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Thursday, April 20

It's Nicer with Niece
When I decided to leave Newcastle in November, I had a number of justifications. The main cause was that I'd come to feel that my job had run its course and I didn't want to be in that office any more. So, I plotted my way out of it. I tried to be positive. If I could look for a job, where would it be located? Well, it should surely be located in somewhere new. It should be nearer my girlfriend and near my sister and her new daughter. I had a huge geographic area to work with, and it seemed like things would fall into place nicely. I'd make a positive out of my negative feelings at work.

Of course, things are never as easily done as they are theorised. The reality is that this move has been one of the most distruptive events in my recent history and, 4 months later, I'm still reeling a bit. But, the important thing to do is to make the most of the advantages while waiting to get the hang of it all.

So, on 18th March, I went to visit my niece. I'm afraid to say that it was (and still, at the time of writing, is) only the second time I've met this young lady who is new to our family. Still, I'll get the hang of being an uncle in the end.

The opportunity to take the trip kind of jumped in my lap when my girlfriend and her family decided to go to the football that Saturday afternoon. Not being interested in football, and keen to ensure that the football was watched by those who were interested, it seemed that my impending spare time was something which should be used wisely. So, I went off to little-sis's house.

My niece is really still young. At that age, babies are little more than pets. I don't mean that in a derogatory way. I recently had a part in taking care of a young puppy. It's a similar sort of experience. They don't do a huge amount and you have to watch them. They're cute and you keep them on your lap. You just don't stroke children. Anyway, the niece bits of the trip went as might be expected. She's a good-natured baby and sat by while the adults chatted and occasionally wiped bodily fluids off her.

Financial advice
My expectations for the trip were in one place. The reality was in another. I spent much of the time in my sister's company being told by her, and a friend of hers, about what I needed to do to manage my Newcastle property in such a way as would make the most of my tax situation and increase my chances of being able to buy a property in this part of the world. I didn't expect to leave with a head full of figures about mortgaging, remortgaging and equity.

Still, it made me think and I have, subsequently, set the ball rolling to make sure I make the most of my situation.

Renting
I went through three stages when I decided to leave Newcastle. The stages were:
  • I'll have to sell the house
  • Okay, I'll rent the house out
  • Now I'll become a property mogul
At first I thought I'd just keep the house on, maybe doing some repairs and then sell it. I had an undefined period of paying the mortgage ahead of me. I didn't want to rent it out. It looked too hard to organise. People suggested I rent it out. I said no. Then I worked out that paying a mortgage on an empty house wouldn't be fun.

When I started renting it out, I did it with no specific long-term plan. Just get the money rolling in. I found three friends who would agree to take it on. I cleared it enough for them to move in. I didn't have to worry about the loft-space, so I could store some of my stuff up there. I'm still storing stuff for a friend there, so this worked out quite well.

Now, I'm serious about making the most of my property "investment" opportunity. I've got some bills to pay and I've got some forms to sign before it all works out, but I'm hoping to buy somewhere for me to live in this part of the world by the end of the year.

Housesharing
I think I'm not good at sharing anything, let alone a house. I don't suit living in a houseshare, though it's going reasonably well. I just don't see it being a long-term arrangement. I spend a fair amount of time (80%+) at my girlfriend's parents' house, and I feel relaxed and welcome there. However, I want the right to pick up a paintbrush, reattach a fitting, or use the washing machine whenever I feel like it. I want to be able to cook and this is either not the done thing (girlfriend's parents') or wildly inconvenient (my place). So I don't.

I will try to get a place that I can live in for a couple of years and then maybe add it to the rental portfolio... or maybe not.

Let's see whether this actually happens. Some things are easier in theory, remember!

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