Destination Harrogate

Today we put our house on the market, and we're planning to move upto Yorkshire later this year, pending a number of things happening in the correct order.


Well, why not? We've always said this was not our "forever home". We both moved to Reading (separately) about 25 years ago for with 2 rucksacs and no real plan besides a noddy office job, Gill with a sensible grad-placement. We've both gone through the phases of crappy flats, house shares, starter homes and then finally to Woodley and Addington Gardens, the quintessential suburb house. We've been here (almost) 10 years, and it's been great, especially with the last 3 years...lockdown and home-working. We had enough space to adapt comfortably, as well as getting 2 office-dogs. That transition has massively reduced the need for us to actually be in Reading.

Gill's family are all up in Yorkshire...parents, sister, nieces etc. She went up there for Christmas (a well deserved break after nursing me back to health, for the second time that year), and when she got back we had a discussion, and decided that moving ourselves up North would be a net positive. Last year we had talking about maybe Cornwall, Devon or Norfolk...but then I broke various bones, we bought a new dog, and then were generally distracted for a while.

Why Harrogate?

Put simply, it's really bloody nice. We had a look around the Leeds area generally (we don't want to live in the City itself), and generally settled on Harrogate as a good combination of facilities, and countryside. I'll need to get to my office approximately twice a year, so just need to be nearish a mainline station. Gill has to be in an office approximately once a month, however her company have offices in York. Harrogate is a big town with a lot of unique shops, areas and facilities, without sacrificing the general life comforts.

Harrogate is posh, and not super-cheap...but still significantly cheaper than Woodley (as a ballpark I'd say 20% cheaper comparing like-for-like houses, though obviously with some exceptionally expensive areas, similar to Reading with Sonning, The Warren etc). Moving has some costs involved (stamp duty, estate agent fees, legal fees, removal costs etc), however we reckon we can at least halve our mortgage (and as as stretch goal pretty much get rid of it). For me, the cycling up there is great...loads of clubs, loads of events, the dales on the doorstep, and (a big once since the incident in October) less traffic (though I totally understand that it's still the UK, and tourism up there is a thing). If we do this right, it should be a real upgrade in quality of life...and in the last couple of years that has become super-important.

Where in the process are we?

We've both confirmed the move is OK with our respective companies (it is). We've done some fixing up of the house, which has been generally stressful (the biggest one being replacing the kitchen floor, which had some settling cracks). Generally cleaning everything, re-painting damaged walls (in the last 2 years we have gained a lot of labrador-high scratches, marks and dents in the walls), and starting the probably never-ending task of rationalising furniture and belongings. Cleaning everything, and dressing the house for photos. For myself, I've decided the motorbike is not going up with me (I've not ridden it since I now really need to get it fixed, MOT'ed and sold).

We appointed an estate agent last week, after speaking to 5 of them. Today the house went onto Rightmove (this house is never this clean or tidy!)
...which really does feel like the start of things. In comedic timing, I'm pretty much away for the next 2 weeks (Spain, then France), leaving Gill to handle keeping the house spotless for viewings. Once I'm back, she is heading upto Leeds for a long weekend with her family, where she'll arrange lots of property viewings. We have a longlist on Rightmove, and hopefully we can get a better feel for areas.

The mortgage is already sorted...unless things go remarkably off-plan we are downsizing the mortgage. We've got solicitors lined up (the same ones we used to buy here...they are 10 minutes away, so if there are any problems we can literally walk in and sort stuff out). The logistics of moving 220 miles north will be "fun"...definitely more involved than this was...

(240p baby, welcome to the mid 2000's)


A little. I've lived in various areas of Reading for more than half my life, though definitely been through various life phases here.Since lockdown the majority of my friend circles have been online/virtual, with the exception of the cycling brigade. I've always been fine with rocking upto clubs/societies solo for stuff i have an interest in, and generally inflicting myself on them...this will be no different. There are loads of cycling clubs up there (I mean, they got the World Champs a few years back, which was a huge community effort). I can ride bikes and talk shit while eating cakes with the best of them. Harrogate is big enough to have some niche shops and clubs, and small enough that it will be easy to get to them. I'm also pretty excited...we've talked about moving before, but it felt very hypothetical. This very quickly felt like the right thing to do, and the right time to do it.


