The London housing market is a mess. I could answer the question: why did you choose a Victorian house over your zone 1 apartment, in just that one sentence. Last month, Adam and I moved from our warm modern one bed to a big old Victorian house. Here’s why.
We never planned to move to a Victorian house. Adam and I moved straight out of our university shared house to our modern one bed apartment and we loved it. The important thing to remember here is that we really loved it. It was brand new, it was clean and it was warm. The flat was conveniently placed and everything about our lives was convenient but we just grew out of it. Our family grew when we added Sansa and the house seemed to shrink when I began to work from home. We had to spend every waking moment together once Adam was home from work. The five of us living in just two rooms became difficult.
I spotted this Victorian house and couldn’t believe it was so large. I am wise to the tricks of estate agents photography so I needed to see it to believe it. Three storeys, two bedrooms, four piece bathroom suite, new carpet, recently renovated, lounge, dining room and kitchen. You can feel space and peace just stepping into our large entryway. This house has a sense of grandeur and a real charm to it that melted away our anger at being left outside the property for an hour and a half in the cold, whilst an estate agent had failed to show up! It lifted our spirits and felt like home…a really really big home! You just don’t get that in London.
I wanted to move out of central London. The ultimate dream, of course, is to live IN central London, in Covent Garden or near Regent Street, but we’re comfortable, not rich! I just wanted to be away from the constant honking of horns. We were also next to the closest hospital to central London, making for a very noisy location with constant sirens. I had suggested we move to Stratford Upon Avon, closer to our families and civilisation but far enough from our home towns. The problem is that we’re city people now. We want constant food and entertainment and a number of great things to do on our doorstep. We can’t just go back to the country and die of boredom. In fact, when we looked at it, we realised that we wouldn’t be able to get decent jobs in the country. There just weren’t any big roles – it’s not like there are any head offices in the countryside!
When we found Dulwich, we found the best of both worlds. If you’re looking for something similar, you’ll find that that the older and larger the houses, the more suburban the area! In central London, we felt like packed sardines, staring at a skyline of flats. Here, there are nothing but pretty Edwardian and Victorian houses. It feels like you can breathe again. Sometimes it doesn’t look like London at all, even though we’re a 15 minute train from Covent Garden! There are Sunday markets and lots of green spaces and everybody here greets you cheerily! It’s just a really lovely atmosphere.
There is only so much you can do with a square house. Our old flat was cosy and neat but there’s a character that comes with an older house. You can feel, and I do often wonder about, the previous lives lived here. The original floors of the house are exposed in our dining room are worn from where people have been walking for centuries. Like an actual Victorian relic, you can touch the history of the house. The walls are not all straight and even. The bay windows have been preserved and not switched out for more modern double glazing. Though living in a Victorian house is expensive to run, I still love the high ceilings and the endless space. They just don’t build houses like they used to so you have to bag the old ones quick!
All of this, we got, for just a little bit more money. We’re talking pocket money difference. This brings me back to my first point: the London housing market is a mess! When I spoke to our estate agents and told them I wanted a real house, with two rooms and lots of space, a separate kitchen and dining and lounge area, in a nice area for our budget, they tried to talk me down. ‘Pick just 5 criteria and if it ticks 3 take it’. ‘Raise your budget or drop a room’. But for just change in my pocket we’ve gained just over a thousand square feet of space and three extra rooms. We’ve discovered the most charming neighbourhood in all of London. It’s as close to Stars Hollow as I’ll ever get! It just feels like home!
What I really want you to take from this is that the right house will come up eventually. I’ve nearly said yes to so many tiny flats in the mean time and I’m so glad we stuck to our guns and kept looking!