January was pretty hectic, and given I was away for half of it, I was wondering what activity I could do to nurture and support myself this month. Time ran away with me in the end, and I didn’t really do anything specific. But, I did move house which turned out to have way more of a positive impact than I expected.
Since getting divorced ten years ago I’ve not lived in a house that I’ve owned, and haven’t stayed in the same place for that long. I’ve rented houses or flats, lived or stayed with family/friends and rented rooms. I’ve loved the temporary nature of it, and relish the change in scenery and environment. But I also LOVE living by myself, and being surrounded by my own stuff.
I moved into my last flat in July 2019, after months of flatting with strangers or in furnished places. I’d decided I’d be in New Zealand for a while as I was committed to a work visa that’d give me residency after a couple of years, and so wanted my own place with my own furniture to feel a bit more settled, and more at home. After living out in the hills, I chose the city centre for a change, and to feel a bit more connected and able to walk to places rather than get in my car.
I LOVED that flat, it was a one bedroom, upside down quirky little place. Not very big but full of character with a great view over the river and huge windows; ideal for people-watching. Living alone, it was great to feel surrounded by people but still have my own space. It was there I started to build my life properly, like I was used to in the UK; living life on my own terms, by myself, surrounded with things I’d chosen, making friends and just making the most of being where I was.
But after 2.5 years, as my lease was coming to an end, I’d got itchy feet. I was ready for a change. The flat was pretty noisy facing out onto the street in the city centre, and didn’t get any sun, which I’d come to realise was a big thing for me (and in NZ, where sun is a primary source of heating for much of the year). It was feeling small even though I don’t have a lot of stuff, and I’ve felt a shift in my life over the last 6 months to step away from being in the middle of everything. Giant windows facing out to the outside world and opposite other flats that once felt comforting now felt intrusive, and I longed for some privacy.
But I love the location. Right in the centre of the city, surrounded by trees and close to the park. Walking distance to work. I didn’t want to move too far, and decent flats in the area just don’t come up that often. Luckily for me another flat in the same building (there’s 5 units) was being renovated. Being at the other end of the building, it’s north facing and so would get all the sun, all day, as well as being quieter, as it’s away from the road. Two bedrooms and no garage meant more space.
I made friends with Terry the builder and got him to give me some sneak peeks while it was being renovated, and before it was finished I got in touch with the letting agent to ask them if I could switch flats when it was ready. After a lot of email wrangling, lengthy discussions about rent and lease dates, inconvenient Christmas holidays and my impatience, I finally moved in the week I got back from holiday. It’s the easiest house move I’ve done; carrying my stuff 20 metres down an alleyway.
From the moment I got my keys I’ve been in love with it. I can’t really explain it, or put my finger on any specific thing of why that is, I just feel so content there. It’s bigger, full of sun and feels like home. I went out and bought a big yellow chair which makes me smile every time I see it. I feel so much joy every time I open the door.
It’s the start of a new chapter, one where I don’t know how the story will unfold, but I know my mindset has shifted. I feel an inner calm I’ve not felt for a long time, and a real desire to just stop and nest for a little while, and this new flat is the perfect place for me to do it.