Prospective first-time buyer Isaac Williams and his partner are excited about getting onto the property ladder next year and even have a few ideas about décor and style. They both agree that a spare room is a must…

Having had the deliberately vague ‘middle of next year’ date in mind to actually buy a house/flat, my partner and I have realised there’s a slightly different set of rules to, say, buying a sandwich. You don’t simply decide the time is right, choose the one that takes your fancy, and skip off into the sunset with a freshly made cheese and pickle. House buying can take a long time. As such, we’re eager to get as many balls rolling as possible before the fated ‘next year’ comes around – chiefly, by going to view some real-life properties. Hopefully, that will give us a better sense of how much space we’d ideally like, and what type of property we’re looking for – though the answer to both is likely to be some variation of whatever we can afford.

That said, there are two non-negotiables. The first is a second bedroom/study room. Since the first lockdown, we’ve worked approximately 5ft apart from each other in the living room of our one-bed flat. Most of the time it’s fine, but when we both have work-related calls at the same time, one of us has to slink off to the bedroom and quickly make the dusty windowsill look like a chic home office. So, a spare room – no matter how small – would be a much-needed addition.

Outdoor space

The second thing we’d rather not go without is some form of outdoor space – even if that’s a balcony barely big enough to fit a plastic chair. Where we are at the moment, we share a garden with the downstairs neighbour: he has the grass-covered front half, we have the decking at the back. Though we don’t use it very often (being shared, there’s not much privacy), during the first lockdown, when even walking was limited to a few hours a day, being able to sit out there helped protect what little sanity we had left. It’s also nice to just stand in the kitchen and have some natural space to look out at. I saw a local fox relieve itself in the flowerbed the other day. You can’t put a price on that.

When we start viewing places in person, I’m also looking forward to gathering some interior design inspiration. Without wanting to keep up gender stereotypes, there’s no doubt my partner is the one with the eye for style and décor. My idea of making a room look nice is to cram it with as many house plants as possible. ‘Mid-century modern? Never heard of her. But you know what this living room needs? Another kentia palm.’

Decorate and renovate

That’s what’s most exciting about getting our own place, though: being able to decorate and renovate as much as we like. We can paint the walls, hang things on the walls – even knock down the walls! I say ‘we’, but of course what I really mean is ‘professionals who know what they’re doing’. Have you ever painted a room? It takes absolutely ages. At the end of which you take a step back, and realise you’ve ruined the carpet and got streaks all over the ceiling. My philosophy on these things is simple: pay people who know what they’re doing to do a much better job than I can.

Anyway, hopefully, we’ll get some viewings in before Christmas, and we can gain a better understanding of what we want and, perhaps more importantly, what we definitely don’t. In the meantime, I’ll keep watering my plants and getting confused about the housing market.

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