Category Archives: Housing

Seven Years

It’s seven years today that I moved to where I currently live.  That’s the longest I’ve stayed in one place since I moved out of the house I grew up in.

As I’ve said before, I never expected to stay here this long – it was a location of convenience, a house that came up at the right time, in the right place, and was affordable.

As it turned out, it was more that it was a convenient location, a place to stay that’s easy to get away from, easy to go anywhere else. For the moment it’s still that.

It’s not ideal. It’s a tiny house, which suited my needs then and now – there’s no spare bedroom for friends to stay over or anything, but that’s part of the price I pay, and it just means I go to them instead. At the same time though, I can’t deny I’d like a bit more space, so I could take my books out of their boxes, that kind of thing.

I’ve been looking at other places and so on, but there’s nothing (yet) that’s grabbed me, that’s made me think I want to be there rather than here.

There’s six months on my current tenancy (the first one was a six-month-only one, just in case I turned out to be a nightmare tenant etc., and since then they’ve been annual renewals) and I’m going to take that time to assess things, see if there’s anywhere else that would work better for me.

I might still be here in a year’s time. I might not. We’ll see.

Relocation

Milton Keynes has quite a population of homeless people – a population that’s grown noticeably over the last couple of years – and now we have a number of homeless people who camp in the underpasses and subways around the town centre.

It’s interesting though – as Winter comes in, and the temperature has dropped over the last couple of weeks, the number of people sleeping on the streets has also dropped significantly.

I really noticed it today, seeing empty spaces on the pavements and so on where there’s usually been people sleeping.

I don’t know the reasons – although I kind of feel like I should, same as I feel like I should know where they’re getting all their gear, the tents and so on that now appear to be standard fare.  It seems like even the homeless are far better prepared/equipped for being homeless.  But I may be being cynical. I just don’t know.

But all the same, it’s odd, seeing how the streets have emptied out in the last couple of weeks.

Short-Term Let

Three years ago, when I was looking at moving (and ended up where I still am now) there were a couple of other places in the running – they fitted my plans, location and cost wise, if nothing else.

I go past one of them regularly on commutes, visits to parents and the like – so I see it come back on the rental market every six months or so (which is, not coincidentally, the usual period for a first short-term tenancy)

It’s pretty grotty, and right on a busy main road, so I’m not surprised it’s regularly in need of new tenants – and it looks like this, so it’s hardly appealing…Rental PropertyThat’s the only photo of it. There’s nothing of the inside at all – which always triggers my alarm bells, and is why I didn’t even visit it, so I’ve no idea what it looks like inside. I can’t imagine it’s much good though.

Even the sales description doesn’t do it any favours.

A One bedroom cottage situated on the outskirts of [village]. The property benefits from a parking area to the side and views of the countryside to the rear. Offered Unfurnished and Available Early July.

Entrance to Rear, Kitchen, Lounge, Bathroom, Double Bedroom, Shared Courtyard Garden, Double Glazed Windows, Electric Heating.

What fascinates me is that people choose it at all. OK, it’s dirt-cheap – although actually still a bit more expensive than the place I ended up with – but that doesn’t make it an appealing proposition. I’d imagine it’s even less of one after you’ve visited, seen the location and heard the road noise.

So I do wonder what type of person chooses it, and why.  And (of course) where they go next, once their six months there is done…

 

Domestic Simplicity

As has been pointed out before, I am emphatically Not very practical.  I can do some stuff, but I’m not good at it, and more likely to fuck it up than not.  And usually I’m OK with that – I accept my limitations on that score, and just pay someone to do it who knows what they’re doing, and is infinitely more likely to not fuck it up.

But I’m always happy to have a go, so long as there’s a back-up plan.

This week though, I didn’t have that Plan B, but the simple job worked out OK.

Basically, one of the brackets on the toilet seat gave out, and snapped. That seat’s been there a *long* time, so it’s not a massive surprise.  But obviously it’s something that requires replacing sooner rather than later.

And that’s what happened – I got the new seat, and also some pliers because I had a feeling it was going to be a twat to undo the remaining fittings and screws. It had been there a while, remember. And it’s rusted and nasty. So – pliers.

I got home, used the pliers, got the old seat off, put the new one in the right place, and did it all up. And it’s all gone together fine, first time.

It’s a small thing (story of my life) and I’d fully expect to be told “Jesus, anyone can replace that kind of thing” – and it’s true, they can. But for me, it’s still a nice feeling, knowing it just got handled and replaced with no hassles and hindrances.

That’s all.

Location Fixation

Over the last couple of months, I’ve been thinking a lot about location – where I live, where I work, where I want to live, all that. I’ve been in the current house for two years now, and I know I’m getting a bit twitchy.

The current tenancy doesn’t expire ’til November though – due to an initial six-month one, followed by 12-month ones. As a result, I’ve had plenty of time to think about it, look at the pros and cons, and – I think – I’ve now pretty much made a decision.

As has been noted on many occasions, I’m not all that good with permanence – I like change, embrace it even. It suits me. So two years in the same place is enough to make me twitchy, to start to feel that itch in the back of my skull.

