comments 37

In which I go house hunting

Last Monday it was May Day and I ended up organising it for the village – we take turns and someone had done it for me a few years ago when LD#1 was the May Queen, so I did it last year for LD#2 and this year for my friend Jo’s daughter, as Jo is in the middle of submitting a load of essays for her teacher training course. I don’t enjoy the stress of organising big bashes like that – making sure people have promised enough cake, baking my own


sorting out the logistics, teaching the children how to do the maypole dances – and I got to the point where I was so stressed I couldn’t do anything in my spare time apart from sit at the computer playing 2048.

Last night I went to bed at about 8.30pm. Woke up again at 9.20pm and worried for a few hours about houses.  Then slept and slept, and slept in until 11 this morning, after which I woke up feeling better.  It’s taken that long for the May Day stress to work its way out of my system, but I feel better now.

The housing question is getting interesting!  On Saturday afternoon, we went to have a look at our potential new house.  Although there is a lot of competition in the field, we had possibly the worst estate agent in the world conducting the tour.  We walked around the house, which took about ten minutes, and then that was the end of the viewing and we went away!  Now I don’t like being overtly sold to, but I’d expected a bit more interaction than that.

It was interesting to see how the we reacted to the reality of less space.   Although rooms wise it is only a tiny bit smaller, its footprint is much smaller and it is set over four floors, which in theory sounds fun, but in reality put me in the mind of the stir craziness felt by lighthouse keepers.  The staircases are very narrow and are painted wood, rather than carpeted.  In fact, there is a lot of painted wood (upkeep?), and it’s a much more “grown up” house than “cozy family” house.  It’s also on a very narrow street with a lot of through traffic, and it’s amazing how much noise wheels on tarmac make even at low speed.

In the morning, I’d already had my house valued – all part of the process it seems whenever you phone up an estate agent and say you’d like to view one of the houses on their books.

“You seem very surprised at the valuation,” the guy said to me, after he’d finally finished with his piles of brochures and given me a figure.

I hadn’t actually displayed any reaction at all, as I was busy wondering whether he had over valued it to encourage my business.  Anyway, reading my mind, he assured me he hadn’t overvalued, and said sometimes when you have been living somewhere for a while, you don’t notice the good points any more.  I found when I got back in the afternoon that he was actually correct.  After getting home, I immediately relaxed into the wonderful feeling of space, the feel of carpet underfoot, and the views from all our windows.  And the silence!!

Anyway, I am going to enquire about another house, which is a tiny bit further out from the centre, and not as amazingly presented, but with a bigger footprint, and more outside space.  Unfortunately, still on a noisy road, but more of a lived in family house.  Although still a lot of painted floorboards – I am starting to suspect that this might be a trendy Lewes thing.

And this is what I would be leaving behind.  We even have a blue plaque in our village – Malcolm Lowry lived here for a year.







  1. Very exciting–to be house-hunting. And sometimes very overwhelming. It’s such a HUGE decision to make–where to Live.

    Having moved more than a dozen times in my adult life, I’ve learned a few things about minimizing the frustration of the search. 1) Find a good agent who will LISTEN to you; 2) Make a list of all the things you desire; circle all the things you simply cannot live with and/or without. 3) Give that list to your agent, and firmly tell him/her, “Do not ask me to look at a house which does not have the amenities I cannot live without, or which has the drawbacks I cannot live with.” 4) If the agent disregards your requirements and hauls you around to properties that you have already clearly indicated you will be no means consider buying, that agent is shirking his/her responsibility and does not deserve your business. Find another agent. They’re not volunteers–they get paid to match homebuyers to the home they want.

    And have fun snooping around in stranger’s houses… 🙂

    • We are really enjoying the looking round houses bit! LD#2 said, let’s get one of those blue digital radios. I said, our digital reception is rubbish. She said, just for show. It would go nicely on those shelves in that picture.

      Last time I moved, I knew I wanted exactly this house, because of the location it was in. I was desperate to move out of the marital house, which was too big, difficult to maintain and in the wrong place. People were astounded that I wasn’t taking the time to look around.

      • I’m so glad to hear you’re having fun with looking. It can be enjoyable, if there isn’t a lot of pressure.

        I always know the right place when I see it. Sometimes it’s the first thing that’s shown to me; sometimes I look at countless wrong properties before the right one clicks.

      • And having read all about the trials of gutting your New England home when you moved in, I think you must have a very sure instinct to see through all that it was.

  2. Jennifer

    I love looking at different houses – and I’ve lived in 15 or so over the last 35 years – moving is awful but the excitement that surrounds a new place is magical.