It's definitely the right thing and at the right time. I must admit I'm a bit gutted as I've always wanted more face to face gaming or movies or anything but then since I've had kids with special needs, it's been fucking impossible. Not to mention the myriad support that Kate needs. I can't even get down the pub for a coke with Byrn these days.

Being close to your adopted fam is really important - especially as the old ones get really fucking old. Can't knock this move, it's spot on mate.

Coke in a pub before you go?

brainwipe's picture

I doubt we'll be vanishing super fast...when we moved here it took about 6 months start to finish. I'll be sorting out "au revoirs" once we have some idea of dates, but I'll also be back 2-3 times a year for work. I'll need to up my train travel game (actually should be fine, similar to flights to the continent, only more expensive 🤣).

We have 3 viewings booked over the weekend, so back on cleaning duty tonight. I have no idea how people exist in clean, tidy's exhausting!

babychaos's picture

Well things have moved fast, much faster than we expected. Most estate agents we spoke to were suggesting a period of 4-6 weeks to agree a sale, and a general air of caution around the current market. We ended up having 8 viewings over the first weekend the house was on the market, and on Tuesday accepted an offer for the full asking price, and the buyer has already sold via the same estate agent to a first-time, so the entire chain below us is "known". All the viewings were from parents who's children goto, or are going to goto, Rivermead Primary School, something I'd not even thought of! My base education was in a tertiary system, so I was only at Primary School for 3 years, whereas two-tier has you there for ~6 years...with 2 kids that's suddenly 8'ish years of school drop-offs to contemplate, so having the school effectively next door is a big boon.

This means we have to get our arse in gear now. I was supposed to be popping over to Nice next weekend...that's now been "upgraded" to Yorkshire, and next Friday we have 7 viewings booked at various places in Harrogate, with some time for second viewings on Saturday, alongside some general area investigation. It's all been fairly manic, and complicated as I'm currently in rural Spain on a training camp, with limited internet. Gill has been doing all the legwork, while I slowly break myself 😂

babychaos's picture

Congratulations on getting a buyer, that's superb! You might remember some time after you fragged me I went into hospital while Kate bought our house. Just saying.

brainwipe's picture

She's still not paid me for that.

babychaos's picture

LOL, that's a fair point. The life insurance policy would have just activated as it began when we started looking and there was a 3 month lag.

brainwipe's picture

A fairly crazy week. On Thursday we headed upto the worst possible weather (Thursday's weather peaked around Leicester for us, then calmed down a little to the opint where we could see roads and snow was not drifting). Overnight in Guiseley (where Gill's parents are) it snowed heavily, and we had to dig out her car...before very delicately driving to a main road. Once there gritters and snow ploughs had done their job, and it was fairly clear to Harrogate...though for the morning we had to park up slightly away from houses and do the final sections on foot. We ended up seeing 6 houses in one was exhausting. For your viewing pleasure, I now give brief summaries of each, in the order we saw them.

The biggie (aka "Tenants") - Has a lot of potential, however has been rented for 10 years with virtually no maintainence. Loved the location (right next to a park, perfect for dog walking), but we conservatively reckon it needs £20k of renovation immediately, and probably more (leaking roof, ancient double-glazing), and was already at the top-end of our budget.

Bryony Road - Similar scale to our current house, beautifully presented with no chain. A 2 minute walk to a park, small garden. Ultimately the lack of utility room and an exceptionally small en-suite put us off this.

Norwood Grove (aka "The extension") - OK, we liked this one. Bigger than the photos give credit, amazing garden (there is a stream at the bottom, and the otherside is land belonging to a golf course). Objectively, the bathrooms are a little strange (the en-suite has a bath, and the master bathroom is very small, and has a shower). The planning permission we thought had expired, but the owner has undertaken commencement, so we have the option of extending (he's had a quote for ~£30,000. I don't believe that, and reckon it would be closer to £75-90,000).

