Monday, 26 November 2012

the 33rd house... but our first home

Joe and I have had many attempts at owning our first home.  It all started in Ireland, where Joe's from and where we lived when we first got married.  Joe inherited a small block of land from his family and we set about designing our home.  We had plans drawn up and they were priced by local builders.  All of the quotes came in too high, so we changed tack.  We went to a firm who would handle both design and build us a small home.  By the time their quotes came in, the building prices had risen so high, we were back where we started - we just couldn't afford to build.
As a teenaged observer of the 1980s Wall St crash and the impact it had worldwide, I was reluctant to put all of our financial eggs in one basket.  If we couldn't build a house on one income, we wouldn't do it at all.  Buying was out of the question - the prices were even higher that way.  It was funny, because at the time everyone in Ireland was going crazy with their money.  We were told by people to put both our incomes on the mortgage application and borrow as much as we could.  Thank goodness we didn't - we all know how the story ends there!
We moved back to Australia in 2005, with barely enough money to get ourselves established.  We moved to regional Victoria.  Joe's from the country and didn't want to move to Melbourne.  We moved to a picturesque, hilly, windswept locale that was close to family and only a couple of hours from the city.  Again, we put all of our efforts in to finding a home of our own.  The houses nearby were out of reach for us on just one income.  We wanted to get a foot in the door, so to speak, so we bought a block of land.  We spent a few years paying it off and started making plans to build.
Just as we started getting quotes from local builders, Joe was made redundant.  It was a huge shock to us and - quite literally - jolted our foundations!  We couldn't believe that once again, we were so close...  yet so far away.  Luckily he found another job within days, but it put us back to square one.  We moved closer to a bigger town and lived on the farm where Joe worked as a gardener - our sole aim remaining, to own a home of our own.
A couple of years went by and the urge for home was getting stronger.  It was now clear we didn't want to return to the place where our block of land was located, so we put it on the market.  We started looking around our nearby town and found a sweet Californian bungalow for sale.  We knew we wouldn't be able to live in it straight away, so when we applied for the mortgage, we were able to add in our projected rental income.  This is what got us over the line.  Without the rental income, we still wouldn't be able to afford a home of our own.  Which brings us to the past 12 months...
Towards the end of last year, I said to Joe that I wanted to be living in my own home by the time I was 40.  From there, things moved very fast.  We started looking at other houses.  We loved the bungalow we'd bought, but felt the garden was too small for vege gardens and fruit trees and footballs and soccer balls and netballs and swings and cubbies and parties...  I drove around the town looking, searching.  One day I came across a vacant block of land with a for sale sign... and that was it!  The planets aligned and Joe found a new job which enabled us to finally make our dream come true.
As luck would have it, we will be moving in to our new home the day before I turn 39!  It seems so quick, but in other ways, it's been a very long journey.  We first looked at building over 10 years ago and here we are now after all those false starts.  When I was younger, I never questioned that I'd own a home one day.  As such, I lived for the moment and spent money like it was going out of fashion.  We have had some very hard financial lessons, but I'd like to think we know the secret - live within your means and the rest will follow.  Oh - and living in the country helps, with cheaper land and housing.  We mightn't become millionaires, but we will have our own home.

And once you have your family and have your home, what more could you possibly want?!

(Gratuitous shots of the 33rd house included - the interior ones taken through the window, as it's all locked up!)


  1. Well done! Looks like it was worth waiting for :)

  2. Thanks Elli! It actually was! Hasn't always felt like it though... thought we'd never get there!

  3. What a path you've walked. Lots of admiration at this end.

    1. Thanks Isabelle - quite an exhausting journey, glad it's over!