Deck the malls...

Posted December 13th, 2009 by Penny Wise

What a jampacked week it's been! Noel and Ali returned from camp absolutely exhausted but there was no rest to be had. We had some big decisions to make and a new house to find! The weekend was spent trudging around Whangamata in the rain, trying to find a suitable place to live. The rules were, it had to have adequate fencing for the dogs, room for a vege garden and the boys to play and not too built up around us. Houses for sale in Whangamata are plentiful, but none of them met our selection criteria. We were close to admitting defeat - until we stumbled upon a delightful little house at the end of a quiet cul de sac, right opposite a park. 'That's us! That's the one!' we all agreed. There was even room to park Noel's boat!

We arranged to meet with the agent a few days later for a guided tour of the house and the local school. Even Ali, who had been wholeheartedly against the move was starting to warm to the idea. Wednesday dawned bright and gloriously hot for our visit as we once again made our way over the winding road, eager to get a proper look at 'our' house. It was even better than we had hoped for - in fact, the owners were just like a town version of us! There was a large, raised vege garden at the back of the yard, more than big enough for us. A thriving herb garden was outside the back door, interspersed with lush lettuces. Tomatoes grew all along the garage wall but what I loved most were the fruit trees, already heavy with ripe plums and apples and the promise of citrus in the winter. The house was light and sunny and immediately had a nice feel to it when we walked in. There was plenty of room for us and all our stuff - but no room for clutter. Perfect!

We loved it and wanted to make an offer straight away but there were just two rather large obstacles keeping us in limbo for a while. The first is that we have to wait for confirmation that the job is definitely available. The second is the rather important matter of having our own house to sell! It's not something we've ever done before and I have to admit I'm not looking forward to it. Then there's the added extra of trying to sell a house in a recession. I can envisage the whole thing being a very long and drawn out process but we are trying to keep positive and hope that everything will fall into place. In particular the boys can't wait to go to their new school! All we can do at this stage is keep our fingers crossed.

Money wise it's basically a straight swap - although as I mentioned before, prices are a bit different in Whangamata. The same money for our two-storey home on two acres of established trees in the Waikato buys us a 600m section with a home half the size on the Coromandel Peninsula! Still, we're all agreed it would be a good lifestyle change for us. I think we would be able to save a lot of money by living there and am keen to prove it. Before our first visit Noel went online to do some homework and see how much the bank would let us borrow, in the event that the house we buy is more than the one we sell. We were gobsmacked to learn that we have a borrowing limit of $715,000! Good heavens is it any wonder people get themselves in the poo with that sort of financial 'help' from banks? I wouldn't be able to sleep at night if we borrowed more than $50,000! Either way, all we can do for now is sit tight until after Christmas.

Which incidentally is not very far away and I confess to feeling very un-Christmassy at the moment! I got all my Christmas shopping done in one hit on Saturday, in what can only be described as the Saturday from hell. The rest of the family couldn't understand my haste to get the Christmas shopping out of the way, after all there were still almost two weeks to go, what was the hurry? They soon found out. Every car park was full, every queue was horrendous and every child under the age of six was screaming as they were manouevred against their will through hordes of people. Adults sighed, frowned, jostled and swore their way around the crowded malls. It was hideous. Eventually after traipsing round no less than three of Hamilton's shopping malls I could take no more. We drove home in relief and did the rest of our shopping online. To be honest I would have done that in the first place if I had been able to get everything I wanted that way. I wouldn't set foot back in The Warehouse now even if you paid me. So much for the five Christmas shopping trips I was supposed to have planned, I barely survived even one!

Incidentally, I think I forgot to tell you our Trade Me tally from Decluttering Month! We ended up making a total of $990! Not bad for two weeks' listings! It's certainly helped with all the Christmas shopping, although there is one thing which unfortunately didn't make it under the Christmas tree. Some friends of mine were telling me a while back how they enjoyed playing a game called 'Cashflow 101' by the author of 'Rich Dad, Poor Dad', Robert Kiyosaki. Apparently it's rather like Monopoly but you learn heaps about stocks and shares and so forth, as well as all sorts of other financial stuff that would otherwise be impossible to explain to the kids. Ooh, sounded like a good game for our family! So I went and asked the cheery folk in Whitcoulls who duly looked it up for me and just about fell over behind the counter. 'We don't have any in stock but we can get it in for you. It's $200!' came the reply. Er, think I'll pass...

My mother in law rang me a couple of weeks ago, asking what we wanted her to bring to contribute to Christmas Day. No matter whose house we are at, everyone always brings something to the Christmas table, whether it's a Christmas pudding, roast potatoes or a box of choccies to share. Christmas is at our house this year, the only problem is everyone is asking me what they need to bring and I haven't even thought about it. So far I've agreed that Noel's mum can bring some homegrown peas from her garden and my mum is bringing beans from her garden, as well as the Christmas pudding and brandy butter, which she has made every year for as long as I can remember. Ali and I tried to make it once but it just didn't turn out the same! The thing is, our homegrown Christmas is proving a little harder than we thought, much to our annoyance. Despite our best laid plans, the weather has had other ideas and both Noel and Ali's gardens have had untold damage done to them by the wind. At least there will be plenty of meat and Noel is planning a fishing trip a day or two before Christmas to get some fresh seafood to throw on the barbie. He's also been stocking up on wine for weeks, picking up some awesome supermarket specials for as little as $4 - more than $10 off the usual price. Just as well, as we have just found out that my brother-in-law's passport has been approved by the British Home Office and he and his fiancee will be home for Christmas after all! Hooray!

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