I have a new job so soon we shall be moving, from Follytown (not its real name) in Oxfordshire to a place as yet undecided in Hampshire. We’re house hunting, and I’d forgotten how much of a total pain in the tits it is. Whilst it’s very nice to have dreams of owning a lovely cottage with an aga and a kitchen garden somewhere in the South Downs (note for Americans: when the sun is shining, this is what it genuinely looks like) our budget constraints means that we may have to manage our expectations somewhat and live in town. In a cardboard box. As we both grew up in and around the countryside, this is a sub-optimal state of affairs. Our tastes outmatch our wallets to a terrifying degree.

Mrs Astronomer has never house hunted before. Not properly. She’s always rented flats before moving in with me when we got married; she’s never really moved house beyond moving in and out of student digs during her masters year, and then into my house. She grew up in the same house her whole life.

I genuinely have no idea how many times I’ve moved house. It’s probably just shy of 20. From a young age, I have slowly developed into a pro in being dicked about by real estate. My parents moved about a lot due to work, and the armed forces kept me constantly on the move when I was in. If you have been fortunate enough to never move house before, then please take this advice from a professional, for free:


There are few things I would rather do less than move house, and that includes building a massive pile of my money and setting fire to it. Okay, a small pile, but you get my point. Everyone in the business of moving house is on the rob. Estate Agents? Arrangement fees and commission. The Tax Man? Stamp Duty. The Bank? Mortgage arrangement fees. Solicitors? More arrangement fees. Movers? Literally on the rob and will actively attempt to steal your stuff, or – if they’re honest – will merely break it. Lets not even get round to the fact that any friends and family you rope into helping you will treat it as some form of Faustian blood pact and hold your indebtedness to them over you forever. Seriously, I still owe a friend from ten years ago because he absent mindedly wandered in and picked up a box of books.

I like my current house. It’s mine, it’s sweet, it has character. It has a lovely garden which I spent years cultivating, exposed stone walls, beams and a fireplace. I bought it for a song at the bottom of the market and I’m chuffed to bits with it. Problem is, I love my house, but my job has got to go. It pays peanuts, is stressful, and there’s no future in it. It’s okay though, because it’s not as if there’s anything else stressful going on in our lives at the moment.

Ah, yes. The IVF.

Supporting Mrs Astronomer at the moment is hard work. We’re getting through it, but only because the real fun hasn’t yet started – we’re still waiting for the hormones to be delivered. I really don’t think she quite grasps how much of a pain moving house is going to be; I’m utterly dreading it. We will probably be having people coming to view the house the week that she undergoes the procedure. Word cannot describe how bad a plan this is. My boss summed it up for me this morning:

“So, you’re undergoing IVF, changing jobs, AND moving house all in the same month? All whilst doing a degree in your spare time?”

“Yep, that’s about the shape of it.”

“You’re an idiot.”

“Cheers boss!”

Header image from telegraph online; copyright PETER MACDIARMID