Despite being one of my favourite song lyrics, that title is only partly true for me right now. I live in a suburb of Manchester which someone recently referred to, with no irony whatsoever, as being the ‘Shoreditch of the north’. And despite being just a 10 minute tram ride away from Manchester city centre, we are also a ten minute walk away from the River Mersey and all of it’s beautiful surroundings. So I am not really stuck in a city at all. There are loads of positive aspects to where we live, but, as I find myself constantly saying, this is not where I belong.
I’m writing this blog to document our progress as we work towards our goal of buying our own home in Scotland. But right now I’m also writing it just so that I have an archive of the craziness of simply finding somewhere to live where we are now. I’m writing as a record of our situation so that I can look back on it when we have achieved our goal and marvel at how far we’ve come. Right now The Scottish Dream seems a long way off, yet I still know we will do it.
So, as it turns out our home isn’t simply being sold – it is being repossessed because our landlord has defaulted on his mortgage; the one my partner has been paying off for the last decade. We are still waiting to meet with this mythical landlord to hear this information in person and to find out where we stand. And to see if he is going to treat us like fellow human beings or not.
If basic affordable housing is a fundamental human right then it should not be such a difficult thing to achieve. For the last week we have been trying (and failing many times over) to find somewhere else to live. We have a business, with leased shop premises in Chorlton which we are committed to until early 2018, so in the meantime we need to find adequate housing for our family within easy reach of school and work. We have worked hard over the last 3 years to build up our business and we can’t afford to give up on something which we have put everything into. I also dread the thought of having to make my 5 year old change schools if we do have to move too far away.
How to make £150,00 in 3 years.
When I first moved to Chorlton I lived in a one bedroom flat which cost me £400 a month. A decade later you’d now be lucky to get the same sort of accommodation for under £650. The cheapest 3 bed properties advertised now are at least £900 – this is the type of property that we ideally need, but is dramatically out of our budget. The 3 bedroom house that we currently live in was valued at £250,000 less than 3 years ago. Yesterday it was revalued at £350,000-£400,000. This gives a bit of an idea of the craziness of what we are up against and how we know for certain that we would never be able to afford to buy our own home here.
Currently, my barely-concealed anger arises from the frustration of simply wanting a secure home and it feeling so out of reach. I need to feel settled for my sanity and so that I can look after my children properly and run my business effectively. This in-between feeling is horrible. Our catch-22 is that we can’t afford a 3 bedroom property and it seems that most 2 bed properties won’t take on a family with 2 children. I can’t even be bothered to list all the getting-our-hopes-up moments there have been in the last 3 days, with each time followed by disappointment.
Someone suggested ‘getting in touch with the council’, which felt like something someone would say 10 years ago when there was a chance the council might of offered some kind of support. For a laugh I thought I’d check the council housing website. There are currently 12 properties listed on the Manchester City Council private rental list for the whole of Manchester, and 3 of those are rooms in houses of multiple occupancy. As far as I can see, there is no email contact to ask for advice regarding an issue like ours. I suppose this was a service that fell on the sword during the council ‘cutbacks’. You’re on your own. The Big Society will sort you out.
Estate agents (the nice ones, not the snotty arsehole ones) have explained that properties in the areas we are looking in are usually snapped up within a day of being listed, so you have to be super quick. This is turning into a full time job in itself, and one full of dead ends. And trying to do it alongside running a business and looking after a baby is not making things any easier. I’m not entirely sure how much more I can take.
At least we could always sell all our possessions and live in the office above our shop as a last resort. Fun times ahead.
N.B – I know this blog doesn’t make a lot of sense, but nothing seems to be making much sense at the moment and I’m a bit sad.