We have been living in Cork for a year now. We are renting in Monkstown, is a lovely suburb by the sea. It's about 20 minutes from the city and it's very residential. Beautiful homes. Mostly period homes. We have a huge house with amazing views.......but we rent...and we don't want to rent forever. We would like to buy one day but the problem is saving for a deposit. With rents and living expenses the way they are it's almost impossible to save any money regularly.
My grandparents house is currently unoccupied. My grandfather died 3 years ago and my grandmother can't live on her own so the house has been slowly deteriorating over the last couple of years. Not only that but even prior to the house being empty it was being lived in by 2 elderly people that weren't really able to maintain it so it's in pretty rough shape. There's no central heating. There are damp patches on walls and peeling paint.....the ceiling has come down in the kitchen......you get the picture, not pretty.
My parents have offered it to us - as an opportunity to save some money as we would be living there paying a nominal rent. Really, they would like us to live there to stop the house deteriorating further.
1) Whilst they appreciate that some changes will have to be made to make it habitable, they do not want any structural changes to be made.
2) Not only has the house seen better days, it's tiny. TINY. Not small. TINY. This is not a house that has "potential". There is no "wow factor". It is a tiny 3 bedroomed semi detatched bungalow that my grandfather built when he and my grandmother married (and my granduncle built the adjoining bungalow at the same time). It was a modest house, even when by in large Irish homes were modest. And now in this day and age.....modest doesn't even cover it. I haven't measured it up yet but I am thinking it's maybe about 700 sq ft. Possibly less. I don't like to complain about the lack of space too much seeming as my grandparents managed to raise a family there without any problems but it is definitely not what people expect of a home now. There is no storage whatsoever but even worse - there's no where to put storage!!!! If we were just a couple then maybe one of the bedrooms could be a closet....but as is, a family of 3 with a dog, and another baby on the way it's going to be a real challenge to make this work.
In fact sometimes I wonder why we should bother. We are not actually struggling to pay rent right now....we are not struggling at all.....it's the lack of savings that bothers me. We have no cushion. We have no way of moving forward. It's this that makes me WANT THIS TO WORK. But if the objective is for us to save money, I don't want to spend so much money making the house livable that we defeat the purpose. If we're not going to save money then we might as well stay where we are, in our rental that's over 2000 sq ft, with walk in wardrobes and quite frankly an airing cupboard that is bigger than my grandmothers kitchen (I wish I was kidding).
BUT again, there's the lure of this chance to save.....
3) The neighbourhood. Now granted, we are definitely living in a desirable location right now. And my grandparents house is at the very other end of the spectrum. When they built there it was lovely. But now....not so much. It's had a bad reputation and to be honest we have mentioned to a couple of people that we are considering this and the general reaction is one of "Ewwwwww", not because of the house but because of the address.
So let's think positive.
1) Offroad parking. Now i know that a lot of people take that as a a given but let me tell you, having lived in Boston, and London where on street parking is a complete hit and miss, and then living in Maidstone in Kent where we had the worst parking situation of our lives (pedestrianed street and we had to walk to our car), I still think of offroad parking as a real luxury. Also, and this again is a tiny thing but something I think is great........where we are now, the house is split level so there are steps up to the house. Not a big issue right now but when I have a toddler and a baby to haul up and down them it's going to get old. So the fact that at my grandparents there are no steps to speak of anywhere......bringing in the shopping should be a fairly safe endeavour.
2) The garden. It's amazing. It's huge. The front garden faces the road (obviously) and to be honest I can't envisage ever using the front as it's very exposed. However the back garden is completely secure and is very private. I know that toddler and doogie can enjoy themselves whilst I can actually get something else done.....the kitchen overlooks the garden so I feel like this is a good thing. OUr garden right now is terraced and also set off to the side of the house so it's a minor thing but I can't load the dishwasher whilst keeping an eye on bubs, I have to be out there with him making sure he's not killing himself. But at granny and granddads I will be able to see everything whilst taking clothes out of the machine or whatever the case may be.
3) Another positive is that we will be able to decorate it to our taste. We have spent a lot of money repainting the house that we are renting right now. And to be honest it has always wound me up that we are making this house look so nice for the benefit of our absentee landlord who has not done a thing since we moved in. At least if we make granny and granddads house nice it is for the benefit of my grandmother and my own family.
4) Plus I feel like this this "mini makeover" might be good for us in that I have always lusted after a proper doer-upper, you know the old crumbling wreck with amazing bones that you just know you can make amazing. The husband is allergic to the idea. He wants a brand spanking new, everything perfect, let's move in, plug the telly in and not do a thing type house. SO either the amount of work involved in this little project will mean that I am cured of my obsession with period homes as I realise it's hard graft and having a toddler, newborn and epileptic dog is enough work in itself.......OR....hubby realises there can be real sense of accomplishment in making something beautiful yourself and that actually he's not as bad at DIY as he thinks......only time will tell!!!!!! But perhaps when we do eventually have a deposit we will know what to spend it on!!! I feel like this is a good chance for us to see how much space we actually need and what the priorities should be when looking for somewhere more permanent. I do think that is the best thing about renting - you basically get to try it out without the long term commitment. I LOVE Monkstown as an area and would love to settle here permanently. I think it's a great place to raise kids, it's near town but near the beach too, it has a nice feel. BUT is it one of the most expensive areas to live in Cork. Plus most of the houses here are massive and I actually don't want a mansion really. I'd only have to clean it. But I also don't want to feel trapped.......I need to feel that we have room to grow, room for guests, room to entertain - and rather crucially, that on rainy days there is room for the kids to play without us all wanting to kill each other (or needing even G&T once everyone is safely in bed). But there may be other great areas that I really like too, and being on the North side of the city, instead of the South side might open up some new options to us.
As i said above, the whole point of this move (if it happens) is for us to save money. So I don't want to spend a lot of money on furniture that will suit the house but not where we eventually end up. Now I would like to say I'll just buy what I like and bring it with us when we move but I think we all know that regardless, you always end up buying to suit the space. And this is such a small house, I know that of most concern will be smart storage.
So the challenge will be making the space work........making the existing furniture look like ours.....and then just decorating it to make it feel like a home that I want to live in.
We have agreed to get some quotes in for the necessary work so that we can see if this is really an option for us. If the cost of making the house habitable is prohibitive then we can't move in there.....and all of my imaginings and rereading of Living Etc will have been in vain. So i really really really hope that it is doable. Despite all of my negativity above I want us to move in there. I don't want us to move in and suffer from manic depression the entire time. But I also want us to be able to save so that I can live somewhere I love and somewhere that I can invest in. I want us to put down roots so that for once in my life I know where I will be in more than a years time. I want to register the kids in a school and actually live in that neighbourhood when school starts. I want to put wallpaper up because I love it. I want to save up for a couch that I think i'll be sitting on for a long time. And not just keep "making do". I have moved pretty much every year of my adult life, always putting a little stamp on the place because I like to be in nice surroundings, but never really investing that much.
Ok, so definitely starting to feel more positive and really getting eager to get those quotes in for work.