So, how am I surviving the present?
At the moment I live in a 3-bedroom house in Bristol. I own it, which is to say that my name is on the mortgage and Sam and I have to find almost a grand a month to pay for it. My parents paid the initial deposit in 2002, and since then I’ve rented out all the bedrooms and one reception room to housemates. It’s been brilliant for me as I’ve never had to pay full rent, instead splitting a rent with Sam for our room. Although being a landlady at 22 was a bit weird, I’m eternally grateful to my folks for doing that, and very aware what rare luck I’ve had.
Now we are trying to sell the house. This is for a number of reasons. Eventually we would have to do it before having kids, because neither of us have ever consistently earned enough to pay the full mortgage and we don’t want to burden a load of housemate/tenants with our new parent freakouts and ourselves with a load of disgruntled adults as well as a sprog. But we really want to sell it ASAP because our guesses about the near future include first a gradual and then a sharp drop in house prices along with the economic instability and decline that would suggest. At the moment we are far from negative equity, but if we delay too long and end up there our freedom could be massively curtailed by debt.
Before putting it on the market in April we gave our housemate tenants notice to find somewhere new. The past three years living with them was really great, and we miss them now that we are living among boxes and bare walls. Without them, we have to cover the mortgage ourselves. Sam earns more than me at the moment so he is chipping in the lion’s share. As long as he has his job (which at the moment is til March) we won’t be repossessed, but money is getting tighter and with both of us freelance media types there is no job security.
So far we’ve only had about 3 viewings. The second people to view it put in a serious offer, then messed us about for so long that we missed most of Spring (prime housebuying time) and then decided not to buy. It’s a great house in a lovely area but I guess the economy is pretty shit right now.
I earn money by doing camera work and video editing on my own kit, and directing short films and promos for people- most recently for CEMVO (Council of Ethnic Minority Voluntary Organisations if you must know!) and their epic series of 21 documentaries about inspiring individuals from all over the world who migrated to the Southwest UK in their lifetime. That gig is ending in a few weeks and I’m back on short contracts again…
Sam is a Drupal web developer and website manager for a charity. We both work reduced hours on our main jobs which doesn’t help with the money thing but allows us to do and learn other stuff- for me it’s my own films, plus some extra freelance- and making theatre. I’m involved in a big network of performers and makers in Bristol putting on shows and events- mainly with The Invisible Circus and Ratupadraynpipe Theatre co. Sometimes I do get paid for this but only for shows- never yet for rehearsals. For Sam, it’s experimenting with his permaculture allotment and guerrilla food planting, practicing sailing and working on the boat. So as you can see I like my creative worlds, and Sam is more focused on the practicalities of learning survival with very few resources. I often feel I have a lot of catching up to do if it’s true that his skills will be more useful in the future than my creative tech-based ones. But… we’ll always need art, right? I can point a camera at the marauding hordes to pacify them…
How are you surviving the present? And how might those skills transfer into a scary Collapsing future?