Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Moving on - a big rant

WELL WE have moved, nearly and completely. I say nearly in that there is still a car load of stuff to bring up from the other place. Mostly from an unused wardrobe in the old flat which housed my old LPs, my enlarger and other photographic equipment.

I went and squared up things financially with the old landlord and I have to say it was a huge relief. I was half worried that I might owe more than I bargained for. The fact that I spent most of last year looking for the rent book, which mysteriously walked therefore rent receipts were written in diaries, notebooks, even scraps of paper, didn’t help my financial calculations at all.

Once that was done the Young Wan and I grabbed a box, just so we wouldn’t feel guilty about being in the house and not lifting something before heading back to the wonderfully heated new place. As we were walking along I realised I had the mightiest grin on my face and a skip in my step. The relief of leaving our former home behind is even more than I expected.

It has been the longest move in the world, as some of you might remember, when it all started back at the end of the summer. There was me under the illusion that moving only took that long when you were buying a house, not renting. But in fairness the pace has suited me, just so long as we were well in for Christmas and we are.

While the ball started rolling during the summer on maybe moving, I didn’t get to see the place till the end of September and since then my weekends have been spent either packing, chucking out, unpacking or painting. I still have the kitchen to paint but everything else has been glossed and emulsioned within an inch of it’s life. It’s funny though I keep finding little bits and pieces that I want to go over but all that will wait until another day.

I always knew I would be delighted to leave but actually doing so is fantastic. Bear in mind we have been living there for nearly 13 years. Prior to that we had been living in a house previously occupied by an elderly man who was living in a home subsidised by our rent. When he passed away the house was put on the market and I was flat hunting in January.

Looking for somewhere to live with a young child was always challenging, but that particular time was made all the more challenging by the fact that not only did I have a toddler, I was also a student on the Back to Education allowance meaning that not only was I a student but I was also on the dole. All in all that was three strikes against me at that time in the private-rented sector.

So we looked and looked. The stories I could tell you about how landlords would treat us while viewing places are shocking even now to me. I remember one particular time where I was looking at the place with a friend. It was horrible yet typical for my price range at the time. It was depressing, dreary and dark. The kitchen was in the living room and was partitioned off cutting off some of the little natural light coming into the room.

I remember feeling very desperate at this time, we had been looking for a month and had already moved temporarily into a room in a pal’s house, but the Young Wan was behaving a little out of character and had reverted a bit and I could only conclude that we needed to get our home as quickly as possible.

So I was looking at this place and thinking if I give it a lick of paint it might be better when the landlord said ‘is it for you two?

‘No’ I said ‘it is for me and my daughter’.

He then asked if I was on rent allowance and if so he didn’t want our kind as tenants adding ‘no offence’.

As I turned on my heels, I said ‘offence taken’ and something else thanking him for taking the decision on whether or not to rent this hovel from my hands and how only I was desperate I wouldn’t even entertain looking at it in the first place.

This eventually brought us over time to the flat where have we lived for more than a decade. At the time the landlord asked me what I was looking for and I said a home and so it was.

But I never ever thought I would still be living there 13 years later, the rented sector just soared way out of my reach. So we were stuck in the house where the windows were caving in on themselves, where there was no heating except for an open fire in the living room, where there was no running hot water in either the bathroom or kitchen sinks.

We adapted, the kettle was always on the boil for dishes; and the shower head pulled perfectly over to the bathroom sink for hot water to wash. I learned how you could carry briquettes for longer and further on your shoulder than cutting the fingers off yourself attempting to cart them in your hands, I also learned how coal from the North is warmer and burns better than the plastic shite you buy in garages here.

For a long time I was more worried about being able to continue to pay the rent and bills on what I was bringing in never mind move to somewhere better. I felt like one false move on my part and we could be literally forced out of Dublin, if that makes sense. There was one stage when Dublin become seriously expensive and I really fretted about what we were going to do.

As time moved on rent increased dramatically tying us more to the flat. Trying to garner up a deposit was akin to getting a deposit for a mortgage no one would give you. I also resented paying out more for rent that friends’ who had recently bought properties were paying in their mortgage so even though I couldn’t afford the rent on a two-bed property I was making a principled stand by staying putt – eh really I was!

I recently read a mad blog post headline somewhere which stated something like landlords subsidise tenants due to high house prices and not being able to cover the mortgage with rent. I just thought WTF. I never ever remember seeing headlines on how tenants have subsidised landlords’ investments up until now. I would not like to calculate how much money I have handed out to my former landlord over the years and how it could have bought me a house.

At one stage nearly two years ago I put in for the affordable housing scheme in Dublin City Council (more on that in a moment) and I think from that moment on I had had enough. I needed and wanted to move more than anything. I had practically given up on the flat; it began to seriously depress me. But what could I do? Moving normally would take a deposit equivalent to what would have been a mortgage deposit not that long ago. I couldn’t afford the current rent levels on a two-bedroom place on my own.

