Andrew & Anderina

My Facebook memories today showed me this photo from four years ago, with the caption, “Dining out, in celebration of our last night being Aucklanders together”. The following day, my husband Andrew drove to Whanganui to start setting up our new home, while I stayed on another couple of nights in our rental to finalise matters in Auckland.

I remember those months as some of the most intense “adulting” I’d ever done in my life. I had decided to apply for a job that was a bit outside of my comfort zone, and approximately 450km from the job I held then. I was equal parts delighted and horrified to be granted an interview, and then to be offered the position. After considerable prayer and discussion, we reached the conclusion that if we stayed in Auckland, we’d always feel a bit like we were struggling to get by, and our opportunities would be limited. Whereas, if we took the leap of faith, accepted the job, and moved to a faraway city neither of us had any particular connection with, we’d be in the position to try new things, meet new people, and, as I may have expressed it in song, watch our children “bloom and grow forever”.

We thought we’d never own our own home. We’d actually had these discussions, about how home ownership was simply not a feasible goal in our circumstances, and there was no shame in being lifelong renters. But I had come to despise the uncertainty of renting. We were always good tenants; never missing a payment, never bothering the neighbours, only wanting a home. Yet the whim of an unscrupulous landlord could increase our costs unbearably, or force us to move again. I particularly hated the inspections. Three-monthly, like clockwork, a stranger could enter our home, and take pictures, and there was nothing we could do about it. Now, still about every three months, though not necessarily quite so much like clockwork, I turn to Andrew and say, “Aren’t you glad we’re not having a property inspection?”

Unbelievable, then, that we have now been living in our own home for four years, and even more unbelievable that we’re more than a third of the way towards paying off our loan. It’s really hard to describe the feeling, when we receive an annual “loan repayment summary”, and see the balance going down and down throughout the year, knowing that all the payments are reducing the principle of the loan, not just accumulating revenue for an inhuman bank.

But… how do you go about buying your first home, in a city where you’ve never spent more than a weekend? We made a checklist. We looked up lots of online listings. We talked to people who did know Whanganui better “Don’t even think about buying in Castlecliff”, said a lady from my Scrabble Club. “St John’s Hill has the best primary school”, said my Mum’s hairdresser...

“How did you know the right place to buy?” I asked friends and colleagues constantly. To my surprise, a very common response was, “You just know”.

I’ll never forget our single day of house-hunting. It poured with rain all day long. We saw 12 properties in rapid succession, and most were so obviously unsuitable that our treasured checklist never even got opened. This house had not even been on our list (we had thought it outside our price range), and yet, almost from the moment we drove up the driveway, we knew. This would be our home.

We couldn’t have done it without Liberty Trust, and we couldn’t have done it without Andrew’s parents, who encouraged us to look into (and ultimately, pay into) Liberty Trust, more years ago than I can remember. We started off well, making reasonable payments, but then various changes forced us to tighten our belts and our budgets, and sometimes we were only paying in $10 a week. Andrew’s parents, however, were also making contributions on our behalf, for many years.

Andrew’s parents (this is as much their story as ours. Some of you reading this probably know them, and they’ve no doubt enriched your life beyond measure, too!) looked after our two children, then aged six and three, for two weeks while we undertook the big move.

One of the gladdest moments of my adult life was watching Bronwyn and Toby walk into our home for the first time, and seeing their exclamations of delight: “Do we really get to live here? Are you sure? Is all this really ours?”

During the August/ Sept lockdown, one of Bronwyn’s ‘home school’ tasks was to “Take a picture of something you can see from your house, a part of God’s creation that you love”. She promptly took this photo of me, making the most of the spring sunshine on our deck.

Blessings to you,

Anderina McLean
(Burstingly proud resident of _______ Whanganui East)

14 October 2021