Summary: Rose and Michiel got in touch with Housing Options Scotland to support their family’s search for a more accessible home. With the help of the Scottish Government’s First Home Fund they were able buy a fully adapted property just outside of Inveraray on Loch Fyne.
Before moving to Scotland, Michiel, Rose and their family used to rent a detached house in Swindon, England. Despite their best efforts, they could not make their home fully suitable to Rose’s accessibility needs:
“My wife frequently uses a wheelchair and there wasn’t really enough room for the chair. We had picked that house because it had two reception rooms so we turned one into a bedroom for her and we had a downstairs bathroom, but the doors were too narrow for the chair and the kitchen was too small, so she was still shuffling around everywhere and that just wasn’t working.”
The family decided to move. Apart from a more accessible home, they were also looking for a more welcoming atmosphere, a search that led them to Scotland:
“I’m Dutch and my wife is American, and the whole Brexit thing didn’t feel welcoming anymore. When we moved here, in the first couple of days, people came with a bunch of flowers just to say ‘welcome, we’re glad you’re here’. That was just amazing.”
After discovering Housing Options Scotland online, they got in touch to seek support for their move north of the border. Housing Broker Jil was able to talk Michiel and Rose through the financial schemes that were available to them, sent them information about the areas they were interested in, and referred them to a specialist financial advisor:
“The biggest thing of all, she put me in touch with Ian Haughey who’s a financial advisor specialising in helping disabled people get a mortgage. Basically, he then walked me through the whole process, and did all the legwork. It looked like getting a mountain to me, getting a mortgage and I wasn’t sure I could do that, but with his help, it was relatively straightforward.”
As first-time buyers, the family were eligible for the First Home Fund, one of the Scottish Government’s shared equity pilot schemes. With this funding sorted, they started looking for suitable properties on sale, and soon found a lovely house in the Argyll and Bute area:
“It was already adapted, so that was a big plus, and it was affordable and in a beautiful spot. The estate agent answered a bunch of our questions how wide the doors are, the owner was amazing… I think at that point, it kind of became obvious that this was gonna be the one.”
Because Rose was shielding for Covid-19, travelling to view the house was out of the question, but luckily, the owner was very approachable and offered them several video tours. The leap of faith paid off, and the family is now happily settled near Loch Fyne.
For the future, Michiel wishes “for my wife to remain independent as long as possible, and to become part of the community here. We feel like we belong – never had that feeling before.” He also hopes that his son, who is autistic, will receive the education and the help that he needs to become independent:
“That was a real struggle for the past two years, for him to get recognition of his autism at school and his special needs being met, whereas here, they just understood.”
His advice to other people searching for a new home is to get in touch with Housing Options Scotland:
“Seriously, without your guys’ help, I don’t think we would be here right now. I would be struggling with the admin and the logistics of it, and all the hard work was done for me by someone who understands my abilities and my disabilities and takes that into account. It was just really easy and helped so much.”