Heather Way (aka "Tudor House") - smaller than our current house, but again beautifully presented. They've done something dodgy, and fenced off some council land off the back of the garden. Without that the garden is very, very small. Kitchen/Diner is amazing (has underfloor heating etc). Bought by a couple from Finchampstead last June, who regret moving (miss family), and are trying to sell up and move back down south. They have bought at the peak, and are facing the prospect of selling in a dip. Oops!

Pecketts Way (aka "Dead People") - Overpriced. This is a probate property, being sold by an estate, and is (in my opinion) too expensive by £40-50k. Needs some refreshing, and based on a replaced carpet someone definitely died in one of the rooms. Great location (100 metres walk to Knox Park and the Nidderdale Greenway), but estate are not willing to budge on price right now.

Milton Close - smallest and cheapest property we saw. It was...fine. Again, well presented (how do people live in houses in this condition? We struggle to keep the carpets clean for 4 hours at a time). Big conservatory with all the bells and whistles (automated blinds, underfloor heating, bifold doors), but it dwarfed the garden. Kitchen was small and awkwardly shaped (though good-sized utility).

On top of all this we also walked around each area, getting a feel for the location...we covered about 12km of walking in home absolutely shattered. We bumped into a lot of nerds and geeks wandering around, and it turns out this weekend was Airecon, a big "analogue gaming festival" (aka boardgame convention) at Harrogate Convention Centre. I'll totally be going next year.

Ultimately we decided to second-view Norwood Grove on the Saturday, and were able to speak to the owner (who was a lovely chap...he lives by himself after 2 sons moved out, and is down-sizing). Afterwards we walked into Harrogate Town Centre with the dogs (20 minutes slowly, including icy footpath negotiation and hyper-excited dog wrangling), had lunch and a bit of finger-pointing. Basically we love the garden, and I've bee promised by a green-fingered friend that it's not that high maintainence. Having a stream at the bottom is just amazing...we'll actually have to put some kind of fence up, or Reaver will just live in it.

Yesterday we had an offer accepted on the property, so we are now commencing Operation Paperwork-in-Triplicate it seems.

The house is not 100% perfect, but it's pretty close. What it does give is options...plenty of them. We think we will probably do the extension, however we'd like to make some amendments;
  • We'd like to add a Boot Room...a way of entering the house into an area with seating, a water-proof floor and storage...for dogs and cyclists this would be great. We can section off the top bit of the current garden room, add an exterior door to the front, and do this.
  • Not sure we want a balcony...may look to instead extend the bedroom and make the master bathroom (which is small) a little larger
  • I'd definitely splash out and slap bi-fold doors across the back of the house
  • We definitely want to swap the en-suite over to a shower...we'll probably do that ASAP
  • For me, I want to run power/lights out to the garage, add a side or rear door, and prep the inside as a workshop (paint walls, seal floor). I didn't do this in the current house, and regret it.

None of this is urgent, it's all nice-to-haves, and we can take our time. Mortgage wise, without working on the house we will have nearly cleared it, once we add in savings (I reckon about £15-20k left...given we pay £2k/month currently, this will get cleared in no time).
babychaos's picture

Wow, what a trip! Nice of the weather to make it 100 times harder for you. Of all of them I like Norwood Grove the best too. Definitely good vibes from the images. 20 minutes to the center for a walk is not bad at all in icy conditions. Looks like a doer! Did you put in an offer - I get the feeling that you did but not 100% sure from your post.

brainwipe's picture

We had an offer accepted yesterday 😃 I spent most of yesterday emailing, filling in forms and getting various paperwork together for the mortgage advisor, solicitor and estate agents. Sounds like the aim is for a May/June completion, as I think the full chain is now "known".

The next goal is rationalisation of possessions, as don't really wanting to be moving stuff we don't need 200 miles north.

babychaos's picture

Wonderful! May/June looks to be better weather than the shit show we have now.

