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Small house - are we making a mistake?

(117 Posts)
Dariastar Mon 06-Jun-16 09:45:21

We are just about to exchange on our flat in London as we have a one-year-old and are hoping to have another child as soon as possible and need more space.
We found a lovely little Victorian cottage in East Finchley - it's well-priced, because it's half a mile from the station and not the best area (there's a fair amount of traffic on the road, but not an A road or anything like that).
Ultimately it's a two bed with a lovely new kitchen (that's what lured me in the first place!), small south west facing garden, and we would convert the loft to make it a three-bed as soon as we moved in. It's well within our means, even factoring in the loft, but my DH has suddenly got very cold feet and wants to move two stops further away, and stretch ourselves to the absolute max (5 times our joint salary) and buy the "house for life". There's not much available right now, so would mean renting while we wait for the dream home to come up (we don't want to lose our buyer). I really like that cottage, but do see what he means - I am very risk averse, work in an unstable profession, while he has a very stable career that's on the up, with salary rises in coming years. And the thought of another baby put me off stretching ourselves. But will it be ridiculous to buy a small house with small garden now and then have to move in say 6 years? Would we regret buying this small place? Any advice would be most welcome!

Notyetthere Mon 06-Jun-16 12:06:55

Yes I think you would regret buying the small place. You haven't moved into your lovely cottage, yet you are already planning your next move. That is quite telling! Surely that can't be a good sign?

You should buy a house that you would be OK to be 'stuck in' if you couldn't move to the next bigger home. A lot of people say they will buy a place and move on in 5yrs time but life happens and they never get to move.

Think about all the fees that you would need to pay in 6yrs time, again.

DH and I stretched ourselves when we bought our current home and we don't regret it. We pay 38% of our take home pay towards the mortgage but it could be a lower payment for you if you have enough equity (we had a minuscule deposit). Since his job is more secure, can you afford to pay the mortgage if you lost your job? Do you have the savings to cover bills for a few months while you searched for another job?

I am of the philosophy that try to move as few times as possible.

Dariastar Mon 06-Jun-16 12:15:48

Thanks so much.
I would absolutely have to continue working somehow as we need both our salaries to pay for it all (unless he gets a massive salary hike). Sigh...

PippaFawcett Mon 06-Jun-16 13:07:10

We are stretching ourselves to more than 5x our salary and it isn't even our dream house. You know your area, and we know for ours that this is the best we can afford for our needs now and for the next ten years. I am worried about not being able to afford holidays etc so I guess it depends what is important. We are also in an area that is likely to see further price rises so that made me feel a little more comfortable.

Cakescakescakes Mon 06-Jun-16 13:13:44

We have stayed living in a smaller house with 2 kids (3 bedrooms - one is really tiny, one bathroom, small living room and a kitchen diner, smallish garden). We make it work by being ruthless with clutter. It allows me to be a SAHM while the DC are very small (one also has SN) without us being totally overstretched. I don't regret it at all. I'm not a materialistic person at all and while kids are young they don't need much space. We would plan to move around 5-7 years when kids are bigger and having friends round more etc. (Been here 5 years already and DC are 5 and 2).

clarrrp Mon 06-Jun-16 13:28:24

I think trying to buy your home for life now would be a mistake - if it will already stretch you to your limit now then how will you afford it when you have another child and you are on maternity pay and then you need to factor in childcare costs for a second child.

AgathaF Mon 06-Jun-16 13:31:53

You could move into the smaller place, do the loft conversion, stay for 3 or 4 years (maybe upgrade it in other ways) then sell on for a better price to move further up the property ladder.

I think stretching yourselves to the limit when you are planning on another baby quite soon is a bad idea. Take your time to get to the house of your dreams. Why make life more difficult for yourselves?

BeYourselfUnlessUCanBeAUnicorn Mon 06-Jun-16 13:32:18

We lived in a tiny house for 6 years. Had a 10 month old when we moved in, 2 bedrooms, living room, kitchen and tiny garden, not even room for a dining table. We had DC2 there and managed. Loft wasn't possibly to convert but it was all we could afford.

I then got an inheritence and we managed to buy a bigger house 2 years ago. We would have had to move at some point anyway because we had a boy and girl and no scope to extend. I don't regret living in a small house though and I am also risk averse. I couldn't cope with stretching myself to that extent, just in case! Our financial situation is a bit different though as DH has always worked but I cannot so we have always had to think in terms of 'what if' as a big reduction in income is a very real possibility for us.

Dariastar Mon 06-Jun-16 13:32:25

Thanks everyone - I agree it would be risky with baby no2 planned. And it's reassuring to know that Cakes has managed fine in a 3-bed house. At least this way we'll be left with some savings and we can perhaps save for the next home (or at least for the next baby!)

Gardencentregroupie Mon 06-Jun-16 13:33:08

I don't think there's anything wrong with buying a home for now, and as East Finchley I'd comparatively cheap in North London terms I sincerely doubt you'll struggle to sell it on for a good profit. I definitely wouldn't go 5x your salary if it's not iron clad, esp if you're planning DC2 - what if interest rates leap and you're on mat leave?

