Where I Live: I bought a two-bed cottage in Lancashire for £135,000
By Phoebe Jobling
House prices have skyrocketed over the last few years making it even more difficult for first-time buyers to get a foot on the property ladder. But as the saying goes, location, location, location remains the number one rule when it comes to finding somewhere that is affordable on today's property market.
The stark difference in house prices across the North West is quite simply mindboggling. Properties that are almost identical can increase or decrease drastically in value depending on where you are looking to live.
Our new series, Where I Live, takes our readers inside a different home in the North West region each week to look around, see who lives there, find out how much their home cost and how they made it their own.
This week Christina Melling, 33, showed us around her two-bed cottage in the village of Adlington in Lancashire, which she bought for £135,000 as a solo first-time buyer back in 2018.
After growing up in Chorley, Lancashire, she decided to move to Alderley Edge in Cheshire to pursue a career in wealth management. But with properties considerably pricey in the affluent area, which has an average house price of around £820,000, Christina was forced to rent for four years.
At 29, Christina realised that the only way she would be able to get on the property ladder was to move to an area closer to home.
"I moved to Alderley Edge because I thought that would be the best place to go to work in that sector," she told the Manchester Evening News.
“I lived there for about four years but I couldn’t afford to buy a house there, so I decided to move to Adlington. I effectively changed my job to become a homeowner as I needed to move to a more affordable area to get on the property ladder.
"To put it into perspective, the house that I was renting in Alderley Edge would have cost about £450,000 to buy - and it was a carbon copy of the house I went on to buy for £135,000."
Christina sourced her two-bed cottage in Adlington by pure luck at a time when houses were flying off the market in the area.
“It was so hard to get on the property ladder at the time, even four years ago, the way that I bought this house was pure luck," the 33-year-old explained.
"Every house in the area was selling like hot cakes because it is such a great place to live. I was on holiday with my friend on the beach and I was scrolling Rightmove when I saw this house. I knew it was the one straight away.
"I booked a viewing whilst on holiday and I sent my mum and dad round so I could view it on Facetime. I absolutely loved it and my mum and dad approved of it too so I made an offer for the full asking price over Facetime.
"The first time I stepped foot in the property was the day I got the keys.”
Christina is now the proud owner of her 1860s home where she lives with her Whippet Bonnie. The first-time buyer pays around £500 a month for her mortgage and around £1,000 per month with all household bills included.
"I think I definitely paid a reasonable price for it. It’s a beautiful two-bed cottage in a great location in the centre of Adlington," she said.
"The pretty village of Rivington is nearby and there is a train station less than a minute's walk away with a direct service to Manchester so its the best of both worlds. There are really good schools, crime statistics are really low and there’s no scope for property development anywhere nearby so its going to retain its original character."
Christina put down a £25,000 deposit for her home which she saved through having a Help to Buy ISA, personal savings which she accrued over 10 years, and was lucky enough to have some help from her parents.
"The house itself is full of character and personality. It's the perfect size for me and my dog," she explained.
"It felt like home here very quickly after I moved in because it came with everything I wanted it to, so I just built on the style it already came with.
"I’d describe my home as Dickensian with a bit of Rococo in there, very olde worlde, traditional, 1800s vibes. It’s a really cosy environment that just makes me really happy."
The first-time buyer did a lot of the home renovations herself to cut costs, such as upcycling antique furniture, and learnt her skills from the likes of TikTok and YouTube videos.
The co-founder and CEO of Stipendium told us what it's like living in her home.
“Downstairs I have a front room which I use as my TV room, and a dining room which is my favourite room in the house. It’s got a big original open fireplace from over 100 years ago, a little bar, piano and also quite quirky things like a restored 1910 lawnmower on display," Christina explained.
"The kitchen is an open plan kitchen dining space area, it's quite small but its perfect for me. I've got a small front yard which is quaint and pretty and then got a backyard garden area which I call my ‘yarden’ with a little shed, table and chairs and lots of flowers.
"Upstairs the front bedroom is my master bedroom which is a really nice size. The hallway leads off to the second bedroom which I use as a dressing room and workout space at the minute. The bathroom is quite small, it's got a bath shower.
"There’s a theme throughout the house of black white and gold décor."
Christina had her house valued last year when the market was at its peak and says she could have sold it for around £170,000 - making a £35,000 profit.
She is planning to stay in her property for another year and would then like to move to somewhere bigger, either in the same area or further afield.
“One thing this house doesn’t have which I’d love is land. When I get my next house I'd love to have a few acres so that I can have horses and ducks. I love open space and the countryside."
Giving advice to first-time buyers, Christina echoes that location is key but also says that you need to be prepared when it comes to the homebuying process.
“Location is number one, if you have the right location your property will increase in value over time," she said.
"Familiarise yourself with the costs of buying a home beforehand as these can escalate up to about £8,500 from personal experience.
"Get a survey done, don’t underestimate the value of it particularly if you’re buying an older property. It’s better to spend £1,000 now on a survey than discover an issue later down the line and end up paying £10,000 to repair it.”
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