In the past we’ve featured property articles on choosing period vs new and compromising on your home wish list. Today we’re joined by reader Jess who wrote to us about a dilemma I think several of you have faced; dream location or dream home?
There truly is no place like home. But where is home? Is it the place where you live or the house that you live in?
For as long as I can remember I yearned for the most beautiful character property. I would sway between the romance of an old granite cottage to a period Victorian terrace, both with roaring log burner, of course.
I have lived in Falmouth for most of my life. Voted by The Sunday Times readers as the best place to live in the UK, it is not really too much of a surprise to find that the house prices have been increasing pretty quickly. We lived in an ex local authority house for the first few years so that we could get on the property ladder, it was nothing special but it was close to the town and we planned to move before we started a family.
Fast forward to eight months pregnant and the move finally happened! Just in time, we found the dream house. It was a detached romantic granite cottage with not one, but two log burners, a stunning kitchen with Belfast sink (goals), sunny garden and utility space, it was perfect. The only small problem was… it was in a village 20 minutes from Falmouth. And I didn’t know this village. Still, I convinced myself I could manage without the beaches, the bustling harbourside town, my friends and a place where I could enjoy a coffee within walking distance. The short version? I couldn’t. The pretty Cornish village turned out to be basically a main road. It also had really bad damp, a rat infestation (which I discovered when I found my Miniature Dachshund eating the rat poison the previous owners had left lying around) and no parking. But the worst part was that I didn’t know anyone, the village had a very different feel to Falmouth, I had a newborn baby and felt incredibly lonely. I tried to socialise but found almost everyone in the village was elderly and it wasn’t what I had fantasised that village life would be like. I missed Falmouth so much.
When we were offered a part exchange on a shiny new build property back in Falmouth that was a five minute walk to the beach we jumped at it. The house was in the dream location, we signed the paperwork immediately. We feel so lucky to live in such an amazing location but something in me still yearns for that character home. I know I should have learned my lesson but I started hunting again. Here’s the problem, I will be unlikely to find my dream home in Falmouth because the houses here are so in demand. To put it in perspective, the new build “box” we are living in costs over £100,000 more in Falmouth than anywhere else in the country.
And then there’s the schools to think of. Our square box (I mean ‘current house’) is close to all of the schools we would like to consider for our daughter and I know that has to take priority. But did I mention it has no character?
I find myself thinking I can make something of it. I can turn it into a wonderful home. I can use paint and plants and I’ve put shutters in which do look lovely. But then I open the shutters and remember I am overlooked by about 50 other houses, as is always the case on a new build estate.
When 4pm rolls around I wander to the beach with my husband Jake, the dogs and our little girl, we enjoy coffee on the sand and then wander around the lake, it is blissful and all moments from our front door, I know how lucky I am but I don’t think I will ever truly be able to settle. But what if I move and end up in the same predicament? I mean obviously, a bit of damp is to be expected but I would need to be realistic about how much work needed to be done and whether we could afford to actually live the life that comes with owning a character property (after all, there is no 10 year guarantee or handy site manager popping in to remedy the issues on an older building). I know for definite that I can never live on a main road again and I can never ever not have parking, it’s on our must list.
Perhaps I have to just be realistic about the fact that the perfect home is just that, a fantasy. I live in a wonderful house that many people would love to live in and I sound so ungrateful but I just feel torn and confused about what to do.
So my dilemma is, do I move out of the town where my heart belongs to find the dream home in a nearby village? Or do I stay in Falmouth, close to the beach and in a home where in five minutes I can be feeding the ducks with my daughter but knowing that I will never have my character dream home or a utility room or the woodburner I want to curl up next to?
Do I choose the dream location or the dream home? I would love to hear how other people have managed with this dilemma. Should I stay in a place that I love and try to create a new build home with some kind of soul or should I move and create a home that is what we crave.
Photography by WE ARE // THE CLARKES