How to buy a beach hut

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Buying the beach hut was an alarmingly simple process. In a world where we are programmed to look for complexity, to mistrust everything not written down and signed in triplicate, where every second communication we receive is a scam from someone trying to extort your cash or your identity from you, a simple and trust-based process feels very alien. A world where trust is so frequently abused makes such a process both appealing and uncomfortable, in equal measure.

I used to think I was a trusting person. Or maybe I was always a cynical sod who trusts no one and believes nothing.

There was no legal security blanket in buying the beach hut. The only paperwork that existed was an invoice from the council (possibly forged, said my gremlin) for the licence for the site where the beach hut sat. The beach hut itself had no paperwork. The only other assurance I had was from a bunch of “hutters”, who I had only ever spoken to outside what they claimed (gremlin) were their own beach huts, who had assured me that giving all my savings to someone I had never even met, was perfectly safe and a really good idea.

Was it really just a matter of transferring a large sum of money to someone I’d never met and being handed a set of keys by another man who lived nearby? Did the man who claimed to own it, really own it? And what did ownership actually mean, if there was no paperwork, no legal stuff, nothing except an invoice from the council and the keys to the door? The other hut-owners all said, yes, it was a bit weird but that was just how it works. No paperwork. Just trust.

Aaah, trust.

It could all have been an elaborate ruse. But, on calculating the cost-risk/benefit of sharing the cash from such a scam amongst all those enthusiasts and council staff I spoke with, I kind of figured it was too low a reward for the work and risk involved and so it just might be okay.

Buying the hut was a gut decision. I’m not very good at those. My usual approach is to research the hell out of something, consider everything that could possibly go wrong, probably decide the risk is too great, or, if all signs point loudly to yes, go for it, with my heart in my mouth and fear shouting loudly at me to stop while I panic my way ahead.

I have been well trained in fear. Physical risks don’t phase me. Kayaking, climbing, travelling. No problem. I’m quite happy with the most common fear-triggers: heights, water, clowns. It’s the emotional risks I’m less comfortable with – putting my ideas out in public, risking my emotional security. Only recently have I realised how crippling this has been and fought to change it. Perhaps it is seeing the people I love drive through what would scare the pants off me that makes me see how unnecessarily limited I have been.

In this case, fear drove me forward instead of holding me back. Fear of regret. Fear that someone else would sweep in and buy it while I was busy dithering. Fear that I would never be able to move forward and make an investment in my own future.

I’d only seen inside the hut once before the purchase, and then without any real intention of buying it. It was only idle curiosity that encouraged me to phone the number on for sale sign.

I had wondered, in a lazy sort of way, what the beach huts were like on the inside and had, as does everyone who passes, stared nonchalantly into any that were open. But a “for sale” sign meant an opportunity to have a proper, unapologetic nosy.

I walked out with curiosity well and truly piqued, and by the time I had wandered half way down the sea front, discussing the excitement and possibilities with my partner, I was ready to phone my financial adviser/father and run the idea past him.

My dad, (forgive me dear father,) can vacillate between being the voice of doom and the world’s greatest cheerleader. I don’t need any assistance with doom. I can visualise everything that could ever possibly go wrong without assistance. When people feed that back to me, not only do I get easily discouraged, I also get mightily pissed off. “Of course I’ve considered that the sky may fall in and crush the hut.” “I’m perfectly aware that the sea may wash it away and the wind feed it to distant oceans. Pfft.”

Cheerleading, however, gives me the boost I need to do my own research and assess the reality of any risks myself – and not to allow my fear to dominate my dreams.

Both my partner and my dad were fantastic cheerleaders. Thank you to both of them for that. I hope you both know how much that support means to me and how your encouragement has helped me achieve what to many is a very small dream.

Moving my partner into a new flat, we walked on tiptoes for days, thinking that someone was going to come home any moment and tell us to get out. Buying the beach hut felt much the same, except I had only a brief email from the previous owner to prove this was mine. When I started to pull the hut apart from the inside, to dissect the years of neglect and make it mine, I still felt certain that someone would come rushing in and tell me to stop – that it wasn’t mine to dissect.

I’m still waiting for someone to come and tell me it’s not mine.

So far, so good.

 

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