2020 has not been the year any of us expected. Many of us feel like our lives have been on hold – I know I have.
Well, despite the fact that the pandemic still rages on, my husband and I have decided that it’s time to move on with our plans.
At the beginning of this year we were talking about moving house. Now we’ve started to revisit that idea – but our ‘ideal house’ has changed somewhat based on the experiences of this year.
Working from home space
I think the main thing for us is the need for work-at-home space. I now work completely at home, and my husband spends more time at home now. And we’re clearly not alone – in October it was reported that 26% of adults are now working exclusively from home.
Our little one isn’t yet school age, but we’ve seen schools move more and more online, so even though the pandemic should (hopefully!) be over by the time he starts, we definitely need to think about online schooling as an option.
So far I’ve been working from the kitchen table, but I would love, love, love a proper home office space!
Unfortunately, I don’t think a whole extra room is on the cards for us as it would be a trade off between a home office or an extra child’s bedroom, but I do know that I need some kind of designated workspace.
What if you can’t afford a home office?
I’m hoping to find a home that has enough space for me to set up a desk and have a clearly defined working area, even if that isn’t a room of my own.
So far, some of the properties that have caught my eye have features such as an under-stairs cubby, a large landing/hallway space (big enough for a small desk), and a conservatory.
All these areas would doubtless get used by the rest of the family, but at least I could set up a permanent desk and computer, without having to sweep everything away each night to put dinner on the table!
Being realistic about your mortgage
The other big change in our mid-pandemic house hunting is the way we think about finances.
It’s always tricky to know how much you can afford when buying a house, but this year has made us even more wary of over-stretching our household budget. We are lucky enough to have savings and steady jobs, but I know so many people who’ve lost their jobs during this pandemic.
And who knows what the next year or two hold for our companies and job security? It just goes to show that you can’t take anything for granted.
Luckily, there are mortgage tools out there that help you work out exactly how much you can borrow. I’ve been playing around with this calculator by Mortgage Calculator UK to explore some different scenarios.
As a result, I realised that I would rather take a smaller mortgage that is only based on my husband’s income, rather that our combined income. I realised that we could still get a decent property for that amount – just without certain luxuries, such as a separate home office.
Plus, it would relieve so much stress to know that should something happen to one of our jobs, we can still keep a roof over our heads. Of course, if you can manage to survive on just one income anyway, this is an invaluable skill for all two-parent households who might be considering another child, or having one parent stay at home to look after the children.
How about you? Have you looked into buying a house during the pandemic? How has it changed your values? I’d love to know!