It’s not too bad at the moment though. I’ve certainly had it far, far worse than this. If I were still in the same job as well, the options would be different – I’d be needing to move on in both cases. As it is, I’ve been back on the contracting since July, and it’s kept things decently varied – which means the house side of things can relax a wee bit.

There are places I’d like to move to, some new locations and some old. (Or at least close enough to qualify as revisits) They’re more about reflecting how much life has changed in the last few years, most particularly the ability to drive, which opens up whole new vistas.

For example, I’d like to go back to the North-West, live around the Peak district somewhere. I wouldn’t live in Manchester itself again, but there’s loads of places around it that I really like. It’s still a front-runner when the move does happen.  The same applies for the South Coast, and Dorset in particular. It’s an area I love, but didn’t really get to appreciate as much as I could’ve done, because I didn’t drive. So yes, that’s also a front-runner.

There’s other places too. A revisit to Bath and/or Bristol wouldn’t be out of the question – particularly when not combined with an insane commute, ideally – and there’s new locations too. I’d consider most places, but Nottingham and Derby have always been good to me, and there’s a whole heap of other places. (Plus a long-standing idea to sod off to somewhere like Cork)

However, right now there’s also a bigger plan in place. Rebuilding after the bankruptcy, seeing what comes next, as well as looking at work and finances and what the hell I want to do/be when I grow up. There’s ideas on that score, but I need to have the time and inclination to do something about them. Time I’ve got. Inclination? Less so, right now. But that’s a post for another day.

I could move, sure. But practicality-wise, where I am right now is pretty much perfect for me right now. It’s not a long-term location, but for now it’s good. I’ve got all the transport links I need – my commuting radius for work covers an insane amount of miles. It makes my contractor life a lot easier. Location isn’t in many (if any) of those calculations I have to do. For me, right now, that’s an important factor, and outweighs pretty much everything else.

Financially, it’s easy. If I move North then the odds are that my rent would drop. But for where I am, for what I’ve got right now, I couldn’t do much better. I’d like some extra space, an extra room or two – but it’s not something that’s necessary right now either.

All told, while I would kind-of like to move, I don’t need to move. And staying put has its advantages too – location, money, blah blah.

That means that – in the lack of a good reason for moving other than “But I want to” – I’ve decided I’m going to plan to stay where I am for the next eighteen months. The six months from now for the current tenancy, and then extend it by another twelve.

Of course, the landlord might decide to sell up or something, or work may throw up something that makes me have to move. Neither option is likely, but they could happen. But short of those kind of eventualities, I’m going to face up to things, and not move.

By that time – November 2015 – I’ll have been in this place for three and a half years. Then I think it’ll be time to move on – or at least move up. If my work is still keeping me based in a way that the current location is still OK then I’ll just look at moving to a bigger place locally. If things change or work isn’t a limitation (I can work from pretty much anywhere, after all) then it might be a big location change too. We’ll see.

Inspection

Back on Tuesday, I had a (pre-arranged) visit from the Landlord, needing to do the annual gas safety checks and so on.

Compared to a lot of people I see on Facebook et al., I’m pretty lucky with my landlord. We get on OK, and he always calls (or sends a text, anyway) to let me know it’s happening, and that he’ll be there to keep an eye on the person doing the checks.  He doesn’t organise unannounced random visits, take the piss, or generally do a lot of the stuff I hear about, but have never experienced from a landlord. (And that’s probably a different post entirely)

Getting the checks done is always fine with me, and if nothing else it’s good to know that everything is tested and safe.

This time though, it was a bit different. Everything passed and was all OK, but when I got home I found that they’d managed to close the cats upstairs for the best part of the day. With no food or water. Or litter tray.  So yeah, that was fun – and necessitated use of the washing machine. We’ll leave it at that.

There were a couple of other niggles as well – nothing major, just stuff that’d been moved to get to the boiler etc., and hadn’t been returned to their original places and so on – and a broken shower-head bracket, meaning the shower wasn’t working properly.

He came round again yesterday to fix the shower head, and we had a bit of a chat about the other stuff. It’s nothing major – indeed, you feel pretty petty mentioning it – but it’s my place, and it annoyed. (I know, rented etc., but still – my place in all but mortgage)

I’m pretty sure it’ll all be fine again now, but it just annoyed for a while this week. Such is life.

 

Balconies

Where I’m working in London this week, I’m in an office opposite an apartment block. (Which used to be known as a ‘block of flats’, but that’s not cool or trendy enough for people now)  Personally I’d hate it, but that’s OK, I don’t live there.

What I don’t get about the building though is that certain windows have bars outside – I assume to look like they’ve got balconies. But all they are is the bars, there’s no outside space to them, they’re just a ‘feature’.  But why?  I don’t get the reasoning behind it. OK, you’ve a door you can open (into the flat/apartment) so I suppose it’s for ‘safety’ in case someone walked out of that door and fell to the street. But why have the door? It’s not even a sliding one, just a normal hinged doorway to fuck-all.

Balconies?

You might as well have done away with the ‘balcony’ and door completely, and just replaced it with a decent window. Same amount of ventilation, low-to-no risk of falling out (depending on the window style/opening) and no faffing about with the door protruding into the living space, and not having to look through a semi-barred window.

City-living is bloody strange on occasion.