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Another suitcase in another hall, and another hall, and another hall, and another hall.

I hinted in my New Year reflections post that I had some happy news to share – and some of you that follow me on Twitter will already know… I’ve moved house into a flat beside the sea, and I hope that this will be mine and Small Boy’s home for quite a while.

I’ve lived in four different houses this year, five since I left the Fire Service in November 2011 and could no longer afford the rent on my 2 bedroom apartment in the town centre.

I moved from there to a cheaper 2 bedroom flat on the other side of the town, opposite the big orange supermarket. It was okay, a bit mouldy round the edges with a few alarming cracks in walls and ceilings. My cold tap didn’t work on the bath and the kitchen was a tiny little box, but it did have *those* mirror tiles. (Photo by Max and Liz Haarala Hamilton, published in Look Magazine).

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I moved from there into a house I shared with five other people, sleeping on the floor on a mattress so Small Boy could have the single bed. We ate and slept in that bedroom, and I became a bit reclusive. The house was gorgeous, clean and bright, and I planted my little herbs out in the borders in the garden. As a bit of an introvert, I found sharing a house with people extremely difficult (they were all absolutely charming, but I found it quite a stressful situation).

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We gradually started to spend more and more time at the former Mrs Jack’s, which is where the Guardian videos were shot.

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When it all went wrong, sadly, I moved into a flat nearby, owned by a friend and just vacated by her former tenant. It was absolutely beautiful, and I loved it. It’s where we filmed The One Show. But she had an interested buyer for the Spring – I knew it was only going to be a temporary thing.

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Then just before Christmas, I realised that I would have to register SB for his school place in early January: the hunt was on for a home to settle in. My criteria were simple: I needed something affordable, and close to a local school, for SB’s little legs to walk in the mornings. I found 12, viewed 7, and got it down to 2 – a first floor maisonette with an enormous kitchen but an enormous mould and damp problem to match, and a little terraced house near the sea for the same price, with a tiny kitchen but a stones throw from the sea.

And then I found it.

The one with the kitchen. I walked in and said to the nice young man from the letting agents; “Oh, I could actually fit a film crew in here!” He didn’t bat an eyelid. I knew from a glance around the kitchen that I wanted this to be mine and SB’s settling place. The rent was the same as the mouldy flat, the same as the little terraced house. I wandered through and stood in the room that I earmarked for my bedroom, and I could see the sea. “I’ll follow you back to the office”, I said, “because you’re taking this off the market.”

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Nine days of chasing, Christmas, weird holiday opening hours, credit checks, failing credit checks, needing a guarantor, having to very quickly do my 2013-14 accounts on Christmas Eve to provide evidence of my income, still needing a guarantor, lots and lots of phone tennis back and forth, nail biting, frantic Twitter updates…I picked the keys up on New Years Eve, still not quite believing my luck.

With the help of a friend with a van, and some more friends with muscles, I moved in on New Years Day. I’m all unpacked now, sitting on the daybed that’s serving as a sofa, and although I don’t currently have an oven, a hob, or a washing machine, it’s home.

It’s a home that I can settle in, a home that I can afford, a home that SB loves, a home that I hopefully don’t need to leave any time soon.

I often say that when things are really important, I can’t find the words for them. This is one of those moments. I can’t express enough how it feels to have four walls around me that I’m not permanently terrified of losing. There are no final demands coming through the letterbox, no bailiffs banging on the door, no mould or damp. I’m cautious – I know enough about this ‘media industry’ I work in to know that I replaced someone and someone else can just as easily replace me. Being self employed means nothing is guaranteed, and I don’t entirely trust my run of ‘good luck’, if you can call it that.

But for now, I feel more secure in my four walls than I have done for over two years now, and I have a home, and my Small Boy has a home. Thankyou Penguin. Thankyou Daily Mirror. Thankyou Guardian. Thankyou Independent. Thankyou everyone who has published something I’ve written this year. Thankyou to all of my readers – without all of you, I wouldn’t have any of the jobs that I do.

Happy new year. I hope this one brings no more suitcases in halls, for a start…

Jack Monroe. Twitter: @msjackmonroe

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126 replies »

  1. That’s good news. I’m a little jealous. We live near the sea, near enough to walk to it easily, or run alongside, but not near enough to see it daily. And I really wish I could.

