I achieved my dream of buying a home in London. I know I’m lucky, but I was miserable as soon as I moved in.

I achieved my dream of buying a home in London. I know I’m lucky, but I was miserable as soon as I moved in.
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Daniela Vilu bought her first home after living a nomadic life.

  • Daniela Vilu became a first-time homeowner in London in 2023 after a challenging journey.
  • The process took years and was filled with sacrifices and outbidding in the city’s housing crisis.
  • Despite the fulfillment, she faced post-purchase depression and struggles with financial management.

London is a city designed with young people in mind, but it’s almost too expensive for the young. Yet, I feel I’ve conquered it. I became a first-time homeowner in May 2023, although it took almost everything in me.

When the pandemic hit, I was 34 years old, studying and freelancing in Sweden. I worked part-time as a social-media manager to make ends meet.

In between semesters, I returned to London for a freelance work contract and crashed on a friend’s sofa. My two-week stint ended up being an eight-week lockdown. I decided then I would move mountains to get my own place in London.

Three years and many sacrifices later, I signed a contract and was handed the keys to my own flat. As soon as I moved in, I fell into a depression. I didn’t have time nor did I allow myself to ask the difficult questions while I was in the midst of it.

When you achieve a goal, the rest of your life begins. I’m one of the lucky ones and yet I felt so miserable after my dream of owning my own place was fulfilled.

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The process took longer than expected

The build-up was extraordinary — I spent years dreaming, looking at Pinterest boards, planning, and decorating in my mind.

I started seriously looking for a place in 2021, after finishing my studies and returning to full-time employment. While I was searching, I stayed with different friends. I didn’t sign a lease because I didn’t expect it to take this long, and I didn’t want to pay for someone else’s mortgage while saving for mine.

I put in my first offer on a flat in early 2022, but it fell through. The search continued. I saw more properties and put in more offers. Because there’s a housing crisis in London, I made an offer and got outbid several times.

When I found the flat I ended up buying in October 2022, I was not impressed. It was a relatively new build (2007), spacious, yes, but no character, and it was £20,000 over budget. They accepted my £300,000 offer anyway. I thought I’d be moving in within a few months, but the process took seven months to complete.

Because the process was so long, I felt I had climbed a treacherous mountain of conveyancing, solicitor questions, months of back and forth, and emails upon emails. At the top, the view was worth it, but I felt like I could fall of the cliff at any time.

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I can no longer choose how to spend my money

My pre-homeowner nomadic lifestyle that permitted me to splurge on a night out or a quick jaunt to my hometown in Eastern Europe had ended. Every penny has to be accounted for.

My mortgage is quite something, and then there are utilities, water, gas, electricity, and internet — and then the boiler breaks. If I’m finding it hard to manage a budget considered generous by many standards, what about the people working minimum wage?

Then there’s the single-person tax. The harsh reality is being a single person sucks, for practical and financial reasons if not for romantic ones.

It’s not that I want a partner to share my woes with — strangely enough, I’ve never factored that in. But when the bills come, it’s only me paying for everything. I wouldn’t want to enter a relationship just to share the grocery bill with someone, but being single is challenging.

Now I have walls, but I have no youth left in me

Right after I moved in, I was torn between focusing on my accomplishment and my instinct to keep chasing whatever was left unconquered in my life, either personal or professional.

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Looking in from the outside, I’m relatively young and successful, I’ve achieved a great deal, and I’m a first-generation immigrant who managed to become a homeowner in one of the most expensive cities in the world. But none of that feels like it matters if I’m fearful and lonely.

Now that I’ve been here almost a year, there is light at the end of the tunnel. I do like living alone — I can close my door to the world and be free to run around naked from the bedroom to the kitchen through the hallway and scream my head off if I choose to do so.

I now enjoy the peace and quiet of my flat, although it was eerie and unnerving at first. I may have had to leave my old life behind, but I can smile again. It just took much longer than I expected.

Read the original article on Business Insider


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