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Five Lessons I’ve Learnt From My First Year Of Home Ownership

By Laura Anderson

1. Don’t rush into any changes

We did the final inspection of our new home the night before the property officially became ours. The first thing I noticed – the front door was bright orange. “That will be the first thing we do,” I said, wondering how I’d missed the lurid door on previous inspections – we’d been through three times prior to making an offer.

I really thought that I hated the bright orange door and moaned about it every time I welcomed a visitor into our new home.

But over time I got used to the orange door. I stopped looking at Pinterest frontdoor inspiration. And when I realised that I’d unintentionally bought a painting that went really well with the door, it started to dawn on me that I’d changed my mind.

Now, 12 months after moving in, the orange door is one of my favourite things about my home.

2. There will definitely be unplanned expenses

I’d been warned that the first 12 months of home ownership could be tough financially. My husband and I tried to factor this into our budget – things were going to be a bit tight for a while, but we could just about manage.

But then, within a few months of living in our new house, things started to fall apart – literally. The fly screens came away from the windows; the bi-fold door on my daughter’s bedroom fell off (she was mid-tantrum at the time, and the dramatic door-slamming backfired quite spectacularly) and the bathroom plumbing started to make some very worrying noises.

We were lucky that all the repairs were easy to fix, but it was a bit of a wake-up call – we were home owners now and couldn’t go running to the landlord for repairs.

3. Be nice to your neighbours

Within a week of living on our new street I found a stroppy note on my car telling me to park outside my own house. The passive aggressive message said, “Welcome to the street. Please don’t park outside my house.”

I was irritated. We have on-street parking and, while ideally we would all park outside our own houses, it doesn’t always work out. I’m embarrassed to admit that the note rubbed me up the wrong way. I didn’t act on it but I did contemplate deliberately parking in the contentious spot (childish? Yes, very).

I later found out that the neighbour who’d left the note had suffered a stroke and needed to park outside her house because her mobility wasn’t good. I was also told that the neighbour would get very anxious about parking issues.

I felt terrible about my reaction to her note and thanked my lucky stars that I hadn’t made the situation worse.

4. Try not to obsess about the interest

There are some staggeringly big numbers in our mortgage account. We ensure that we’re making payments on time and try to maintain a bit of a buffer zone – but thinking too hard about the amount of interest we’re paying makes my head spin.

The reality is that while we are “home owners”, it’s the bank that really owns our house. Still, we’ve got our feet on the first rung of the proverbial property ladder and a nice place to live. I’ve found it’s better if I don’t think about the interest too much

5. It’s OK to miss your old neighbourhood

I didn’t expect moving into my own home to feel so bittersweet. We were so happy to be home owners, and we love the house, but moving away from the neighbourhood that we’d spent five years in was tough.

At first I felt conflicted about my sadness, like I was somehow being unfaithful to my new house. But over the past year I’ve realised that it’s OK to miss our old neighbourhood.

Of course, the thing that I miss most about where we used to live is the people who lived near by. And while it takes a little more planning, we’ve been able to keep in touch. So really, we’ve got the best of both worlds – new house, new neighbourhood, new friends and old friends too.

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