  2. I wish for your packing boxes to disintegrate from lack of use!
    And for you and SB to be very happy in your new home. I live by the sea too and love listening to the waves as I fall asleep in the summer months.
    Be happy Jack! xx

  3. I am so glad you & SB finally have somewhere you can call home, As I said before I’m really jealous of your BIG kitchen it looks lovely.Hope you are REALLY happy there and life treats you well.

    BTW when’s your book coming out??

  4. Hi! How random it is that I found you! I was googling two days ago, looking for food blogs, found yours & loved it. Then literally an hour later there you were on the telly for sainsburys!! I was shrieking all excited, my partner didn’t understand, but what are my chances of finding you accidentally and then seeing you on telly? ‘Tis great! Delighted for your new house! Your SB looks smaller than my girl, he looks adorable! if he likes it then you know it’s good! x

  5. Good luck to you and SB in your lovely new home. I totally know how you feel and have experienced the horrible insecurity of prolonged borderline homelessness with a small child. It is so fab that the place is lovely for you both. I wish you both all the happiness and security you deserve and that your career provides the opportunities needed for this to continue. You are an exemplary woman and mum. I wish I had half your gumption. xx

  6. I am so happy for you and the small boy. I too haveblived in somd not so good places, the council housed me in something with raos across the door saying condemned unfit for human habitation. So my ex took the girls away. We are safe now I bought a house (long story how I got the deposit) and you arevtoo niw. Well done Jack xxxx

  7. Some people have little or no concept of what it’s like to live with little or no security, after all the hardship I hope you never have to go through it again, here’s to many happy times ahead for you and SB :) x

  8. All the very best to you and SB, wishing you much happiness. You deserve every bit of it. All that turmoil is now behind you, enjoy your safe harbour in calm waters.

  9. It looks beautiful – moving house is very stressful but I’m so glad it turned in your favour for 2014. Happy new year to you and yours!

  10. Very happy for you, Jack. Just as an aside – I find that being self employed is a credit check nightmare, too. Never mind. Glad you and SB are all settled in and wish you good health, happiness and prosperity in your new home.

  11. I hope you get to stay there for a long time
    and that you will both be very happy and
    secure in your new home.
    Congratulations on everything
    you have achieved in the last year
    andI hope this one brings all sorts
    of good things your way .

  12. Congratulations on your new home and wishing you a Happy & Amazing 2014 – am so happy for you – enjoy it – you deserve it xx

  13. Oh I’m so happy for you!!! We moved in on New Year’s Day to our new place too! We just left the UK on November 1 and came back to the US (hubby is English) we’ve been staying with family for 2 months and between trying to find a car (a must here without public transportation), getting screwed over by someone that sold us a hunk of junk car and out $2000.00 because of it, trying to find a place to live and coming up with security deposit and first months rent and actually buying a car we can drive (got it New Year’s Eve), we’re now settled. Not much for furniture (we’re on air mattresses at the moment) but we’re home and warm (very cold and snowy outside right now) and we’re together. I hope 2014 is a wonderful year for you and your son and ALL OF US!

  14. Well done Jack and SB. Aldi in Australia sell a small round oven type appliance for $25. I never use my oven now, this is wonderful and uses a fraction of the electricity and much quicker. If you have an Aldi, keep a lookout for one, worth every cent.
    If you have a Freecycle operating near you, see if you can get a washing machine.

  15. Well done Jack, Happy New Year to you, and thank you for inspiring me over the last few weeks (and many more to come I’m sure) xx

  16. Delighted for you. Now you can really grow some herbs, etc. Also, is this a good district for you to stand for Parliament? or however you say it over there? Ann from across the pond

  17. By-the-sea, by-the-sea, by-the-beautiful-sea, oh-how-happy-we’ll-be ~ home-sweet-home. Very nice Jack! The start of a Happy New Year for you. And here’s to many-many more.

  18. Wonderful news, you must be so relieved and happy. You gave had a year of ups and downs (sorry to hear about the Mrs Jack) but look at the way you are starting 2014!!! I wish you & SB every happiness in your new home, may it resonate with the sound of your laughter for many years to come. Keep up the good work Jack, you have deserved every success that has come your way :-)

  19. Congratulations, it must have been very stressfull for you and SB, can anyone explain why houses in UK don’t seem to have stoves or curtains. In Oz whether you rent or buy they are both a part of the fixtures and fittings.

    • Some rental properties do come with appliances and curtains but it really just depends on what the owner provides. We’ve rented and owned and carted our cooker, fridge and washer around with us, but the home we’re currently in has built in appliances.

