A ROOM WITH VROOM!
We recently came upon an innovative idea that due to the new strict mortgage regulations an increasing number might find themselves doing too.
Left with some equity after selling our Devon cottage but not being able to afford a similar size home after receiving an insufficient mortgage offer we have downsized and used some of our equity on a motorhome. We might have a smaller home, but we actually have more floor space with our moveable extra room.
What an unbeatable extra room it is too! Our Swift Escape is my home office, guest room as well as mobile accommodation all in one. It’s totally self-contained with cooker, fridge-freezer, two sinks, shower, toilet, a lounge area and a heater that can keep it at 20 degrees inside even at -15 outside.
We knew from a motorhome hire holiday in a Swift Escape 686 during March that motorhomes are luxurious these days. Gone is the old-fashioned furnishing; replaced with a modern interior complete with oak-effect flooring that also has the option of having a carpet instead.
The amount of storage space is excellent too, much more than in a houseroom of similar size. There are ample stowing gaps under all seats and a dozen cupboards plus a wardrobe. It can make up to three double beds as well and with Duvalay mattresses a night’s sleep is as sound as at home. Wireless from the house even works in there as it’s parked so close – just five steps from front door to motorhome door, so it really is another room for our house.
The new mortgage rules mean those looking – whether a first-time buyer, a home mover or remortgaging – have to go through rigorous checks. Some lenders began applying the ‘Mortgage Market Review’ (MMR) well before its late April deadline.
So it’s a solution an increasing number might have to turn to as more discover they’re unable to borrow as much as they need – or not borrow any in many cases especially if they’re one of Britain’s five million self-employed. Figures from earlier this year [May] already revealed a 12 per cent lending slump in the two months since the MMR’s introduction.
We could be at the start of a new era in which an increasing number of people have to downsize but get a des res on wheels to make up for lost space. We already know of one other young family in a similar situation.
It coincides with the fact that in the past few years motorhomes have reinvented themselves. For example, Hull-based Swift is positively aiming its new Escape range at young families.
Our move to getting a motorhome as an extra room came about after we’d experienced our motorhome holiday. On the final stretch of that three-week Spanish trip we agreed it had been the ultimate family time together. But we wondered how on earth we could ever afford one of our own.
On arriving home though there was a big distraction: we discovered we’d sold the Devon hamlet cottage where our two boys, Daniel and Darley, aged four and three, had been born. We thought it would be a simple case of finding a new house and porting our mortgage.
But NatWest, with which we were on our third consecutive mortgage, said porting was not as simple as it sounds (how about changing that word then?). We had to effectively reapply and the bank I’ve banked with for 25 years with the slogan “NatYes” was more like “NatLess”.
Because of the new mortgage regulations it has to tick different boxes to those from last September when we’d been offered our five-year term. Now, as a self-employed writer, it said it could only offer a fraction of our present loan.
Our plan had always been to move near to schools (rather than an hour’s bus journey) and to somewhere my wife Debs could find employment as the boys reached school age. But that plan was scuppered.
We looked everywhere we could think of in the West Country, but with our equity and mortgage offer we couldn’t find anywhere bigger than two bedrooms in an insalubrious part of town. The boys could always share a room, but working from home I also needed a quiet space to replace our cottage’s garden cabin office. Plus we really didn’t fancy the schools there.
At the last hour, we got lucky and did find a three-bedroom place in a decent part of town. It’s smaller than our cottage, but that doesn’t matter as our motorhome parks right alongside it.
So for us the new mortgage rules were a crisis that has become opportunity – one to spend more family time together. We’re going to travel in our motorhome every weekend, including a few weeks of visiting family and friends in Britain and beyond that we’re in touch with through Facebook, but who in some cases we haven’t seen for several years.
We were sad to have left the stunning view we had from our cottage, but the fantastic thing about having the motorhome is we can pick the stunning view we fancy any day! We – or indeed anyone visiting us who gets insured – can drive this particular spare room on to not far away Dartmoor with its awe-inspiring scenery to cook then eat breakfast, or to park alongside several nearby beaches.
When we moved from London to Devon eight years ago we knew we’d miss family and friends, but thankfully we’ve had many visitors. Now, as word goes around about our new moveable extra room we’re expecting even more…
Although everyone will have to wait for a while as we set off on our road trip – don’t come to see us cos we’re coming to see you!