We’ve been talking about moving since shortly after our seven-year-old son was born. But other life events (and a second child) delayed serious house hunting for some time. We’ve been seriously looking for about eighteen months now and I’ve lost count of the number of open homes we’ve been too. I try not to think about the auctions we’ve registered at, those beautiful houses we imagined ourselves living in only to be out-bid and out-maneuvered. I don’t want to dwell on past mistakes, past arguments and past disappointments. Just like ex-boyfriends, everyone tells me those were the ones that weren’t meant to be. ‘You’ll find the perfect one one day!’ they say.
House hunting is not unlike dating. Saturdays are dedicated to the search. You make yourself (i.e. your bank balance) look as presentable as possible and you hit the open homes, just like I used to hit the pubs and nightclubs. Unfortunately there’s less wine involved. You eye off the other competitors. You see the same faces, week after week. You get friendly with some of them.
And like dating you look at every house wondering ‘Is this the real deal?’ ‘Is this the one?’ Sometimes you know instantly that it’s just a fling. Sometimes you fool yourself, you ignore the fact that there is way too much work to do. Or you kid yourself that it isn’t out of your league. Other times you try it on for size, only to realize that it isn’t quite right for you after all.
Sometime you let yourself wonder if it could be The One. You see the renovated kitchen. Or the newly polished floor boards. You imagine the parties you will have the entertaining deck. You sit in the yard and imagine yourself living there. You watch your daughter twirl in the sunshine on the lush lawn and see how happy she looks. You have to mentally move your furniture in and divvy up the bedrooms before you can know if the place is going to be right for you. And of course once you’ve done that you’ve already fallen for it and your heart is exposed.
So you put yourself out there. You make yourself vulnerable. You stump up for the building reports. The solicitor’s fees. You make sure the money is squared away. You think about it. You dream about it. You pray that the anonymous owners love you back. That No One Else Better is on offer.
And then you watch as they chose someone else.
We were on our fourth pre-approval before we got it. There was no diamond ring, but I think I felt as nervous as I did on my wedding day, my stomach twisted into a painful knot. Happy as I signed my life away.