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About Spangled

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  1. Not sure what part of South Hertfordshire you're referring to exactly... Hitchin, maybe? We lived there for two years. Great place. 25mins to Kings Cross. Good schools and decent affordable-ish housing. Only moved due to family reasons. I'd avoid Hatfield like the plague though. Can't give you an opinion on whether now is the right time to buy though. London and the SE in general seems to be in a world of its own, esp compared to the North East where we are now. I still work in London two days a week and looking at the property prices in the Standard on Wednesdays makes my jaw drop. They just seem to have gone mega insane since we left the Smoke in 2009. Good luck!
  2. FWIW, I'm in exactly the same boat as you. I relocated my family to the North East from Hertfordshire a couple of years ago (it helps that Mrs Spangled is from the NE originally herself). For the price of a decent-ish flat in Zone 2 (where we lived before moving to Hertfordshire) we now have a huge 4-bed terrace (small mortgage) in a nice part of the NE (yes, they do exist). I commute to London once a week, staying over 1 or 2 nights in a friend's Zone 1 flat. Yes, I have train and accommodation costs but they are kept low due to a) booking trains 3 months in advance and my friend giving me a good deal on rent. Lots of other compelling family/lifestyle reasons for the move too. The commute isn't ideal but some weeks I don't go down to London at all (I'm self employed but all our clients are in LDN) and others I'm only away for 1 night. My business partner does exactly the same, except that he's in Devon.
  3. Hitchin, Hertfordshire. 22 mins on the fast train to King's Cross, regular trains 30 mins. Good (at least rated 2 by Ofsted) state schools at primary and secondary level. Lovely market town. Lots of decent terraces for >£300k. We lived there for two years after 12 years in south-east London - only relocated to the north east last year for family reasons - would have stayed and settled there otherwise.
  4. Just thought I'd update on my situation, having asked the good members of this board for their opinions on certain parts of Newcastle earlier this year... We ended up buying in Tynemouth. We had narrowed down our search to Tynemouth, North Shields and Whitley Bay (close to the in-laws in Washington but not *too* close...). North Shields offered great value but not always a family-friendly vibe (although I appreciate NS is a large area) and Whitley Bay had some nice bits (incl Monkseaton) but also some real tat, esp close to the stag-happy centre. Tynemouth ticked more boxes for us in terms of family life and good schools, even if we had to compromise on size of property and value for money. Being a shandy-drinking southerner, I now just have to get used to the cold! PS Before anyone says it, I'm fully aware of the ups/downs of buying at this stage in the property cycle. For us - with two young children and another on the way - the benefits of having our "own" place outweighed the flexibility/uncertainty of renting.
  5. I can only really go on personal experience. We're coming from Hertfordshire where prices are still pretty tasty - and we were in London for 10+ years before that. Compared to where we are located right now, there seems to be much better value in the NE, although Tynemouth itself is pricey. We need - for various work and family reasons - a 5+ bed property. There's def a better selection of housing stock in the north east compared to the small market town we're in right now. We're very keen to secure the right property and not buy somewhere and then get stuck there if we later want to move. We accepted an offer (from a chain-free buyer) on our Herts property around two weeks after going to market and property here seems to be shifting quickly - but properties in the areas we're looking at in the north east have, in general, been on the market for months and months (thanks Property Bee!). We will STR if we need to - we won't be rushed into buying. Although I'll be loathe to give up my lifetime base rate +0.99% tracker!
  6. We did a recce yesterday, viewing 12 properties in Whitley Bay, Tynemouth and North Shields. Saw some nice stuff in Whitley Bay but really have ruled that area out - it seems low-rent to us. Tynemouth is obviously very desirable - but the 2 properties there would really stretch our budget. Central North Shields was a bit dodgy (but some ace properties) - didn't seem great for young kids. The bit of North Shields close to Northumberland Park (eg top end of Linskill Terrace) seems to offer a good compromise - close to Tynemouth but without the Tynemouth prices. The search goes on!
  7. I'm a keen watcher of this thread and have posted a couple of times to the effect that the missus and I have been considering a move up to Newcastle (close to her family). Well, we've finally put the wheels in motion and have our house in Hertfordshire on the market. Obviously we can't do anything concrete until we (hopefully) get offers on our current place but in the meantime we've been doing some (mostly online) research. We were originally targeting Gosforth and Jesmond but the value you get there doesn't seem great. Plus there's the student issue. We then took a chance outing to Tynemouth and really like the place. Looking at Tynemouth and the bits of North Shields that are close to Tynemouth (close to Northumberland Park). Seems easily doable to get a nice 4-bed in Tynemouth or a larger 5-bed in the nice bit of North Shields for under £300k. You can get even better value in the streets close to North Shields Metro itself - but is that still considered a no-go area? We have 2 kids under three. Anyone with insights into property in that neck of the woods?
