We had it all planned out. We would sell up in London and buy a big, old rambling house with some land in the middle of the French countryside; I would continue running my business while Den would manage the land, enabling us to fulfill our dream of becoming semi-self sufficient. No mortgage would mean the pressure would be off financially and we’d be able to live a more relaxed, healthier life in the fresh air.
That was before the EU referendum. Post-Brexit everything has changed. We’ve lost the buyer to our house who thinks the London housing market is going to crash; the pound is worth nothing making everything in France much more expensive; and we have no idea whether we are going to be allowed to stay in the country we want to live in. So much for reducing our stress levels!
Waking up to the results of the referendum was like being stuck in a nightmare. The landscape had not looked good when I retired to bed – the Sunderland result showed me things were going to be tight, but I had gone to get some sleep clinging to the hope that when I woke up, the country would have seen sense. But no, among those who genuinely felt that Brexit would offer the best future for our country were the protest voters (don’t they know how a referendum works?); those who believed the lies about an extra £350m to the NHS; and the plain old racists who thought it would result in an exodus of anyone with any colour, regardless of whether they were European or not.
At 10am I received a call from a client to tell me that two thirds of our work with them had big question marks over them due to Brexit; then later that day more stories from entrepreneur friends began to trickle in of investments being cancelled and projects being put on hold, all of which made the future of these previously successful businesses look most precarious indeed. The only thing for it was to head to the pub and cry over a beer.
So it was with somewhat mixed emotions that the following day we watched our most prized possessions be loaded into the back of a van bound for France by two Polish men (the irony of which did not escape us).
Then – as if we hadn’t already had enough drama for one lifetime – just as we were waving the van off the drive, “ping” – an email from our estate agent landed in my inbox. Our buyer (who had mysteriously gone AWOL on the day we should have exchanged – 23 June) had reappeared with a surprising number of previously unidentified problems about the house. As such she was demanding almost £15,000 off the price.
Had she come to us and said she was worried about Brexit and the impact on house prices, we may have played the game. But the underhand nature of her email and the fact she was clearly trying to take advantage of our supposed “vulnerability” got our backs up. We gave way a little bit, but it wasn’t enough. She wanted more, so pulled out.
What do we do now? I’ve been left feeling a little like this.