Home is…. Nowhere?
You’ve probably gathered by now that I have recently moved abode. Unfortunately the move wasn’t by choice. If I’m honest it has been rather a traumatic few months so before I go on to how I’m trying to make my new place a home I want to share with you how I ended up in the middle of Ireland’s housing crisis.
If you had the misfortune of being around me at all the past year you would know that I had only two things to talk about: My housing situation and an ill family member. Not surprisingly, I was consumed by both. We got word last year that the rented house we were living in was being sold. A house that five years ago sat empty because no one wanted it due to its poor condition and decor. Not that this that bothered Mr B and I. In fact we were delighted to find a three-bedroom house in a good area and because of its poor condition we were even able to negotiate the rent down. It became our home.
If you live in Ireland, you will know the country is embroiled in a housing crisis. The simple version of it is supply and demand. Add to that the economic effects of the financial crisis as well as the unregulated rental market (although there have been some changes in recent times and one can only hope this continues!) the country as a result has seen a wave of new homeless. As a grown woman with a decent job, I ended up a part of it. Of course it’s a home owner’s prerogative to sell their house but any renter who has received similar news probably wonders the same things: Is the house really getting sold or is it a way to get new tenants in at a higher rent? How accommodating do I have to be for viewings and strangers traipsing through my home seeing as this is not my decision? How are we going to afford to live somewhere else? The answers or the inconvenience didn’t matter as it was happening whether we were on board or not.
With the news that we had to leave our ugly but lovely home we had two options; buy or rent. We decided to take the plunge and try to purchase our own home, the cheaper option of the two. For the next few months we spent every waking minute looking for a house. If you have every looked to purchase your own home you will understand how stressful and consuming it can be. With our endless research and pros and cons lists, what started out as an adventure turned into a race against the clock. Some Saturdays felt like we were on the Amazing Race, often going to four different house viewings scheduled all around the same time! Despite all the daydreaming and way too many hours spent on Pinterest, none of this was exciting or thrilling. Our lists went out the window and we were now in a situation of having to buy a property not necessarily wanting to. It seemed every other person in the buyers market was looking at the properties we were (how dare they!) and with the volume of people at each viewing anyone would think they were giving away houses! And then there were the offers. Offers were usually at least fifty thousand euro over the asking price and that was just the first viewing! This was not a fun time.
Fast forward to December, December 23rd to be precise and we found ourselves in yet another bidding war. Needless to say you know how that ended. Another house (there were four in total) that we attempted to buy but walked away empty-handed. Part of the process I know, but we needed somewhere to live and that is all I could think about. We had hoped to make that special purchase and move from our beloved rental to what was going to be our beloved home but seeing as that wasn’t going to happen we had to come up with a new plan. We made the decision to join the hunt for a new rental property and take a break from house hunting and with that decision I felt a little sense of relief.
Not for long! I thought I knew what the rental market had to offer. Small spaces, extortionate rents and millions of people competing for the same thing. We found all of that and more! I don’t know why I was shocked. Some of my friends had been through it, the housing crisis was in the news daily and yet I was completely and utterly shocked at what we faced. I was losing my faith in humanity as we went to viewing after viewing after viewing. The combination of greed and desperation made me want to live in my car. Something I often joked about but something I was seriously considering. As my disdain for humankind increased I found the complete opposite in my friends, family and acquaintances. The kindness shown to Mr B and I blew my mind. The offers of a place to stay, the thoughts of asking those around them if they knew anyone that could help, the offers of storage space and mostly importantly an ear to listen to my endless worries, rambles and let’s not forget, the tears! I couldn’t reconcile the two extremes and both made me cry. For very different reasons of course.
I haven’t felt like myself since this whole housing situation started and I often found it hard to function. Between work, family commitments and life in general I started to wonder if this was what life as an adult was? I was consumed with worry and I had no control over it. A difficult thing to manage seeing as I love to control nearly everything (happy to admit it) and so I spent a lot of time trying to figure out what I could control. Turns out there wasn’t much. I know we aren’t the only ones in this situation. Everyone has a story, a crisis or heart-ache of some sort. Sometimes these things are better shared but up until now, I couldn’t really say everything I wanted as I didn’t have the words. Literally. Anyone who was brave enough to ask me ‘have you found somewhere to live?’ will be all too familiar with the crazed look on my face that greeted them. Smiling and nodding saying ‘no but it will all be fine. It will all be fine’. Either that or I burst in to tears and it’s really hard to write when you’re crying and snotty. Trust me I made a few attempts and you’ll be glad I spared you.
So here I am, still believing home is where you make it but I have to admit in all of my adventures, it never occurred to me that I would have nowhere to make my home. Although I would never choose to live where we find ourselves now or pay the amount we have to in rent, I remind myself it is not the worst option we faced. I also know that we are extremely lucky to have somewhere to call home and this won’t be the last crisis that will present it’s disgusting, ugly, mouldy head. I’m hoping there will be less mould in the next crisis.
With all that said it is now time to take a breath and make the most of our cherished possessions in the four walls we live in. It is these things after all that ignite memories of past adventures, places we’ve yet to explore and our loved ones and they are what make up our home. These and a few nice cushions!
P.S. If you find yourself in a similar situation or think I could lend a hand in any way please get in touch. You can leave a comment below or email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will be happy to answer any questions you may have.