My First Home: Newlyweds find dream home on scraggly piece of earth

Buying My First Home
Bee Brown for the Boston Globe

Newlyweds, we had spent nearly a year in a pokey one-roomed apartment in a rather insalubrious part of town. It was time to look for a house, a house that would be home for us and our offspring-to-be.

I really wanted a home with a garden. As a child, I had lived in a house with a big one, one with apple and cherry trees, lilac, buddleia, roses, and a you-can-walk-on-the-grass lawn. I needed a garden. I needed space. I needed somewhere to sit and dream.

Newlyweds though, don’t have a huge budget, and we had to be realistic. We wanted three bedrooms to grow a family in. We were choosy about the area; it had to be a good neighborhood to bring up children. A garden, my husband told me, would just be icing on the cake.

We saw some dreamy houses, but they were completely out of our budget. We began to realize the better the area, the higher the price. Then we saw an advert for a three-bedroom house with a garden.

The outside of the house in Birmingham, England, didn’t look inviting. It was painted a dirty blue and had a postage-stamp weed patch that the real estate agent proudly told us was the front garden. The inside was decorated with gloomy wallpaper and floored with garish carpets. I tried to imagine living there — depressing.

My husband told me to stop being so negative. We could redecorate. The rooms were a fine size, just what we needed.

“Let’s see the garden,’’ he said.

He took me through the living room’s French doors. The garden was so small, and the tall hedge at the back made it seem even smaller. I didn’t say anything, though; one lecture a day was enough for me. Meanwhile, my husband was scrabbling through the hedge.

“What are you doing?’’

“The house is all right, but the garden with that thick hedge, it’s claustrophobic, so I want to see what’s on the other side. Perhaps we could buy a bit of extra garden. Come through, look at this.’’ It was a straggly weed patch at the end of a long, long garden.

We thanked the estate agent and went searching for the house with the long garden. When we found it, the owner gave us a look: “You want to buy that patch of weeds for money. Why?’’

We bought it with a deed written by my newly fledged lawyer husband. We also bought the house, which is now painted a distinguished olive green, with a neat front garden, a cozy kitchen, the cutest nursery, a smart master bedroom, a homey living room, and a little lawn with trees and flowers.

The pièce de résistance? Out back, wide steps with a rockery garden on each side. A place to sit, a place to dream, a place to be.

Batya Jacobs is a therapist and  the mother of nine boys and  a girl. Send comments to and  a 550-word essay on your first home to Please note:  We do not respond to submissions we won’t pursue. Subscribe to our free real estate newsletter at