Buying in a Recession: in search of a new Dara cottage

We’ve finally taken the plunge and bought a new pad of loveliness. Yes, bought. Despite these times of financial horror, we’ve taken advantage of the lowest interest rates since 1694 and shall be moving to Rickmansworth (known locally and affectionately as ‘Ricky’) as soon as we get everything sorted.

The search for our new flat took up three days last week, which is probably as speedy as you’re likely to get. We saw eight properties – four flats, three houses and a maisonette – so we had a pretty good idea of what we could get for our money. Some of these places were, er, interesting, to say the least. Let it never be said that we shunned the prospect of viewing the maisonette with the astroturf garden or the flat that could’ve been a set for Life on Mars. One of the flats – the only one with a balcony, albeit north-facing – was pretty lovely, but was sold the day after we viewed it. One of the others had huge ceilings and loads of space, but was a 25-minute walk from the station. The latter was a total lads’ pad. Copies of ‘Nuts’ and smelly ski gear all over the place! The biggest house had nice wooden floors, fireplaces, a decent kitchen and a garden – but the front room opened straight out onto the road and there was a pub carpark next door (nice pub, though).

Tiresome.

Property number 6 was the winner. Second-floor flat right next to the station, nice kitchen and bathroom, no dodgy decorating to replace (well…not much) and a tiny flight of stairs dividing the two halves of the flat. We fought off the opposition and bought the blighter. That was the easy bit.

Now, a lot of people are against ID cards in the UK, but this week has decided me in favour of them. I don’t drive, so when solicitors and mortgage lenders call for two forms of personal identification, I only have my passport, which then has to be presented in person. You try doing that when you’re a teacher (and so struggle to get time off), can’t drive and the nearest overground station on the line to Watford is a 20-minute walk away. An ID card, which would be universally accepted, would make my life so much easier.

In fairness, people, we already have to have passports to leave the country, which we pretty much all do from time to time. We all have birth certificates and national insurance¬† numbers – the government already knows who we are! What’s the problem with making it much easier to get mortgages, engage solitictors, apply for passports, travel within Europe, etc, etc?

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