    • I find this heartening – I’ve only moved once and the idea is scary – not so much the moving, but the idea of change.  I like to stick with what I know because I am afraid of getting it wrong.  But the fact that it is really coming up in my mind a lot, and I do feel excitement at the idea of working out how our lives would fit with the change, tells me that it is an idea I need to explore further.


      • Jennifer

        Settling into a new house and community is very exciting! I find that I have never missed PEI – for such a pretty place it wasn’t comfortable for us. But I have missed the suburbs of Detroit, oddly enough. The town I’m in now is small enough to not be annoying and large enough to accept everyone. I love Maine.

        I agree with the other comment – get an agent that will only show you what you want. I love how they show everything to you thinking you’ll settle for something you wouldn’t be happy with at all. I would need a good kitchen – not great – just good – and a bathroom on the first floor!

      • What’s been interesting has been me questioning what I really want after seeing this first house!  Within 5 minutes walk of the station is my first must, and at least 3 bedrooms my second.  But I would never have realised that outside space and quietness could be a problem.  This one had a gorgeous kitchen, and I could see LD#2’s face lighting up.  But  I sort of got the feeling from the agent’s lack of interest that there are probably people in the stages of offering for it already.  On the plus side, looking around estate agents’ websites, I realise that lots and lots of houses sell in Lewes near the station all the time, not like this village where a suitable house (size and parking) comes up only every 5 years or so, so I can be patient and wait.


      • PS more encouragement – leaving a beautiful place needn’t be the end of the world.


  3. We wish you well on your house hunt. I hate moving, the packing labelling etc are the daunting bits for me. We moved ten years ago and I am suspicious my husband is starting to look to move again. I agree with Jennifer there is a strange excitement about arriving in a new place, like starting a new story, anything is possible. We wish you well in your house hunt and look forward to reading about your decision and the move itself.

    • Thank you for your lovely wishes. We moved ten years ago too. I wonder if there is such a thing as a ten year itch? Your place looks perfect for Bob and Ellie.

  4. Moving is a bit stressful. I did it a little over 4 years ago. I can see why you were sleepless. I hope you lie the new arrangement. Are you sure you’re okay with the traffic though?

    • I don’t know about the traffic. I honestly have the ability to block out even a baby’s crying, as I grew up hearing my mum teaching piano to some really tone deaf kids. BUT even I am slightly daunted by the road noise. Although the girls didn’t seem bothered at all. One of them said they didn’t even notice. Maybe I noticed it more because I was worried about it?

  5. Sounds like you’ve got some tough decisions to make, Denise. I have moved around quite a bit and lived in all sorts of houses in all sorts of places. One thing I want to really stress is don’t move to a really busy road! Sit in the lounge or the bedroom of the house you’re thinking of buying and if you can hear constant traffic then don’t even consider it. The sound of constant traffic is very stressful I think. Remember also that you can change a house but you can’t change the street. If at first the house isn’t to your liking – wooden floorboards for instance – explore the possibility of changing it by laying carpets. If you’re on a busy road though, you really can’t do very much about it.

    • I think that’s a good point about constant traffic. This isn’t like a motorway – it’s a 20mph zone. But I was very aware of each car passing through, possibly because I am already worried about it. The girls said they didn’t notice it much – they were more worried about the lack of outside space. But I think you are right about the importance of the environment of the home – it’s what you will be coming back to each day after all.

  6. I was wondering why you’d been so quiet on the blog front! May Day sounded stressful, but lovely that you helped out your friend and I bet her daughter loved being the May Queen.

    The house situation sounds like a real dilemma! Your current place looks and sounds great, but I can understand wanting to be closer to town. I can’t say I’d be too enthusiastic about the Lewes house, sounds like a lot of upkeep… Good luck with viewing the new place, I’ll look forward to hearing about it 🙂

    • Good point about May Day. I’m still suffering a little bit of post traumatic stress but you are right that I should focus on the children’s enjoyment of the day – they loved it!

      The Lewes house looked beautiful in the pictures but yes I would have to get the girls to cooperate a lot with the upkeep. The elder one would be fine, she is neat and tidy, but the smaller one is still a bit of a tidiness nightmare. I identify with the just burgled look you mentioned the other day.

      • Maybe just been burgled is the new super tidy? Good luck with the house hunting, hope it’s not too painful! You could start looking into private sales and cut out those annoying middle men?

  7. Good luck with your search, Denise. The listed building in Lewes sounds lovely but will come with endless restrictions. I can understand the appeal of living in town rather than out in the wilds, although the views where you are now look wonderful. Tricky decision – but you’ll instinctively know when you find the right place.

