What the…………AGAIN?!

I was ringing in 2014 from a park in Melbourne, I blinked and found myself ringing in 2015 at a park in London. It really is the strangest thing. Did that happen to anyone else this year or am I in my own, individual, laws of physics defying, time warp thing?

Honestly, this year has been huge for me which is why I’ve done shamelessly little blogging. Life has been keeping me busier than I ever could have expected by throwing curve balls and opportunities at me almost every day. That’s why I love London so much and struggled to keep away. There’s always the next challenge and doors to open around every corner.

So, what did this year actually consist of? Six months of it is already noted down in my post Shiny London so I won’t drone on about that stuff again.

I suppose the biggest thing I did was to buy a flat (well, a bit of a flat). I am the proud owner of a percentage of a flat in East London.

Travelling around being a nomad is a weird experience. I reckon you’ll either revel in the utter freedom of knowing everything important is in the pack on your back or you’ll revel for a while but then you’ll start to miss things. Travelling is such a transient existence and it’s one I (now) know I’m not cut out for long term. I missed having a base and I missed stuff! Stuff. Is. Great.

When I got back to the UK, I knew I didn’t want to rent anymore. I wanted a place that was mine with my stuff in it, the art I like on the walls, the sofa I want to sit on whilst I blast out music I love listening to.

As a (sad, lonely, bound to die alone) single buyer, there’s no way in all the seven hells that I would save a deposit large enough for a whole property before I pop my clogs and then afford the repayments on the mortgage from the afterlife. I had to explore different routes. I set about starting to save for a deposit and putting the feelers out for the only way I knew I would be able to afford to buy, shared ownership.

I’m not sure where my preconceived idea that shared ownership is a con came from because when I researched it properly, I found it’s a completely solid way to get on the housing ladder. Normally, your ownership is shared with a housing association who are not for profit and fairly regulated bodies. Everything is very heavily affordability based so you’re not going to be offered anything you can’t actually afford. The properties are also normally allocated on a priority points style basis i.e. the only reason I got my flat is because I already lived in the Borough I wanted to buy in, a couple/family did not apply for my flat and the other single people were all living out of the Borough. You are also not tied into owning the same percentage of the property for all time. You can buy extra shares of the property as you go along (providing you can prove why you can afford more shares now than you could originally).

How it works is, the property is allocated a market value for renting and you pay rent on the portion of the property you don’t own. Let’s pick some round figures for an example: The market value rent is £100 a month and you own is 50% of the property via your mortgage. You would pay £50 a month in rent + your mortgage repayment. There’s obviously other costs (service charges for the grounds, utilities etc etc) but that’s the basic principle.

Another plus of shared ownership is that you do not have to pay stamp duty. You can elect to pay it when you buy your initial share but otherwise, it’s payable upon owning 100% of the property. The stamp duty you pay will be based on the value of the property when you elect to pay i.e. if you elect to pay stamp duty at initial share purchase and the property goes up 50k in value by the time you own 100%, you will not be expected to pay the difference in stamp duty between the 2 property values. Handy!

A significant hurdle with shared ownership is that there is not a great variety of lenders who actually offer shared ownership mortgages. I ended up getting mine with HSBC. They’re not on the brokerage market so it was a lot of legwork to get it sorted. For me, it was 100% worth it. I got a 5 year fixed rate almost a whole percent lower than any other other provider who would lend to me but everyone’s circumstances are different so make sure you check as many as you can before you commit to a lender.

Once you are over all the hurdles, you’re a homeowner! A proper grownup and you can parade around the new pad in your birthday suit, lording it up and looking at everything announcing that you own it. It’s effing brilliant.

I also recorded lots of songs with the guys this year. We’ve now got three mixed and mastered with two awaiting mixing and mastering (when the dude who’s doing it come back from his jollies)! 2015 holds the exciting prospect of an EP launch and a tour. Bring it on!

I did more singing with Gospel Essence at the Earls Court Wedding Show, on the huge stage (utterly terrifying) at Trafalgar Square for the Africa on the Square day festival and supported Shelter again at the Royal parks Half Marathon in Hyde Park. Oh, and Christmas caroling too. We’ve been dead busy bunnies.

All four of my wisdom teeth got removed in one fell swoop under general anesthetic. I got dry socket in one of them. It was horrid.

I went to the Fat Duck in Bray and ate the 13 glorious courses of tasting menu. It was extraordinarily expensive but I would go again (just not any time soon). What a truly gastronomic experience.

I got the tattoo on my back that I have been wanting for years and years and years. You can see it below:

back tattoo

I didn’t go to enough gigs. I saw the Menzingers and that was about it. SHAME ON ME!

I spent Christmas in the Countryside having a wonderful time with my family and eating everything I set my eyes on. It was delightful.

I only read 2 comics (Journey Into Mystery & Watchmen) but I read nearly all the Game of Thrones Books. I will read more comics in 2015.

And that about wraps up 2014. Farewell, you were wonderful.