Flats and houses are springing up in town – but none for me
It seems my time in Whitstable may be coming to an end. I can no longer afford to live here.
I first moved to the town in 1984. It was an undiscovered little fishing village back then. I spent the first six months swimming in the sea and eating sea food.
I’ve lived in every part of the town. I won’t list all the roads as it would probably take up most of this column. I’ve always rented.
For a number of years I lived in Maugham Court, in a flat belonging to a friend, which I sublet to a series of tenants. I made a number of friends in the process. More recently I’ve been sharing with friends in Essex Street, but they’ve decided to move. They’ve given me a year.
I’ve been looking at property. I have some money which Dad left me. Unfortunately it’s not enough to buy anything around here.
I’m too old to get a mortgage. I retired last year and all I have is my state pension.
I went to look at a Park Home: literally the only place within my price range. It was a glorified shed, 36′ by 10′: one bedroom, kitchen, living room, shower room, plus a small yard, selling for £65,000.
I could have handled that. It’s in a beautiful spot, by the woods, with a friendly community, but I’d be paying ground rent, plus bills, which would leave me with barely enough to live on.
How can this be? The building dates from 1978, is made of wood, and can’t have more than 20 years life left in it. It would need completely refurbishing.
I’d be watching my savings depreciate while waiting for my death. Once in it I wouldn’t be able to move out. If I didn’t like it I’d be trapped.
I could buy a town centre flat almost anywhere North of Coventry. I saw a one bedroomed flat in Arbroath, Scotland, a fishing village near Dundee, on an estuary, not unlike Whitstable. It was newly refurbished, with double glazing and central heating, within a few hundred yards of the harbour and the sea, for £50,000. Here in Whitstable you’d be lucky to buy a beach hut for that.
I’ve given my life to this town. I brought my son up here, made many life long friends here, saw jobs come and go. I was a postman for 15 years. I know every inch of it: every street, every patch of ground, every alley, every footpath.
Meanwhile there are flats and houses springing up in every corner of the town. None of them are for me.
It seems a crime that I can’t see out my last days here.
Such is the nature of the “free” market. Free only to those who can afford it.
From The Whitstable Gazette 28/11/19
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