Another similar good news on a related topic, Byrn is moving house tomorrow! Into an actual house. Terrace job like mine and round the corner. Excellent.

brainwipe's picture

Good luck Byrnie! Hope it all goes well. Plenty of biscuits and a kettle to hand 👌

babychaos's picture

Had a fairly stressful month...just over 3 weeks ago our buyer dropped out without warning, so we had to go back on the market, and effectively went into radio-silence with our seller (they had at that point not got their paperwork to our solicitor...but did so about a week after we went back on the market).

We had plenty of viewings (13 in total), but no serious offers...until this weekend. We knew we had a couple of interested parties, and one was waiting to get an offer on their property. On Thursday they did a second viewing with us, and made an asking-price offer on the same day. We also had 3 other offers this weekend! 2 were below asking, and one other was asking price...however we have some doubts about them (we get a feeling they are the sort of people who will try and nudge the price down post-offer) while we have a good vibe from the lady who offered (she brielfy met Reaver and Errol, who both liked her, and she later described them to the estate agent as "cute"). We accepted yesterday, and are waiting on details to pass to our solicitors and get the process re-started.

This means we probably won't be moving for at least a couple more months. This in turn means our current mortgage was due to expire. I may have said this before, but our mortgage advisor is amazing. I emailed her on Friday to ask what our best option was for the period between our mortgage expiring, and the mortgage on the new property starting...3 hours later I had offer paperwork from HSBC for a fee-free short-term tracker with no exit penalties.

We've continued with the house clear-out. I sold my motorbike. I was originally offered £2500 for it from a "we buy any..." style company. This was about £600 less than they originally offered, so I told them to go away. With a local garage I sorted out £250 worth of work (MOT, fix a failed tyre valve, some replacement exhaust clamps), and then sold it privately for £4000. It's off to the south coast where it will be used by a chap as an everyday middl-eidstance commuter, which it will be perfect for. I've donated my old mountain bike to Reading Bike Kitchen, where it will be renovated and donated to someone to help with getting work. Someone will get a pretty good Boardman Bike...I simply don't have the tools or knowledge to get it to the standard I expect of bikes I ride, and these days I'm 100% road and track (me and offroad have never got on well). I've got my old Canyon road bike back...this had been sent for repair on the top-tube (this is the one I crashed on and broke my pelvis last was never reclaimed by the insurer). This means I still have a lot of the garage is clearer I'm going to strip down another road bike I have for spare groupset parts, and then either bin or donate the frame (which is a dodgy chinese replica, thoguh it's been super-relaible since 2013 when I got it) and store the mechanical/electrical bits to keep my official spare bike running for the forseeable future.

I'm back into hospital at the end of this month for follow-up surgery on my shoulder. It's not responded to physio, and my movement is still limited (I can't get the arm to go above the level of the shoulder), and by now the connective tissue in the shoulder will have lost it's elasticity (various physios and consultants have described it as toughened leather). I'm undergoing day surgery at Circle Reading for an Arthroscopic Capsular Release, and should be into physio (this time one of my choice, as I'm now working under my work private medical) very soon after. It's the best thing to do, as I'm now starting to habitually not use the arm, and that can lead to real long-term issues around strength and mobilisation. It should also be an opportunity to top up the painkiller collection, as I'm running dangerously low of prescription strength opiods 🤣

babychaos's picture

Been quiet for a's been an incredibly stressful time, but we exchanged today, and will complete on 24th October. Actually moving will take a few days (as a removals company cannot load a lorry, or drive to Harrogate, or drive back in a single day, as it exceeds their allowed working hours), so it's a 3 day move.

Our timeline has been somewhat erratic, and I don't lie when I say that for the last 4-5 weeks we've been expecting the chain to collapse.

