A home

If just days ago I was suffering house-envy, this morning listening to the radio, I can’t help feeling grateful. Grateful not to be still repaying a mortgage as interest rates skyrocket in response to the economic policies of our new overlords. Grateful for a roof over our heads, however supposedly detrimental to our social status.

I confess we were fortunate in many ways. We had a deposit to put towards the house: a share of inheritance from my grandfather. Due to its state of disrepair, and the fact the previous owners wanted a quick sale, the house was on the market for less than the average property price in the north in 2005. A house in London, where we were living, would have cost us double the asking price at the least.

We were also fortunate at having been able to arrange a non-typical loan, due to a last-minute problem with our mortgage. It started as a bridging loan to enable us to proceed with the purchase while the bank reviewed a loophole in its contract with us, but in the end we would simply commit to paying off that loan in full instead. That we achieved, while we both worked, by sacrificing an entire monthly salary to debt repayments, while living frugally off the other one.

It took us five years to repay our loan in full. Five cold, drafty years, living with the original, rotting wooden window frames without double-glazing. We had installed central heating and updated the wiring when we first moved in, but that was the extent of home improvements. There would be no money for a new car, nor for fancy mobile phones or monthly subscriptions. We were living squarely within our means.

Once we had cleared our debts, only then could we fix modern windows, capable of keeping us warm. In 2013, we would have an extension built on the back of the house to provide a little more space — smaller than we had anticipated, for our intended plans had turned out to be eye-wateringly expensive: nearly the amount of our original loan repayments. So it is that we remain here, while all around us friends move on to better and greater things.

Yes, it’s true: I do envy friends and colleagues with their beautiful, roomy homes. However, I don’t envy their mortgage repayments, or the lifestyle they’re forced to live to make ends meet, working every hour that God gives them, with no time for family or friends. The heart always seems to incline towards the finer things, but we have to train ourselves to be content with what we have. Listening to this morning’s news brings this home to me. I’m so grateful not to be living in that world.

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