I've had a long standing arrangement to go to a friend's new house for dinner tonight.
She's a friend from a former job. She worked in my department, but in a different office, and she married a man who worked in my office, but in a different department (Following? Good!) Anyway, they're both about the same age as me, both do, to all effect and both do the same thing as me.
Here's the crack. They bought flats independently when they were pretty fresh to working life, then sold the two to buy one, sold that, bought another, sold that at the peak of the market, moved into a rental, and have now bought this; a house that had been sloshing around at the bottom of the market for long enough that it was reduced to about three quarters of its initial asking price, costing them just shy of seven figures.
Today I got the guided tour. And it was pretty hard not to draw a few comparisons.
Their neighbours are retired army majors and stockbrokers. Mine are youth workers and mini-cab drivers. Their neighbour's children drive Fiat 500s that they were given for their 18th birthdays. Mine steal their mother's second hand Corsas when they see a chance. Their garage is a detached, oak beamed building. Mine is ... well, it's non-existent.
Everything in their new pad screamed class. The six ring range in the kitchen. The American style fridge-freezer. The utility room with underfloor heating. All four of the bedrooms, and all three of the bathrooms. The summer house. The driveway with an "in" and an "out" gate. It all just reeked of success and glamour and being a proper adult. I felt more than a little like I might not have made the best of every opportunity.
So here I am now, in my house with only four burners on the stove, two bedrooms, and one bathroom, and ... can you believe ... no utility room, garage, or driveway at all (oh, the shame!) But when I came in, the house was nice and toasty warm, and it struck me that their house had been a little cold. And whilst I don't have a two-seater sofa in my bedroom, I do much prefer the lovely rich blue on my bedroom walls to the beigey cream on theirs. And I might only have the one bathroom, but it is massive, so lots of people could ablute in there at the same time if they wanted ...
So on balance, I'm inclined to say that you can keep your million pound residence in Surrey. For this girl, there's no place like Tooting.
2 days ago