  20. This is wonderful news and i am so glad you were able to get all the necessary stuff together under such severe pressure. Having somewhere that you really feel is home is fantastic for both of you and by the sea is an added bonus! May you both be very happy there.
    J x

  21. Jack if you get any more snidey comments about keeping any money from the sainsbury ads just refer them to this post. It’s a sad fact but many people just do not understand the hardship and stress that anyone living below the poverty line are having to suffer under this “austerity” regime.

    Many, many congratulations on finding your new home. I so envy your energy and stamina!

    Happy New Year!

  22. Jack, it looks lovely. So glad you have found the perfect place. Wishing you and your little man every happiness in your new home and for the New Year.

  23. I have a flat with sea view too, after many moves during my (much longer than yours) life. Wishing you and SB as much pleasure in yours, for as long as you want, as I get from mine.

  24. Happy New House Jack and SB! hope it is a safe, warm, cosy and happy home for you! i love the idea of seing the sea out of the window!!!

  25. Happy new year! I hope the good luck is just the start of even greater things. You do so much for others it restores my faith knowing that things are going well for you both.

  26. I’m late in following you, and I’ve missed so much!
    So pleased to read you and SB can now settle in your new home.
    Looking forward to your book coming out too, roll on February, Good luck with every new venture x

  27. Happy New Year to you and SB, Jack, and may you have many, many contented days together in what looks like a gorgeous little house. Hope you get your oven soon – must be hard for you to be without one! x

  28. Congratulations on finding your ideal home, you and SB deserve to be happy and comfortable. Freecycle was a god send when we moved from a flat to a house with three small children, although we were both working it was a struggle. Getting the things we needed from freecycle meant we could save up for the things we wanted instead of buying on HP and paying high interest charges. Now I freecycle my unwanted goods. One good turn deserves another and I am sure you will soon have all the things you need.Good luck

  29. The very best of luck in your new home – it looks beautiful. I do hope you get an oven and hob sorted soon – you must feel a bit lost without them:-(
    And sorry to hear about (ex) MrsJack – don’t be lonely

  30. I’m so happy for you. I hope you stay as long as you wish to, and find the home you wanted is all that you wish for. It *isn’t* luck… you’ve become a voice for the people who don’t normally have a voice, and they love you for it. The UK, and England particularly, are a lot more open and accepting than we are represented in the press – a lot more open and accepting definitely than the close-minded journos on the Daily Fail… and we don’t care generally about somebody’s race, sexual preferences or religious beliefs. Ignore the DF and accept that your work and integrity have been rewarded.

  31. I would love to help you out with the washing machine. Also, would you be needing a telly? Have an old one which is looking for a good home right now.

  32. Best wishes for 2014. I hope that your new home is all that you wish it to be and that you and SB will be able to spend many happy hours on the beach in the summer.

  33. Glad you’ve found a home to settle in. I wish you and SB all the best for the New Year in your new home and hope your work life goes from strength to strength.

  34. May you have nothing but success and happiness in your new home. A new home for the New Year is a wonderful way to kick things off in the right directon.

    I see a lot of very tasty food coming out of that kitchen ….. once you actually get a cooker of course ;-)

    All the very best.

  35. You’re in a good place, a happy place… your own place! Keep moving forward Jack, you’re growing as much as SB. Have a happy homely New Year!

  36. That’s lovely. I hope it is a happy and secure home for both of you.You deserve it.I hope 2014 is a successful year for you-I believe it will be and you deserve that too! xx

  37. May you, at last, be able to breath out a little and relax. You have a home you like, you have some “f**k off” money in the bank and the love and admiration of a huge number of people. May you now sail through settled waters for a while. I’ve been with you since the first DT interview and I have admired everything you have done.

  38. Oh wow! That post has really brought tears to my eyes! Jack I’m so happy for you-you & SB deserve a place of warmth and security that sounds of the sea..;)). Happy Happy New Year & much love to you both and may you go from strength to strength in your life from now on :-)

  39. Congratulations on and much happiness in your new home for this new year. May your media career continue successfully.
    As an earlier post said, don’t forget Freecycle. I replaced my very ancient TV and found a suitably large stand for it on mine and found a home for an armchair that had been my late Mother’s and that the charity shops wouldn’t have taken as it didn’t have a fire certificate but had been traditionally reupholstered so wouldn’t have gone up in flames like a new one.

  40. Your new home looks fabulous. You and SB will be very happy. You’re “simply the best” and deserve this home, if not more. I wish you continued success and a wonderfully productive and happy 2014.