  8. I just can't see the value in taking a two-year fixed deal (and esp one at that high a rate). Interest rates WILL go up and while no one can predict exactly when, the chances are you'd be finishing your two-year fix just when IRs are heading north, leaving you to find another deal at just the wrong time. Plus another set of mortgage application fees. And if your current lender wasn't offering any good deals, you'd have to go to a new lender which means the hassle and stress of a new mortgage application - and what if your income situation had changed for the worse at that point? You could get stuck on your lender's SVR. Only having a 10% deposit means you don't have the pick of the deals so a decent five-year fix may be out of reach by now (although I see that Chelsea BS are offering 5.39% fixed for five years at 90% LTV). I'd say continue to save, build up a bigger deposit and then you'll hopefully reach the point where you'll have the pick of the mortgage deals. Get a 25% deposit and YBS are offering 3.69% fixed for five years. Good luck.
  9. We're looking to relocate to Newcastle (specifically Tynemouth/North Shields) later this year or early next, depending if we can sell our place in Hitchin, Hertfordshire. I'm doing more and more work from home, so proximity to London is becoming less of a millstone. Plus the wife has family up there. Should be able to upscale in property size and quality fairly significantly - and looking forward to making plenty of cheeky offers on properties that catch our eye.
  10. Hmm, OK that does change the equation a little! I suppose it depends on your attitude to risk and your inclination for when IRs will rise. BOE+2% is not *bad* - as you're at/around 75%LTV, I think you'd be hard-pressed to beat that rate with the lifetime trackers available on the market today. (Example: First Direct's 75% LTV lifetime tracker is BoE + 2.39%.) So comparing against a five-year fix, it just depends when you think IRs will rise (and how quickly) within the life of that five-year period. Pretty sure there are calculators out there that enable you to crunch your specific numbers (outstanding mortgage, term left, salary etc) and figure out how long you need IRs to stay low/low-ish in order for your tracker to beat a five-year fix.
  11. I've a lifetime BOE+0.99% tracker and I've no intention of cashing that in for a fix, no matter how attractive current fixes seem. A lifetime BOE+0.5% tracker is like gold dust and unlikely (IMO) to be seen again for a number of years. And - note also the reversion rates of those five-year fixes once they expire - probably onto the lender's SVR which isn't going to be anywhere near as competitive as your tracker. And - you're currently paying a rate of just 1% - why not overpay to the equivalent of the five-year tracker rate now to act as a hedge against rising rates? (Or, more sensibly, stick the overpayments into a savings account paying more than 1% and use those savings to pay off some of the mortgage balance once rates rise - which they will.) Of course, it does depend on the size of your mortgage and how that is relative to your income. A larger mortgage on a tracker will (duh) be affected greater by interest rate rises that a smaller mortgage.
  12. You could get a PO Box - but they are tied to your current residential address. So if you currently live in Harrow, then your allocated PO Box will be at the Harrow sorting office. Not great if you suddenly up sticks and move across London. The alternative is a private mailbox (eg with Mailboxes Etc). They have branches all over town and you can pick whichever branch you want (ie one in central London or one near work). Slightly more expensive but they accept signed-for packages and even couriered items. You can usually get 24-hour access to your mail too (rather than the limited sorting office opening hours). I have one of these and my box number is (for example) 123. So for bank statements I can give the address as Flat 123, for work-related stuff as Unit 123 etc. Hope that helps.
  13. Can you put your toddlers into storage? We faced a similar situation in the summer of 2009. We'd agreed a sale on our flat in a semi-shoite part of SE London but couldn't find a suitable property in our desired go-to location (Hitchin, Herts). For us, making sure our sale went through was paramount. The housing market picked up briefly in our area in spring/summer 2009 and we saw that as our brief window of opportunity to escape. So we were fully prepared to move into rented accommodation to ensure the sale went through and even viewed a few rental properties in Hitchin. We had one toddler ourselves at the time. As luck would have it, a property for sale came up in Hitchin which ticked all the right boxes for us, and we were able to buy that. But ensuring the sale of our London flat was always first priority.
  14. Great insight - thanks for the detailed post DB. We know Jesmond a little bit - we were married there in fact - but haven't done much on-the-ground research yet in terms of housing. Your point about proper scouting of the area at all times is very valid. If anything, leaning towards Gosforth, just because there seems to be better value for money. Close to South Gosforth metro (seen a few nice places online on Windsor Terrace, Bath Terrace etc). Yes, schooling is important and we'd almost certainly be looking at state rather than private. TBH, it's all a bit insubstantial at the mo though - the move depends on a number of factors, not least the work situation, so I can't see it happening for at least a year, probably more. Hopefully prices will have come down in that time! Cheers.
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