New home, new home office?

We have been trying to move house for a while now. Doing this during a pandemic hasn’t been straightforward – we have had a range of potential buyers, and have had three houses for sale near me that we have been seriously interested in. And the stamp duty holiday, while intended to help, has just added to the pressure.

Now I hope we’re on the home straight, with a buyer who has stuck around through yet another lockdown, and a new-build home to buy, which wasn’t our initial plan but may be a winner as it’s looking more straightforward than purchases involving complex chains.

All throughout this process, though, we have had some clear requirements. Good access to the boys’ school and public transport. A lower maintenance home – which isn’t hard compared to our current 120 year old property. Enough bedrooms for all the kids. And somewhere for me to work.

I’ve been working from home since D was around one – she’s now 19. Where I work now is lovely: I look out onto the sea. I have tried working elsewhere in the house, but the view always draws me back. This does make it harder when searching for a new home to find the perfect home office!

I don’t need a lot of space – my work needs a computer and a phone. Space for a printer is useful, and I’ve recently found the benefits of a second screen which means a slightly larger desk space is needed. A workspace with a door to close on the chaos of family life is a bonus.

With a large family, there is always a bit of negotiation required: the kids are old enough to all want their own rooms, which means we have had to look at our budget. Getting a mortgage has become a little harder this last year for many people: we have been fortunate in that both our jobs have continued throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. This is an example from a mortgage calculator which we found useful when working out how much we could afford.

Tips on buying a house in 2021

  1. Be clear about what you need – but also where you can flex. We knew how many rooms we needed, but we were flexible in that we were willing to consider using a downstairs room as a bedroom if need be.
  2. Use a mortgage calculator to work out your own budget. Once you know how much you can spend, you know what range of houses you are looking at. You can always look a little over budget and make an offer, but don’t overextend yourself.
  3. And, from my experience this year, don’t count on moving into your dream home until contracts have been exchanged. We have had some many ups and down in this rollercoaster of a year, which I never dreamt of in January 2020 when we were talking to estate agents about putting the house on the market. I hope your journey is more straightforward than ours!
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