We are extremely excited to share that, as of today, we’re officially homeowners! Now, we realise that buying a house may not be as big a deal to everyone, but to us it’s pretty huge, especially if you consider how we got to this point.

Almost 5 years ago, Elaine and I decided to explore our British ancestral roots, packed up our lives and moved over to the UK. Not many people realise this, but when you leave South Africa and move abroad it’s like pressing the reset button on your life – you give up your comfort zone of friends and family in South Africa, you willingly give up your job, you sell your assets (if you have any, we only had one car), you say goodbye to everything you built up in your pension pot over the years and you pretty much deplete your savings. Then, if you move to a country like the UK that has a much stronger economy and currency, it feels even worse as the Rand just can’t compete with the Pound. I can still vividly remember one early winter’s morning back in Dec 2015 when Elaine and I bought 2 hot chocolates on the platform in Colchester whilst waiting for our train to London – I swiped my credit card and Absa sent me an email that R160 just left my account. It felt like we were bleeding cash and I told Elaine to sip her drink very slowly as we wouldn’t be able to buy another one for the next day or two. Sounds dramatic, but it’s true. And let’s not forget, the whole experience would have been even more stressful if we didn’t have help from our family who hosted us for the first 3 months, rent-free!

Once we both had jobs, we moved into a very small flat in London. It was on the high street and across the road from a Tube station, so if we didn’t hear the sirens of the ambulances passing by, we could hear the Piccadilly line trains pass through underneath us every 3-5 minutes. The upside of this flat was that we lived right above a Portugese chicken restaurant and loved their food. We ate it so often that the people behind the counter called us by the name when we picked up our food. The next year, we moved to a one-bedroom flat in Wembley Park, right next to the stadium. This was a great little place as it was brand new and we were the first occupants to move in. This was our home for 3 years as we started saving up for a house deposit. In the UK, buyers need to save up at least 5% deposit in cash (of the purchase price) + Stamp Duty + Legal fees before you can approach a bank for a mortgage advance and this took us about 18-24 months to save up. We probably could have done it quicker if we didn’t travel as much but hey, what’s the fun in that?

Over the last 12 months, we’ve been actively looking to buy our first property and scouted all over the place – from Wimbledon to Sidcup, Uxbridge to Chelmsford – we viewed about 40 homes in person, and looked at hundreds online before we found the one we love. Today we got the keys to this detached, 4-bedroom, Tudor-style home and we can’t wait to start our renovations!

Getting to this point was quite a ride (read more here) and we’re incredibly excited about this new chapter! We’ve accomplished one of our biggest bucket list items and all glory to God for this blessing upon our lives.

Over the next few weeks and months we’ll renovate the place and then we’ll share our before and after pics with you. In the meantime, please stay safe and healthy and don’t leave your own house unless you absolutely have to*.

Much love from the UK.

Andre

 

 

*if anyone reads this in future, this post was published during the 2020 global pandemic of COVID19 where countries (including the UK) were in full lockdown and people were asked to stay at home and comply to social distancing rules.