I’m not the sentimental sort- ask anyone in my family- but when we show prospective tenants around a property to let and they tell us that this will be their first home together, I always feel a bit nostalgic…recalling that amazing, exciting beginning an adventure sort of anticipation which comes with turning the key in the lock for the first time and walking in to your special space: your first home together. Such a fantastic feeling: that bubbling of excitement of everything just lying ahead, just waiting for you to unwrap it and begin.
Everyone smiles when they talk about their first home together, sharing their own stories: frequently about damp, draughty windows and crazy neighbours.
I remember our first evening in our first home together: sitting on the bare floor of the living room eating fish and chips and sharing wine straight from the bottle, and thinking ‘this is it- this is really ours!’
There were roses in the garden- pink ones, all along the fence, and-let me think…yes, nettles, loads of nettles, and woodchip wallpaper on all the walls, except for the chimney breast which was covered with cork tiles- yes- cork tiles?? I don’t know why…and the boiler was knackered.
However, this article isn’t really about my experience, all those years ago, no- it’s about yours, when you rent your first home together from us at Homecoming Letting Agency; when you get the key and sign the paperwork and wave us off. When you close the door and look at each other and start your lives in your first home together.
Wow! It’s a big step!
Ok…well, maybe in your case you’re sharing with a colleague from work…it’s still a big step- I mean, did you know they like to watch the TV naked? In the sitting room?
When your parents are visiting??
Now let’s have a real think about what you’re going to need when you set up your first home together.
On this subject, you will discover that everyone is an expert, and desperate to tell you how they were poor but happy, even though they lived in a one-room flat over a chip shop, or brothel or whatever. Listen (or appear to listen) to your friends and family, of course, but be careful!!
Beware of seemingly well-meaning aunties and grandmas who offer you stuff
These people do not have your best interests at heart: no- they are trying to offload spider-infested junk which has been mouldering in the back of their pantries for years…perhaps since the end of World War II.
Because this afore-mentioned worthless pieces of cheap garbage were handed down to them by long-deceased relatives they feel that a curse will be cast over them if they commend these dreadful pieces of tat to landfill. However, if they give them to you- for your first home together– then they are doing a good deed.
Avoid the advice of ‘perfectionist’ friends.
These are people whose homes are so clean and so perfect that you are afraid to breathe there in case your breath causes bacteria to spread around the sanitised surroundings and cause a new outbreak of the bubonic plague.
They can be identified by the vast quantities of soppy quotes in shabby chic frames in every room of their homes. Their carpets are cream, their dogs are cream, and their sofas are cream. Their eyebrows are outrageous and their nails are plastic.
Avoid these people: they are not your friends! Don’t even attempt to impress them, because it is impossible! Even though you may take out credit cards to pay off your credit cards to pay for furnishing your first home together these people will remain unimpressed.
No item of furniture fits the way you think it’s going to- especially sofas.
The thing is, that it’s easy to forget that sofa shops are, well, massive. So when you look at a sofa, and you both sit on it, and you think this is going to be great for your first home together, it’s really way too easy to think that it is just going to fit perfectly in that living room, and to picture yourselves snuggling up together on there.
In this instance you do need that boring but practical sort with their tape measure to tell you the truth of the situation: even if that may be that the sofa you like is just too big to fit the living room. This may not be what you want to hear, but you may have to accept- grudgingly, that they are probably right. And then ignore the smug expression which spreads over their face, because, well, they are kind of entitled to it.
Warning four:You don’t really need as many pans as your sister says you need.
No, what you really need is a microwave. In my view, the microwave is a truly underrated but miraculous piece of kit.
O.K., so cheffy-types may sneer as they sweat and steam over multiple pans on the hob- adding a pinch of this and stirring in a sprinkle of that. Who cares?? It’s all going to be gobbled up in ten minutes anyway!
No- pop your dinner into the microwave- set it for three minutes, and there you are! Think of all the time you’ve saved, and no burnt food-encrusted pans to wash up either.
After all, you are going to need all the time you can get to unpack all those boxes you brought, and all the boxes he brought, and then you need to have the “Where d’you think we’re going to store that?” conversation, as you look at each other’s stuff emerging from those boxes and think: “What the hell did you bring that for?”
No, you really don’t need a pet. This commonly happens around week five or six, when things are beginning to settle into some sort of routine. You’ve both made some compromises, and you’ve both worked out how to avoid each other’s family/ friends as much as possible without causing too much offence.
Now you’ll be watching TV on the only sofa which you both agreed that wasn’t the one that you’d have chosen, but it needs to be something we can both live with, and one of you will say: “ A dog would be nice…”
It’s best to be prepared for this occasion, so I’m preparing you for it now; as your landlord is likely to be less than thrilled by the idea, and you may even be breaking the terms of your tenancy agreement.
Your response needs to be that you’d like to have a baby instead, or maybe-hopefully- twins– and to convert the spare bedroom from a computer room/ man cave/ crash pad for his/ her friends into a nursery.
Generally, you will find that this is pretty effective.