Andrew Ducker (andrewducker) wrote,
Andrew Ducker

Learn from my mistakes #3784: Moving Home

Two weeks ago yesterday we bought a house. We didn't really expect to. We weren't ready to. And we really don't recommend you do it the way we did it.

6 weeks ago Sophia started at nursery (where she is mostly having a lovely time, except for the 30 seconds just after we drop her off).

About a week later I was falling asleep in bed when I had a sudden thought, which went something like "She's growing up so fast. She'll be off to primary school soon. Then high school. I wonder what the local high school is like. Oh shit, I'm not going to be able to sleep until I find out, am I?"

A bit of googling led me to this ranking of Edinburgh schools. Where it turned out that there's one extreme outlier in Edinburgh, a bunch of schools have 48-51% of their students achieve 5 or more highers, and then a sharp decline down into some seriously worrying levels of academic achievement. And that our local high school, Leith Academy, was on 23%.

(A brief aside here - it's absolutely appalling that this is even a factor, and that school quality varies so much. I am proud that Scotland has higher rates of tax than the rest of the UK in order to try and improve things, and I would be happy for it to be higher still. And I appreciate that schools can't fix everything when there are high levels of inequality generally, and all sorts of things affect children before they get anywhere near school, and continue to affect them all the way through their time there. And Leith Academy aren't actively stabby. But having spoken to a workmate whose child does go there, he didn't seem convinced that they had a reputation for, ah, academic excellence. So we're doing that terribly middle class thing of moving Sophia to an area which feeds into a highly rated school.)

So, we started looking at various properties around Edinburgh which were in the catchment of decent schools. Fortunately, Edinburgh's local housing sale website has a school catchment search. So we set up searches for the top eight catchments, looking for something of a suitable size with a garden (necessary because Jim is an outdoors cat), and took a look around.

The first place we found was, frankly, in rubbish condition, and also too small. The second place we found looked better. Right by Blackford Hill, James Gillespie High School catchment, decent sized garden, and a reasonable size. We quite liked the place, but weren't blown away by it. So we put in a bid. For about 8% over the asking price (Scottish housing sales use an offers over system). Which isn't generally enough to get a place, but we thought seeing how we did would give us an idea of how high we'd need to bid for the next one.

And then I got a phone call, almost exactly two weeks ago on the Friday afternoon, telling me that we'd got it. Which meant that we had to sell the current place. Really, really quickly.

Jane and I sprang into action, bought a bunch of boxes from Argos, and started putting the contents of the bookshelves into them.

This went on from the Friday, all the way through the weekend. Interrupted only when Sophia had a temperature (and had, in fact, been sent home from nursery with it on Friday afternoon). I took the Monday off work to look after her, and then we were very grateful that she was back in nursery on the Tuesday, which we both took off, and got the last of the things that were going to go into storage ready.

I then sorted out some removals people who took 35 book boxes, 7 bookshelves, and numerous other bits and pieces which we could live without for a month or two and carted it off to Jenners Depository. Which is one of Edinburgh's iconic buildings that I'd seen from a distance on innumerable occasions but never had a chance to visit before. I have to say that they were incredibly helpful, and were happy to let the removal people drop off the boxes a few hours before I turned up to actually pay for things (and show them some ID).

Meanwhile, I had also been looking for a painter/decorator, without having much hope that I'd find anyone free at the last minute (some of them having six week lead times). I was staggeringly relieved and grateful that Jezz offered to do it. I normally associate Jezz with amazing artwork rather than decorating, but Jane assured me that he'd done this kind of thing before, and done a great job. He started on the Thursday, filling the various holes where the TV had been screwed into the wall (long-hidden by bookshelves), and the places where some of the bookshelves had been screwed into the wall (and then not painted when the rest of the room was), painting the whole living room, and the toilet (which had been replastered a couple of years ago, but never painted), and tidying up a huge amount of scuffing. Frankly, he was a lifesaver, and goodness knows what we'd have done without him. He finished on Tuesday and the place looks amazing now.

(That's what they looked like before. They both look perfect now.)

In the middle of all of this the surveyor came, and thankfully decided the flat was basically fine. And, to my eternal relief, that there was no damp.

Tuesday evening Jane and I did the rounds of the local shops and bought some plant tubs and some flowers, and then she planted two of them to go on the front window sills. I then did a third one the next day shortly before the photographer came on Wednesday.

And then over Thursday and Friday (yesterday) the estate agents put together the brochure, and yesterday at 1pm it went live.

Now we just have to wait for someone to buy it. Open viewings are on Sunday, and hopefully they'll be some people interested in bidding for it over the next week or two.

I should mention that all through this Jane had been suffering from a horrible cold. And, in fact, Jane picked up this cold about two weeks after Sophia started nursery, when Sophia also got it. There had been at least four colds since then. And while Sophia would get the cold for two/three days and then get better, and I would have a bit of a cough but be otherwise unaffected Jane has basically been sick constantly for the last month. And was coughing up green phlegm. And was making rattling sounds in her chest whenever she breathed in. She still did an absolutely amazing amount of work, and I am staggeringly grateful to have her.

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