! I can grow vegetables again! It will be lovely and our children will grow up out in the fresh air la la la la la la la.
See? It's nice countryside. Everything is lovely and green and there are gentle rolling hills and lots of wooded areas to go for walks and picnics and it's only about half an hours drive into the City (well, 45 mins if there's traffic) and we grew up in the country so it would be nice for our children to do so too. So, we start looking and we're thinking something quaint and pretty with a bit of land...
Okay, so this house is technically in Portugal but you get the gist of what I'm talking about. Only problem is that this is not what we can afford. What we can afford is much more depressing. We went and we looked, and we viewed, and we talked and we couldn't find a place that we could settle on. There were a few that we went after half-heartedly as we just want to buy our own place dammit, come on, but they all fell through and we had nowhere, still.
After a while all the houses start to look the same. If you've ever been in the position where you're house-hunting for longer than 12 months you'll know what I'm talking about. Conversations like this started to happen:
Me: What about the place with the pond-thingy?
BG: Is that the one with the 2 sheds?
Me: No, that one had the little stream but was surrounded by busy roads. Remember, the one with the weird kitchen, that was the pond one!
BG: Ooooh, that was the one with the tiny stairs, wasn't it?
Me: Uh, it might have been...hold on....oh yeah, I'd forgotten about those stairs. Damn, never mind. Okay, what about this one - the one with the gorgeous patio?
BG: I thought you said that village was a hole and you'd never live there?
Me: Yeah, I know, and I stand by what I said but I just want to buy a house - I'll live in nowheresville if needs be.
BG: Well, I'm not buying a house for the sake of just buying a house and if you hate the area then there's no point in moving there. Plus it's kinda over budget anyway.
Me: Okay, this one! It's lovely and quaint and it's not too far out from a big town!
BG: Didn't we view that one already?
Me: Oh shit, yeah. It was the one with no bathroom. Nevermind.
We were on first name basis with every local estate agent. We were a hazard to other road users on our frequent "perve on the house before we book a viewing" trips.
We needed to start getting smarter about this and we had to start considering properties outside of the pretty strict set of parameters we had. Funny thing happens once you decide to start shaking off the shackles of how you previously thought - you can end up going in directions you didn't think were possible! So if we're looking for a country house/cottage and we're coming up empty then maybe we need to start looking in villages and towns and looking at estate houses. It's only logical. That sort of logic then takes me to Crazytown - if we're looking in built up areas why don't we move closer to the City? Hell, if we're thinking of going closer to the City then why don't we just move IN to the City?
|Cork City - be still my heart|
After all, we got married in Cork City. We go in there all the time. We love walking around the streets and okay, we can't afford the City centre, especially not if we want a garden for the dog but it's do-able all the same. We could get rid of one of the cars! Big Guy's commute would only be a few minutes longer than it is now and it's all motorway so it's good, safe roads, not little country lanes like we'd been looking at. This is good! This is clever! Let's face it, Cork is beautiful, why wouldn't we want to move there?
Right! Decision made! Only...well, if we're moving to a place with such gorgeous architecture and history then wouldn't it be a shame to buy a place that is a new build and looks like every other estate house in every other town and city around Ireland? Shouldn't we try and find a place that says OLD! CORK! HISTORY! Somewhere that has been around for generations before us and will be there for generations more and we can be just one of the stories folded into the fabric of the building? (Yes, I get sort of romantic about buildings, it's a problem of mine but it's also kind of adorable [unless you're house-hunting with me]).
So, house of character in a nice part of the city. With a garden. Heh. That's a piece of cake! Like the lovely houses above - there's loads of houses like that in Cork. We'll find one no problem, and sure if it needs a little bit of work then what harm? Oh, my poor innocence...
Finding a house in Cork City is pretty easy. Finding one we can afford is slightly more difficult. Finding one we can afford in a nice area is harder still. Finding one that we can afford and is in a nice area, with a garden and is habitable well, that's actually a pretty tall order! Now we're back to priorities, what matters most to us? It's all well and good saying you don't mind something cosy but you see there's cosy and there's you-can't-fit-a-sofa-in-this-sitting-room. There's we don't mind a bit of work and there's oh-dear-lord-there's-no-kitchen-or-proper-bathroom-and-no-central-heating-and-did-that-wiring-come-off-the-Ark-that's-just-dangerous. Don't get me started on estate agents descriptions. Seriously, don't.
So, garden is a must? Not anymore! 3-bed minimum? Ha! There's 2 of us, a 2-bed will be fine, one room for us, one for guests/offspring. City suburbs would be nice. Nope, not if we want to get rid of one car and for me to still make it to work on time! Space is important. Eh, there's a whole city out there...go wild!
Which is how we went from looking at country properties with a minimum of half an acre of land to booking a viewing for a slap-bag in the city centre 2-bed APARTMENT within the space of 6 months. Yup, for real. Our dog is gone, our cats spend 90% of their day inside anyway. Fresh fruit and veg can be bought down in the English Market for probably less than it would cost me to grow it myself and well, you'd be surprised what I could grow on a balcony or a windowsill! Getting rid a a whole car will do more for the environment than planting some spuds. It's more secure for me when the Big Guy is away with work and I'm on my own. There's a lot more places to bring smallies in the city, parks to visit, galleries, museums. Sure, we'll probably outgrow an apartment in the future but right now it is actually the perfect solution for us.
Yeah, city life.
Bring it on.