23rd February - go on the market
24th February - viewings start
27th February - Accept full asking price offer from Buyer 1
(at this point I'm in Spain, on a training camp)
9th March - Head upto Harrogate
10th March - view 6 houses in deep snow
11th March - do second viewing on the favourite house
12th March - travel back down to Reading
13th March - Offer accepted on Harrogate house
16th March - Mortgage arranged on Harrogate house
24th March - Survey on Harrogate house
5th April - provisionally book removals company
6th April - sit back, relax, think this moving house malarky is pretty simple.
17th April - Buyer 1 drops out
18th April - viewings re-start
6th May - Accept full asking price offer from Buyer 2
24th May - Surgery on shoulder
10th June - Go on Norweigan Cruise
12th June - Buyer 2 drops out (they lost their buyer) - yes, we are in Norway
13th June - viewings re-re-start
17th June - get back to UK, start getting querying emails from sellers estate agent
21st June - drop price on house for fast sale
23rd June - accept cash offer from Buyer 3
26th June - explain situation to sellers estate agent, assure them we are back on track
entirely of July - literally nothing...silence
8th August - Buyer 3 says they would like to complete in December...entire purchase chain reacts poorly to this. From now on assume daily emails from sellers estate agent to all parties lower down the chain.
9th August - Buyer 3 stops talking to our estate agent, says he being "pushy"
17th August - EPC expires on current house, new one sorted
21st August - mortgage offer expires, new one arranged (better rates, lasts until January)
24th August - provisional agreement for a target completion in October
3rd September - Buyer 3 husband goes abroad for 3 months
10th September - query raised on restrictive covenant on our Land Registry (wound-up management company has been left on there)
14th September - Buyer 3 books survey of house. Mass panic ensues.
20th September - survey done, a day before we were told. Sellers estate agent finds out and goes nuclear. From this point assume hourly emails from sellers estate agent.
21st September - after calling the Land Registry myself, restrictive covenant is removed and records have my name corrected on them, completing all queries on purchase of our house.
22nd September - find out Buyer 3 husband has not signed any paperwork. Paperwork sent to him abroad, and advised to return via courier, signed and wiitnessed ASAP.
25th September - Ultimatum from top of chain to exchange and complete ASAP, or will drop out and relist.
26th September - agreement across chain for Completion on 24th October, exchange ASAP, ideally same week
29th September - signed paperwork arrives from abroad
2nd October - Buyer 3's deposit has not been transerred to solicitor. Mass panic ensues.
3rd October - Buyer 3 transfers deposit to solicitor, but no exchange. Mass panic ensues
4th October - Buyer 3 requests second viewing of our house. Arranged for same day, high-speed cleaning of house.
4th October (evening) - Buyer 3 requests to meet me face-to-face, as has "questions". I'm fully expecting a gazundering situation here, and brace to pull the plug on everything
4th October (later evneing) - meet Buyer 3 face-to-face. Questions are "where is the stopcock?" (under sink, still labelled), "any good restuarants locally?" (a few, but we are more takeaway/delivery people), "have you ever had rats in the garden?" (no, the chicken wire is to keep the dogs in, not wildlife out). They were completely unaware of all the time issues, they had been communicating with their solicitor who was not a conveyancing specialist. Showed them the 200+ emails I'd received in the last week, and desperately encouraged them to confirm exchange that evening
4th October (even later) - our solicitor confirms they have had exchange notification, but too late to action that night
5th October (10am) - Exchange starts
5th October (mid-morning) - our seller has not given authority to exchange...after months of hassling us. Mass panic ensues. Top of chain is furious.
5th October (most of the day) - phone calls, emails, and trying to get seller to speak to solicitor and confirm exchange.
5th October (about 4pm) - Exchange completed.

I mean, bloody hell. It's been constant stress since August...A quick count suggests I have over 400 emails from our sellers estate agent. I had a quick debrief with our estate agent this afternoon...I have no fault with them, they were great at getting people through the door, and converting that into offers. I have no fault with our solicitors, who have been professional and diligent throughout. Our mortgage advisor is a one point we investigated the possibility of us breaking the chain, and running 2 mortgages (the one here, and another for the Harrogate house for the full value)...which she worked out we could do, and we passed affordability checks as well (which is scary in it's own right, that we are near 50, and would be allowed to mortgage for 30 years interest only on a total of £700k debt, even if it was nominally for a short period of time and would wipe out all our savings). We think the fault lies with our buyers solicitor, who is an expert in foreign money exchange (our buyers are Hong Kong nationals, and they picked a solicitor on language skills, rather than knowledge of the UK housing market), and he failed to step them through the process. add in that they didn't trust our estate agent, and it was a communcation breakdown. The Harrogate solicitors got heavily involved once the December Completion date was mooted, and really did bully everyone into will be interesting meeting them when we go to pick up the keys. I think they know now we were not the issue...but they definitely earnt their money getting the chain moving and forcing the issues.