  41. So pleased for you and SB, long may this happiness continue. (BTW, I’ve pre-ordered THE BOOK from Waterstone’s …) Bless you both. xxx

  42. Brilliant news, so pleased for you both :) Good luck in your new home and may you enjoy many a happy memory in it xx

  43. ‘I’m cautious – I know enough about this ‘media industry’ I work in to know that I replaced someone and someone else can just as easily replace me. Being self employed means nothing is guaranteed, and I don’t entirely trust my run of ‘good luck’, if you can call it that. ‘

    This is why you need to worry less about other people and giving your money away…there’s a balance and success can be such a taboo, as you’ve recently seen- people can turn and be vicious if they don’t feel you’re doing what they want. Just because you help someone else- it doesn’t mean they will help you. I really believed that for yours, that security= giving. It’s not true, people quickly forget or move on to something else.’The next best thing’ is always around the corner…

    “You can’t help anyone else until you help yourself’ is something a friend said to me years ago…hope you love your new home with your son. He seems to treat everything with total equanimity- so he obviously feels secure despite the changes. That’s your biggest achievement right there!

    Good luck.

  44. Congratulations on your success in 2013, and great to hear that you have found somewhere more secure to build your life.

  45. Somewhat surprised that the landlord doesn’t supply an oven or hob. We let several flats and wouldn’t dream of not providing those. I’m pretty sure that they all have fridges too even if they are not integral.

  46. Brilliant So glad to hear you are “settled”. many years ago I was in a similar situation And you Never ever forget it . May your home be permanent and your life be good. and You always have income.. You have got their on your own and you deserve all the good that comes your way..Its so good to hear of your achievements..Your an inspiration to many …All the best Jack

  47. Congratulations Jack. You and SB can really settle now. You deserve every bit of “good luck” that comes your way. Enjoy your new home!! :-)

  48. I have an inkling of knowing what it is like to finally have a place in which you feel secure and comfortable. Congratulations to you and SB, Jack, I wish you all the best.

  49. Just cried a little bit for you! Happy tears though! Good luck to you and your small boy love from another former single momma who got back on her feet x

  50. Hi Jack,
    Just wanted to say how pleased I am for you and your son that you have found somewhere lovely to live. I, too, am a single parent and a writer and I have had to perform the same money juggling act too many times.
    I love that you have succeeded in turning things around for your little family, that you have raised so much awareness for those who are struggling and that you have done it all whilst being true to yourself.
    Best wishes for 2014…

  51. From the Bible….Proverbs 19 verse 17 says…. He who is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and He will reward him for what he has done.
    I hope your rewards continue to sustain you and your son. Glad to see you are happy. So pleased.

  52. Happy New Year to you and SB and all Gods blessings for 2014. May you be happy in your new home. Deirdre Isle of Man.

  53. wow that’s amazing!! I know the feeling of being afraid to loose a home, we struggled to find a place for a year, and then we gave that city up and went to a little village, for the first time since mum’s house I feel like I have a home. Now I only need to find a job here..

  54. Hi Jack, so glad that you and your little boy have found a new home:-) I hope that you’ll both be super happy there x

  55. Congratulations Jack, and enjoy your little place (and not-so-little kitchen) by the sea – savour every happy moment, you and SB deserve it.
    In the past year and a half while going through hell yourself, you have taught readers to cook amazing food, to live on a budget, to stand up for what they believe in, and more importantly, to hang in there and not give up. So thank you for doing what you do, and please don’t ever stop doing it!
    x

  56. Hi Jack, Living by the sea – it’s a luxury you’ve well earned this year alone for you and SB. Good Luck to you all, We all know that you won’t forget your humble beginnings. Keep up your hard work for all the people that have to rely on Food Banks and reduced benefits for the people who rely on support. Very best wishes, Kate

  57. Congratulations, you deserve your new home. I hope you are there for a long time. Keep up the good work, a reader from the US

  58. Have just discovered your website (feeling like I’m waaayyyy behind the times) and haven’t been able to get off it since. Just wanted to say that I think you are BRILLIANT and this is such good news for you and I really hope that you and your son will be happy in your new home. Its so nice to discover a website with recipes that you can actually cook without having to make a special trip to waitrose (cough, savewithjamie, cough) and its written by an obviously down to earth, brilliant person too. Also, its brilliant that the recipes have been kid tested which is good news for me having to cook for two girls (5 & 7). Thanks again, I take my wooly hat off to you!

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