Is this really the right time to move house?
In the 1980s, British people moved house every 8 years. Now we stay in the same house for an average of 23 years, implying a change in abode about 3 times in a lifetime. Part of the slow-down is due to rises in house prices and to increasing difficulties in getting mortgages. Recently, the uncertainties created by the endless Brexit process are cited as a main deterrent to moving house.
The decision to change house – whether to rent or to buy – is one of the really significant decisions that we take in life. Apart from having big financial implications, it can be very disruptive, especially for children when they need to change school. If it is a long-distance move, it makes it difficult to keep friendships alive and it will take quite a while to build up new social networks. The longer we have stayed in the same place, the more likely it is to have become not just a house but a home to which we have grown attached in many ways and that we have filled with things that we like. There may be a few defects but we have learnt to live with them.
This is not to imply that some people do not move because they are unhappy with their present surroundings. Perhaps they don’t like their neighbours or the general environment. But more often the decision to set up house elsewhere is driven by job considerations or the need for more space for a growing family. The opposite may also be true in the rising tendency for older couples to ‘downsize’ as their children grow up and ‘leave the nest’.
In any case, if the decision to change house is a voluntary choice rather than one which is forced on us, it is not one to be taken lightly. Among the biggest issues, of course, are to where to move and what kind of affordable dwelling to aim for. This is so important that most aspiring movers identify and take steps towards acquiring their new residence before leaving their present home. They may trust the agent but will still often take a thorough look at various possible homes and assess their pros and cons before opting for one, making an offer and – before signing up – arranging for a survey to confirm that it really is in good condition.
The decision to move out of Europe is quite as significant to our whole nation as the decision to move house is to an individual family. It may not have a big impact on us who are in our seventies as we will not be around for much longer, but it will have huge implications for the future that will face our children and grandchildren for the whole of their lives. Indeed, the young should have the biggest say on this once in a lifetime issue and this should, in all fairness, have been reflected in a lowering of voting age before launching this election
The extraordinary thing about Brexit is that, even if most of us were quite content to stay as we were, unscrupulous ‘house agents’ succeeded in selling millions of people the idea that it was time for us all to move to greener pastures elsewhere. Three years later they still have not defined our destination or agreed on how we can get to this promised land. We are left in limbo while they pursue their personal ambitions.
In spite of their failure to deliver on their promises and the fact that they have messed up our lives for so long, the leaders of the present government – the same ‘house agents’ – have the effrontery to ask us to trust them once again to lead us into the unknown. Without telling us any more about the ‘house’ into which we are to move, they are trying to buy our loyalty and distract our attention from this key issue by promising to buy us happiness through throwing trillions here and billions there – without admitting that they don’t even know where to find the money.
We have been conned into believing Boris twice and have already suffered for it. We have learnt that he cannot be trusted to deliver on his ‘promises’. The last thing we want is prolonged uncertainty. Let us tell him loud and clear that we prefer to stay where we are – in spite of its imperfections – than join him again in a leap into the dark that is bound to turn our lives upside down and perpetuate uncertainties for many years to come.
This is definitely not the moment for Britain – or any of us – to move house.