Sunday, 9 December 2012

Level 4 living

We currently live in a fairly large house. It's an old semi detatched, over 100 years old. The ceilings are high. We have 4 bedrooms and an attic that's a 5th. We used to sleep in the attic until a few months ago. But just two and a half people live here. Myself and Bren, and Lisa, who's only here about half the time. We also have a lot of junk stuff. Mementoes and memories. Books. Craft materials. Computer bits and bobs. Rooms full of things we keep just in case.

Don't get me wrong here. It's no palace. We're on the second lowest tier for council tax, and we're in very much an urban area. Our street is fairly quiet, but there are places a stone's throw away that are pretty rough.

I've had the title of this post in my head today. You see, Bren went out this morning to view a property, and she seems set on moving. We've been running to stand still for years, and everything we do has somehow never got us to a point where we could breathe, knowing our income was going to exceed our outgoings. And we're not extravagent. We haven't had a holiday for years, apart from a weekend in a caravan two years ago, and Christmas in a converted barn, courtesy of my brother in law about 3 or 4 years ago. We never go out. We do our best to keep costs down. Yet it's not enough. The tide of debt has crept, slowly, but inexorably further up. Bren, who didn't think she had the mental strength to work full time, was forced to try something to bring in money. First she spent 3 years at university. That brought in a certain amount of cash that she now officially owes to the student loan company, but which she'll almost certainly never pay anything towards. £15,000 a year? Or whatever the threshhold is? That's just unimaginable to us. We've got by on pretty much half that for a decade now. Somehow.

Level 1 living is under a bridge.
Level 2 gets you a tent.
Level 3 is a caravan.
Level 4 is a static caravan.
Level 5 is a council flat.
Level 6 is a terraced house.
Level 7 is a semi detatched like what we live in now.
Level 98 is a chateau.
Level 99 is a palace.

Static caravans are things that people who can't afford a proper holiday use. That's not to say a good time can't be had, but if you're affluent, you're going to stay in a hotel or some kind of self catering arrangement with 4 solid walls, a masonry chimney, and no wheels whatsoever.

Yet that's what we're going to go and live in. Bren has decided. She doesn't want to. She bought this place as both a home, and as an investment. Her previous husband's death meant the life insurance paid off the mortgage, and for a while, it was all she had.

A part of me feels like I've dragged her down with me. That if she'd never met me, she wouldn't now be having to make this choice.

The stress of it all has been taking it's toll. Both of us worry about each other's mental health. If selling up and moving to something cheaper frees up enough to pay off our debts, and reduce our overheads, it will be surely better than struggling to maintain what we have.

It's going to mean changes.

For one thing, Lisa might not be coming with us. There isn't much room, and she has a lot of clothes. Bren has spoken to Alex, her eldest son, who has a flat near here. He used to live there with Mike, his brother, but Mike now lives with his girlfriend, so Alex has a room free. He and Lisa get on well, and he's happy to have her move in with him. Lisa also has a boyfriend over in Liverpool. She spends a lot of time over there with him, so she may choose to move in with him. She's 22 now, nearly 23, and is generally pretty streetwise.

We will not be able to cram the contents of a large house into a static caravan. We plan to go do car boot sales etc. This will make the move easier, and also might free up some funds.

Then what? We're going to get well below market value for the house, because of it's condition. I have no idea about the figures involved. When the dust has settled, we may find ourselves with £20,000 in the bank.

Some years ago, we remortgaged, and we would have to pay that back, since we're not moving to another property. That's about £15,000 I think. We're locked into a lease on a shop for another two and a half years. That's another £16,000 we will have to find over the next couple of years, plus rates and electricity etc, but it should bring in some income, either in it's present incarnation, or in some other way. Then there's the caravan itself. The second hand one that Bren saw and liked is for sale at around £25,000. It should be cheaper to heat and power than our house, and the site fees include water and rates. Telephone access is not as straightforward as it is here, and so neither will internet access be.

And generally, we will have to get used to living with less space. We're supposed to vacate the site for a month every year, to comply with some regulation or other, but the site operators, nudge nudge, wink wink, don't spend a lot of time checking.

driving lessons in Wallasey? learn to drive in Wirral? driving instructor in Birkenhead?

No comments: