RAFairman's Blog

An RAF Airman's Blog

Where Ever I Lay My Hat…

One of the downsides about being in the Armed Forces is housing.

It is. But this isn’t a blog about how good or bad Families Quarters are, or the standards of Single Living Accommodation, be they good, bad, indifferent or excellent (and God knows I’ve lived in all four categories of blocks and Messes).

No, this is a purely personal blog about me. You see it’s never simple, and I don’t think that I am typical of someone who is in the Forces…you see I have three places that I can live.

I have the rented house in Abingdon which is where I live when I am based at RAF Benson.

There’s the room I have been given for if I need a place to crash, if I work late, whilst I am on my training course for Afghan.

And then there’s my G/F’s house in Pirbright.

But, none of them are mine.

It’s a funny, peculiarly British thing to want to own your own house. To feel that you have no roots until you do own somewhere; to feel a little bit lost and a little bit of a wanderer unless you have a place that whilst you might not fully own yet – you’re paying a mortgage for it so it’s technically the banks’ – is somewhere that WILL be yours.

I don’t know if you feel it too, or have felt it or can relate to it in someway, but I don’t feel to be…well, grown up, until I have a house that is mine.  I hate the feeling that where I live isn’t mine to do with as I want.  And my girl-friend feels it too.  We have to buy furniture that isn’t exactly as we want simply because we won’t always be in that house and that item may not fit in the next.  For instance, the sofas we have in her house aren’t perfect and to be honest are a bit too big because we bought them for her LAST house in Birmingham that was a lot bigger than this one.

I know, I am moaning.  But I am 41, and it’s a major downer for me. I get down about not being a grown up.  Made all the more pertinent this last week as my son told me he was moving out of his Mum’s house. He’s 19. At Uni. And wants his own place – quite rightly, even though his course is at a Uni that is commutable from his Mums place. And I realised that although I am his Dad, we are now very much in the same boat.

And I feel, as I said, less of a grown up because of it.  And I feel that I need to have a house now.  And it depresses me because I can’t yet.

Yeah, I know having a mortgage isn’t everything – I used to have one, so I know ALL about home ownership before you say anything, and that it’s easy living in rented places, you don’t have to worry about things going wrong or falling off or falling down, but…as I say, that’s part of being a grown up.  It’s what normal people do, and as much as I love being in the RAF, there are times when I do want to get away from it all.  Which is why the house in Abingdon is so nice and I enjoy spending time there.

The girlfriend house is ok. It’s a bit on the small side, but it’s big enough, and it’s quirkily laid out to have a bit of character to it, but from the table I am sitting at to write this I can see the barbed wire of the Army camp over the road.  Regularly the sound of shooting from the ranges is heard.  Often we can hear the shouting of the recruits learning to march.  In other Married Quarters I’ve lived in, in the past, I’ve had the noise of jets taking off and landing – right over our heads.

And that’s ok. Some people like it. But sometimes it just gets too much.  You need time away from your work and private life.  Quarters are cheap; block life is easy, but it’s not a home.

And at the end of the day that’s what we all want to go do, isn’t it. Go home.

It’ll be a while yet before I…WE…my girlfriend and I…get to have a house of our own.  She has a couple more years in the Army yet, as do I have in the RAF.  But the desire to buy somewhere of our own is building.  It got to a stage a while ago I had to stop watching TV house buying shows – you know the Kirsty and Phil type shows – because it would just make me upset, that we couldn’t do the same.

But there are opportunities coming up.  The whole trip to Afghan will be a bonus.  Literally.  The end of tour Operational Bonus will go a long way to topping up a deposit for a house that we are already saving for.  And the tour itself will top that up – for six months I won’t exactly be spending a lot, and so, hopefully, this time next year…we’ll not quite be millionaires (in the Del Boy and Rodney way) but we’ll certainly be on our way to be able to start looking for a house to buy.

You see at the moment, I am stuck between three places that I can live in. And that itself is a pain, simply because you lose track of where stuff is. I have sports kit and washing kit and shaving kit in three different places. In three nights in a row I can sleep in a different bed.  And living out of a bag, living in my car is getting to me. It’s getting too much, and I feel the need to set down some roots as soon as I can…

But until I can, where ever I lay my hat, that’ll be my hom…house.  Because it won’t be a home until it’s mine.


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5 thoughts on “Where Ever I Lay My Hat…

  1. We felt the same when we LEFT the RAF and joined the Foreign Office. We initially stayed with friends based at RAF Uxbridge but then rented our own place in Leatherhead. From there we went on postings to Chile, Tunisia and Cambodia but always felt that we needed to lay down roots. As it turns out we bought a place (nothing grand and no intention of it being an investment) in Stevenage of all places. Neither of us are from Herts, I’m a Hampshire lad (c’mon you Saints) and my wife is a Spurs supoprting lass from Preston, Lancs (don’t ask).

    So why Stevenage? Well its 20 mins by train to Kings X and then a short hope across town to the FCO buildings on Whitehall. The job has rather dictated where our kids will grow up – its amazing how quickly accents develop.

    Good luck with the house hunting!

  2. Sally Milton on said:

    We’re in a fairly similar boat, we’ve both owned property in the past but due to relationship/marital break-ups have lost our ‘owned’ homes. Now we live in a small rented flat, it’s the second of our relationship.

    I don’t think we’ll ever be able to own our own place again, plus at our ages (47 & 48) mortgages are harder to come by.

    There are, however some plus sides, we can afford to rent a far better place than we could buy and we have the option of moving pretty much as & when we want. Our previous flat was fabulous & overlooked the Thames and the current flat has a most magnificent view of the Moray Firth.

    It’s not ALL about owning, but I know EXACTLY where you’re coming from :o)

  3. Singing my song. This is my 11th address in 18 years of being an RAF ‘Plus One’. I live at the end of the runway. All bar one of the houses I have lived in have been passable – only one has made me cry – but none of them are MINE/OURS, so the Home Sweet Home sign keeps on trucking round the RAF waiting for a permanent spot.

    Only 12 years to go…..

  4. Great Blog! Again…

    I know there are a lot of people who can empathise with you, me and my Husband are two additions to that list. Like you, my OH is in the RAF, living away, in a flat, coming home on the weekends etc. His time is nearly done, August, and we are hoping to pack up and move back to my home country .. Australia…No Ashes jokes please… but like you we are desperate to have mortar and bricks that we own!

    Good luck, and again, great writing!


  5. Karen Johnson on said:

    I think this maybe an occuring theme that affects most militray personnel, we are the same.

    We’re trying to be clever and buy our house before we have our family, leaving us with a small mortgage (hopefully nothing at all) with the option of living in it eventually or selling it and buying it at a later date.

    Having lived in RAF married quaters for 15 of my 23 years of life, it is something i have become acustomed to especailly as a child, it was a part of life yeah the furniture didnt match and didnt fit properly but it was home. That was until i got my own married quater! as much as you try to make it home and presentable its never right and will always just have to do.

    But this is just for now, a stepping stone, cheap living giving us the ability to save for a house that will one day be home.

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