Welcome back to What I Own – our weekly series where we speak to homeowners around the world.
This week we are heading to sunny Brighton to meet Vicky, who lives in a two-bed cottage with her husband, daughter and pets.
She moved in a few years ago and has been busy putting her own stamp on the property – you can see more of her house on her Instagram account @shelley_cottage.
This is what she had to say about her buying experience…
Hello Vicky, tell us a bit about yourself…
I’m 33 and work as an interior stylist for a furniture retailer – currently on maternity leave.
I live in a village on the outskirts of Brighton with my husband and new baby, Evelyn, alongside our pup Melly and two cats Hank and Penny.
Where is your property?
The property is in a village on the outskirts of Brighton. I was born in Brighton but, with property prices going up and the city becoming overpopulated, we decided to move out as we couldn’t find what we wanted within our budget.
I absolutely love where I live, it’s still accessible to Brighton by a 10 minute train journey, but we now have access to lots of countryside and walks. I love the fact that everything we need is on our doorstep but we can still dive into city life when we want to.
When did you move in?
We moved in October 2016.
How much does your property cost?
When we bought the property in October 2016 and paid roughly £270,000 for it.
How much was your deposit?
Just over 15%.
What is the monthly cost of living here now; both mortgage and bills?
About £1100 pm
How did you save up for your deposit?
We did a lot of savvy saving. We moved in with my parents for nine months to remove the cost of renting and put us in a better position to move. We then put our savings into high interest saving accounts and premium bonds.
My husband had also put a lot of his savings into stocks and shares for a number of years which had increased in value over time. It meant when we came to buying, we had saved more than the usual 10%.
What was the process of getting a mortgage like for you? Did you find any parts challenging?
We saw the property in May 2016 and didn’t complete until October 2016. There were a few issues with the property that were picked up from the survey which we ended up negotiating lower than the original asking price. We used a financial advisor who was brilliant and a solicitor who was very thorough. The whole process was challenging and at times it felt like we’d never complete.
Where did you live before this – were you renting or living with family?
We lived in central Brighton before moving in with my parents who also live in Brighton.
What made you want to buy rather than renting?
With our previous rented property we had a lot of damp issues that were never fixed and made my husband quite unwell. By buying a property it meant that we had the ability to be in control of any issues.
We have no worries anymore that the rent price is going to increase and we have the ability to make changes in our own home and adapt it as we grow.
How did you find this property? What made you choose it?
We had been searching for a long time in Brighton but every property we saw were small flats and many had damp issues.
One day I decided to expand my search and look at towns along the train line and found our home. It was a two-bedroom cottage with two reception rooms and garden, double the size of everything we’d seen in Brighton and cheaper. When we visited the property it honestly felt like we’d come home. We left the viewing and both turned round and said “yes” which involved my husband running down the road after the estate agent and making an offer through his car window.
How have you made the property feel like home?
The property is a Victorian terrace and they always have good bones. It’s very similar to the house I grew up in Brighton so probably felt like home from a nostalgic point of view. For me, home is a relaxing space where you can easily entertain. Before Covid, we had friends round regularly, it’s a space for everyone to feel at home.
What’s the inspiration for your interior decor style?
I love light and airy homes. A lot of my inspiration comes from the American farmhouse style. Lots of white with tongue and groove panelling and a mixture of reclaimed vintage furniture. I love yellow so there are pops of it in most rooms.
What’s your favourite room and why?
My favourite room is Eva’s nursery. It’s south facing, so has lots of lovely warm sunlight. It was a real labour of love during the pandemic and I spent a lot of time finding pieces. Her cot and chest of drawers were Facebook Marketplace finds that I restored. I then found lots of small companies that make beautiful children’s decorations. It’s such a happy space.
Do you feel like you have enough space?
I feel like we use the space to its full potential. Every corner of our home is used so there’s no dead space which I think is important. I also move things around seasonally as we change how we use the house.
Do you have plans to change the property?
We’re planning to knock down the kitchen, downstairs toilet and breakfast room to create a big open plan kitchen-diner later this year. Having Eva has meant that we need to be able to see her more and having a separate kitchen and diner during weaning is challenging. We’re also looking at making a smaller bathroom in our large bedroom so that the existing bathroom can become a third bedroom.
Are there any problems with the property that you have to deal with?
Luckily nothing substantial. We’re in a conservation area so anything major needs to go through planning which can delay things.
What do you want people to know about buying a home?
I would say invest in something you love now. You have no idea how long you’ll be in the property for. We had planned to move but because of house pricing going up we’ve decided to stay put and make our home work better for us. We still love it, which is so important.
What are your plans for the future, in terms of housing? Do you plan to stay here long term?
We are staying here for the time being. I’d love to eventually move somewhere with a bigger garden. I dream of owning chickens and a vegetable plot but that won’t be anytime soon. We have access to lots of parks and countryside at the moment – so for Eva it’s an ideal location.
Shall we take a look around?
Do you want to feature in What I Own?
What I Own is a Metro.co.uk series that takes you inside people’s properties, to take an honest look at what it’s like to buy a home in the UK. If you own your home and would be up for sharing your story, please email [email protected]
You’ll also need to be okay with sharing how much you’ve paid to live there and how you afforded the deposit, as that’s pretty important.
If you’re renting, you can take part too! What I Own runs alongside What I Rent, which is the same series but all about renting. Again, if you’d like to get involved just email [email protected]
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