We Bought Our Forever Home!

I should say “forever garden” really because, while the house is nice, it’s not as important to me. I am more interested in the space that we now have in the garden. It’s huge!

The House

The house is a large,  single-storey bungalow set on 0.9 of an acre in a small housing estate in south west wicklow. We are surrounded by massive oak trees and lovely views. There is a small village about 10 minute walk away with a pub and a shop. 

There is a large kitchen with a dining area and a wood burining stove. There is also a sun room off to the side of the kitchen/living area. 

We have a utility room beside the kitchen and there is a small bathroom attached to the utility room (just a toilet and sink). There is one main bathroom with shower and bath and two ensuites with showers. We have four bedrooms and a spacious office. There is also a large “hotpress” and another storage closet just off the main hallway. Finally, we have a living room which features a small bay style window.

The architectural layout of the house is not very exciting in that it’s a standard bungalow with a long corridor and all the rooms off that. However, it’s in very good shape.  It has a BER rating of B3 with the following features:

  • attic insulated with 300mm of rockwool
  • double galzed windows and PVC doors
  • a high-efficieny oil burner 
  • two wood buring stoves (one in living room, one in kitchen). One of the wood burining stoves is connected to a back boiler which can heat the rads and water.
  • A solar thermal panel on the roof with control system to heat the water. 

The Garden

As I said, the house is set on .9 of an acre with a lot of grass! The grass was wildly overgrown when we first moved it. Our first quote to cut it was €500. We eventually got the guy who cuts our neighbours’ lawns for much cheaper. Our long-term plan is to reduce the sizes of the lawn drastically in favour of planted beds, a pollytunnel and vegetable patch. 

The garden came with four mature apple trees and one pear tree. They are a little too big and only the smaller one produced a significant amount of fruit. We will likely remove some and cut back the other older ones to encourage new growth. 

The drive way extends all the way around the house and is too wide in my opinion. The grey stones surrounding the house are boring and need to go. There is also a rather unsightly oil tank at the start of the lawn which will need to be hidden. 

I have already started planning the beds and looking at ideas for garden layouts. I have a huge amount of space to work with here, almost too much. As a result, some areas will be low maintenance shrubs and perrenials, while other areas will be productive for food and resources. 


The Purchase Process

We started the process in September 2022. I already had two mortgages and was past the six-month probation period in my job. My boyfriend had no debts and we both had healthy savings. I decided to go with a broker rather than applying direct to the bank. The experience with the broker was very positive however the bank were certainly dragging their heels. PTSB offered the best rate and loan amount so we went with them but it took them WEEKS to process anything. Our broker actually got an apology letter from them as our case was taking so long. They cited staffing issues.

We got word that approval in principal had come through in January 2023. We had already lined up viewings and I had very specific criteria for what I wanted. Detatched, in Wicklow , large garden, near a town. The other half wanted extra rooms so his family could stay with us when they came to Ireland. This mean very limited selection as there wasn’t a lot of stock out there anyway due to the housing crisis. 

In January, we went as far as sale agreed on a property that had been vacant for long enough to qualify for the grant. We ultimately pulled out of the deal after the engineer’s report showed up some issues with the roof that was enough to make us reconsider. That particular house was being sold by an estate agent called Simon from REA Murphy. Most estate agents I have encountered show up, open the door and leave it at that. I have never met anyone so prepared and professional as Simon. Even our engineer said that he had never encountered an agent like him. 

A while after that deal fell through we went to view a house that came onto the market and, as luck would have it, another neighbor was also selling up. So we booked the two viewings back to back. It was pretty clear to us when we viewed the second one that we had found something that ticked all the boxes. The very same day we offered asking price and an hour later our offer was accepted. We didn’t bother with trying to haggle down because we knew what we wanted and it had already been such a long process up to this point. 

All the usuals back and forth between solicitors, engineer reports and deposits went smoothly and we moved on 1st June 2023. 

I Rented Out my Dublin House

I spent a lot of time thinking that I should probably just sell but ultimately looked at my FIRE goals and decided that renting was the way to go. I had reservations and worries about eviction bans and bad tenants as everyone does.

I met with an estate agent to get advice on renting the house. She felt that the dublin house is ideal for a small family. It’s minutes walk away form two schools, shops and 20 minutes from a massive industrial estate where you find a few multi-national companies. 

I was also VERY aware of my housemate’s situation. I rented a room in my house and had made the tenant aware that we are moving almost 9 months before we did. I offered him a room in the new place at a lower rent but he wanted to stay in Dublin. I used to charge him €450pm for a double room, including bills. Going into the rental market, he was facing paying €750-€850pm for a single room, not including bills. 

I had hoped he  would change his mind and move with us but he eventually found a much smaller room sharing with a couple for €750. He is a very nice and a very hard working guy who’s career is really begining to take off. I worried that having to pay so much a smaller room might derail him. 

We had a short window between moving to our new house and renting my current one to get the place in shape. In five days we painted the entire house and I did more DIY jobs in that week than I had done all year. The house never  even made it onto daft. About an hour after it was cleaned and vacated the estate agent came to collect the key I had left hidden in the garden. She didn’t even tell me she was bringing a client with her for a viewing. They took the house immeadiately as they were being evicted from a property nearby due to the landlord going through a divorce. They have a teenage son in a school in the area so were very keen to stay closeby. 

I was forced to extend my career break and I cannot wait to go back.

I was on a career break from my part-time, permanent teaching job since January 2022 in order to get a full time job as a web developer. The career break was doing two things for me. Firstly, it was giving me a higher paid job in order to secure a mortgage for the forever home. Secondly, it was allowing me a chance to test the water in the corporate lifestyle and see if it suited me.

The mortgage application and drawdown process was so long that I was forced to extend my career break. My manager at the teaching job needed to know if I was coming back in September or not because they needed to plan for covering my position with contract staff. We hadn’t drawn down on the mortgage at that point in the year and I couldn’t change anything about my employment before getting the mortgage. 

So I was forced to extend the career break until September 2024. Shortly after that, the mortgage finally came through and we moved. I contacted my manager at my teaching job and said I would be available after all but they had already engaged someoen to cover me. I am very much looking foward to going back to teaching because the question of the corporate lifestyle has been answered. I don’t like it. 

I have been utterly spoiled by teaching and all the free time it offered me over the years. In many ways, it was becuase of my teaching jobs that I ended up being intrested in FIRE. Teaching pays a significantly lower salary than web development so I always had to be sensible with money! My current web developer job pays me 48K per annum.  When I go back to teaching that will drop down to 27K per annum year. But now I have rental income, so things will balance out a little more when I factor in using up less tax credits on my salary income.

I am considering two things now. First, saving up a lump sum to allow me to take summer 2024 off work before going back to teaching. Second, approaching my current job and asking for a pro-rata three-day week contract (so a pay cut and less holidays). I am still freelancing a little but that pays me almost nothing as I am only invoicing for about €350 per month right now and trying to build up reserves in the company for buying equipment.  

Plans for the House & Garden

  • Solar panels were top of our list and we have already made headway.
  • I going to started getting rid of the greass in the garden and planting it with flowers and shrubs.
  • I am looking at buying a pollytunnel through my company and expanding my business remit into selling plants online. (Although my accountant still hasnt clarified if this is possible for not).
  • I’ll be building raised beds for vegetables and fruits.
  • I’ll be making a pergola at some stage.
  • My boyfriend wants to install a water filter in the house for drinking water.
  • All bathrooms in the house (4) have to be renovated.
  • The whole house needs to be painted,  furnished and decorated.
The list goes on and on but the bottom line is we couldn’t be happier where we are now. 
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