Selling a House – Goodbye Walnut Grove

It was October 2004, Helen was eight and a half months pregnant with Grace and we already had a 13-month old Lydia. Despite the challenges, we moved into number Walnut Grove in Dewsbury. We left behind our first home together, a small terraced house not a mile away, to create a home for our growing family. But now we have said our goodbyes.

We spent 10 wonderful years in that house, our four girls spent their formative years there and 3 of them we brought home from the hospital to this house. The place holds so many fond memories that were made there and in many ways, this is a sad day that we finally say goodbye.

Selling a House - Goodbye Walnut Grove | The Yorkshire Dad of 4
The memories are in every room. Lydia and Grace used to play in the dining room all the time. The kitchen-dining room was the hub of the home and thinking about the laughs we had in there makes me well up.

Accidental landlords

But, the fact is that Walnut Grove stopped being our home 5 years ago. We left for a new life in North Yorkshire when I took a new job. We moved out of a home that we had a mortgage on into a rented home and then rented out our Dewsbury home.

Renting out our house was intended to be temporary. We took that option rather than trying to sell as the valuations we had varied so wildly. We were worried about it sitting on the market for ages and we would be paying both rent in the new place and the mortgage on an empty house. In hindsight, we should have put in on the market then and moved on.

Jumping off the property ladder

You might think that by deliberately jumping off the property ladder that we’re crazy. Maybe we are. But the fact is that we had little, or as it turned out, no equity in our Dewsbury home. Buying a house in the area of North Yorkshire where I now work would have been as out of the question 5 years ago as it is now.

Some people measure success in terms of the house they own, or at least the one they pay a hefty mortgage on. However, my measure has changed. Maybe once I was like that but I genuinely am not bothered by the fact we rent now. We’re happy living where we live and so are the girls – that’s the only measure I require.

Selling a House - Goodbye Walnut Grove | The Yorkshire Dad of 4
Many a birthday candle has been blown out at Walnut Grove

Sad but relieved

When I got the call telling us that the sale had completed I had very mixed emotions. One feeling was sheer, unadulterated relief. The house had been on the market for 7 months. We were on our knees financially paying rent and a mortgage, plus council tax and other bills for an empty house. It was causing me sleepless nights and so much worry I’d been to see my GP about the anxiety.

But I was also sad. Very sad. We spent ten years in that house making so many memories. It’s hard to put into words this feeling. We may have left five years ago, with no intention of returning, and had tenants make it their home for over four years, but there was still an attachment.

Selling a House - Goodbye Walnut Grove | The Yorkshire Dad of 4
At first glance, this might seem like an average photo. But let me explain. This is Grace washing the window cills in the conservatory. It was taken the take after my Dad died in his sleep. I needed to keep busy so set about deep cleaning the conservatory. Lydia and Grace came to help me. I think about this all the time.

I resented the house every time we had to make a trip to check on it. But now, it’s likely we’ll never see it again without making a special drive past trip and I feel weird about that.

The last visit

I made one last trip to the house a few days ago alone. I needed to replace a handle on a window and remove a couple of things. It was strange being in the empty house alone. I could see life events in each room appearing as if I had a window into the past. I did shed a tear or two that night.

In late November last year, on the day we took possession from our exiting tenants, all six of us were back in the house for the first time in the summer of 2014. It felt incredibly small. Of course, when we left we didn’t have two teenagers and being in the living room together, even though it was empty, felt like there wasn’t much room.

I didn’t think about it then, but that day in November was the very last time the six of us would be in that house together. Even now as I think about the moment I grabbed this poignant shot of the four girls looking out of what was once Helen and my bedroom I have a lump in my throat.

Selling a House - Goodbye Walnut Grove | The Yorkshire Dad of 4
A poignant moment as I caught the four girls looking out of our old bedroom window on what was to be the last time we were all in the house together

Onwards and upwards

I have hated every moment of this sale process but now it’s over. We move on now. The past fives years, building a new life in North Yorkshire has always had an element of “what-if” in relation to the house in Dewsbury. Now we can focus on this life and, while we’ll never forget Walnut Grove, we can move on.

Selling a House - Goodbye Walnut Grove | The Yorkshire Dad of 4
Our family of 6 became complete while we lived in Dewsbury when we brought home baby Verity for the first time.

Thanks for reading.


5 thoughts on “Selling a House – Goodbye Walnut Grove”

  1. Sadly my husband and I know all too often about how sad it can be to move house. We’ve always rented, and still do, but I would love to own my own little home one day. The problem is renting is so unstable and unsecure. We had to move four times in five years as landlords kept selling up, and with two young children, that’s not ideal. Nowhere felt like home because we never had long enough in a house to make it feel like home. We’re lucky now that our landlord has no plans to sell and we’ve been in our current house for a good few years now, but one day I’d like to own something. Thanks for joining in with #ThatFridayLinky

  2. I feel this. I recently moved out of the large house where my daughter spent most of her first 8 years and where my step daughter lived from 8-17. The circumstances are different but the bittersweet feelings are similar. I appreciate the phrase “home is where the heart is” more than I ever did before. Best of luck #thatfridaylinky

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