That is a mad thing, because I have been working for years in relatively good jobs. I have a small household of which I am the head and unlike years before where the head of a household could expect to buy a house and keep the household on one salary, I was just about keeping my head above water. Moving was not an option despite my giving up on the flat.

One thing I do regret not doing when I first moved to Dublin all those years ago is not putting my name on the housing list. I had this mad notion that if I could get a place on my own then I should. I was also a bit fearful of where, if I had done so, I would be placed. Isolation with a young child and little money was not something I wanted to willingly go into.

Since then I have applied for some of Dublin City Council’s housing lottery draws, and am getting used to the ‘we are sorry but the draws have taken place and you were not selected’ letters. I hold little faith in that enabling me to buy our own home, never mind not being able to get the mortgage to purchase any property I might be offered, never mind being able to pay the mortgage on my own. So I think I will wait for the bottom to fall out of the market allowing me to step in and snap up something wonderful, course by then I may have saved something towards a deposit, or even better have won the lottery and then all my worries are over.

One thing I can say about all this is that I have done it all on my own. Bits of help here and there from friends aside, I have worked and paid for the roof over my daughter’s head and depended on no one but myself. I am proud of that AND now I am absolutely delighted to be moving on and leaving the former flat all behind.

I am delighted to live in a home that is warm, not one where you might as well have the window open because the draft coming in is so huge. I am delighted to not have to lug the weekly washing down the road to the launderette. I am delighted we have a bath; both Nanny and the Young Wan are also delighted, the dog on the other hand does not like the bath. The back yard is going to be well used and the fact that all visitors to the house do not have to go through my bedroom to use the bathroom is an added bonus.

Moving home feels like new beginnings not only for me but for my wee family. Yes I am still renting but it is a good move for us. I am telling you even the doggie is delighted with it all.

Where we have moved too is an area I know well having lived next door to it for so long. It is relatively close to town and close to lots of places perfect for photography. I cannot wait for Christmas and having time to potter about, take the dog for long walks with the camera stopping for coffee and all sorts.

You will have to wait for the before, during and after shots of moving. While we are beyond the ‘before’ and ‘during’ phases as most of the unpacking has been done; I am not yet at the ‘after’ stage. We still have curtains to buy and other bits and pieces but we are more than nearly there and it is great. But here is a sneaky peak

House 3 Moving House - A work in progress

So here’s to new beginnings. Yeehhhharrrr ;) And many thanks for sticking out the many and probably boring posts, both here and on Flickr and Facebook (eh Twitter and Jaiku also) about moving. I cannot say there will not be more, in fact one is already stirring round my head entitled ‘I hate Vivaldi’ about my endeavours to have NTL connected. If anyone has even had to phone NTL *ahem* customer care line (HA) they will know what I mean.

Okay the epic post is now done…


Dea said...

Congratulation RedMum! I know exactly how you feel as I could have written most of that post. The mortgage we paid on our 4 bedroom house in America was less than a 1/4 of the rent we paid here on our last dingy depressing poorly constructed abode! We're still renting, but like you have found a place we love and where there is space. Someday we will be home owners again... but at least for once we're happy where we are! ;-) Best of luck to you all!

Anonymous said...

Congrats. Good luck in the new place.

Katherine said...

Fair play to you, you sound delighted, and it sounds like you both deserve it!

Anonymous said...

Congrats! Good luck in your new home. Just after moving myself this summer so can understand the new home feeling.

Eoin O'Mahony said...

Congrats on the new place. This is a great post about how vicious the private rented 'sector' can be and how residualist the public system is. Mortgage-paying friends of mine keep telling me that renting is dead money. And you are paying your money back at what rate to AIB / BoI shareholders now?

The Great Wee Azoo said...

I look forward to visiting in the New Year.

Tales from the Birch Wood. said...

Success at last. Well Done!

Here's wishing you every happiness.

Curly K said...

Oh well done you - delighted for you, Nanny, the young wan and even the doggie. Best of luck in your new home - fair play to you having it all decorated before you move in. My wee house is still waiting for a lick of paint on top of the bog standard magnolia that new houses come with and I moved in almost 5 yrs ago :(

Dole Days said...

Well done you have done a great job for your family. I hope you will all be happy there.

Unknown said...

Congratulations on your new home RM - the move will no doubt help give you a fresh perspective on things... Had a protracted unhealthy relationship with the private rented sector myself; I'm still amazed what landlords get away with and how much the state subsidises them in generating huge profits on substandard accommodation. For the record the voluntary housing sector is always worth a look, decent accommodation at affordable rents but not enough people know about it unfortunately.

Red Mum said...

Thanks everyone for the comments. The new place is great and we are all delighted, not to mention toasty warm, an added bonus this time of year ;)