So it will be a day of recovery tomorrow, and then the big pack commences. We are actually moving out the day before Completion and heading upto Yorkshire...our stuff will follow the day after Completion, and we'll unload then. That gives us a day to measure for furniture, clean and prep. I need to sort out the garage to turn it into a workshop, and we need to sort out some known remedial issues on the house...and generally get settled in. But for the next 24 hours...relax.

babychaos's picture

Congratulations! What an awful state of affairs. Why does house buying have to be such a shitshow. Well done for holding your nerve and not giving in to gazundering.

brainwipe's picture

Well a month later we are in, and starting back at work, so aiming to settle into a "new normal" routine.

It's been a very weird-feeling couple of weeks. The move itself went fairly painlessly. The removals company were excellent, with a couple of seasoned veterans shifting everything into a lorry (Monday), while we packed the car, and I gave the dogs a long walk to get them ready for the migration. We spent a night at Gill's parents (Monday night), and then got the keys 1pm the next day. The removals were unloading the day after, so we camped one night (Tuesday night) in the new house, and then had all our stuff arrive early on Wednesday. Since then we have been unpacking, arranging, and working out what does and does not fit in the new house.

I'd say we are now 80-85% there. The living room is sort-of done...we have one sofa left to be taken away (we brought it up as a stop-gap...we knew it was too small, but sofas can take a long time to it turns out we got new ones in a couple of weeks, so now we are just waiting on large-item removal). Offices are pretty much sorted. My desk fitted perfectly* into an alcove, and Gill's ofice is a more sensible shape, so fits everything easily.

We knew the roof needed a bit of TLC (moss removal, gutter clearing and repair, and a small amount of roof repair on an edge), and I'm currently getting builders and electrical quotes to get the garage turned into a bike workshop (running power out, fitting lights and sockets, and swapping a window for a side-door). I've already painted the inside and put down some flooring...once all that is done I'll get a new door fitted (probably electric roller door), and then it will be done, and will be home for all my bike stuff.

Harrogate is, quite simply, beautiful. While it's been pretty rainy for the last couple of weeks (what with all the storms), we've had time to check out the town centre, and do some pretty epic dog walks. We are right next to a section of the Harrogate Ringway, a long distance path that, for us, leads out to RHS Harlow Carr via Oak Beck and Birk which point we can turn around and walk through Pinewoods into the Valley Gardens. It's 8km, covers pretty much every sort of terrain, and is 75-80% dog off-lead friendly. Perfect. Most cafes are also dog-friendly, which is great for me. We've met a lot of dog walkers, it's a great place to own a dog for sure, with so much open space.

I've been out with the local cycling club a couple of times, and it's a well-disciplined, friendly though! Typically they cover 50-60 miles at about 21-22mph...which wouldn't be so bad if it wasn't so bloody hilly! More worryingly, they have not yet actually done the hills.

We had a bit of a 'mare with the internet. I had originally planned on getting CityFibre via TalkTalk...they have "done" the road, and their system said it would be fine...however when the engineers came out they said that the road could not have Fibre...a bit more investigation indicated that while the boxes have been put into the footpath, there was an issue with the council further into the estate, and they had been unable to cross a road, so this end of the housing estate (and we are right on the very southern edge) was unconnected, and very unlightly that it would be resolved, as it was an issue with the council. We have had to revert to BT copper-based broadband, and that won't be turned on until right now we are on 4G (via my unlimited data phone and a BT Hybrid Connect box). Not ideal, but it's short-term. BT/Openreach should be getting here in 2024/ we will have to wait, and hope they can sort out the council if they need to do digging.

It's early days, but it's definitely feeling like we've made the right move. We are obviously in the honeymoon phase right now, and I'm sure some stuff will bug us as we settle in, but right now it's all pretty sweet.

* once I had trimmed 2cm off each side of it

babychaos's picture