Greenwich, London – Our home since 2012

Greenwich became our home more by luck than judgement. We had previously been renting in Bow for a year and were keen to become homeowners for the first time. At that time, the UK recession was in an appalling state and we didn’t have enough for a deposit in the open market. Shared Ownership helped us to get on the ladder and despite hearing some bad opinions, it has been our saviour.

Shared Ownership in Greenwich

When I first saw the properties available for Shared Ownership in Greenwich I thought the prices were crazy – not unrealistic for a popular part of London, just well outside our price range, or as I had imagined it.

We soon realised, however, that the monthly payments for a brand new two bedroom flat in Greenwich was actually slightly less than our renting costs for a one bedroom flat in Bow. Suddenly, it was not only possible, but also seemed ludicrous not to do so.

After finding the necessary deposit, the whole process took around 2 months to complete. We are forever indebted to the L&Q Housing Association for allowing us to get involved with this scheme, and without it we would probably still be renting in East London.

I had some great times house-sharing when i first moved to London around 10 years ago, but had eventually reached the point where it was just not fun anymore. Our time in Bow was particularly bad, even though by then we could afford to rent the whole flat. The location was awful and it forced us to make the move onto the housing ladder as a matter of urgency.

Having been in Greenwich now for three years we are looking to increase upon our current share of 25% of the property. At the time of setting that up, the economy was in a mess and we actually only just managed to get a mortgage for a quarter of the property, which was the smallest share possible.

Things are now a lot better, both for myself and also the economy as a whole, and so i am hoping that we will be able to increase our share up to 75% in the next 12 months or so. Ultimately, we want to buy the flat outright but that will take quite some time!

Life in Greenwich

Ever since moving in, we have always felt really at home. Weekends in are no-longer a disaster, whilst when in Bow they were painful times. We have also really made an effort to personalise our home, when before i never really bothered much with rented accommodation.

Greenwich Park

Greenwich Park is a great place for some quiet time, particularly during the week when there are fewer tourists buzzing about. We tend to sit up the back close to Blackheath, where it tends to be a little quieter still. First thing in the morning our flat is also a place to relax, with no cars or roads close by. Local residents in these new block of flats also tend to be pretty well behaved in the main, and i have rarely witnessed any anti-social behaviour.

The Yacht remains my favourite watering hole, although the Trafalgar Tavern is great on a sunny day, as is the traditional Cutty Sark pub. Those two are a little more expensive, and i love the friendly staff in the Yacht.

Further afield is The Union which stocks a great selection of local drinks from the Greenwich Meantime Brewery. We have eaten in most of these pubs but still tend to prefer the Vietnamese restaurant for eating out locally.vietnam-oriental-restaurant-greenwich.jpg

Tilda the Hedgehog arrives in Greenwich

Tilda the Hedgehog made a visit to our flat this weekend, as part of an entourage including two of Ruby’s friends from Glasgow. She turned out to be very light on her feet, and was very active when let out of her temporary home (a cardboard box).

There was a bit of a panic on at one point when she completely disappeared, and as an African Hedgehog, is was necessary to find her as soon as possible to make sure she didn’t get too cold. She was found in a small corner of the living room, looking for some random food to keep her going. Her owners tend to feed her on cat food and tinned sweetcorn.

They popped down from Scotland and were surprised by how warm the weather was – to be fair, it’s not normally this warm in May :-) They have invited us back up to Glasgow later in the year, which would be my first visit to that city, and something i’m very much looking forward to.

We had let the flat become pretty untidy recently and their visit also helped to force us to finally tidy it up, making it much more enjoyable now for at least a couple more weeks. I am still considering hiring a cleaner at some point, once the finances are looking a little healthier.

fun-and-food-in-the-flat

Tilda the Hedgehog

Tilda the Hedgehog Sleeping

UK General Election 2015 Reflection

Friday lunchtime, post-election, and the results are pretty much all in. 3 leaders have gone already – Clegg, Miliband and Farage. Can’t say i was delighted with the result, was hoping to see Labour fare a little better. However, there were at least some positives.

To see Farage lose out, and for UKIP to get just one seat was a relief, my biggest fear was always a Tory-UKIP coalition which would have been seriously bad! It is unfortunate that the Conservatives earned a majority as there will be no-one to keep a check on them. I felt the Lib Dems did quite well in the last coalition to at least get some more liberal policies implemented.

The Liberal Democrats have been sinking without trace for a while, but i respect them for bringing in higher thresholds of income tax to help those on low wages. The Tories have now taken the policy for themselves and will continue to expand on it within this next parliament.

Clegg has pretty much been screwed ever since he upset every student in the country for not doing enough to prevent changes in tuition fees. The Liberal Democrats will take quite a lot of time to get over their recent problems, but a new leader would be a good starting point.

I understand the movement to the Tories for many floating voters to be for two reasons, firstly their promise of an EU Referendum, and secondly of their delivery over the economy of the last five years. Both are key issues to a lot of people, and are perhaps how the Conservative Party drew in votes from UKIP and the Labour Party.

The future for all parties opposing the Conservatives seems bleak, at least in the short term. Leaderless and down on public support, UKIP will struggle without Farage and Labour will take time to restore it’s status as a party that people can show faith in. Their next choice of leader is crucial to that although the direction of the economy under the new government will do most in influencing voter’s opinions of Labour against the Conservatives.