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Suburban blisters – finding our place in our not-so-new home…

Today marks 3 months 93 sleeps  in our new home.

Even writing that sentence & reading it back to myself feels somewhat unreal. It started something like this in April…

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Actually it started way before then. It started in 2013. Maybe even 2012 – it’s a haze, really. We were bursting out of our (sexy!) city apartment and with no plan, we were about to renew our lease for a third time.

And so the hunt emotional roller coaster began. Every. Single. Sunday for almost a year & a half, if we weren’t travelling we were trawling strangers homes. At the beginning it was a heap of fun. Incredibly thrilling to tell the truth. When  you see a house you love, you immediately start picturing where your furniture will go & which room will be your walk-in closet! 🙂 By Monday 9am you have the paperwork in & you’re excited when the estate agent calls back & starts with “…they liked your offer…” but less excited when they end with “…but they decided to go with another buyer who offered R100k less but is paying in full in cash…”. I mean who does that?!

Then there was the newish (drop dead gorgeous) newish 5 year old house (pool & 4 beds with an en suite in every room!) where the couple was getting divorced. It was really sad walking through & seeing happy family pictures everywhere, school timetables up on the wall & closets still full of clothes. Where did they go? Don’t they need their stuff? We had a funny feeling and made our offer subject to an inspection (which at a cost of R5k which I highly recommend). In a nutshell that report came back & told us to run. And so we sprinted…

After a while you try not to think and ask about the family – I mean the fact that someone died in their house is just a little too much honesty for me. 🙁

On one such Sunday in December, we dutifully took all the clippings from the day before’s  The Star property section that seemed of interest (aka our ritual Saturday night homework) & set off. I can still remember pulling up in front of the particular house & before the ignition was even switched off, agreeing that we hated it. After a few minutes of coercion “…we’re here now, lets just go look…” I managed to convince him we should go chat to the agent anyway. After a painful tour of the house (you could tell the agent thought it was the best one he had on his books) he started telling us about another house he had on show down the road.  Trying to manage our expectations he must have told us at least thrice “…but it’s very old & there’s just one bathroom…”. A little more coercion was required (we were already on the 4th/5th house of the day) & off we went…

And we loved it…

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Our yard!

He was right, it was old. Sagging ceilings, no “flow”, crazy/overgrown garden & fittings & finishes so old I don’t think my gran would even have chosen them. Just generally neglected. We chose to focus on the things we loved: a proper neighbourhood, s-p-a-c-e, not being in a complex, a garden (more like a small jungle at the time), wooden floors, high ceilings, loads of character & potential. With a few changes, it could be liveable for a good while.

Note: I’m fast fowarding through some 5 months of finger crossing: bond applications (we decided against a bond originator i.e. I had admin coming of my ears eyes, & teeth), super technical emails from lawyers that we regularly needed to get translated to English but mostly & just generally hoping that the sellers wouldn’t change their mind on us for a second time all the while trying not to get too excited because we’d now been down this heart wrenching road a few times…

And then we got that call to say that it’s all ours and asked the lawyers a few times if they’re sure (and then asked them to put it in writing!).

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And so the work began…

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And literally went on through the night…

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Oh just ripping up the lawn to lay down the security camera cables…

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The kitchen 🙁

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We ripped all the ceillings out – it wasn’t really optional. Yup that’s the geyser!

I want to say “after” pics but they’re not quite that. Let’s just say more recent pics…

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We had to bring a bit of the city into the suburbs – our twist on a mud room (there’s an old wooden antique school bench below this coat hanger. I couldn’t get it in the pic but work with me here…)

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One of a very few new pieces we’ve bought – knew this coffee table was the one immediately when I saw it…

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The first & last roses from our garden – they smelled amazing!

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My veggie/herb garden. I have wanted this forever! This makes me so happy it feels like my heart’s doing somersaults (more posts on this soon)…

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These streets make me want to Instagram all the time…

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Yes we’re still in the middle of Jozi…

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A real life icecream truck!

I’ve not seen one of these since at least primary school but when I heard the music I knew immediately what it was. This just made me fall in love with our ‘hood even more…

I don’t know what’s normal but I feel like we’re setting in ok & totally at our pace. There are days I have bursts of inspiration & start organising/de-cluttering for hours and other days I can easily just step over a pile of mess several times a day as I head to & from the fridge/couch.

We’re happy with our little house. Impatient to fix it all but happy. Neighbours have been really good & we’ve already swapped cell numbers & done all that neighbourly stuff. It’s a little weird at first because we were not used to much more than hello & goodbye even though we’d lived in much closer proximity to our neighbours before being in a flat. We even have a Muslim family on one side & in Ramadaan we exchanged sweet treats a few times which made me think back so much to growing up in Cape Town. There are a few quaint restaurants & take out spots in walking distance – some of which are halaal & it’s really hard to explain if you’re not Muslim just how much that adds to my quality of life. So yeah lots of boxes ticked – more than I would have dared to ask for…

And while you do expect it to be, this owning a house thing is an incredible amount of work day-to-day without anything major going wrong. So far we’ve already had a our first power out (we were woefully unprepared because we didn’t have a single one in almost 3 years living in the city), a locksmith’s been out twice & wait for it…a burst sewerage pipe – charming! We’re still figuring out the residents association, how to open accounts with City of Johannesburg & whether we should do pre paid electricity but my favourite moment of everyday is crawling onto the couch after supper, with the fireplace crackling, something mindless on TV & just catching up on the day.

No matter how much you think to yourself “we got this” we didn’t… We’d both bought property (separately) before but buying a townhouse/apartment was a breeze compared to a free-standing house. It just doesn’t compare. There’s still heaps we want to do/fix up but I’ve come to realisation that this is going to be a case of “we’ll build the plane as we fly it” which is really, really hard being OCD but there just isn’t another way.

I can promise you this – I’m not moving for another 10 years at least – because that’s when I think I may have recovered from this one!

Thank you for bearing with me & checking in on me!

W

xoxo

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