Today my special guest writer is Maddy. In this post Maddy shares her experience buying her first home at 59 years old; an inspiring story that show us that it is never too late to have your dreams coming true.

Maddy has a wonderful blog especially interesting for those looking for sharing ideas and resources for aging well and retirement. Her writing is beautiful, fun and inspiring. Enjoy her story and check out her blog!

 

How I bought my first home at 59 years old

Leaving London

The summer had been idyllic, but it was over.

Now the chill had set in. The snow, once soft, silent and magical, had turned into an untidy dirty sludge. Bags of rubbish lined the streets of London. Everyone seemed to be going on strike.

In the dreary dark winter of 1978, flying to Australia by myself seemed like a good idea.

On our own and renting

Fast forward a few years and I am now a single parent of one beautiful daughter. In isolation some thousands of miles away from my friends and family, I needed a job and somewhere to live.

I hopped onto that treadmill of keeping the job to pay the rent. Then paying the rent so I could get to work. Round and round we went and it seemed like we would never get off.

Compared to many young people today, I was lucky. I was able to stay in one property for five years, and another for almost fourteen. That surely must be some sort of record for a rental.

Counting up my various residences though, I have moved house more than fourteen times.

Whenever I looked at the possibility of buying a property, I couldn’t afford it. The prices seemed to rise in leaps and bounds. Once in a while I would wonder how I was going to manage in my old age. How would I continue to pay rent on a pension?

There was always that vague anxiety, that insecurity, which I’m sure more and more young people are experiencing today. They are not just single parents, recent migrants or the unemployed. Now they include middle-class graduates with good jobs. Even they can’t afford to buy. In spite of huge new blocks of units appearing on every corner, many young people stay at home with their parents for longer, or pay high rents. The situation in other cities around the world is no different.

Life gets easier

As my daughter grew up and became independent, I was able to save more and my superannuation continued to grow.

Quite by chance, I went to view some awesome property bargains. A friend who was sick asked me to go and have a look for him. As it turned out, he decided against buying any of those properties. They all sold on that very day.

Had I had my finances in order, I would have bought one of those apartments, which only needed a little bit of TLC. I considered myself to be pretty much of a financial disaster. But now I began to wonder whether I really was, as I believed, too old to get a mortgage. I decided to apply anyway.

Imagine how amazed I was when, taking into account my savings and my superannuation, I received approval for the loan amount I had requested.

I was elated! And scared. Overwhelmed.

I moved out of my rental and stayed with a dear friend who encouraged me in my quest and provided that vital moral support. I would no doubt have to settle for something that needed renovating. Probably without water views. Likely without a garden.Taking some time off work, I looked at many, many units and town houses, mostly with two bedrooms. Other more decisive buyers were snapping them up before I could make up my mind.

Nothing I saw was just right. And I was running out of time.

My first home

I had one last day to look If I didn’t find anything, I would be back to work and back to renting again. I couldn’t impose on my friend indefinitely. The unit in question only had one bedroom. It was small. It was dark. Some might say it was grim. (I’m sure some did say it was grim, but they were too polite to say it to my face!) Take a look . . .

Popcorn ceilings and curry carpet.

Kitchen
Lounge, bathroom door, laundry
Bedroom from lounge
Bedroom
Bedroom door
A grey bathroom

The ideal home for me

On the plus side, the unit was near shops and transport, in a quiet tree-lined street. The small block was surrounded by gardens on three sides. It was cheaper than other larger places I had been looking at, which meant that I wouldn’t be over-committing myself. What if I got sick & couldn’t work? In a worst case scenario I wanted to be able to pay my home off with my superannuation. And this was my last chance. So I took it.

The ceilings had the “popcorn” vermiculite, and were so discolored that I decided to have them lowered and get energy efficient down lights. Everything needed painting, and because I was too stressed out to make any design decisions, I just had everything painted white.

Once the electrician, the ceiling man and the painter were finished, it was time to get rid of the “curry carpet”. The curry smell had mingled with the paint and a good airing was overdue. Up it came, and “Oh Joy!” – I knew there were floorboards underneath but I had expected to have to sand and refinish them. That was not necessary –  all they needed was a bit of a wash. I moved in and picked up the mop!

I don’t find dealing with tradesmen easy…
Kitchen
Laundry
Bathroom
My work station sometimes doubles as a dining table
Saving space
Can’t have too much storage!
Comfy chairs
Bedroom

A new kitchen

The next job was the kitchen and laundry – it was a great relief to have proper cupboards and to have a dish drawer installed. In Australia, rentals didn’t usually come with a dishwasher or even a space to install your own, so that was both a novelty and a luxury!

My Bali Bathroom

Taking the tiles off the bathroom was going to be a messy job. When the bathroom man announced that I wouldn’t have a toilet for two weeks, I decided a holiday in Bali was in order. The dust created from the new kitchen had been about as much as I could cope with. I came home from my holiday to a lovely new white bathroom.

Thank God for Ikea and the Op Shops!

Now that the dust was settling, I was ready for some other essential items. Off I went to Ikea followed by a forage through the thrift stores. A new comfy lounge was a must. I had never bought a new lounge before. So I was shocked to discover that I would have to wait three months for it. The installation of plantation blinds in the bedroom and the security screens on the windows was a frustration. it took two full two months from start to finish. Longer, in fact, than it had taken to do the kitchen and bathroom combined.

The built-ins in the bedroom were a much happier story. The installer came when he said he would. He took only a couple of hours to complete an awesome job and even cleaned up after himself.

Whilst I was roughing it among my renovations, the price of property skyrocketed.  If I hadn’t bought at that moment, I would never have been able to afford my own home. As things turned out, I was right not to over commit, since I was retrenched two years later.

“Someone up there” was looking after me, I’m sure. Because I would never have been able to orchestrate these events by myself!


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Maddy is a  futurist, thrift shopper, gorgeous grandma, and wonderful waffle maker. She blogs about Retirement and Change at Maddy at Home. Follow Maddy’s Pinterest Board Home Decor for Renters or like her Facebook Page.