ElodieS Mon 06-Jun-16 13:48:32

Big shout out for East Finchley! I'm not too sure which direction from the station the cottage is in, but I love the area and can tell you loads of good things about it. I realise that isn't your primary concern at the moment though and would agree with other posters that it isn't a good time to over-stretch yourselves if you're planning for another baby in the near future...

Dariastar Mon 06-Jun-16 13:50:48

It's the East Finchley end of Long Lane - near that Trinity Road "villagey" bit. Would love to hear good things Elodie, thanks smile

daydreamnation Mon 06-Jun-16 13:56:11

I live in a small house, always intended to move but life didn't go quite to plan for a few years and so we're still here!
Dc have a room each, the garden is small but lovely and although we have half the space that my friends have we manage. Our house is by far the tidiest and most clutter free, it has to be, we have no storage, garage, spare room etc I do envy what others have but in reality, we have a warm, lovely roof over our heads and feel lucky smile

pinkdelight Mon 06-Jun-16 13:57:36

The cottage sounds nice and the way you talk about it sounds like you'd be happy there. It sounds like you'll be adding value and it'd be big enough for your family with the loft conversion, so stretching yourself for the 'dream' seems a bit mad right now. I take the point about paying for more moving fees, but then renting till you find that elusive forever home isn't a great financial decision either, and your unstable career can't be dismissed when taking a risk like a massive mortgage, esp with more childcare bills on the horizon. I'd stick with the cottage if I were you, as long as this is just cold feet and you feel that he could still be perfectly content with the cottage once you're in there. One other factor - have you checked out the local schools? Are you close enough? If you're close to a good school in the cottage, then that'd seal it for me. Stay there, have your next DC, get DC1 into the school and then see where you're at financially and move then.

heron98 Mon 06-Jun-16 13:59:20

I would never stretch myself to buy a house if I could avoid it.

If you can easily afford the cottage - live there. Life is not all about "dream homes", it's about enjoying yourself, travelling, not worrying about money.

DP and I bought a house in quite a rough area because it was cheap. We are very happy and although low earners, we have a lot of spare cash.

My sister, who earns far more than me, has mortgaged herself to the hilt in a beautiful house, but she is always worrying about the bills.

I know which I'd prefer.

pinkdelight Mon 06-Jun-16 14:00:27

btw - we converted the loft so that DC could have their own rooms, and guess what? They still wanted to share! Big houses aren't everything, especially when DC are little. They like being close to you/each other and the rest is just space to clutter up and keep clean.

asilverraindrop Mon 06-Jun-16 14:14:48

We lived in a small house with small bedrooms and one bathroom until the DDs were teenagers. It was only then that the bathroom sharing issue became serious. We moved to a much bigger house at that point and have not regretted not overextending ourselves sooner. Little children want to be near you anyway. It's when they are big you and they want to be further apart if possible!

steppemum Mon 06-Jun-16 14:18:06

I would never overstretch myself to buy a house, it causes too much worry.

In your place I would buy the cottage, do the loft, enjoy it, and enjoy things you can do with the extra money with your kids. save some more, and in 5 years move on if you still want to.

minipie Mon 06-Jun-16 14:35:01

What is the school situation? You will be applying for schools for your 1 year old before you know it. If you can get into a decent school in the cottage, and it's a nice area to have small children generally, then I would say that is more important than size for the next few years.

Thunderbumsmum Mon 06-Jun-16 14:44:37

OP, what is your budget at the moment?

Portobelly Mon 06-Jun-16 14:49:14

My pals moved out of their two bed flat when they had the second baby, he has a two hour each way commute now, when previously were in zone two. They thought the kids (boy3 and girl4) would have to have their own rooms, two years on they only use two of their four bedrooms. Yes the house is lovely, but it's a draining commute.
Three bedrooms will be plenty. Clever space planning and furniture choices down stairs to maximise feelings of spaciousness and
Effective storage will mean you have an affordable home that is closer to work and will allow you to have the most time at home with the family and least stress?

Dariastar Mon 06-Jun-16 14:55:52

Commute will still be an hour door to door, but that's normal for London sadly.
Budget is 780

ElspethFlashman Mon 06-Jun-16 14:57:40

I have friends who had your dilemma. North London. They had a flat but after the baby they decided to move. They chose to get the "forever" house. Huge garden. Very very top of their budget.

Tbh I think it was a mistake but would never say. They got a new extension, kitchen and bathrooms too as it was a typical dark Victorian semi. Their mortgage is huge and their money anxiety is massive. They need 2 salaries but childcare is exorbitant. They are now saying they can't afford a second child. sad

Oh and it turns out the schools in their area ain't great so now they're having to contemplate fee paying schools. Yikes.

I wish they had bought a wee cottage and had more disposable income and hadn't been in such a hurry.

Cakescakescakes Mon 06-Jun-16 14:59:28

Just to add that part of our reason for staying in our small first time buyer house is that it allows us to live in a city (not London!) near cafes, parks, museums etc. To get more space would mean a move away from all of that to a more affordable area and I prefer to live where I can walk to shops etc.

Thunderbumsmum Mon 06-Jun-16 15:13:27

I think I would wait for a great place everyone is totally happy with; you don't want to feel like you compromised and are stuck in the wrong home. But I do think 5x joint salary is also really a lot of money.

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