Houses & homes

I chose my current home either randomly or scientifically, depending on one’s point of view. The location was scientific: a stop on a fast train line from the nearest station to my then place of work, and the intersection of affordable property prices and season tickets. The actual house chosen because I lost the will to live spending all my weekends viewing places, so bought a boring Barratt box and decided to make it the way I wanted inside.

Steph asked me whether I’d miss it, and I said no. Not because I don’t like it; I do. I still recall the thrill, after a 13-year relationship, of being able to create a home that was purely to my own tastes. My own decor. My own systems. No clutter.

Steph said we’d know when we’d found the right flat because it would feel like home. That didn’t compute for me. I’ve never had that feeling about a place. Home has, for me, always been something I create, not something that is.

Perhaps that’s all the years I spent travelling, when the old cliché had to be true or you’d go insane. I didn’t own a hat at the time, but I quickly learned the art of turning every hotel room into my temporary home. So it was never about the place.

Viewing places this time around, my two criteria were whether it had the wow factor, and whether it was compatible with the plans we’d made ahead of time. We walked into one flat. It had the wow factor in spades. More so than any other place in our price bracket, I was sure. It ticked our boxes. If I could have signed on the dotted line that day, I would have done so.

We then viewed a different place. Very different. The wow factor was quieter, but present just the same. It also ticked the boxes. I’d have been happy with either. But for Steph, this one was home.

It still didn’t compute: home is created, not inherited. But there was some small part of me that could see it. The difference between the two places, and how one could evoke more instant feelings of ‘home’ than the other. Enough that I could set aside my small preference for one over the other.

Not that this will decide it. The crazy thing about the most expensive purchase we’ll ever make is the randomness to it. What is available when we look. Vendor timescales. Chains. An offer received on Wednesday can lead to an offer accepted on Thursday; an offer a week later lead to buying a completely different place.

Me, I don’t mind. Whenever we sell, whenever we buy, we’ll have a place we’ll make home. And the most important element – a biological one – will be there whatever the location, shape and size of the walls.