    • Everything nice in Lewes is listed! I swore I would never live in a listed building again! (Last house was listed.) I have loved being able to double glaze in my current house, for example, but everything in Lewes is still single glazed. This is a bit of a dilemma, as I could feel a bit of a draught in one of the rooms as we walked round, and it wasn’t even a cold day.

      Instinctively, yes, I was not relaxed in the house we saw, which tells me something. What a good point!

  8. Exciting but stressful times for you and your LD’s Denise! Having moved so many times, as you well know (and interestingly, this is very much on my mind as you will see with my post later on) and lived in many different kinds of places, areas, situations, I would say, and not wanting to put a damper on things, be very careful about moving to a place with noisy through traffic, especially after living in the country for so long. Of course, if you are not bothered by it, as some aren’t, then it’s no problem, but I couldn’t help but sense in reading this of your relief when you returned to your cosy, peaceful and quiet home!! I’ve lived on corners of streets too and would never do so again. Still, town living is always going to be completely different to country living (without stating the bleeping obvious!!). The house you are going to view sounds better with more space and more family-orientated, which might mitigate the noisy street for you. My two-cents worth? Go at a busy time of day and ask to sit in the living room to see how the traffic sounds. Weekends especially. Also I wonder how it sounds from the bedrooms at night? I look forward to hearing how your next viewing goes and I do wish you all the luck in the world Denise… 🙂

    • All good points – I have never chosen a house before, so this is all new to me. When I moved last time, I knew that I wanted *exactly* this house – it belonged to one of the older families in our community, and they were ready for a bigger house for their older children, just down the road (yes, we are odd like that in our villages, and often move into each other’s houses).

      With the last house, we fell in love with the beautiful kitchen. But I don’t think that was enough to compensate for the lack of inside and outside space. This one might be better. But I know there is lots to choose from, and will just try to sit back and enjoy!

      • You’ll know when you find ‘your’ place Denise and I really do wish you all the luck in the world in your search… looking forward to your updates… 🙂

  9. Gwen Stephens

    It sounds as if you still have a lot of fondness for your current house. It’s not an easy decision. Go with your gut. You’ll know when you’ve found “the one,” and you’ll also know when you haven’t.

    • Yes, I had been wanting this house to be right so much (and price was an issue – it was quite cheap for its location and number of bedrooms) that I’ve been ignoring my gut instinct that it’s not quite right. The downstairs is perfect. But the upstairs not quite.

  10. In my experience, you have to look at about ten dives for every acceptable house when house-hunting. But it’s like falling in love – you only need one to make all the difference. It’s surprising how amount of space, number of stairs and how many loos you have to clean can be deal breakers! One thing, though, road noise is something you grow accustomed to very quickly indeed. I actually find it quite soothing – it’s sort of nice sometimes to feel the world is going on all around you.

    • I used to live about 100m from a railway line and was so surprised that people wouldn’t view the house for that reason. Considering we are quite a backwater line and not exactly HS2. I liked the sound of the train, as it seemed romantic and countryside.

      It’s interesting how things seem so perfect on screen and in print, and then when you see it, you start to think of the niggling practicalities you’d have to live with every day.

  11. Exciting times! I’m kind of already feeling nostalgic about your current house though 😛

    • That’s exactly how I feel! Nostalgic and excited. I suppose that is the best combination – lacking in one or the other would be a bit sad.

  12. I love your description of the house with four floors. Like a lighthouse! Yes, that wouldn’t be for me, but I have a friend who has one of these and it really is low maintenance. Even with hardwood floors. I like the Rachel
    Ashwell (Shabby Chic) look of painted floors. But as with anything of hers, the shabbier, the better, We just painted a TV cabinet dark gray. And I felt guilty because Rachel would have kept it white and “chippy.”

    Good luck with your search. If nothing else, you may come out of this valuing what you have now.

    • I keep thinking of your words – at the very least I will value what I have now 🙂


  13. Denis, I am thinking to organise a street party here around August hope you are available to bake.. those above here looks very yummy 🙂 x

      • I am just going to pencil it down.. did you said crowd?! we are organised crowd.. Thanks you are kind lady.. I probably will shout for help. I am trying to divide it among the neighbours. But sit next to the phone.. xx

      • Ha ha organised crowd – you are among special people.  


  14. Hope all is going well with this new adventure. Lucky you to be able to cherish what you have and keep a gentle eye open for the next right thing. As everyone has said, you will know it when you see it. Don’t be bullied! And remember that you can have a lot of fun changing everything, from kitchens, bathrooms and layout to floor coverings and paint(we always buy wrecks and enjoy making them ‘ours’), but you can’t change the external things that get to you, like traffic noise. Oh, and remember that in the blink of an eye, your lovely daughters will be (temporarily) gone from the nest – so don’t be afraid to be self-centred and find the right place for YOU

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