There’s no place like home

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I’ve always liked to think that “things happen when they’re meant to happen”, and sometimes a bit of good fortune can help you do or achieve things that you wouldn’t have thought of doing. I’m also a firm believer in being grateful for everything you have.

In 2016 I had started becoming fed up with the flat I was renting in Acocks Green (Birmingham). Sure it was cheap, but being a first floor flat, I found myself with noisy and disruptive neighbours both upstairs and downstairs. I had started making use of the ‘garden’ that the previous landlord had cleared and landscaped, but this meant having to go downstairs out to the front, then down a side passage to access it. What I really wanted was a ground floor flat with my own private garden, but being strapped for cash at the time, it wasn’t really going to happen, as I had hardly any savings and thus couldn’t afford to put down a deposit, though I had reached a point where I could at least afford to move somewhere that had a higher monthly rent.

Thanks to a bequest that I received from my (now dearly departed) Nan, suddenly I found myself with an ‘opportunity’ to move on to somewhere better. Where I was living in Acocks Green, it was actually awfully convenient, being just a very short walk away from the village centre, with all its shops and transport connections. I had moved there in 2008 as I had taken a job based in Solihull, but was then working in Sparkbrook. I was open to the idea of moving somewhere else, just as long as it was still handy for travelling to and from work.

I started trawling through the property websites like RightMove and Zoopla, and thankfully it didn’t take long before something came up that matched exactly what I was looking for!

A one-bed maisonette in nearby South Yardley, located on a quiet cul-de-sac next to the Grand Union Canal, just a short walk from Swan Island on the A45 Coventry Road, and a short bus ride on the famous Outer Circle 11A/C to Acocks Green. It was ground-floor, and had a lovely little private garden with patio, that was directly accessible from the living room. There was also a very handy convenience store literally around the corner.

With “all boxes ticked”, I was soon moved in and I was naturally very happy with this decision. I’d got what I wanted after all. The money I received from my Nan had also allowed me to furnish the place with my own brand new furniture, sofa, bed, desk, bookcases etc.

I spent just over two years living there, when suddenly I was delivered a ‘bombshell’ – in March 2018 I received a letter from the landlord to inform me that due to unfortunate circumstances he would be selling the property I was renting, and I was given six months notice to move out.

Naturally I was pretty devastated, as I loved that flat, but the landlord was great and completely understandable. So I started property hunting again, but I was determined that my next home would be what I was looking for as well.

There wasn’t really a lot that was available that suited me, so rather than settle for ‘second-best’, I accepted that I still had time, and that something would become available soon.

My patience paid off in the end, although I was reaching a point where “time was running out”! In July I found myself with a choice of two properties which looked ideal.

The first was a one-bed terraced bungalow in the Shard End area of east Birmingham (famous for Jeff Lynne of ELO fame!). It was nice in some ways, it had a fantastic large garden, but the cheaper rent reflected the fact it was ‘out-dated’ on the interior, and would have required a bit of ‘deep-cleaning’ and some painting/decorating. While there were some handy shops nearby in Castle Bromwich, the commute to work would have taken longer, having to go via Birmingham city centre to get to/from Sparkbrook.

The second property was a one-bed ‘apartment’ in a low-rise block in the Billesley area of south Birmingham. It didn’t look much from the photos provided, but the rent was the same as I was paying in South Yardley, and the apartment was ground-floor with a private garden.

When I actually went to view the property, I was a bit taken aback to be honest. It has to be said that sometimes photos don’t do a property justice, and this was true in this case! The flat was surprisingly spacious, with a large living room and bedroom, both of which had recently been redecorated and with brand new carpets fitted. The garden was a bit ‘spartan’, but was larger, just needed a bit of a spruce up. It was accessed through the kitchen rather than the living room, but that wasn’t a problem really.

The Braceby Avenue estate gets a bit of a ‘bad rep’ in local circles, but this flat was located at the end of one of its cul-de-sacs, so being tucked out the way, it is reasonably quiet and peaceful.

What I also appreciated was the number of parks and green spaces that were just a short walk away, such as Swanshurst Park, Billesley Common, Trittiford Mill Park, Chinn Brook Meadows and The Dingles, part of the wider Shire Country Park.

In August 2018, I completed my move and soon settled into my new home in Billesley. Commuting to work actually became much easier, the 3 bus stops a short walk away on Trittiford Road, as well as the 2 from Yardley Wood Road, both of which go straight to Sparkbrook. There are a number of local shops for everyday essentials just a short walk away, which is always useful!

Then of course in March 2020, as a result of the Covid Pandemic, the ‘lockdowns’ were introduced, which placed restrictions on what people could do and where they could travel. While I continued to travel to and from work by bus, as our company fell under the ‘essential services’ criteria, I realised how fortunate I was to have such local independent supermarkets nearby, as well as the local parks that I could go and visit for my ‘daily exercise’.

It occured to me afterwards that perhaps my move to Billesley had also happened “for a reason”, and that maybe ‘fate’ had played its hand to ensure that I was positioned and placed in readiness for what was to come. After all, if you are going to be restricted in how far from your home you can travel, at least have some nice parks and green spaces nearby that you can go and enjoy, which are just a short walk away!

At the time of writing, it’s been over four years since I moved here now. I am still incredibly grateful that I have a nice home, I have pleasant neighbours, and I have everything I need and want for nothing.

While I would love to be able to buy a cottage on the coast somewhere at some point, clearly the time is not yet right, so in the meantime I will continue to enjoy the life I am leading at present, until such time as when Fate decides to play it’s hand again for me.